Reina Farji


The Invention of Light and  The Abuse of Factory Workers

Prior to the Industrial revolution people were dependent on bees wax, threads of gun cotton, fire and natural sunlight to be productive and furthermore go along with their daily lives; People slept more and worked less, life was not as stressful as it became to be. Once darkness would strike people went back home with their families and prepare for light again. The lack of a device that would illuminate day and night was necessary for people’s productivity and efficiency.

It was not until 1792 in Cornawall England, that William Murdoch an employee of Boulton and Watt’s engineering and manufacturing company for the production of stationary steam engines, began experimenting with gas from the production of coal and other organic materials, to produce light. Murdoch’s creativity allowed him to create a gas purification process that removed several gases such as ammonia, sulphur and hydrocarbons that consequently allowed the proper mixtures of gases such as hydrogen methane and carbon monoxide to combine in order to produce light. In 1805 the Phillips and Lee cotton mill in Manchester was the first industrial factory to be illuminated by Murdoch with the use of gas lighting. Altough Murdoch was not able to obtain a patent for his invention, he revolutionized the concept of lighting. Allowing many other scientists to revolutionize and explode his original to set the foundation for electrical lighting and electricity to be established in a near future.

Murdoch’s invention in that time period brought many massive changes to society. For instance after his invention night life flourished, gas lighting allowed people to be more productive and not to rely on such limited resources to live. People could now go to sleep later, walk around town, see in the dark and not experience as many fires as they use to since candles was not their primary source for lighting anymore. However, this invention brought along some latent functions as well… Every day had now more hours. Furthermore this invention triggered the explosion and abuse of industrial factory owners to their employees. This inventions allowed labor, production and manufacturing to enslave workers due to the means of production and capitalism. Especially in Great Britain where the winter nights were longer, workers would sometimes even work twenty four hours in a row leading to increased production and resulting in great commercialization.

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