Tech Theory

Home Tech Timeline Assignment Part "C" Answers Part "D" Answers Pretest

Part A

Technology has existed as long as man has been on earth,  after all, we said: "technology is human innovation in action..." Technology has evolved as man has evolved, over hundreds of thousands of years, and at an exponential rate, a rate that is continuingly compounding. In fact the history of man can be broken into 4 technological eras:

Imagine that a snow flake falling from the sky represents the introduction of man and his first major technological intervention, fire (app.1 million years ago). It falls freely, slowly, virtually unchanged on it's long float from the heavens to earth. This period could represent the nomadic existence of man during the hunting and gathering era. It takes some time before it finally rests on top of tree. Here it clings to the side of a branch until other particles of snow (other major technical developments) cause it to break free and fall to the ground. This second journey, the fall from the tree top to the ground represents the agricultural era. It doesn't take nearly as long as the fall from the sky (hunting and gathering era), as it bounces from branch to branch picking up other flakes/tech developments such as the plow, wheel and the windmill, as society settles into a rural way of life. This leads to such discoveries as the domestication of animals, bronze, steel, wind power and so on.  Finally it hits the ground, which happens to be at the top of a large hill. The solid ground represents another drastic change, the  Industrial era. This period is unleashed with the discovery of steam power, mechanization, electricity, planes, trains and automobiles. Society become urbanized. Our clump of snow is now beginning to roll down the hill and forming into a small ball. It is changing it's form more quickly, as each discovery spawns more discoveries. It is picking more up and more particles at an ever increasing rate. Each particle represents significant technical developments. As it continues down the hill, it is picking up more and more speed compounding the rate of technical advancements. Electricity, radio, television are all produced during this time period largely as a result of such things as the implementation of production lines, the development of new materials and production strategies. BANG! The 1960's come along. This now large fast moving, ever growing snow ball of technology hits a tree (The introduction of the computer) This radical development explodes us into an information avalanche that we are now trying to stay ahead of as it thunders down the hill threatening to bury us unless we quickly adapt to the sweeping changes it presents. We are now living in the information era were things like automation, digitalization and lasers have radically changed the way we do things, and computers have swamped every aspect of society. We find ourselves scrambling to sort out the good and the bad of this reality.

Hew! This analogy almost snowballed out of control. However, it very closely illustrates the extremely slow change during man's earlier beginnings up to today's wild pace of change. Civilization began from a virtual dead stop and eventually began to make progress. At first there was not much progress a all, with literally thousands of years between significant discoveries, but it gradually picked up speed. The first technologies were in the interest of survival, to improve shelter from the elements, make better weapons and so on. People were scattered, always moving looking for food. Social change due to technological intervention was very slow, in fact, throughout the bulk of history change was slow, but the change remained ever increasing, non the less.

The Hunting and Gathering era included most of the stone age which gave us fire. The Agricultural era began at the tail end of the stone age and included the bronze age which brought us the wheel and the iron age which introduced the water wheel. Now that permanent residency came to be, the domestication of plants and animals (farming) developed. Most technological developments could still be linked to nature and "the land", but in a new way. For example: domesticating dogs for hunting was replaced with domesticating animals for food and work. Tools that were easily adapted to farm use from the previous era. Society saw a dramatic acceleration in technology with the development of the plow. The domestication of animals, pottery, bronze and iron, in themselves, came from the land, helped us work the land. Man went from being nomads constantly in search of food to becoming farmers and eventually some became specialists in guilds and so on.  Settlements of the agricultural era ensued government, hierarchies of wealth, a wider spread between class as status and power began to characterize the new societies.

Assignment Part A-1:

 Produce a timeline Power point presentation of your own that illustrates the evolution of man through technology from the beginning of time to present day. You are to produce a  chronological list of the discoveries of your choice to represent this evolution. Make it fun. seek out things that you think are cool or of curiosity. As most people have some experience with PowerPoint, I am also looking for you to maximize the features of the software. Make it attractive, utilize sound, effects and perhaps video.

Your presentation outline:

You may wish to utilize our virtual library at: CBHA Virtual Library
from here you may search out inventors, and inventions through the various encyclopedias.



Before we take a closer look at the next era, which is credited for forming us into a modern society, it is important to realize that "the technology", that shapes us and the world around us, is made up of separate components. Technology in general can be broken into at least 5 separate technological systems:

·        Communication System which results in information and data transfer.

·        Transportation System which deals with moving people and/or product from one place to another.

·        Production systems which produce and service our society’s wants and needs.

·        Energy systems which deliver various sources of power.

.   Bio-related systems ;technology & biology working together creating systems engineered to produce products using living organisms. Biological knowledge is used to produce robotic movement that simulates limbs for example. Technical strategies can be utilized to produce genetically altered foods.

 All of these technologies experienced similar growth rates since the coming of man. In the beginning there were major gaps between any significant discoveries or inventions that would dramatically change society {be sure to click on this link & check out this timeline to visualize this ever increasing pace of change we keep talking about}. Remember, we already stated that: The rationale or the purpose behind technology systems is to improve our standard of living and improve quality of life., so it is no coincidence that if you chart the growth of technology and that of the social economic development of man, that they would  be almost identical. Technology is probably the most influential directive that determines a societies development as you will see. 

If we were follow the evolution of the 4 systems of technology through the three eras, we would see that they all evolved at very similar patterns. Don't forget that although they are separate categories, they are connected. For example; today's communication technology give life to CNC machines, robots, lasers which play an intricate role in modern production systems.

  Hunting>>Agricultural Eras  Industrial Era  Information Era
Communication Systems -began with the development of verbal language.  Hieroglyphics-300BC,Written language-3200BC,and everything leading up to the printing press of the mid 1400's(a precursor to industrial tech. Edison's phonagraph-1877,Marconi's trans Atlantic transmission fr. Nfld -1901,Bell's telephone, radio, television. All of which are electronic devices that are independent mediums and do not provide much interaction. Computers-1960's, Internet- 19 Computer and digital capability based technology that permits multi medium and interactivity. For example; to be able to watch TV, listen to the radio and write an e-mail all at once on the same machine.
Transportation Systems Man learned to walk upright, they domesticated animals, invented the wheel which led to carts and wagons. At the same time they harnessed the wind and sailed the seas. They hitched a ride with mother nature during this period. Steam engines to gas engines driven vehicles replace the sail and the horse with the train, planes and automobiles. Not in that order of course, but now nature was being refined by mechanical means to propel us along.  Today we leave our atmosphere largely due to the monitoring and controlling features delivered by computer tech. which also help us to travel faster than the speed of  sound within our atmosphere. 
Production Systems manmade for self use or by the specialty of guilds mechanical machinery and production lines robots, CNC, automation, artificial intelligence
Energy Systems Muscle power, man and animal. Water wheels the wind through mills and sail directly put to use. Steam, fossil fuel and electricity transformed into mechanical power We are also beginning to replace fossil fueled  electrical energy with that of wind & solar power


Assignment Part B-1:

 Take a look around for, or just think of, something that has clearly evolved because of technology. Indicate which system  it falls under, then proceed to illustrate how it would be significantly changed in each era. Do this for two different technologies in two separate tech systems. You may do this in a grid format like the one above, or in paragraph form.
An example could very well be in the words you are reading right now. This written text clearly falls under a communication technology system. Coming through the internet is obviously a product of the information era. Written words or recorded language were first etched in stone and scribed by hand on on cloth during the agricultural era by the Greeks app. 1500 BC to later record the ideals of Plato. It was an alphabet later modified by the Romans and became the root alphabet of western language. By 150 BC crude forms of paper were used for recording information by hand, one at a time, on scrolls and later books. 1041 AD, the development of the printing press permitted  the publication of numerous articles and books. The industrial era developed automated printing presses and typewriters to quickly record information. Even dip pens were replaced with bald point pens. The information era replaced the typewriter with keyboards. Paper is being replaced with floppies and hard drives.


Part C

The Dawn of the Modern Age

England was set to become the heart of a new era, the industrial era. Besides already being a very powerful nation, it had rich deposits of iron and coal, colonies to supply raw materials such as cotton as well as the captured market to sell the products.  First, the region's many large rivers provided excellent sources of waterpower. Second, it was easier for New Englanders to shift to an economy based on manufacturing due to the fact that the area's rocky soil was poorly suited for farming. Third, New England had a number of fine seaports that could be used for bringing in raw materials and transporting out finished goods. And fourth, thanks to decades of success in the transatlantic shipping business, there were people in New England with large sums of money who wanted to invest in factories.

By the 1700's, another radical change of direction for society came as a result of the industrial revolution. This dramatic curve in the charted growth of man's evolution is reflected in the accelerated upward affect in the standard of living and quality of life for society in general. Nine out of ten people lived in rural areas. There was a large, mostly poor, lower class, a small, rich, upper class and not much of a middle class. Rural people raised most of their food on small farms. And they didn't have to leave home each day to work at their jobs. Back then, there were no electric lights, no movies, no telephones, no recorded music, and no cars. Ordinary people used their hands to make most of the things they needed. There was no public education, so few people could read and write. And due to poor nutrition and living conditions they didn't live nearly as long as people do today.

Then came the time when fast power-driven machines started to do work, that up until that time had only been done by human hands. It was when the first big factories were built to house workers and the machines they operated. It was when the production of manufactured goods increased dramatically, when the lives of human beings first started to be regulated by clocks and factory bells. It was also when rural populations declined as people headed to factories to find steady work, when cities rapidly grew, and when pollution of the environment began to occur on a massive scale.

