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Pioneering inventions and the beginning of a new business culture

  • Pioneering inventions and the beginning of a new business culture

  • Pioneering inventions and the beginning of a new business culture

Pioneering inventions and the beginning of a new business culture

 

The world changes with lightning speed: When James Watt patented his low-pressure steam engine in 1769, it heralded the most radical technical change in history. He was inspired by the British inventor, Thomas Newcomen, who succeeded in constructing the first working steam engine. James Watt equips the engine with a special condensator, thereby quadrupling its output. The steam engine can now be used extensively for a profit.

 

Designers, especially in England, recognize the significance of Watt’s thermal power engine. In 1785 Edmund Cartwright builds the first steam-driven mechanical loom. In 1804 Richard Trevithick sets the first rail steam engine rolling – although at a speed of only 4 kilometers per hour. And in 1807 the first steam ship is launched.

 

It is the British textile industry that first applies this key component to its factories – also without steam. Even before Watt’s invention, designers are constantly tinkering with new machines. In 1733 John Kays invents the automatic weaving shuttle. Thirty years later James Hargraeves invents the first spinning machine – the “Spinning Jenny“, which Sir Richard Arkwright considerably improves in 1769 by constructing the spinning frame.

 

The more mechanization increases in the textile industry, the greater the demand becomes for iron and steel – the raw material for machine building. The introduction of steam power further stokes the hunger for more machines, and the English coal and steel industry prospers. Factory upon factory is built; England transforms from an agrarian to an industrial state. This same development will soon take place in America, France, Germany and in other European countries.

 

That the progressive mechanization of factory work demands an equally progressive business culture goes almost completely unrecognized by all but the most far-seeing businessmen. Among them are Sir Richard Arkwright, James Watt and Matthew Boulton – operators of the first steam engine factories in the world – as well as their sons, James Watt Jr. and Matthew Robinson Boulton. They give great attention to preparing new work guidelines, training styles, cost calculations and other elements of up-to-date business management.

 

The Industrial Revolution marches on, accompanied by pioneering inventions: steam ships cross the Atlantic (from 1819), telegraph lines connect cities (from 1844), photography (1826), and telephone (1861). The manufacturing of rubber (1839), high-quality steel (1855) and synthetic dyes is now also possible. The first conveyor belts appear in 1870 in the slaughter houses of Chicago.

 

It is Henry Ford who also uses conveyor belts in industrial production in 1913. As a result, division of labor allows more than one worker at a time to carry out his job. Assembly production is also further mechanized. This organized work approach leads to an increase in automobile production from 18,000 per year in 1908 to 1.8 million in 1923. At the same time, costs sink. Although the Ford Company pays its employees about twice as much as it had and the price of the legendary “Model T“ drastically sinks, turnover grows rapidly. Henry Ford might be accused of providing a monotonous product, but he achieved his goals: mass employment and the chance for every employee to afford his own Ford automobile.

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