The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
Why some are so rich and some so poor
By David Landes

Chapter 4: The Invention of Invention
Adam Smith: 1776

Important Middle Ages Technologies Water Wheel

Revived in 10th century
By 1086 England had 5,600 water mills
Improved by dams and ponds
Cranks and toothed gears made possible: Water Wheel

Water Wheel
“ Paper, which was manufactured by hand and foot for a thousand years or so following its invention by the Chinese and adoption by the Arabs, was manufactured mechanically as soon as it reached medieval Europe in the thirteenth century…Paper had traveled nearly halfway around the world, but no culture or civilization on its route had tried to mechanize its manufacture”

Europe was a power-based civilization

Doubled the working life of skilled craftsmen:
Scribes and readers
Instrument and toolmakers
Close weavers
Metal workers

By age 40, get farsightedness occurs
Can’t focus on close objects
If can see, 20 more productive years of work for medieval skilled craftsman



Invented in Pisa 13th century
By 15th century Italy making thousands spectacles
Eyeglasses encouraged invention of fine instruments

Knowledge of lenses produced other inventions

Europe had monopoly  on corrective lenses  for 300-400 years

Mechanical Clock
Before its invention: sundials and water clocks: both unreliable
Reliable time important

Mechanical Clock
Invented in Italy and/or England 13th century
Early clocks inaccurate
Relentless pressure to improve technique an design
Clockmakers lead the way in accuracy and precision

Mechanical Clock

Mechanical Clock

Printing Printing
Gutenberg Bible: 1542



Invented by Chinese in 11th century
Used as incendiary in fireworks, war Gunpowder Why did Europe get Ahead?


Chinese inventions: China

Reasons for Chinese Stagnation
Absence of a free market and property rights
Chinese state always interfering with private enterprise

Ming Dynasty
First promoted maritime trade, then prohibited it: China became isolated
Before Europeans arrived Chinese fleet huge, advanced
By the time Europeans arrived, Chinese fleet not a threat

Chinese Navy: 15th century

Reasons for Chinese Stagnation
Confinement of women to the home made it impossible to exploit them in textile factories
Chinese society totalitarian: State monopolies on

Regulations on Rules from birth to death
Endless paperwork and harassment of people
Result: no one tried.  Why try?


Why Europe?
Judeo-Christian Beliefs:
    respect for manual labor
    subordination of nature to man
    sense of linear time (not cyclical): progress
Market, free enterprise
Innovation worked and paid
Rulers limited in ability to prevent innovation

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