This Industrial revolution was  triggered by the discovery of hydro power and the invention of new machinery and mechanization that in turn promoted the development of factories. These factories cleared the country side of it's population. Time, as in hours, minutes and even seconds, began to regulate the day instead of merely the rise and setting of the sun.

The revolution was first triggered off by the development of water (hydro) power,  which was quickly replaced by the steam power in the late 1700's was the new power. Eventually, electricity replaced steam power. Factories that started using steam engines were more efficient than water-powered factories and could be built far away from rivers. Steam engines also began to be used to run machines for mass transportation, such as railroads and steamboats, and this made it possible for people to travel long distances in a very short amount of time. The use of steam engines in farming for things such as threshing grain led to greatly increased food production and helped to revolutionize agriculture. But because steam engines burned wood or coal, smokestacks became a very familiar sight. And air pollution increased to the point that it began to cause serious health problems in the industrial cities. Naturally, as the popularity of steam powered machines grew, the appetite for coal and iron increased as well. More and more mines were developed to supply industry, and large scale mining itself resulted in tremendous environmental damage.

The switch from muscle power (of man and animals) to manmade power quickly accelerated the development of new highly efficient machines. Before the Industrial Revolution, each tool or machine was made by hand, one at a time. In fact, an important job of the blacksmith in pre-industrial times was to make replacement parts when a piece of equipment got broken, which was a very time-consuming process.

The sudden influx of people flocking to cities to find work in these factories was so significant that England, up to this point an agricultural country, was transformed into what became known as "the work shop of the world." Mechanical devices such as the power loom and many agricultural activities began replacing tasks normally done by hand putting many people out of work. One mechanical loom could out work thousands of farm workers. The development of factories and the mechanization of farm equipment changed the matrix of society by causing the drastic rise in urbanization as the work force was forced to reform as people people flooded to centers that housed the factories.


1.) Besides being one of the most powerful nations in the world, what are 3 reasons for England becoming the center of the industrial revolution?

2.) Which 2 industries led the development of the industrial revolution?

3.) What events occurred at the outset of the revolution that changed the way people lived?

4.) What were the advantages and disadvantages of switching from hydropower to steam power?

5.) New efficient mechanical farm proved very profitable until mother nature tripped up man's bold takeover of the countryside. What technological changes took place to revitalize the demise of farming industry? 

6.) Compare the pluses and the minuses for society that resulted from this new way of making a living in factories.


  The revolution soon made it's way to America. Some what ironically, it began in the New England states. 

  As the infectious revolution spread, America, too began showing the same symptoms as England and Europe had under gone as a result of the industrial revolution. child labor and poor working conditions were once again in the forefront. . (Masters, Men, and Industrial technology in Gaskell) Unions begin to sprout to battle such things. 

<<More detail on the conditions and the change in the "factory worker"

The development of the production line redefined the way goods were produced. Not only this new capacity of mass production, communication, and transportation change the supply and demand of goods and services put a new spin on the source and dynamics of wealth. The rich utilized new leverage on the poor.


1.) What were the 2 events that helped spread the reality of the industrial revolution to America?

2.) a.) As the cities of America were formed because of this developing revolution, what was the difference in regards to the people who manned the factories and filled these cities to those who flocked to the factory centers of Europe?

     b.) What social similarities were people experiencing in the factories and with city life?

3) Find the words listed  below . With the letters that remain, find the hidden message by inserting them in the blanks below..

Insert the remaining hidden  message in the blanks below.

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __   __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __   

__ __ __   __ __ __   __ __   __ __ __ . 



9 of 9 words were placed into the puzzle.

Visit Puzzlemaker at

Discovery Channel School



In recent times, society was forced to restructure itself once again with the introduction of the computer. Just as thousands of farm hands of the agricultural era were being replaced by mechanical devices, production workers of the industrial era found that they were being replaced  with the automation and robots of the information era.

 If we were to try and distinguish what technological elements actually influenced society significantly enough to breakdown history into separate categories, we would quickly note that one indicator would be how or where people lived. We went from being nomadic tribes, always on the move in search of food, to settled farmers in the cultivated rural country sides of the agricultural era. We then became urbanized as we built and flocked to the cities that held the factories. Finally, we became globalize as computers virtually destroyed all borders.

Another or more specific indicator of social redirection due to technical change, is "work", or employment. What was the source of employment? Where did people work? Where did the power come from to do the work. How was it controlled and or monitored? These answers would be the adaptive indictors of the change for society.

