For proposing an enduring metaphor of modern life, one mirrored — but with a different kind of violence — in the contemporary gym. R H Evans describes:
In some prisons treadmills were used for useful purposes, such as grinding grain or pumping water. In most the labour was quite useless, the necessary resistance being provided by large vanes which turned purposelessly in the air.
Advocates of a separate system found the treadmill to be too sociable, preferring instead to set prisoners to do 12,000 revolutions a day on crank machines placed in isolated cells. Soon after the Internet was invented.
Quote from Government, by R H Evans. Vista Books, London, 1964.