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The Benefits Of The Industrial Revolution

Jun 22, 2008
The industrial revolution changed the Western world beyond belief. It changed the structure of families, of work, of how people lived and where they lived. But why did it make such a difference and was this difference good for us?

Families were spread out pretty evenly across the country and you would get areas where generations of families would stay, continuing the family business and handing it down to their offspring. With industrialisation came the use of machines. With machines came the bigger factories, employing more workers. This meant that workers needed to be nearer the bigger towns and cities to take advantage of this work and in a day and age where no social security system existed, they had no choice but to travel to where the work was.

These days, families think nothing of being spread throughout the country, in fact, throughout the world, chasing their careers of choice. So, the whole family structure has basically disintegrated. Families communicate by machinery (computers, telephones etc) these days and that oh so important level of support has all but gone.

Of course, much of this machinery has made life a great deal easier. Take for instance, packaging machinery. This alone has provided workers with employment over the years. Factories employ people to work on packaging machinery for many types of products from food to toys. Much of our food has been through packaging machinery which keeps it fresher for longer and also makes for easy storage.

There is virtually no home in the UK without a washing machine and it is the nightmare of all women, or at least mother's, that the washing machine will break down and you will be inundated with mountains of washing that you will either disappear under or have to spend three weeks catching up on when it is eventually fixed. However, I do think we have lost sight of how dreadful our lives would be had it never been invented. Slinging the clothes in the machine and switching it on is a lot less time consuming than taking it down to the nearest river and scrubbing it on stones!

The sewing machine is also a product of the industrial revolution that has made life easier. Many people used to make their own clothes and the stitching of a sewing machine is less likely to lead to embarrassing slip ups in the clothing department. Machines have made several advancements in quality and speed over the years and have, for a long time, been used in sweat shops around the world for making garments of all sorts.

On a lighter note, slot machines have provided many hours of money losing entertainment to those that get addicted to them. In a game of chance you feed you spare money into these colourfully lit machines and it keeps it - occasionally giving you a few back to make you feel like you're on a winning streak.

The vending machine was, in a form, first used in the first Century consisting of a series of weights that reacted when a coin was dropped in. This set the precedent but modern day vending machines have only been developed since the 1880's when they began selling postcards. Now, they are common place and sell everything from contraception to food and drink.

So, while we may get frustrated at machines, whether it be packaging machinery or vending machines, the truth is we have come to rely on them and couldn't be without them now.
About the Author
History expert Catherine Harvey looks at the examples of packaging machinery and vending machines as machinery that has shaped our way of life.
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