How did the General Purpose Technology Electricity contribute to the Second Industrial Revolution (II): The Communication Engines

Bauke van der Kooij

    Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paperScientific

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    The concept of the General Purpose Technology (GPT) of the late 1990s is a culmination of many evolutionairy views in innovation-thinking. By definition the GPT considers the technical, social, and economic effects of meta-technologies like steam-technology and electric technology. This paper uses Schumpeter’s concept of ’cluster on innovations’ to create insight in the nature of the GPT- Electricity. Complementing the earlier presented invention of the Steam Engine, Electromotive Engine and Electric Light (Kooij, 2015a), three additional case studies are presented about the Content of the invention of the Communication Engines Telegraph, Telephone and Wireless. In addition, the Context for these inventions is presented. We found that these inventions— better ’clusters of innovations’— were the core elements in the technical contributions to the Second Industrial Revolution. These General Purpose Engines (GPE) that used electricity as carrier of information in stead of power, fuelled the Communication Revolution and made ’electricity’ contribute so considerably to the Second Industrial Revolution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • General Purpose Technology
    • Industrial Revolution
    • technological innovation
    • cluster of innovation
    • innovation
    • history of technology

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