The Quantum Leap 1900 - 1935

In 1900, the world was almost unrecognizable from the one just 50 years before. Britain had become a world leader in science, industrialization, and colonial expansion. Science, technology, and philosophy developed at an astonishing rate with the industrial revolution in Europe. However, it was also a time of great inequality and terrible working conditions. There were numerous examples of corruption and exploitation of workers as well as social injustice based on gender and race. The problems were obvious and left many wondering what the future might hold for humanity. The 20th century would prove to be a momentous period for humankind. Advances in science and technology accelerated at an incredible rate with discoveries being made almost monthly. Industry boomed with inventions such as the car, the telephone, and the airplane having a transformative effect on society. New ways of thinking about politics, economics, and society emerged through philosophers like Marx, Nietzsche & Freud who are still studied today. Despite this apparent progress, however, WWI also demonstrated how far mankind could regress when faced with war and destruction.

1900 - The world at the start of the century

The first decade of the 1900s was dominated by the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Boer Wars. The Boxer Rebellion was a violent uprising in China against the invasion of foreign powers. In 1901, the Boxer Protocol granted the western powers access to certain regions in China and the Boxer Indemnity was paid by the Chinese government to the western powers to compensate for the losses incurred. The Spanish-American War was a short conflict between Spain and the USA over colonial territories in the Caribbean, particularly Cuba. The Boer Wars was a long and costly conflict between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, in South Africa.

Introduction of Electricity

Electricity was first harnessed by Thomas Edison in 1882 and by the end of the 20th century, it was the world’s most widely used source of energy. Electricity is generated from a variety of sources including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear fission, and even water. During the century, electricity transformed the world from a place without light to a place with plenty of it. Once a luxury only for the wealthy in cities, electricity became a necessity for all as rural areas were connected to the grid. Electricity is now used in homes, offices, and factories for lighting, heating, and the production of goods. It is also used to power many different appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, stoves, TVs, and computers.

Automation in Manufacturing

For thousands of years, people made goods by hand in small workshops. This changed when machines were used to manufacture goods on a large scale. The first form of mass production was the factory system pioneered in Britain in the second half of the 19th century. Factories used steam engines to power machines such as looms, lathes, hammers, and steel rolling mills. The use of machines to make goods on a large scale cut the cost of production. Mass production allowed cheap goods to be made available to ordinary people for the first time. This had a huge impact on the way people lived.

The Rise of Motor Vehicles

The invention of the automobile by Karl Benz in 1878 and Gottlieb Daimler in 1885 was a major development of the 1900s. The number of car owners in the world grew rapidly from just a few thousand in 1900 to millions by the 1930s. By the end of the 20th century, there were over one billion cars in the world. The transition from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles also transformed the way people lived. It revolutionized travel, as people could travel farther, faster, and cheaper than ever before. It transformed industries such as transportation, tourism, and retail by making them more accessible to everyone.

Début of Modern Communication

Communication had progressed on a large scale throughout the 1900s thanks in large part to the invention of the telephone. During the 19th century, the telegraph was widely used for long-distance communication. It was quick, reliable, and could be sent using just a few clicks of a button. However, it was only available to those with access to a telegraph office. The telephone enabled long-distance communication without the need for an operator. It changed people's lives and had a major impact on business, social life, and daily culture. By the end of the 20th century, there were more than one billion telephone lines in the world.


The great leaps forward in the first half of the 20th century transformed the world in a relatively short time. Science, technology, and industry continued to grow and develop at an astonishing rate. Many people at the start of the century could never have imagined the world as it would appear by the end of it. The quantum leap in technology and industry during this period resulted in an unprecedented transformation of the world. The future is an open book and it is up to each generation to shape it in their way.