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Homework Help: Most Influential Invention, or process invention of the Industrial Revolution

  1. Apr 6, 2012 #1
    What single invention between 1775 and 1913 has had the biggest impact on humanity and why? Also it could be a process like say the Bessemer process or a simple item like the lightbulb.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2012 #2
    I'm going to propose it was the mechanization of textile manufacture. At the same time, any one thing you pick might be an arbitrary choice as "most influential".
  4. Apr 6, 2012 #3
    The horse collar, which enabled farmers to plow with a horse instead of the much slower ox. That freed up the non-farming labor to run all those new factories.
  5. Apr 6, 2012 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Sounds like homework.
  6. Apr 6, 2012 #5
    How can this be homework if everyones idea of the most influential invention changes from person to person? If this is homework, then you give me the most influential invention.
  7. Apr 6, 2012 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Your homework could be to select what you think is the most influential and why.

    And can the snooty attitude.
  8. Apr 6, 2012 #7


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    What does on think?

    It could be

    Steam engine - industrial revolution

    Electricity, e.g., electrical generators and electrical distribution systems

    Computers - information revolution

    Radio - long range communication and mass media

    TV - mass media

    Transistor - microelectronics

    Microelectronics - many current day consumer electronics and computers

    Explosives - dynamite, TNT, . . .

    Automobile - personal transportation

    Airplane - mass transportation

    Rockets - space travel or long range delivery of weapons

    Nuclear weapons -

    . . . .
  9. Apr 6, 2012 #8
    Yeah i personally chose the distribution on electricity from Edison's first power station in NewYork. Although the steam engine really seemed a feasible answer considering the power station was powered primarily by steam.
    Thanks for the replies. I really enjoy hearing people opinions on the subject. Thanks =)
  10. Apr 7, 2012 #9


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    I don't think there is a most influential process or invention, but several.

    One could consider the lightbulb or electrical lighting to be influential, since it replaced the use of gas lamps.

    Also, consider the Haber process - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haber_process#History

    I realize that I provided several examples of inventions that occurred after 1913 - mainly in the area of modern technology such as TV, transistor, microelectronics, computer and nuclear weapons.

    Radio technology was developed in the late 19th cent.

    Telegraph and telephone (and communications networks) were important inventions of the 19th century.
  11. Apr 8, 2012 #10
    As the single most influential it has to be the steam engine hands down, steam engines gave the ability to move large quantities of fluid i.e fresh water pumped into the home and sewerage removed, transport trains, ships and lorries, power sources for industry from cotton mills to machine tools. Steam was the great game changer, nothing else (even electrification) comes close.
  12. Apr 9, 2012 #11
    The steam engine is a good choice because it powered the many machines that provided the great multiplication of human labor that was the Industrial Revolution. But too many people today forget that the IR happened only on the backs of a huge labor force that had never before been available because farming was so labor intensive that most people were farmers. None of this would have been possible without the recent advent of the horse collar, which remains my favorite choice as the most important invention.
  13. Apr 9, 2012 #12
    Wow that is a great observation and side to the equation i never considered!! Wow I never stop to think how the laborers were freed to create and innovate new things such as these. Thanks for that I feel eye opened.
  14. Apr 10, 2012 #13


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    Immunisation. A workforce is no use if it is dead or dying, or cyclically decimated by contagion.

    dates vaccines introduced :
    1798 Smallpox
    1885 Rabies
    1897 Plague
  15. Apr 10, 2012 #14
    The horse collar was invented well before 1775.
  16. Apr 10, 2012 #15
    Yes and no. Like many other inventions, they were in common use in China long before Europe. They came to the West about 1000 CE. But at the beginning of the IR, they and other innovations were used to greatly increase farm productivity. That freed up a massive supply of labor, without which the IR was not possible. I therefore use the horse collar are a synecdoche representing the combined effects of all that was done at the time to increase farm productivity.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  17. Apr 11, 2012 #16
    Steam engine might be tops. But a close second is refrigeration without cutting blocks of ice out of lakes. Revolutionized the transportation of food, especially meat. And who among us thinks air conditioning isn't absolutely fantastic?
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