Industrial Revolution, the change from the use of hand methods of manufacturing to machine methods. This change, which began in England about 1750 and later spread to other countries, is called a “revolution” because it brought vast changes in the way people work and live. It created an industrialized society—one in which large-scale mechanized manufacturing replaced farming as the main source of jobs. Instead of growing their own food and making at home the products they use, a great many persons in an industrialized society work for wages and buy their food and other necessities. They live in towns and cities rather than in the country.

Progress in technology and in industrial development has been almost continuous since the Industrial Revolution began. Since 1900, and particularly since World War II, industry and technology have advanced at an ever-increasing rate. In a sense, the revolution that began around 1750 has never ended.

The term industrial revolution was originated by J. A. Blanqui, a 19th-century French economist. The term came into popular use after Arnold Toynbee, a British economist, published the book The Industrial Revolution in 1884.