Second Industrial Revolution (1840-1914)

The Second Industrial Revolution was another great leap forward in technology and society.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 19th century.

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While the First Industrial Revolution centered on textile manufacturing and the innovation of the steam engine, the Second Industrial Revolution focused on steel and petroleuom production, advances in electricity and communication technologies.

What changed?

It led to the introduction of widespread use of machinery in manufacturing, innovations and modern organizational methods for operating large scale businesses. It affected primarily Britain, Germany, United States, France, the Low Countries, Italy and Japan.

Many new inventions contributed to the benefit of this revolution. Here are the most interesting ones:


Early electric telegraph receiver illustration.

In 1866, the first underwater telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean was successfully installed, and ten years later, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

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Concrete became one of the world’s most common building materials thanks to Ernest L. Ransome, an English-born engineer and early innovator of the reinforced concrete techniques.

transcontinental railroad

The First Transcontinental Railroad.

In 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed and was a major accomplishment for the U.S. since it allowed the transportation of goods, people, and raw materials nationwide.

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First telephone call in history.

One major contribution was the telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. This made it possible for people to communicate all over the world instead of having to travel days to see them or wait for a letter to reach them.

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light bulb

First electric lightblub.

Then in 1879, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. This made it possible to do almost anything at night. This allowed people to not only work all day, but continue working at night to finish what they have started.

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gasoline engine

In 1886, German scientist Gottlieb Daimler devised an internal combustion engine that was fuelled by gasoline and could power a small vehicle.


In 1896, the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi sent and received Morse code-based radio signals at distances spanning nearly 4 miles. The same year, Marconi got the first patent in wireless telegraphy in England.


Tesla coil.

In 1897, Serbian-American Nikola Tesla invented the induction coil or Tesla coil, a device essential to sending and receiving radio waves and applied for his first patents in radio work in the United States.

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Another amazing invention was in 1903 when the Wright brothers had their first powered piloted plane flight. Now that it was possible to fly, it seemed as though everything was possible.

Wright brothers first flight.

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