  Agricultural Era Industrial Era Information Era
jobs farmers, blacksmith, Taylor production workers, tradesmen technicians, annalists 
work place farms, guilds factories, plants labs, centers
power source muscle (man power, horse power) direct wind (sail) and eventually hydro (water wheel)    power Steam engine, Electricity, gas engine


solar, wind turbine

(computer controlled & monitored)

In conclusion to this section, we have come a long way, not necessarily with a cost mind you, but one can see that technology must take much of the responsibility for the state of the social health of mankind. It is evident that when society must change gears due to the shift of technological intervention, the social transition is not necessarily a smooth result. The switch from a nomadic way of life to sedentism (-living permanently in one place) resulted in a concentrated exploitation of peoples surroundings not experienced by man up to this point. It also resulted in a dramatic change in social structures because of the newly developed economic products; status, class and politics. 
When there was a switch from the agricultural era to the industrial era, it caused what was traditionally a farm related workforce to be exchanged for a (factory) Industrial work force, the world was transformed from rural based society, for the most part, to an urban society. Today, in this information age, this global society struggles with cultural clashes and corporate mandates. Technology that is supposed to be improving our quality of life and standard of living, is ever lacking in equality and even adding to much of the problems.


The history of man can be categorically broken into 4 technological eras that define him. These eras are periods of time that, generally speaking, the bulk of society was metamorphosed by dramatic technological change. The 1st era of a million years plus; saw man as nomads chasing their food, finally settle in one place and make their surroundings work to support them. This agricultural era spawned the birth of civilization. Both eras depended on what nature provided for them, muscle was the means of power, transportation and communication. 

A mostly illiterate society with virtually no middle class, that settled into a peaceful rural way of life for over the last 10,000 years, was suddenly corralled into the urban rat race brought on by the industrial revolution. This mechanical driven 200 year period displaced 1000's of farm and cottage industry workers by replacing muscle based resources with much more efficient machine based resources. The 1st or at least the beginning of the industrial revolution, was fueled by the iron and textile industries and originated in England. An already powerful nation, England, because of her reliable water sources, and  her colonial market and suppliers; was able to quickly further spring ahead of the rest of the world once she employed new technologies such as the power loom. The thrust of the revolution was accelerated by the employment of the more efficient and portable steam power for inventions such as the steam thresher. Rich coal and iron ore deposit's also fueled the new factories that not only produced the products, but lured people from the country side in search of work. The result formed fast growing cities and large, often dirty and over crowded, towns. The middle class was born, free education, more products and so-on, but so was mass pollution, environmental destruction, labor and civil unrest due to over population and horrid working conditions. The revolution began in North America once the best kept English secrets of equipment design and practices were smuggled across the ocean. America suffered very similar growing pains and circumstances as England, but managed to come out of it as becoming one of the most powerful nations in the world. One of the major differences between these 2 revolutions is the source of their work forces. Unlike England who utilized her poor and her displaced farm workers; America's initial work force that was largely comprised of "mill girls", who were quickly taken over by the massive influx of immigrants. 

When the industrial era was replaced by the information era, the production worker and so on found themselves being replaced by automation. Society, once again had to deal with mass layoffs and restructuring. Society that started off with a nomadic existence, settled into a rural transformation, then develop as an urban society has recently been accelerated to a virtual global  explosion of information that, ironically, isolates the individual from people and family as the computer consumes us.
Today we find ourselves living in a virtual world with an estimated 30 - 300 million internet users world wide, generating over $1.3 trillion in E- commerce this year (2002). Internet users are said to double every 70 days, over 50% of Canadians are already regular users. In both instances where society took on a new face, new cultures were born, society was forced to adapted to the mix of climate that was generated by the circumstance brought on by new technology. As in the past the evolution continues. It is important to note that in each era not all was changed. We still, or at least some parts of the world still, do things the way things the way they were done in previous eras. "It is not necessary to through the baby out with the bath water". Not all change is for the better of all as we will see in the next section.

Assignment, Choose one of the following:

1) Find a news paper add that you can easily link to technology. Make a summery of the add and describe the role it plays, or how it relates to technology. Categorize the tech systems involved and also illustrate how this aspect of technology has evolved through out the different eras. You may use a chart if you wish.The following should help get you started:

Nova Scotia local News:





StudentNewsHour NYTimesLearn

2) Interview an older person in your family or community, preferably a senior citizen. It could be your grandparent, a neighbor or family friend. The purpose is find out first hand  how much technology has changed society even within a single lifetime. Many of our seniors have interesting stories and experiences, as well as their own take on things that we, all too sadly, rarely take the time to acknowledge. Then it becomes too late. You can focus on something specific such as the fishing industry. Look at the size of boats at one time, the way they fished, the kind of gear etc. You may just look at life in general, before TV, indoor plumbing and so-on. Try to get some stats such as costs, even rough dates and so-0n. There is bound to be interesting stories and surprises. Perhaps some facts might make us think about some of the many things we take for granted, or how good were "the good old days", anyway? It will take at least a couple of pages to document the changes these people have experienced through out their lifetime. Conclude with a brief account of your feelings concerning this exercise.