Alvin Toffler's Second Wave was the Industrial Revolution. It ran for the most part from the late 18th to the early 20th century and brought with it mechanization as well as new production techniques such as the assembly line. During that period, the scale of manufacturing activity dramatically increased, giving rise to what we call today, mass production.
The Industrial Revolution is the era that gave rise to the automobile and cheap consumer goods. Despite the hardships often associated with it, it is largely responsible for the massive increases in wealth of the last couple of centuries and the affordability of products in general.
What really gave rise to the Second Wave was one piece of technology, the engine. In cars, it is what enables us to travel in a short time, distances that would have been incommensurable up until a couple of hundred years ago. It is also what makes possible mass markets as it allows for the moving of goods far and wide to vast numbers of people.
But, most of all, the engine is what powers the machinery that produces the huge quantities of items that the industrial society manufactures. It makes possible modern farmers' high productivity levels and their ability to support today's megalopolises. The engine has multiplied the output from human labor by several folds. It was able to do so becausfile:///media/pch/on/Adt/Tfw/sitemap.xml
e of its use of fossil fuels, which were a relatively cheap source of energy up until the middle of 2008.
In his book, The Third Wave (New York: W. Morrow, 1980), Toffler argued that the Second Wave broke apart the producer-consumer function of society, which led to a certain amount of alienation for individuals. People no longer produced what they consumed. They worked in factories, often in mindless and repetitive types of jobs, making goods for sale to others in markets.