A year later, Gottlieb Daimler (DYM lur) introduced the first four-wheeled automobile. People laughed at the “horseless carriages,” but they quickly changed the way people traveled.
The French nosed out the Germans as early automakers. Then the American Henry Ford started making models that reached the breathtaking speed of 25 miles per hour. In the early 1900s, Ford began using the assembly line to mass-produce cars, making the United States a leader in the automobile industry.
The invention of the internal combustion engine changed life and industry in other ways. Motorized threshers and reapers boosted farm production. Even more dramatically, the internal combustion engine made possible sustained, pilot-controlled flight. In 1903, American bicycle makers Orville and Wilbur Wright designed and flew a flimsy airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Although their flying machine stayed aloft for only a few seconds, it ushered in the air age.
Soon, daredevil pilots were flying airplanes across the English Channel and over the Alps. Commercial passenger travel, however, would not begin until the 1920s.
A revolution in communications also made the world smaller. An American inventor, Samuel F. B. Morse, developed the telegraph, which could send coded messages over wires by means of electricity. His first telegraph line went into service between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore in 1844. By the 1860s, an undersea cable was relaying messages between Europe and North America. This trans-Atlantic cable was an amazing engineering accomplishment for its day.
Communication soon became even faster. In 1876, the Scottish-born American inventor Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. By the 1890s, the Italian pioneer Guglielmo Marconi had invented the radio, which allowed wireless communication over long distances. In 1901, Marconi received a radio message, using Morse code, sent from Britain to Canada. As Marconi had predicted, radio soon became a key part of a global communications network that linked every corner of the world.
How did Nikolaus Otto's invention of the internal combustion engine affect the Industrial Revolution? What can you infer about its impact on Western nations?
In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright tested their flying machine at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. By 1905, they had built an airplane that could stay in the air for 39 minutes.
By the late 1800s, what we call “big business” came to dominate industry. Big business refers to an establishment that is run by entrepreneurs who finance, manufacture, and distribute goods or services on a large scale. As time passed, some big businesses came to control entire industries.
The latest technologies required the investment of large amounts of money, or capital. To get the needed capital, owners sold stock, or shares in their companies, to investors. Each stockholder became owner of a tiny part of a company. Large-scale companies, such as steel foundries, needed so much capital that they sold hundreds of thousands of shares. These businesses formed giant corporations, businesses that are owned by many investors who buy shares of stock. With large amounts of capital, corporations could expand into many areas.
Some powerful business leaders created monopolies and trusts, huge corporate structures that controlled entire industries or areas of the economy. In Germany, Alfred Krupp inherited a steelmaking business from his father.