13.3 The Second Industrial Revolution

The first phase of industrialization was forged from iron, powered by steam engines, and driven by the British textile industry. By the mid-1800s, the Industrial Revolution was entering a new phase in which new factories powered by new sources of energy used new processes to turn out new products. At the same time, new forms of business organization led to the rise of giant new companies.

Photo of an assembly line in a factory, where men are building parts for a wheel in succession.

Henry Ford introduced the moving assembly line in 1913. These men are assembling the flywheel magneto—the first part of the Model T to be manufactured on a moving assembly line.


  • Describe the impact of new technology on industry, transportation, and communication.
  • Understand how big business emerged.
  • Summarize the impact of medical advances in the later 1800s.
  • Describe how cities changed and grew.
  • Explain how conditions for workers gradually improved.

Key Terms

  • Henry Bessemer
  • Alfred Nobel
  • Michael Faraday
  • dynamo
  • Thomas Edison
  • interchangeable parts
  • assembly line
  • Orville and Wilbur Wright
  • Guglielmo Marconi
  • stock
  • corporation
  • cartel
  • germ theory
  • Louis Pasteur
  • Robert Koch
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Joseph Lister
  • urban renewal
  • mutual-aid society

Science and Technology Change Industry

During the early Industrial Revolution, inventions such as the steam engine were generally the work of gifted tinkerers. They experimented with simple machines to make them better.

During the second Industrial Revolution, the pace of change quickened as companies hired professional chemists and engineers to create new products and machinery. The union of science, technology, and industry spurred economic growth.

The Bessemer Process Transforms Steel

British engineer Henry Bessemer and American inventor William Kelly independently developed a new process for making steel from iron. In 1856, Bessemer patented this process. Steel was lighter, harder, and more durable than iron, so it could be produced very cheaply. Steel quickly became the major material used in tools, bridges, and railroads. As steel production soared, industrialized countries measured their success in steel output. In 1880, for example, the average German steel mill produced less than 5 million metric tons of steel a year. By 1910, that figure had reached nearly 15 million metric tons.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments