Industry 1.0 to Industry 4.0 and What’s Next

Technology continues to progress, creating pivotal changes in our society. How does each Industrial Revolution connect and what impact will Industry 4.0 have?

Road to Industry 4.0

From mobile phones that allow us to be connected to everything to artificial intelligence and robotics being designed to do everything for us, we live in a time of technical innovation. But how did we transition from past inventions to today’s technological advancements?

Today’s innovations result from societal changes and creations from past industrial revolutions. These revolutions helped our society evolve by advancing our technology, transportation, manufacturing capabilities and financial systems, with each industrial revolution adding to the next.

This article discusses a brief overview of each industrial revolution, their crucial moments, and inventions that led us to the technology you used to find and read this article. It will also discuss today’s industrial revolution and the possibilities for Industry 5.0.

Industry 1.0: The Steam Engine Revolution


The first industrial revolution spanned from 1760 to 1830, beginning in Britain and quickly spreading across Europe.

This industrial revolution created significant sociocultural changes as the innovations developed during this period increased the production of factories and created faster methods of travel and more rapid communication. It increased the middle class’s average income and standard of living and allowed cities to develop more rapidly as people left the countryside to find work in the factories. This period marked the rise of capitalism, global inequality, socialism, and Marxism as industrialized countries expanded their economies. In contrast, non-industrialized countries were forced to export their raw materials and fell behind. (Source: Britannica and MPRA).

Notable Moments

The Labour Movement: During the first industrial revolution, there was a lack of worker protections and regulations, which meant the exploitation of poor and working-class individuals was common practice. The technological innovations that increased factory production levels also created terrible working conditions for employees. Since there was such a high emphasis on increased production levels and meeting inflated quotas, some poor working conditions included long hours, low wages, and high rates of accidents. (Source: Britannica,  MPRA, and History).

Banking: Adam Smith published his book, The Wealth of Nations, in 1776, in which he promoted an economic system based on free enterprise, the private ownership of means of production, and a lack of government interference. Around the same time, the London stock exchange was established in the 1770s, and the New York stock exchange was established in the 1890s. These pivotal moments helped to establish the banking and financial systems used today (Source: History).


The Spinning Jenny: The spinning jenny is a wooden frame with multiple spindles used by the British textile industry during the industrial revolution. James Hargreaves developed it in 1770, and throughout the industrial revolution, it ran from eight spindles to eighty. The spinning jenny increased cloth production per individual worker and required fewer resources. By 1779 the spinning jenny was combined with the water frame, which used waterpower to drive spinning wheels, producing the strongest thread available at the time. This new machine, the spinning mule, created a more robust and consistent thread. With over 85,000 looms in use by 1833 and more than 800,000 persons employed by Britain’s textile industry, Britain was able to dominate the international textile market. The spinning jenny helped to drive Britain’s economy, providing the nation with the capital to invest in technological advancements in other industries. Without the spinning jenny, we may not have the technology we possess today, as it provided Britain with the resources it needed to advance its other industries (Source: History and MPRA).

Textile Factory - United Kingdom 1784
Textile Factory – United Kingdom 1784

The Steam Engine: In the 1760s, James Watt started experimenting with plans designed by Thomas Newcomen in the early 1700s. After collaborating with Matthew Boulton, these plans turned into the steam engine. The steam engine was a key innovation of the first industrial revolution. It allowed steam power to be used for steamboats, trains, factories, and mines, giving Britain a competitive advantage in transporting and producing its goods (Source: History).

Steam train at the station making clouds of steam
The steam train connected cities and developed more dynamic supply chains

Industry 2.0: The Technological Revolution


The second industrial revolution began in the 1860s and ended in the 1910s. During this time, industries started to use materials such as lighter metals, rare earth, new alloys, synthetic products (ex., plastic) and new energy sources. The use of electrical technology and mass production methods also played a significant role in starting the second revolution. Recent innovations such as the telegraph, radio and newspaper allowed ideas and news to spread rapidly worldwide.

This time also marked the beginning of assembly lines in factories. Since modern-day technology increased production, it also led to the development of large corporations and monopolies. The second revolution redefined how humans lived, worked, and communicated. Accelerated by World War I, globalization was taken to new levels and laid the foundation for today’s world economy (Source: Britannica, Richmond Vale Academy and History).

Notable Moments

Mass Production:  In 1886, Karl Benz patented the world’s first automobile and began selling it in 1888. Then in 1896, Henry Ford built his first car and pioneered an assembly-line style of manufacturing. Ford created systems for mass production by eliminating unnecessary human motions, placing tools within reach of employees, and using conveyor belts.

One of Henry Ford’s lesser-known innovations is the 40-hour workweek. Employees also worked six days a week until Ford decided to give his employees both Saturday and Sunday off. He reasoned that giving his workers an extra day off would create a need to purchase more goods, especially cars. Just like the 40-hour work week, you can still find the concepts developed by Ford for a more efficient manufacturing environment in many automotive factories (Source: Society for Industrial Management and EngineeringTiny Pulse and Global News).

Transportation: The second revolution allowed rapid technological advancement in the transportation industry. Innovations such as railroads and airplanes forever changed how businesses and individuals transported products and people worldwide. Using steel for railroads made trains a quick and cheap mode of transportation to move people across long distances. The invention of the automobile reduced travel times and allowed individuals to reach inaccessible locations. This time also marked the beginning of sustained and controlled flight, with the Wright brothers’ demonstration of powered flight in 1903 (Source: The Second Industrial Revolution).


The Telephone: In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent for his telephone instrument. By 1900 there were 600,000 phones in Bell’s telephone system—a number that continued to grow throughout the second revolution. During the early years of the telephone, there was a race to build long-distance networks across countries. This race helped the telephone industry and many others to develop rapidly (Source: Elon University and Richmond Vale Academy).

Old vintage telephone
By the early 20th Century, telephone networks spread across cities worldwide

The Lightbulb: In 1835, scientists demonstrated the first instance of constant electric light, leading to scientists spending over 40 years working with incandescent lamps. Then in 1879, Thomas Edison patented his incandescent light bulb. In addition to the lightbulb, Edison proved that he could distribute electricity from a central generator to a series of wires and tubes. Edison also made advancements that helped improve electricity generation and developed the first electric meter (Source: Energy).

The inventions of the second industrial revolution still influence our lives, such as the phone in your hand, the light over your head, and the car in your garage. Now we’ll discuss the third industrial revolution, and maybe you can identify more elements that affect your life today.

Industry 3.0: The Digital Revolution


Industry 3.0, or the digital revolution, lasted from the 1960s to the 2010s and is most known for bringing digitization with computers, the invention of the Internet, and the discovery of nuclear energy. This revolution is also known as a new era for space exploration and biotechnologies and an overall movement toward globalization. During this time, the world became wealthier as development expanded globally, the economy was established on the Internet, and there was a continuous rise in smart digital infrastructure. Further developments in airplanes and waterways reduced the cost of air travel and cargo shipment, contributing to a more internationally dependent economy.

Socially speaking, quality of life improved as humans ate healthier, and there was better housing and cheaper goods. The third revolution also highlighted the threat of climate change, and renewable forms of energy became more popular as there was a push to reduce the global carbon footprint. There was also a significant increase in unemployment rates, and the global gap between the rich and poor widened. 

Notable Moments

The Internet: The development of the Internet into what it is today took time. In 1965 Lawrence Roberts made two separate computers talk to each other. After this, the first packet-switching network was created, with Leonard Kleinrock sending a message from UCLA to Stanford. This led to ARPANET (the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), which snowballed and expanded to military, academic and research institutions from North America to Europe. Next came the development of email, which created an explosion of internet activity into the mainstream. By 1989, Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web making the Internet easy for anyone with a connection to use. With the introduction of TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), computers could speak the same language and locate designations through IP addresses. Since then, the Internet has redefined how humans create, transfer, and store knowledge. It has also changed our communication and business methods in the global marketplace (Source: Science and Media Museum).

