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technological revolution

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


The application of science‐based inventions to industry and daily life has been the most important source of economic growth since 1945. It not only improved old products but also created new ones. Some new products (plastic and artificial fibres such as nylon) appeared before the Second World War, but it was the war which acted as a great stimulus to invention in producing radar, the jet engine, the atom bomb, early computers used in code‐breaking and the ideas and techniques which were the basis of the information revolution and of the electronics industry. All these inventions were later adapted for civilian use. The cold war soon followed the end of the war, so vast sums of money continued to be spent by Soviet and American governments on the military–industrial complex and space exploration , which also provided spin‐offs for civilians: hard plastics, optical fibres, sensing devices. Transport was revolutionized by the jet engine, developed most successfully by Boeing. Gas turbines, produced in the 1960s, made aircraft more powerful, quieter and cheaper to run, while the wide‐body design allowed more passengers to be carried. A huge aerospace industry arose, which employed 823,000 people in the US in 1989, with a further 540,000 working in air transport. Air travel became an essential part of the global economy . The motor industry too expanded rapidly and eventually ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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