At heart, the Industrial Revolution has been a revolution in energy conversion. It has demonstrated again and again that there is no limit to the amount of energy at our disposal. — Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind (2011)

The Industrial Revolution did not occur in Britain merely because Britain had the most advanced technology, but because this technology was situated in a country with a secure financial system, global trade networks, lots of raw materials, including coal, a relatively stable political system with the capacity to direct economic development, and a skilled workforce augmented by skilled foreign labour. — Conor Farrington in the Times Literary Supplement of September 18, 2015

This sense that something revolutionary had happened, that they were living in a new world with infinite and unrealized possibilities for good or evil was very strong among those who lived in Britain in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. . . . But whether they liked or disliked it they knew very well that a revolution had taken place. . . . within a comparatively short period of history . . . . It is the first departure from immemorial habit, the first break through a barrier which had seemed to be a natural and permanent limitation on man’s activities which is significant and bewildering. After that it is probable that further changes will be easier in themselves and that they will be assisted by changes going forward in other fields, and it is certain they will be less surprising. But to contemporaries who saw one revolutionary change follow another in rapid succession, who saw industry drawing each year a larger section of the life of the nation into its grip, the change seemed portentous. And it was portentous, if a portent is the foreshadowing of notable and terrible things to come. —  G. Kitson Clark, The Making of Victorian England (1971)


Innovation and Tradition

The Preconditions for Industrial Revolution

The First Phase: Textiles

The Second Phase: Railroads, Steam, and Steel

The Third Phase: Electricity and Chemicals

The Fourth Phase: Digital Information Technologies, Miniaturization

Mechanization, Industrialization, and Culture

Last modified 21 October 2021