Space Exploration: In 1957, the U.S.S.R launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth, leading to the famed space race between the USA and the Soviet Union. The space race lasted throughout the Cold War, leading to the development of space stations and missions to send probes throughout our solar system. Beyond the development of satellite technology, the scientific research founded on data from space has led to many other technological advancements, such as improved solar panels, implantable heart monitors, cameras found in today’s cell phones, and global search-and-rescue systems (Source: National Geographic and NASA).


Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC): The first PLC was introduced during the 1960s as an industrial computer designed to help control manufacturing processes. The role of a PLC is to communicate, monitor and control the automated processes of assembly lines and robotic devices. Programmable logic controllers capture the data from the plant floor by monitoring the inputs from the connected machines. This data is processed via the CPU, which executes a command to the connected device. In the 1980s, PLCs were introduced to offices when computers began replacing drafting boards. PLCs quickly became one of the most useful machine diagnostic tools for office computers. The innovation made monitoring and troubleshooting much more effective. (Source: c3controls and Inductive Automation).

Robotic automotive assembly in factory
In the latter half of the 1900s, robotics were widely introduced in factories significantly increasing production

Robots: In the 1960s, the world met its first robot when SRI International developed Shakey. This robot, named for its slow and twitchy movements, was the first mobile and perceptive robot equipped with camera and bump sensors. During this time, manufacturers used the first robot arms within the automotive industry to weld together auto bodies. These robot arms helped to increase productivity and efficiency and created a safer environment for employees as they took on the more dangerous tasks. The descendants of these robot arms can still be found in the automotive industry today (Source: Wired).

Artificial Intelligence: The theory of AI was first developed in 1935 by Alan Turing when he dreamed up a stored-program concept known as the Turing machine. Turing’s work halted during World War II. Still, he continued to lecture and write reports about his ideas for artificial intelligence. In 1950 Turing developed the Turing test, a practical test to determine a computer’s intelligence. Then in 1951, Christopher Strachey developed the first successful AI program, which could play checkers by 1952. In the same year, the first successful machine-learning demonstration was published. Throughout the third revolution, AI advancements continued, resulting in the AI technology that continues to evolve today. Artificial intelligence has had a societal and economic impact on the globe as it increases the efficiency of manufacturing processes, improves worker safety, and is integrated into our everyday technology, from driverless cars to streaming platforms (Source: Britannica).

AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning continue to change our world. Read more on the development of AI in our article: The Difference Between AI, ML and DL

Now that we’ve covered Industry 3.0, let’s move on from the past industrial revolutions to the present one.

Interested in more tech history? Learn about Telecom’s progression from 1G to 5G in our article 1G to 5G: A Brief History

Industry 4.0: The Industrial Internet of Things

Today, we live in the fourth industrial revolution, building on the digital technologies introduced during the third. Industry 4.0 is characterized by information and communication. Humans are more connected than ever, with access to mobile devices with large storage capacities, unprecedented processing power, and almost unlimited access to knowledge.

It is also important to mention that network technology has played a vital role in this ongoing industrial revolution. Network technology allows organizations, people, and machines to exchange, analyze and act on data in real time. Enhanced connectivity has become increasingly flexible, less costly, and ubiquitously used across all sectors and ways of life.

Impacts on Society

This revolution has provided technology to improve the quality of life for individuals worldwide. Some suggest that individuals who are benefiting from this revolution are the ones who can afford access to the new digital world, with beneficiaries of innovation often being those who provide the intellectual, financial, or physical capital required. However, many technologies in this industrial revolution are enablers for all in the community, like 5G for smart cities that offer safer and cleaner living. These advantages help to reduce inequalities in our society and allow developing nations to grow their economies and transition into developed countries. Overall, Industry 4.0 represents a vision for developing digital technologies that foster an empowering and sustainable foundation for social and economic development (Source: World Economic Forum and Britannica).

