Sequences are persistent, one-dimensional patterns composed of interchangeable elements. To appreciate how they achieved hegemony, we must first understand how they differ from the ancient sequence-free physical world from which they arose. These differences can be understood with respect to the physical fundamentals of time, space, energy, and matter. With respect to time, sequences are rate-independent whereas physical processes are rate-dependent. The result of a sequential procedure like a calculation is always the same whether it takes a second, a minute, or an hour to do the work. Sequences allow the dimension of time to be collapsed into a dimension of space, and space itself can be collapsed from three dimensions down to one. With respect to energy, sequences are largely inert. Their direct-energetic effects are minimal. Finally, with respect to matter, the meaning of a sequence is independent of its physical medium. The laws of physics can be thought of as universal, inexorable, and incorporeal, whereas sequences are local, arbitrary, and structure-dependent. Sequences can not only describe and govern activities in the physical world, but they can also interact with one another, which is called self-reference. This makes possible the evolution of complexity.