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The industrial revolution

Industrial Revolution The industry is constantly changing. In the history of the industrial revolution, we distinguish between four phases, ...

Industrial Revolution

The industry is constantly changing. In the history of the industrial revolution, we distinguish between four phases, from Industry 1.0 to 4.0. Historically, three phases are already behind us, while the fourth, Industry 4.0, is currently being experienced first hand. What exactly is an industrial revolution and which technologies have been discovered? We embark on a journey through time of industrial developments and start in the 18th century.


The first industrial revolution started in England around 1780 and spilled over to other European countries in the 19th century. In the phase of Industry 1.0, the first mass production by machines took place. These were operated by water and steam power. The new form of the drive increased productivity enormously. Based on this, the mechanical loom and the spinning machine were created. Other successes of the first industrial revolution were the first railroad, coal mining and steam shipping. Industry 1.0 replaced traditional forms of work, such as manufacture and craft, with machines. Banks became increasingly important as many entrepreneurs needed loans to invest.


With the further development of the steam engine by James Watt, the working conditions of the time were revolutionized. The steam engine was powered by coal, so the factories were no longer tied to natural energy sources such as wind or water mills. From now on, goods could be produced regardless of location and time of year. With these improvements, the steam engine became economical. It was not only used in mining, but also established itself in industry and transportation. The economy was so enormous that more and more factories were built in large cities, which created many jobs. This is how urbanization took its course. In transportation, the functions of the steam engine were used for steam locomotives and steam ships. This made it possible to transport goods in the shortest possible time and at lower cost. But the steam engine soon reached its limits as the number of strokes was limited. The steam turbine, which is still used in some power plants to this day, was invented for higher output.


The successes of Industry 1.0 led to a population explosion in cities. Numerous workers were now available that could be used in the steadily growing industry. The early industrialization of Industry 2.0 began in the 1830s.

With the introduction of electricity as a driving force, the starting signal for the second industrial revolution was given. Towards the end of the 19th century, the steam engines were replaced by machines with electricity. With this development, assembly line work was also introduced. The factory halls were now able to produce a mass of goods in record time.

The assembly line introduced by Henry Ford in 1913 was particularly influential in car production. Each employee only took care of one movement, so that the production of the individual parts was much faster. Before that, an entire car was assembled at one station. From this time onwards, the vehicles were manufactured in partial steps on the assembly line, much faster and more cost-effectively. This development was a revolution in the labor market. From now on, specialized labor was needed. Whether then or now - the shortage of skilled workers has always been an issue.

Communication at office workplaces also continued to develop. This no longer consisted of letters, but more recently of telephone calls and telegrams, which made it possible to accelerate many work processes. In addition, the typewriter was further developed and from now on it was also used for the masses.

In summary, telecommunications began in Industry 2.0, the assembly line revolutionized work in factories and the first automobiles could be manufactured. Traffic also continued to develop - air and shipping made it possible to travel across continents. Since then, Germany has developed into one of the largest industrial powers in the world. The successes have not only revolutionized the industry, but also many other areas. These developments were the first steps towards globalization - still significant for us today.


The first steps in telecommunications and globalization were driven by Industry 2.0, and the third industrial revolution began in the 1970s. In the age of Industry 3.0, automation through electrical engineering and information technology was in the foreground. The first approaches to the technology emerged as early as the 18th century. Together with Ads Lovelace, Charles Babbage has created a basis for the individually programmable computer with his analytical engine. As a result of further development, the first functional devices in the world followed in 1941. The German engineer Konrad Ernst Otto Zuse developed the so-called “Z3” this year. The computer was program-controlled, freely programmable and fully automatic. This was initially just a prototype. Only when its successor, the “Z4”, was leased to ETH Zurich, one speaks of the first commercial use of a computer. Thereupon a rapid development set in, because the development cycles became shorter and shorter. As mentioned before, the age of Industry 3.0 did not begin until the 1970s. Initially, calculating machines were used that could calculate complex formulas fully automatically. Later these were exchanged for the personal computer (PC). The PC was further developed so that it could be used in offices and private households. Above all, the so-called Commodore was used, which dominated the home computer market in the 1980s and early 90s. A new branch of industry emerged. It was around this time that the first digital giants such as Microsoft and Apple were founded.

Industry 3.0 was shaped by computers and automation and stands for fast pace and information technology. The rapid development of computer technology made it possible for the first time to use PCs in one's own home or in offices. The typewriter, which was used in Industry 2.0, was replaced by home computers. The age has brought a turning point in the world of work. In Industry 3.0, too, human work was increasingly taken over by machines.


The end of the 20th century is considered to be the beginning of Industry 4.0 and builds on the developments of the third industrial revolution. The fourth phase, which continues to this day, is characterized by the introduction of the Internet and thus increasing digitization. This is why this time is also called the digital age. With increasing popularity in the 1990s, the internet made us live in a completely new world.

Digitization has completely changed the world of production and work. Because nowadays it is possible no longer to produce goods in stock, but according to actual demand or need. Just-in-time production can be realized through constant further developments in information processing.

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is already integrated in many companies and our everyday lives and it is impossible to imagine life without it. By networking the machines or everyday objects with the Internet, the devices are able to perform tasks fully automatically. Digital networking offers tons of possibilities. Computer-controlled production systems can already be expanded through a network connection, so that a digital twin is created on the Internet. Networking leads to an intelligent factory in which systems, components and people communicate via a network and productions almost control themselves.

In addition, classic branches of industry, such as the construction industry, are being digitized. The Building Information Modeling working method, which has only been so named since the 1990s , plays a significant part in this. Buildings can be represented digitally in a 3D model.

Terms such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), IT, clouds, self-learning algorithms and big data have emerged over the last few decades. Compared to the annual intervals of the first and second industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 has developed rapidly.