The 10 Most Important Inventions of the First Industrial Revolution

The inventions produced during the First Industrial Revolution they changed the way people conceived their world and where things were done, such as relaying information, transporting goods or working the land.

This revolution took place in Great Britain from the second half of the eighteenth century. Over the years it spread to the rest of the world and ended between 1820 and 1840.

The 10 Most Important Inventions of the First Industrial Revolution

After the great wars, nations were forced to produce what they needed for domestic consumption. This fact gave rise to great inventions that allowed to streamline the productive processes.

Among the reasons for this social and economic revolution are the absence of wars between 1815 and 1914, and the capitalism .

In this sense, the Industrial Revolution was a period of transition between the agricultural and manual economy that dominated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and a commercial and industrial economy.

The 10 most important inventions of the First Industrial Revolution

1- Flour mills

The flour mills were machines that aided in the processing of flour, but involved a lot of effort for the operators.

Oliver Evans, in 1780, wanted to change this by inventing a vertical lift that allowed the grain to be lifted by the use of pulleys.

In the same way, he built conveyor belts to carry the flour through the mill and another machine that raked it, making it thinner and easier to store.

In this way, the mill that previously required the work of several people, could now be operated by a single person.

2- The sewing machine

Although the sewing machine existed before the Industrial Revolution, it was Elias Howe who improved his design to use two threads at the same time, and increase the speed when sewing.

However, a modification was still missing because the machine could only be used with one hand because it was necessary to operate a crank so that it could work.

That was the modification that Isaac Singer made in 1850, replacing the crank with a pedal that left people with both hands free to sew.

From this invention, sewing became an easier and faster process.

3- Mechanical Wheat Harvester

Population growth in the United States increased demand for wheat. Farmers were not able to meet that demand.

In 1831, Cyrus McCormick invented the first reaper, who was improving himself in the next ten years. The final version of the reaper was drawn by a horse, and had a blade that cut the wheat that fell on a platform.

In this way, much more wheat could be harvested in less time.

4- Telegraph

Joseph Henry was a groundbreaking inventor who experimented with a telegraph system that operated through electromagnets, but he fought the limitation generated because the signals could only travel through a wire a mile long.

Henry sought help from Samuel F. B. Morse, and Morse improved the model by using a battery for electricity, an electromagnet and an electric switch.

With its version, the user would press a crank by making short clicks and long clicks, which made up a code that is still useful in situations where other media fail.

The first telegraph line ran from Washington DC to Baltimore. In less than a decade, the United States was connected by telegraph and communications could be instantaneous.

5- Spinning machine

It was invented in England by James Hargreaves, in 1741.

It was one of the machines that opened the doors to the Industrial Revolution to be the first example of mechanization of the production process in a factory. It was also a pioneer in the particular case of the textile industry.

It consisted of a machine with eight reels rotated by a large wheel. It had eight skeins attached to a beam, extending from the end where the spools are to the end of the wheel, on a horizontal frame.

This configuration allowed a single person to drive eight or more reels at a time.

The Jenny Spinning (name that was put to the machine in honor of the creator's daughter) worked manually and allowed to mount up to 80 threads simultaneously.

Years later, in 1779, Samuel Crompton invented the Mule Jenny, which operated with hydraulic energy and allowed to produce a thinner and stronger thread.

6- The steam engine

It is an external combustion engine that transforms the thermal energy of water into mechanical energy.

It was widely used during the Industrial Revolution to move bombs, locomotives and other elements. The process of operating this motor occurs as follows:

- Water vapor is generated by heating in a boiler, which is sealed. This results in the expansion of a cylinder that pushes a piston.

A mechanism transforms the movement of the piston of the cylinder into one of rotation which drives, for example, the wheels of a means of transport.

- Inlet and outlet valves are used to control the steam pressure.

The steam engines used to generate electrical energy are no longer plunger, but are passed through a continuous flow of steam, so they are called steam turbines.

There is no consensus as to who was the inventor of this device, but the first patent of a modern steam engine was registered in 1606 in the name of Jeronimo de Ayanz and Beaumont.

The steam engine has been replaced by the electric motor (in the industries) or by the internal combustion (in the transport).

7- Railway

It is a means of transport that has its antecedent in the carts that rolled on wooden rails in the mines of Transilvania in century XVI.

These wagons arrived in Britain in the seventeenth century to move coal from the mines to the ports.

In time, in England the wooden plates were replaced by the iron ones to increase the load of the wagons, but as the cast iron did not support the weight began to think about the human transport.

8- The bulb

Thomas Alva Edison figures in history as the creator of the light bulb, but in fact was the one that perfected the invention that Humphry Davy made in 1809.

It is a device that generates light from electrical energy. This light phenomenon can be produced by:

- Heating in a metallic filament, thanks to the Joule effect.

- Fluorescence of metals in the event of an electric shock.

According to Life magazine, the bulb is the second most useful invention of the nineteenth century.

9- Automobile

It is a means of transporting people or goods.

His creation is attributed to Karl Friedrich Benz, in 1886, when he presented the first internal combustion car in the form of a tricycle. And it was his wife, Bertha Benz, who made the first long trip (almost 105 kilometers) in a car.

Henry Ford began to produce them in series thanks to an assembly line that created to make the model T, in 1908.

10- Telephone

This artifact, so familiar and useful nowadays, appears thanks to the ingenuity of Alexander Graham Bell, who in 1876 invented an apparatus that transmitted sounds by a cable through electrical signals.

But much earlier, in 1854, Antonio Meucci had already built a similar one in his house to communicate with his wife who lay sick in a room on the second floor. However, he did not have enough money to patent his invention.

It was 113 years after his death before the US House of Representatives recognized Meucci as the inventor of the phone.


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  2. Cleveland Heights High School Library (s / f). "Inventors and Inventions of the Industrial Revolution"at Cleveland Heights High School Library. Recovered from Cleveland Heights High School Library:
  3. Curiosphere (s / f). "History of the train"in Curiosphere. Recovered from Curiosphere:
  4. Telesur. "Five inventions of the Industrial Revolution that changed the world"(2016) in Telesurtv. Retrieved from Telesurtv:

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