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Industrial Revolution

Inventions and Technology

History >> Industrial Revolution

New inventions and technologies played an important role in the Industrial Revolution. They changed the way things were powered, how goods were manufactured, how people communicated, and the way goods were transported. These new developments allowed the industrial revolution to grow rapidly and spread throughout Europe and the United States.

New Power Technologies

Portrait of inventor James Watt
James Watt (1736-1819)
by Unknown
In the early part of the Industrial Revolution natural power sources such as water and wind were used as power. Later, new power technologies such as a steam power and electricity played a major role in allowing the Industrial Revolution to grow.

Steam Power

Steam power had been around for a while, but in 1781 James Watt invented a new type of steam engine that could be used to power machines in factories. This allowed factories to be located anywhere. Throughout the 1800s steam engines grew bigger and more powerful. They were used to not only power factories, but also in transportation to power steamboats and trains.


Electricity became important during the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s. Electric lights allowed factories to stay open longer and produce more goods.

Hargreave improved spinning jenny
The Spinning Jenny
Source: Popular Science Monthly Volume 39 (1891)
Textile Technology

The Industrial Revolution began in the textile industry. One of the first major inventions was the "spinning jenny" invented by James Hargreaves in England in 1764. In 1779, Samuel Crompton made improvements with the "spinning mule." The Industrial Revolution began in the United States with the opening of Slater's Mill in 1793. Other inventions included the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 and the sewing machine by Elias Howe in 1846.


The ability to communicate across long distances improved dramatically during the Industrial Revolution. It began with the invention of the electrical telegraph by Samuel Morse in 1844. This system allowed for messages to be transmitted much quicker and cheaper than old methods. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone which changed the way people communicated forever.


Stephenson's Rocket
An Early Steam Locomotive
Source: Mechanics magazine, 1829
The Industrial Revolution brought about the need for improved transportation. Large amounts of goods needed to be shipped from factories to stores throughout the country. One of the first successful steamboats was developed by Robert Fulton in 1807. Steamboats were soon used to carry goods and passengers along rivers throughout the United States.

The steam locomotive was invented in the early 1800s. Trains became one of the most important modes of transportation during the Industrial Revolution. the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States was completed in 1869.

Interesting Facts About Inventions and Technology During the Industrial Revolution

More on the Industrial Revolution:

How it Began in the United States

Alexander Graham Bell
Andrew Carnegie
Thomas Edison
Henry Ford
Robert Fulton
John D. Rockefeller
Eli Whitney
Inventions and Technology
Steam Engine
Factory System
Erie Canal

Labor Unions
Working Conditions
Child Labor
Breaker Boys, Matchgirls, and Newsies
Women During the Industrial Revolution

Works Cited

History >> Industrial Revolution

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