Iron, Coal, and Steam
Early in the 1700s two English inventors set the stage for the Industrial Revolution. This was a period of great growth of industry. Abraham Darby discovered that a coke-burning furnace produced good iron. Coke is a form of coal. Thomas Newcomen invented a pump that kept coal mines from filling with water. A steam engine powered the pump.
With these developments, coal and iron production expanded rapidly. Iron remained the main metal for building and toolmaking until the late 1800s. At that time steel (a mixture of iron and carbon) began to replace regular iron.
Meanwhile, in the late 1700s steam began to replace wind and water as the major source of power. In a steam engine, burning coal heated water. The boiling water produced the steam that ran the engine.
Machines and Factories
Other inventions also sped up the production of goods—especially textiles, or cloth.