The Second Industrial Revolution

From the very beginning of a society’s formation, the historical aspects of the humanity’s development are still significant. No doubt that a chain of different changes has a great impact on the characteristics of a concrete period of time or some historical epoch. The positive of them, mostly, determine general prosperity of people.

Development means a well-connected process that leads to something new: growth and discovery of unexplored spheres. It gives a mighty impulse for getting the additional breakthroughs. Hence, it needs a profound mental potential of people, their rationality in the usage, for instance, natural resources and a desire to take a big step up. Development is an essential part of any revolution. It is not easy to specify which of these two notions a cause is and which an effect is. Evidently, they have an interaction.

It is important to understand the whole value of the Second Industrial Revolution and observe its worldwide achievements. It is also called the Technological Revolution. It came after the First Industrial Revolution and covered the second half of the 19th and early 20th century. Geddes (1915) stated the concept of that period:

City-evolution still only beginning and existing cities ever being rebuilt. Other forms of industrial aggregation: the example of Norway – in association with the recent developments of electric industries, from the “white coal” of mountain streams. Nature of these industries, and advantages to population concerned. The analogous case of Switzerland, of French, Italian, and other mountain districts. Relative backwardness and danger of this and other coal-using countries in realising this advent of a new industrial age, a second Industrial Revolution.

The author of these words mostly pays attention to the role of cities’ construction all over the world and new risks concerning a new technological time. The mass building of the cities in Western Europe as well as in the USA turned London, Edinburg, Liverpool, Paris, New York, Chicago and many others including the Northland’s cities into the places of modernisation, “…stepping into determine railroad gauges, electricity voltages, the layout of typewriter keyboards, rules of the road, and other forms of standardization.” (Mokyr, 1998, p.2).

It is rather clear, that the Second Industrial Revolution could not appear from anything. It was the more advanced way of the realization of fresh ideas. At the same time it took a lot from the First Industrial Revolution, the industry of which was focused on iron, steam technologies, and production of textile. However, the Second Industrial Revolution gained a lot of technologies based on the profound scientific researches. According to Landes (2003), it included “…the rise of new industries based on spectacular advanced in chemical and electrical science and on a new, mobile source of power – the internal combustion engine” (p. 4). Simultaneously, “…decades of unusual creativity, consisting…of chemical and electric science plus advances in the generation and delivery of power…” (p. 4) became a guarantee of the following progress.


People can observe the translocation of the center of the Technological Revolution from the Great Britain to the USA and Germany, where the chemical industry, telephony, and electrical engineering took the leading positions (Mokyr, 1998, p.4).

Encyclopedia Britannica informs that Sir Henry Bessemer was the British inventor and engineer who developed the first process for manufacturing steel inexpensively in 1856, leading to the development of the Bessemer converter. The principle of operation was based on lower labour coefficient and costs. It was the first method discovered for mass-producing steel. Unfortunately, “two elements harmful to iron, phosphorus and sulfur, were not removed by the process or at least not by the fireclay lining of Bessemer’s converter” (Mokyr, 1998, p.3). Then this gap was improved by Siemens-Martin with opening hearth process. Furthermore, the American, German, British inventors, step by step, introduced their corrections for making it better, “in 1900 Andrew Carnegie, the American steel king, declared that the open hearth process was the future of the industry” (Mokyr, 1998, p.3). Shipbuilding, machine construction and many spheres of the steel utilization disclosed their potential.

Similarly, the chemical industry was of a rapid growth, especially in Germany. According to Baron (1909), the main reason was in Germany’s development of the newer industries, while Britain mainly maintained a textile production. One of the most successful firms concerning the manufacture of colours and pharmaceutical products became the Farbenfabriken Friedr. Bayer & Co. of Elberfeld in 1881. The author added, “Branch works exist at Schelphoh in LiAneberg, at Moscow, and at Flers, near Roubaix in France… The products manufactured by this firm still continue to be chiefly dyestuffs…” Such useful German products as pharmaceutical and invalid’s, infant’s food are widely used in many countries. The manufacture of photographic chemicals, as well as chemicals relating to dyeing and printing, is still popular, too (Baron, 1909).

Landes (2003) said “electricity is not a source but a form of energy” (p.277). Hence, the technological progress involved many opportunities referring to much easier ways of getting the streams of energy. In 1845, M’Naught became the first who joined a high-pressure cylinder and a low-pressure cylinder together. It was a good invention to drive the beam. The method of compounding was also used by Parsons, who created the most powerful machine by joining several turbines together. Primarily, it had the usage in the building of vessels. Certainly, the development of the generator brought a big success and involved into following researches such international engineers as Watt in Scotland, Curtis in the USA, C. De Laval in Switzerland (Landes, 2003, p.278-279).


Generally, the technologies covered different aspects of a society to that time. Nevertheless, it is necessary to recollect a profound contribution of Henry Ford to the international machinery development. The Great Idea Finder (2007) says that he “…held many patents on automotive mechanisms. He is best remembered, however, for helping devise the factory assembly approach to production that revolutionized the auto industry by greatly reducing the time required to assemble a car.” Hence, it stimulated the building of roads and gas-and-oil producing industry. The next example of breakthrough belongs to Commodore Vanderbilt. According to Lloyd (1881), “When began the world he had nothing, and there were no steamboats or railroads. He was thirty-five years old when the first locomotive was put into use in America. When he died, railroads had become the greatest force in the modern industry, and Vanderbilt was the richest man in Europe or America, and the largest owner of railroads in the world.”

Evidently, the importance of communication began to increase. The areas directed by the technological expansion fell into one but the well organized mechanism. The interconnection between discoveries was substantial. The innovation of such useful device as telephone gave an undeniable fortune. Doubtless, it is hard to imagine modern people without this means of communication. Wikipedia (2012) consults that it has functioned since the mid-1870.

Having studied some of the examples, people should comprehend that any innovation of the Second Industrial Revolution is worth to be high evaluated. They all are still important and useful for humanity. Each of them gave the impulse for another. The cross-cultural side plays a significant role, because those shifts were not isolated or confined by some geographical frames. Moreover, the engineers, scientists, professors in different areas of their researches co-operated well. As a result, the people of the 21th century almost everywhere have the equal opportunities. Of course, everything depends on the peculiarities of a concrete society, phase of its development and aims for the future.