The Industrial Revolution

Events

The steam engine is invented

1712

Thomas Newcomen invents the steam engine. It is not very useful yet, but the idea of using steam to make machines go will be important to the Industrial Revolution.

The spinning jenny is invented

1764

The spinning jenny is invented byJames Hargreaves, a British carpenter and weaver. The machine spins more than one ball of yarn or thread at a time, making it easier and faster to make cloth.

James Watt improves the steam engine

1769

James Watt from Scotland designs a more efficient steam engine. One of the most important inventions of the Industrial Revolution, steam engines power the first trains, steamboats, and factories.

Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin

1794

Eli Whitney creates a machine that makes it much easier to separate cotton seeds from cotton fibre. It greatly reduces the time it takes to clean cotton and helps the southern states make more money from cotton crops.

Samuel Morse invents the telegraph

1844

Allows messages to be sent quickly over a wire. By 1860, telegraph wires stretch from the east coast of the United States west of the Mississippi River.

Elias Howe invents the sewing machine

1846

At a time when people had to make their own clothes at home or pay someone else to sew them by hand, Elias Howe invents the sewing machine. Now clothes can be made in large factories.

Elisha Otis invents the elevator safety break

1853

Elevators were already invented by 1853, but people worried about elevator cars falling. Elisha Otis invents a safety break to prevent them from falling if a cable breaks, making people feel more confident about using elevators in tall buildings.

The Bessemer Method for processing steel is invented

1855

Henry Bessemer invents a process for making steel out of iron. Having a way to make steel more quickly and more cheaply helps the production of building and leads to the growth of cities. Reduces cost of steel production by half.

Alfred Nobel creates dynamite

1866

Alfred Nobel invents dynamite, which is a safer way to blast holes in mountains or the ground than simply lighting black powder. Dynamite is important in clearing paths to build things such as roads and railroad tracks.

Louis Pasteur develops vaccines for diseases

1870

A chemist named Louis Pasteur believed that germs caused disease. Using this information, he created vaccines that helped prevent many common diseases, which helped people live longer.

Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone

1876

He may not have invented the telephone, but Alexander Graham Bell was the first to get a patent for it. Being able to speak to people over a telephone wire greatly changes the way the world communicates.

Thomas Edison uses a light bulb to light a lamp

1879

Not the first man to create a light bulb, Thomas Edison created a light bulb that lasted longer than other designs and showed it off by lighting a lamp. Edison's light bulbs allow people to do many things at night, such as work, that used to only happen during the day.

Orville Wright makes the first powered airplane flight

1903

Using an engine that they invented, Orville and Wilbur Wright invent the first plane that is not powered by wind. Orville flies the plane for 12 seconds over a beach in North Carolina.

Henry Ford creates the Model T

1908

Henry Ford creates a type of car called the Model T. It is much cheaper than other cars because it is made on an assembly line, allowing many more people to buy cars.