Prosperity is as Energy Does
The history of increasing prosperity can be explained largely by the use of energy. Though mostly in the exploitation of non-human energy.
Work by definition is moving something from one place to another. According to Newton's first law of motion a body at rest remains at rest unless acted on by an outside force. In other words it takes energy to move things, to do work. The same applies to people, it takes energy to get work done.
Economic activity and our everyday definition of work largely revolves around moving or rearranging things from a less useful to a more useful form. Plowing the ground is work, harvesting is work, delivering food is work, cooking is work, running a restaurant is often darned hard work.
There's a limit to how much work a person can do. We're only so big and so strong with so much energy. We measure the amount of energy we use in calories and not watts or amps. That's not a lot of energy. When you consider horses are many times our size and strength, people are less than one horsepower. That's not a lot of working force.
The first way we improved our ability to do work was with tools. Pushing a huge rock around is backbreaking labor even for the biggest and burliest among us. But a simple tool like a lever can multiply our strength so even a pipsqueak can move boulders Lou Ferigno would struggle with.
Now then, hooking up a lever or some other tool to a bigger, burlier ox can do more work than a puny human can. That's the second way we figured out how to do more work, harnessing animals to work for us. Animals, in effect, gave us additional energy. More energy more work, more things get done and the better we have it. In a word, prosperity.
We also began using energy available in the natural world, such as water running downhill and wind power to power our tools. As well as burning wood and animal dung which we used primarily to stay warm and cook food. And possibly to ward of evil night spirits and such, but that's another story.
Then came the great breakthrough, the steam engine which could create mechanical work out of combustion energy. So began turning combustibles like wood and coal into mechanical work rather than just heat or light. This gave us vastly more working energy than anything preceeding it, simple tools, animals and the rest. We started moving and rearranging lots of things like never before.
Next came other types of engines to covert combustion to mechanical work like the internal combustion engine and the jet turbine. Also electricity which is still mainly based on steam engines, or rather steam turbines running dynamos. This converts combustion to mechanical energy to electrical energy and often back to mechanical energy. Electricity is a way to deliver combustion energy so we don't need to have steam engines on our home appliances.
All of this allows us to move more and bigger things farther and faster. I.e., we can do more work in less time. Work is what leads to prosperity, moving things where we'd rather have them and turning things into shapes and forms we'd prefer and are more useful. We can do this with better tools, better engines, and better methods. Or a combination of all three. All are ways of harnessing energy. Without it nothing, or very little at any rate, gets done.
The more efficiently we use energy of any kind the better off we are. We get more done with the same amount of our own effort. If you prefer a simpler existence you could go the other route and do the same work with less of your own effort. Either way using energy other than your own makes it possible.