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Technological and industrial history of the United States
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"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
The technological and industrial history of the United States describes the United States' emergence as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. The availability of land and literate labor, the absence of a landed aristocracy, the prestige of entrepreneurship, the diversity of climate and a large easily accessed upscale and literate free market all contributed to America's rapid industrialisation. The availability of capital, development by the free market of navigable rivers, and coastal waterways, and the abundance of natural resources facilitated the cheap extraction of energy all contributed to America's rapid industrialization. Fast transport by the very large railroad built in the mid-19th century, and the Interstate Highway System built in the late 20th century, enlarged the markets and reducing shipping and production costs. The legal system facilitated business operations and guaranteed contracts. Cut off from Europe by the embargo and the British blockade in the War of 1812 (1807–15), entrepreneurs opened factories in the Northeast that set the stage for rapid industrialization modeled on British innovations.
From its emergence as an independent nation, the United States has encouraged science and innovation. As a result, the United States has been the birthplace of 161 of Britannica's 321 Greatest Inventions, including items such as the airplane, internet, microchip, laser, cellphone, refrigerator, email, microwave, personal computer, Liquid-crystal display and light-emitting diode technology, air conditioning, assembly line, supermarket, bar code, automated teller machine, and many more.The early technological and industrial development in the United States was facilitated by a unique confluence of geographical, social, and economic factors. The relative lack of workers kept United States wages nearly always higher than corresponding British and European workers and provided an incentive to mechanize some tasks. The United States population had some semi-unique advantages in that they were former British subjects, had high English literacy skills, for that period (over 80% in New England), had strong British institutions, with some minor American modifications, of courts, laws, right to vote, protection of property rights and in many cases personal contacts among the British innovators of the Industrial Revolution. They had a good basic structure to build on. Another major advantage, which the British lacked, was no inherited aristocratic institutions. The eastern seaboard of the United States, with a great number of rivers and streams along the Atlantic seaboard, provided many potential sites for constructing textile mills necessary for early industrialization. The technology and information on how to build a textile industry was largely provided by Samuel Slater (1768–1835) who emigrated to New England in 1789. He had studied and worked in British textile mills for a number of years and immigrated to the United States, despite restrictions against it, to try his luck with U.S. manufacturers who were trying to set up a textile industry. He was offered a full partnership if he could succeed—he did. A vast supply of natural resources, the technological knowledge on how to build and power the necessary machines along with a labor supply of mobile workers, often unmarried females, all aided early industrialization. The broad knowledge of the Industrial Revolution and Scientific revolution helped facilitate understanding for the construction and invention of new manufacturing businesses and technologies. A limited government that would allow them to succeed or fail on their own merit helped.
After the close of the American Revolution in 1783, the new government continued the strong property rights established under British rule and established a rule of law necessary to protect those ...