Coming out of the dark ages, we lived in the Agrarian Age where wealth was created from the land and, therefore, a few landholders had the power and wealth of the nation. Battles were fought over land and the differing resources that the geography possessed, giving title deeds to the victor.
The Industrial Revolution changed this order. The era of capitalism was born with the creation of factories engaging workers through Adam Smith’s division of labour principles and the production of mass market goods, provided ever more cheaply through ever greater size of operations and the economies of scale employed. This era started in the seventeenth century and culminated with massive industrial complexes such as Henry Ford’s car plants in Detroit.
In the Industrial Age, the ability to attain capital, own and run factories by organising workers and machinery led to wealth for the individual. There was a fundamental shift in financial power from the land to capital. On a global scale this became the age where America industrial might showed itself and then latterly German engineering prowess and Japanese production efficiency rose to the fore. Within all this there was the creation of industrial magnates, tycoons and a new rich. It was also the birth of the middle classes.