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Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact

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  • Smil, Vaclav

    (University of Manitoba)

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    Abstract

    The period between 1867 and 1914 remains the greatest watershed in human history since the emergence of settled agricultural societies: the time when an expansive civilization based on synergy of fuels, science, and technical innovation was born. At its beginnings in the 1870s were dynamite, the telephone, photographic film, and the first light bulbs. Its peak decade - the astonishing 1880s - brought electricity - generating plants, electric motors, steam turbines, the gramophone, cars, aluminum production, air-filled rubber tires, and prestressed concrete. And its post-1900 period saw the first airplanes, tractors, radio signals and plastics, neon lights and assembly line production. This book is a systematic interdisciplinary account of the history of this outpouring of European and American intellect and of its truly epochal consequences. It takes a close look at four fundamental classes of these epoch-making innovations: formation, diffusion, and standardization of electric systems; invention and rapid adoption of internal combustion engines; the unprecedented pace of new chemical syntheses and material substitutions; and the birth of a new information age. These chapters are followed by an evaluation of the lasting impact these advances had on the 20th century, that is, the creation of high-energy societies engaged in mass production aimed at improving standards of living. Available in OSO: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/public/content/economicsfinance/0195168747/toc.html

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    Bibliographic Info

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    This book is provided by Oxford University Press in its series OUP Catalogue with number 9780195168747 and published in 2005.

    ISBN: 9780195168747
    Order: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780195168747.do
    Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780195168747

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    Cited by:
    1. Robert J. Gordon, 2014. "The Demise of U.S. Economic Growth: Restatement, Rebuttal, and Reflections," NBER Working Papers 19895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bögenhold, Dieter & Fachinger, Uwe, 2007. "Renaissance of entrepreneurship? Some remarks and empirical evidence for Germany," Working papers of the ZeS 02/2007, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
    3. Jean Luc De Meulemeester, 2009. "A comment on "US Economic Growth in the Gilded Age"," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/147670, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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