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For thousands of years, goods were made by hand. But around 250 years ago, a machine was invented in England. It was called the spinning Jenny. The Jenny could spin as fast as 8 workers. There were soon machines for weaving as well. But these machines ran on running water. They had to be located near a stream to use them. Then the steam engine was invented. And everything changed. The steam engine could run other machines anywhere. Suddenly, there were so many new inventions! The use of machines spread to other industries besides spinning and weaving. They spread to other countries. There was an explosion of new machines and new ways of doing things. This time period in history is called the Industrial Revolution. There were many good things and many bad things about the Industrial Revolution.
The Bad: Many other people were put out of work. Those who had jobs could no longer work at home. They had to work in a factory, to oversee the machines. The machines did not allow for creativity. Poorly built factories sprang up quickly. Tenement houses were built near them or attached to them for the workers. The tenements were over crowded, and they were fire traps. Some adults complained and refused to work under these conditions. Rather than change the conditions, factory owners began to hire children, sometimes very young children, some as young as four years old. It was cheaper than hiring adults. Children worked 12-14 hours a day under dangerous conditions. Some were mistreated or whipped if they fell behind in their work.
The Good: Manufactured goods could be made more cheaply by machine than by hand. This allowed people to buy goods they could never afford before. Many of the comforts we enjoy today are dependant upon machines, for example machines that generate electricity.
Almost everything we have had to be invented. Some inventions are very old like the wheel or the bow and arrow. Sometimes two inventors invent the same thing at the same time. Almost every invention is improved over and over until it's a different invention! The Industrial Revolution is about a time in history when a whole bunch of new inventions were built to replace a large number of workers with a machine. Very few people would wish to return to the way things were before the Industrial Revolution, but many new laws had to be enacted and enforced to remove the bad and leave the good. That took time.