Notable Moments

Social Media: Out of all the technological advancements humans have made, social media is one of the most prevalent innovations we deal with daily. One of the first true social media sites,, hit the Internet in 1997 and gained one million followers before it was sold and shut down in 2000. With the continued improvements to personal connectivity, social media evolved, and its popularity saw explosive growth. Facebook was launched in 2004 and quickly gained over one million users in the same year. Shortly after, LinkedIn appeared for the business community, followed by Flickr, WordPress, Twitter, and YouTube. In 2007 the hashtag was introduced; in 2010, Instagram was released, followed by Pinterest. From here on out, society has become obsessed with scrolling through social media platforms, with no signs of slowing down. While there are some concerns about social media regarding privacy and radicalization, it has provided organizations with a fair opportunity to compete with each other, has made educational tools more accessible, and has helped draw attention to social inequalities in our society (Source: Hootsuite).

Online Shopping and Public Cloud: In 1995, Amazon officially opened its virtual doors as an online bookseller. By the end of 1996, the company had amassed over $15 million in revenues and was taken public by Bezos, quickly branching out to other products like toys, tools, and electronics. By 2000 individual sellers and external merchants could sell their products on Amazon’s platform, which quickly dominated the online shopping market. As the Amazon platform continued to grow, so did the company’s server capabilities, leading to the creation of the most extensive public cloud offering, AWS (Amazon Web Services). Now, not only does Amazon hold the largest market share of shoppers, it also provides organizations with the server space to run their business operations. Today, Amazon is easily one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Cloud-based companies like Amazon have changed how organizations sell and distribute their products and enable businesses to go digital without the cost of buying their own datacentre hardware (Source: History).


The innovations of Industry 4.0 continue to be based on advancements in networks, enabling the more efficient transfer and analysis of data.  By combining advanced sensor systems and AI, our world continues to change.  Because we have already highlighted AI in Industry 3.0, let’s review two other technologies shaping our current world.

Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of Things is the ever-growing network of connected devices communicating with us and each other. One of the first instances of IoT took place in the 1980s when Coca-Cola connected one of their vending machines to the Internet, allowing local programmers to check the availability and coldness of the beverages before purchase. In 1999, Kevin Ashton defined the term “Internet of Things,” working heavily with RFID tagging to automate processes. Today, IoT continuously integrates deeper into everyday life, including everything from smart home appliances to connected streetlights and autonomous vehicles. But IoT is also becoming a requirement across industries to stay competitive as machine-to-machine communication leads to higher production and cost-efficiency while making workplaces more environmentally friendly and safer for employees. This has been coined Industrial IoT (IIoT), a phenomenon significantly impacting smart farming, smart mining, health care, advanced manufacturing, and so much more (Source: DataVersity).

Internet of Things uses advanced networks, AI, and sensors to connect humans and machines to act in real time

Blockchain: Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology (DLT) that records transactions between multiple computers, ensuring more security, transparency, and decentralization for user and company operations. Satoshi Nakamoto developed the blockchain concept in 2008 after developers used a primitive version in Bitcoin. After releasing the first whitepaper about blockchain, Nakamoto left the scene leaving other developers to evolve the digital ledger technology. With today’s digital age of information being stored and shared online, organizations depend on growing cloud storage technology and online data transfers. This leaves them vulnerable to cyber-attacks and presents a need for more robust cybersecurity. This is where blockchain comes in, as its main characteristic of decentralization ensures higher data integrity (Source: 101 Blockchains).

