Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

World History - The Industrial Revolution: Corporations and Mass Production

From the World Book Online

Mass production is the production of machinery and other articles in standard sizes in large numbers. Mass production makes it possible to manufacture things faster, and often at less cost. It also means that a replacement can be obtained for any part of a manufacturing machine or other product that breaks down.

Mass production began in 1800, when the United States was building up its army. Until that time, gunsmiths started a second gun only after they had completed the first one. Thus, each gun was a little different.

In 1798, the government hired the inventor Eli Whitney to make 10,000 muskets in two years. By 1800, Whitney had delivered only 500. He was called to Washington to explain the delay.

In front of a board of experts, Whitney placed 10 musket barrels, 10 stocks, 10 triggers, and so on, in separate piles. Then he assembled 10 muskets from the pieces, showing that anyone could do this if the parts were identical. In this way, Whitney demonstrated the basis of mass production—the interchangeability of parts. He had spent about two years developing machine tools that made identical parts.

In 1918, five engineering societies established what is now the American National Standards Institute, Inc. The institute studies and sets up standards of quality and methods of interchangeability for mass-produced parts in most U.S. industries.

In the early 1900's, Henry Ford originated the moving assembly line for manufacturing automobiles. After the automobile parts are made, the automobile frame is attached to a conveyor belt. This belt consists of a chain that moves along the floor of the factory. Workers are stationed along the chain in an assembly line. As the car moves slowly along the line, each worker does a special task. The task must be done in a certain length of time, and with exactness, because the work of the entire line is stopped if it is necessary to halt the moving chain. Mass production led to the division-of-labor system, in which each worker is skilled in a single operation. See Assembly lineConveyor belt.

Source: DeVries, Marvin F. "Mass production." World Book Student, World Book, 2017, www.worldbookonline.com/student/article?id=ar348100. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.

Databases and Encyclopedias

The Lightbulb Conspiracy

Story of Stuff

Books in the Library

Labour