History of Industrialization and Transformation

From the Electric bulb in the 1880s to the advent of a Humanoid society of tomorrow, we trace the stages of the Industrial Revolution from the late 19th Century to the Present day in the second installment of the article on “Transformation. A look-back from Industry 5.0.”

Along with this interesting recap on the changes across the world in the last 150 years, we take a look at how society, business , economy, industrialization, innovation and transformation has slowly shaped the world to the stage we are in now..

We are in a state of Transformation 5.0.

You may have heard this a many times over. Right.

This would have come up as Society5.0 , Government 5.0, Manufacturing 5.0, Industry 5.0, Transformation 5.0 Logistics 5.0, Technology 5.0 etcetera. And while hearing this in common industry parlance you may have wondered: “Hmm that’s nice but what is really 5.0? ” .

And if we are in Industry 5.0 then what is Industry 1.0? What are these different stages? Where did they all start from?


Look no further. Here I am going to explain the background, share the history, explain the context of 5.0 and connect some dots. And yes, you have assumed this correctly. Industry 5.0, or Customer 5.0 or Technology 5.0 all relate to more or less the same thing. They are used in different contexts and situations as they can be. 

All of these terms talk about a sequential progression of events or stages of development of the industry. They all relate to the state that we are in, or the state of 5.0. And they are all connected to the stages of the Industrial Revolution. Now it is Revolution 5.0.

Industry has always been aided by Technology, and every growth, every revolution has happened on a change in the Technical advancement during those times. As we will see here, Technology has been a driver of the Industrial Revolution.

We are all experiencing a state of Digital transformation, things moving at a whirlwind state for the last 8-10 years. And this surely is a revolution of sorts going on around us.

So to understand the progression from its original state, or grasp the entirety of the events surrounding us we need to look back. And look back at the start of everything.

This is a look back through Time. And as I take your you back in time in history and explain the situations and events as it occurred, I will try to connect the dots between Business, Industry, History, Technology, Science, Entrepreneurship and Global Politics. This should be an enchanting read. So make a cup of tea or pour your favorite coffee and let’s begin with Industry 1.0.


Let us trace back to the history of the Industrial Revolution, about 250 years back in time and move to Britain. Let me take you to the state of Business from where it all started.

Happenings in Britain

Two major things happened during the next 20 years from the 1700’s onwards, in the United Kingdom. These are now seen back as milestones for the Industrial Revolution as it began

England, and the rest of the world during the  1700’s, was mostly an agrarian economy. Agriculture or farming was the main business. Other occupations were mainly livestock rearing, blacksmithing, coal mining, iron-making, working in textile factories and working in foundries. Ores were being excavated, manual weaving, pottery and paper making were being done. There were some contraptions which were being used as small time tools for business during those times.

Around that time, a Scottish gentleman was trying to fix an invention made by a one Mr. Thomas Newcomen. In 1712, Mr. Newcomen had invented the atmospheric engine, the first practical fuel-burning engine, but the Newcomen machine was a faulty one and though it could be used as a motor, it wasn’t sustainable enough and the machine had to be stopped every couple of minutes to rest from overheating.

This Scottish gentleman, MrJames Watt was homeschooled as a child , but had a great interest in instrument-making  and was ingenious. He worked at various workshops of his father’s, a prosperous shipbuilder and later at Glasgow University as a mathematical instrument maker, creating engineering models

After a few years, in 1776, James Watt fixed the issue with Newcomen’s steam engine. He was able to trap the large amount of heat that used to escape the earlier model and built a condenser to trap the loss of energy. And in doing so, he brought out the first sustainable model of an engine, an engine which can run perpetually if you could maintain the heat levels feeding into the engine. He developed what is known as the Watt Steam Engine, and this was the start of the first Industrial Revolution, or Industry 1.0.

This is an invention which changed the world and led to the sequence of happenings and changes in state of the modern Industry, leading to the stage we are now.

