Thoughts on the origin of the Industrial Revolution
We were all taught in school that the Industrial Revolution began in England in the “dark, satanic mills” after machines had been invented to replace the slow labor of many human workers. The Industrial Revolution soon expanded to the United States and other nations and was the impetus for the invention of the steamboat, the locomotive and the dynamo. By the end of the 1800s there had been a virtual explosion of mechanical inventions of all sorts.
But is this true? Very few good ideas spring up without some form of inspiration. And I think I might have stumbled upon one of the inspirations.
While doing a web search on historic images of the Chinese spinning process I was astonished to discover this pair of images on the blog http://habetrot.typepad.com/habetrot/2007/04/spinning_in_chi.html. One is an engraving from the late 1800s showing a woman spinning on a wheel with THREE fliers and the other shows a man spinning on a similar wheel with TWO fliers. [Click either image to enlarge.]
No Western wheel has more than a single flyer. No Western spinner has any ability to spin more than one thread at a single time.
Consider this alternative suggestion for the founding of the Industrial Revolution: perhaps it began in the late 1700s because the British had become embedded in India at that time. It’s altogether possible that Englishmen based in India and engaging in trade along the coast of South Asia all the way to China had observed the far superior spinning and weaving technology of the East and brought these ideas back home to their native land, thus triggering the Industrial Revolution and its textile machinery.
After all, most life-changing innovations are the result of tossing around existing ideas in order to generate something new. Food for thought.