Industrial Revolution Inventions

Numerous Industrial Revolution inventions are still being used today. The Industrial Revolution has been a pivotal stage in history, and one marked by tremendous innovation, helping shape the modern world as we know it.

In this article there are just a few examples of areas of innovations where inventions in the period known as the industrial revolution were created or moved the field ahead in terms of its development and innovation.

Industrial Revolution Inventions #1- Spinning Jenny

The Spinning Jenny was created to help cope with demand in the booming textile industry in Britain back during the industrial revolution.
It was a wooden construction that allowed one worker to spin up to 8 spools at a time, via a multi-spool spinning frame.

Before its invention, workers had to spin one spool of yarn at a time – so you can imagine how much more efficient and quicker textile production became with the introduction of spinning jenny. It allowed artisans to produce yarn at a much faster rate, and cater for a significantly larger amount of consumers.

The spinning jenny, was invented by James Hargreaves around 1720. Interestingly enough, Hargreaves first kept the news of his invention a secret. He just produced a few machines for his own private use, which made him a success and produced enough yarn to meet and exceed demand. As a result the price of yarn fell due to high supply. The other spinners in his area were annoyed, barged into his house and smashed the machines. Eventually though, he patented his invention around 1770 and succeeded in commercializing it.

Why spinning Jenny? A story often told, is that the machine is named after the wife or daughter or Hargreaves, the inventor. However, the more likely truth is that it refers to the way engines were often referred to, at the time: as ‘jenny’.

Industrial Revolution Inventions #2 –The First Permanent Photograph

Nowadays, the camera is synonymous to a photograph. This wasn't the case back in history. The camera was invented before the actual photograph. While the ability to take a picture existed, there was no way to transmit it to a dimension that would last over time.

The original experiment for creating a lasting picture was that of a Frenchman: Nicephore Niepce. The first attempt at printing, in 1826, was done using chemicals and an exposure of 8 hours (using the camera obscura – an early artefact used before cameras).

It did produce a ‘printed’ permanent image on a surface, but meant that any object being photocopied needed to stay in place for an extended amount of time. People would have needed to stand still for eight hours in front of a camera, before any image could be printed.

Niepce, however, continued to work on his concept and with the help of Louis Daguerre, an artist of the period, and further developments in the field, after his death - the first photograph was finally a reality.

Industrial Revolution Inventions #3 - Airplanes

Where would the modern world be without aviation? The first plane was introduced by the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur. They also owned a bicycle company but it was through their brainstorming and ingenuity that a contraption with both wheels and wings, first came to light.

The first flight of the first plane took place on December 17, 1903. It was the first aircraft that carried a man, and rose to the sky ,flew carried by its own power and descended to the ground without damage. The flight itself took 12 seconds in total.

Both brothers applied for a patent for their first invented plane, 10 whole months before their successful first flight.

Sometimes confidence and belief coupled with perseverance and effort – can take you miles ahead towards your dreams.

Industrial Revolution Inventions #4 - Telegraph

Sending messages over long distances today is a simple matter of using our mobile phones, not to mention instant messaging, skype and more.

The closest equivalent of long distant messaging in the days of the Industrial Revolution is the telegraph, which used an electrical system of codes that could be interpreted by a receiver. The same concept is behind some forms of communication still being used nowadays.

The inventor responsible for this development is Samuel Morse—the same guy after whom the Morse Code was named. He’s also the first person to use the telegraph successfully.

The word telegraph comes from Greek and literally means “to write far”. Aptly named. 

Industrial Revolution Inventions #5 – Developments in Steam engines, Steam-powered trains and steamboats

It’s true that the steam engine has been invented way before the Industrial Revolution. However, it’s important to note that the changes made during this time created a huge impact on steam engines effectiveness and performance.

The first steam engine pumped water and was later improved by Thomas Newcomen. In his new design, a cylinder and piston were used which improved its performance tremendously. This innovation gave way to more changes and improvements on several forms of travel.

When the innovators gave rise to the steam engine, it wasn’t long before the steam-powered train came into play. It was introduced around 1814 and boosted trains and communication between different cities. In fact, steam-powered trains have become so popular that they were used as a symbol and measurement of success during those days. Needless to say, rail roads became a necessity among the European countries.

Let’s not forget the steamboat which also became popular after the steam engine’s invention. Unlike the steam-powered train, the steam boat made it possible not just for people to traverse land but also travel at sea. This paved the way for better communication and transaction between the colonies of Britain, for example.

Industrial Revolution Inventions #6 - Phonograph

Think of the phonograph as your MP3 player’s great-great (great) grandfather. It was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 while he was trying to transcribe messages using a telegraph. His idea was to press on sound wave grooves using a recording needle in order to record and reproduce sound recordings. This simple idea gave rise to the phonograph (also known as the gramophone) which became the basis for succeeding inventions that played music.

The turntable and vinyl records, which those slightly older readers might still remember (it was the predecessor to the CD) is actually a slightly more modern development of the same concept as the phonograph.

Industrial Revolution Inventions #7 -
The Sewing machine

Introduced in 1844 by Elias Howe, the first American patented Sewing Machine is definitely one of the more significant inventions that came from the industrial revolution period, considering how we still use a modern version of it today.

Howe’s sewing machine was able to cross stich 250 stiches a minute, and at his first public presentation was said to outpace the work of five sewers, sewing by hand – that were known for their speed. Howe was granted a patent for his invention in 1846, in Connecticut.

In the years that followed, Elias Howe struggled to protect his invention and profit from it. Many others used his design to create their own sewing machines, without paying him royalties.

At the same time Isaac Singer, developed a new model of a sewing machine, with an up and down motion –very similar to the sewing machines we use today. You might recognize the Singer name from the modern well know sewing machine brand, still used today

The invention of the sewing machine helped push forward the the textile industry which was already significant at that time.

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