The peak of the textile trade was in 1801 and after 1811, the exports declined sharply. By 1830
British goods began to displace Indian goods in the Indian market. One of the most dramatic
technological change was in spinning. It took 10,000 operative hours to spin 100 lbs of cotton
in India. Crompton’s mule, one of the first machines of the industrial revolution in 1780, did
this in 2000 operative hours. By 1825, the number was down to 125 with Robert’s automatic
mule. (Broadberry and Gupta 20094)
Yes, yes, yes, we all know, spinning, textiles, industrial revolution.
But think about the truly important part of this, how this really made us all richer.
That’s 9,875 hours, for every 100 lbs of cotton, of human labour which can be used to go do something else. And people did.
The point about the mechanisation isn’t so much that we got the machines to do the spinning but that humans didn’t have to do the spinning.