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

Author

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  • Smil, Vaclav

    (University of Manitoba)

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

Suggested Citation

  • Smil, Vaclav, 2005. "Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195168747.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780195168747
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mokyr, Joel, 2010. "The Contribution of Economic History to the Study of Innovation and Technical Change," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    2. Leonid Gokhberg & Konstantin Fursov & Ian Miles & Giulio Perani, 2013. "Developing and using indicators of emerging and enabling technologies," Chapters,in: Handbook of Innovation Indicators and Measurement, chapter 15, pages 349-380 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. 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.
    4. Boegenhold, Dieter & Fachinger, Uwe, 2007. "Renaissance of Entrepreneurship? Some remarks and empirical evidence for Germany," MPRA Paper 3186, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Demeulemeester, Jean-Luc, 2009. "Comment on "US Economic growth in the gilded age"," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 191-199, March.
    6. repec:eee:energy:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:219-233 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. David Mayer-Foulkes & Kurt A. Hafner, 2017. "The technology Gradient in the Market Economy," Working papers DTE 606, CIDE, División de Economía.
    8. Court, Victor & Fizaine, Florian, 2017. "Long-Term Estimates of the Energy-Return-on-Investment (EROI) of Coal, Oil, and Gas Global Productions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 145-159.
    9. Mortenson, Michael J. & Doherty, Neil F. & Robinson, Stewart, 2015. "Operational research from Taylorism to Terabytes: A research agenda for the analytics age," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 241(3), pages 583-595.
    10. Ho, Chi Pui, 2016. "Rise of Women in Unified Growth Theory: French Development Process and Policy Implications," MPRA Paper 73864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Stephanie Rupp, 2016. "Circuits and currents: Dynamics of disruption in New York City blackouts," Economic Anthropology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(1), pages 106-118, January.
    12. Paul L. Robertson & David Jacobson, 2011. "Knowledge Transfer and Technology Diffusion: An Introduction," Chapters,in: Knowledge Transfer and Technology Diffusion, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Ho, Chi Pui, 2016. "Industrious Selection: Explaining Five Revolutions and Two Divergences in Eurasian Economic History within a Unified Growth Framework," MPRA Paper 73862, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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