Coal has been mined across the world since the Bronze Age, becoming an important commodity during Roman times, especially in what is today Great Britain. However, the true Golden Age of coal began with the start of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America in the late 1700′s and early 1800′s. Coal was cheaper than wood for fuel and nearly as abundant, helping to power steam engines across the continent and get the world’s economy going into the industrial age. After the steam engine, coal became an important fuel source for the modern electric utility company, which can trace its start back to the early 1880′s. Once again, coal was an abundant fuel source that was easy to burn and turn into electricity, ensuring that the mineral became one of the most popular ways for mankind to power their homes and businesses.