Blockchain security for the defence industry
Advancements in blockchain are seen as an answer to developing more secure networks as society becomes more dependent on the cloud

Learn more about Blockchain and how it is changing the game for cybersecurity by reading our article: The Benefits and Vulnerabilities of Blockchain Security

While the fourth revolution is underway, what will the next industrial revolution look like?

The Future Industrial Revolution

Hand of a businessman shaking hands with a robot.
Industry 5.0 is predicted to bring full AI integration into networks, creating a new level of automation in our businesses and lives

The future industrial revolution or Industry 5.0 could be a new era that leverages the advancements of Industry 4.0 and witnesses humans working alongside robots and AI (Source: UTS).

According to Professor Peter Ralph, Director of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), “in 5.0, we’ll take what we learnt from 4.0 and refine it, making it more fit-for-purpose for the post-COVID, climate-damaged world. Humans will play a key role in transforming 4.0 systems for the new world, taking the good parts of automation, and disposing of the bad” (Source: UTS).

One possibility where we see humans and machines working together is in enhanced smart cities. Smart cities improve the quality of life for citizens who engage with this digital environment through their daily activities. These cities use an underlying framework that leverages IoT sensors, communication networks, real-time data, and other information and communication technologies to connect all aspects of the city. Data captured by sensors throughout the city are transported through high-speed networks and transformed into actionable information and insights. This information drives automated technologies that fast-track processes and react immediately to changing environments.

A current smart city example is Montreal, Quebec. This city developed a digital platform that allows residents access to all transportation-related data in their city, including micro-mobility fleets and app-based transportation. Montreal also proposes a plan to pool infrastructure and resources for local food production, distribution, and storage. This would allow organizations to increase their collective buying power of local foods, reduce waste and decrease operating costs.

Other instances where machines and humans may work together in the future include smart hospitals, the manufacturing industry, and supply chain management.

However, as Industry 4.0 is ongoing, it is unclear what Industry 5.0 has in store. There may still be some time before we experience the advancements of Industry 5.0. This means that the predicted innovations of the fifth industrial revolution, such as improved smart cities, might only represent a milestone for Industry 4.0.

For more future-looking content, check out our article: The 6G Network: Your Questions Answered


Every industrial revolution was built upon the foundations of past technology. Steam engines and new manufacturing equipment, such as the spinning jenny, powered the first industrial revolution. This brought about new labour conditions and banking systems, creating an environment for industries to grow.

The second industrial revolution was propelled by transportation advancements and mass-production techniques allowing industries to expand into new markets and increase their supply levels. Additionally, inventions such as the telephone and lightbulb laid the groundwork for the technical innovations of the third and fourth revolutions.

The third industrial revolution brought forward new digital technologies, such as robots and programmable logic controllers, which redefined manufacturing processes, and gave us the Internet and communication capabilities to drive significant globalization.

Now the fourth revolution brings an era of automation with innovations such as Enhanced AI, Cloud technology, the Internet of Things and Blockchain Security. This revolution has supercharged industry and is a source of significant social change.

With the fourth industrial revolution still in progress, it leaves us wondering how today’s inventions will impact tomorrow’s innovations. From cybersecurity to privacy concerns, technology continues to bring new challenges, but when implemented correctly, it can enable a better quality of life for all.

Enhanced connectivity through Next Generation Networks (NGN) enables digital transformation across all sectors. It’s optimizing industries to be more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable to support a never seen level of connectivity. CENGN has embarked on a national study to better understand the Canadian NGN ecosystem and its needs.

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About the Author

Mikayla is a Content Writer and Marketing Student at CENGN (Fall 2022). She is a Business Commerce Student at the University of Ottawa focusing on a specialization in Marketing. Mikayla is passionate about using professional writing to transform complex topics into enjoyable and easily consumable content. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and volunteering as a Senior Marketing Manager for Enactus uOttawa, a student-led non-profit organization that uses entrepreneurial action to empower people to improve their livelihoods.

More by Mikayla Federchuk

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