What Are the 4 Industrial Revolutions?
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The four industrial revolutions are coal, gas, electronics and nuclear, and the internet and renewable energy. Beginning from 1765 through the present day, we’ve seen an amazing evolution. As we discovered different energy sources and later, digital technologies, the entire landscape of the modern world has been transformed over and over. Here’s a brief primer on the four industrial revolutions.
First Industrial Revolution: Coal in 1765
The original industrial revolution transformed our economy from agriculture to industry. Processes became mechanized and products were manufactured for the first time. During this period, the discovery of coal and its mass extraction, as well as the development of the steam engine and metal forging completely changed the way goods were produced and exchanged. Inventions such as spinning machines and looms to make fabric were making their appearance. Canal transportation began replacing wagon and mules for moving around these goods.
Second Industrial Revolution: Gas in 1870
As the first industrial revolution was driven by coal, the second revolved around the discovery of electricity, gas and oil. The invention of the combustion engine went hand-in-hand with these fuel sources. Both steel- and chemically based products entered the market during this time. Developments in communication technology got a jump start with the telegraph and later the telephone. Transportation grew by leaps and bounds with the invention of the plane and car. Mechanical production grew in speed through the advent of mass production.
Third Industrial Revolution: Electronics and Nuclear in 1969
After another hundred years, nuclear energy and electronics enter the landscape. Nuclear power began in Europe, grew in both Great Britain and the United States, went into remission for years, and grew in Asia.
Fourth Industrial Revolution: Internet and Renewable Energy in 2000
As we continue moving through the fourth industrial revolution, we see a shift to renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal. However, the momentum comes not from the shift in energy but from the acceleration of digital technology. The internet and the digital world mean a real-time connection within more and more components of a production line, both inside and outside facility walls. As the development of the Industrial Internet of Things, cloud technology and artificial intelligence continue, a virtual world will merge with the physical world. Predictive maintenance and real-time data will lead to smarter business decisions for a myriad of companies around the world.