The Steam Engine is the most valued invention since the wheel a few thousands of years back. Mr. James Watt went on to patent several other important inventions including the rotary engine, the double-action engine, the steam indicator, which records the steam pressure inside the engine, and the concept of horsepower. James Watt was made a Member of the Royal Society of London and as a sign of respect the unit of measurement of electrical and mechanical power or 1 Watt has been named after him by the System of Units (SI). So whenever we look at a steam engine we are paying our homage to the father of Industrial Revolution 1.0.

Mr. Watt patented his invention and sold off usage rights to the business community and the first major invention started the Industrial age for the World. By 1796, he made enough money to retire from work and enjoy his life. ☺

Birth of Classical Economics

Another landmark event happened during this time in Britain. Adam Smith ,economist and philosopher of that time came up with a ‘Wealth of Nations’ paper where he successfully argued that governments and authorities should leave interfering in the regional business and let the markets thrive dynamically. This was the beginning of Classical Economics and free market and the theory started what was later coined as the policy of Laissez Faire in Britain. 

Happeneings in North America

Around the same time, two major events in North America shaped the geo politics and industrial scenario of the modern world.

On the 4th of July, 1776 a set of thirteen states joined hands and declared the formation of the United States of America and gained independence. While proclaiming their sovereignty they decided to move out of the Colonial British rule. These were states mainly from the North Eastern side of the US -New Jersey, New York, Long Island, the North and South Carolina’s and Georgia-just to name a few. These were the main centers of white civilization where people had migrated from different shores of Europe, mainly the British, Irish, Danes, French and Italians. A new country was formed, with new hopes, aspirations, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, freedom and lots of exuberance. 

Another milestone event happened. In 1792 the New York Stock Exchange was born. This was the first organized seat of capitalism in the whole world. It became the land of Start Ups. A new form of business and investment had been born.

The effect of both these events led to the death of existing channels, power centers. New found entrepreneurship led to defining new ways of business and life. The American civilization erupted into the world scene.

Post Industrial Revolution 1.0

The Steam locomotive coach was soon invented in Britain. This had another impact of infinite proportion. While previously a businessman was able to sell his products 20- 25 kms from his production hub, now it was made possible to do business in different cities 100s of kms away. Railroads started to be built across UK and USA. The world started to become closer by the day.

In Britain the steam engine had a direct effect on business. The first businesses to gain were textiles, paper, print, and pottery. Flour mills, Iron foundries, breweries, and the textile industry took the most benefits.

Now a textile factory owner transitioned away from manual weaving to power looms, and in months became able to produce 50 times more to its previous production levels. Britain became the first economy to take advantage of the Industrial Revolution. Its industries, especially the Textile industry flourished and began exporting not only to Europe or Africa but also to the Americas. The raw materials came from the colonial nations, mostly India which provided more than 90% of Britain’s supplies of raw cotton.

The early 1800s were the beginning of the Victorian Era in England. The rich consisted mainly of the royal family and the nobility. They were rich, but they were all landed rich. In the next couple of decades, a new breed of rich people began to rise in importance within the society. These were the bankers, the industrialists, the factory owners, the startups- the ‘nouveau riche’ of that generation.

It was this new breed of businessmen and industrialists who started to build different societies in the progress of science, trade and industry. It was this team which understood that the future lies not in agriculture but in industry and technology. It was mostly this group of entrepreneurs who funded and supported the research into new technologies and science. They became the first incubators in the history of Technology.

In the United States, another 20 odd states had joined the United States of America in the next 30 years. The Steam Engine, along with a variety of technological resources, knowledge and skill was quickly exported to the United States, and the new found civilization took full benefit of these imports. They started to build the American Railroad in the early 1800s from the Atlantic Ocean towards the Pacific on the west. With every few weeks, a new route and a new town grew up along the railroad, which increased trade and commerce within the local economy. The American dream was born.

he west was still the wild , wild west to many.  New challenges arose and got accepted and were met every day and civilization started spreading westwards towards the Pacific. Soon we had motor boats plying around the different lakes and canals on the United States. Railways were built every day and this carried the progress of economy, business and society far and wide. In its wake it captured the wilderness, overcame the physical hardships and beat the local indigenous population to prove the might of the American Civilization.

A new World Order had emerged.

To be Continued ….

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One Response

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