Human beings are extraordinarily inventive by nature. When needed, we can very well move mountains to achieve our goals, no matter the time or effort we have to waste in the process. Over the ages, we’ve shaped the world around us in the way that best suits our lifestyle, even when it meant destroying the fragile balance of nature along the way. We nowadays have rovers rolling across the surface of celestial bodies, high-tech telescopes aimed at capturing the very beginnings of our Universe, and a wide array of technological wonders people a few
centuries ago would no doubt attribute to magic. So how did we get here and what exactly kickstarted our technological revolution? Over the next few minutes, we’ll go through the 10 most important inventions that undoubtedly changed the world for the better.
It may not have crossed your mind as one of the inventions that changed the world, but the plow is actually one of the greatest inventions the world has ever seen. The inventor or the time when the plow was invented are not known. But quite literally, the plow lifted mankind from the hunter/gatherer age and ushered us into a period of food stability. There was even enough food for trading, all thanks to the plow; and with the extra time on their hands, our ancestors could dedicate their time to other things besides looking for food. So, this
prehistoric invention had a huge impact on civilization.
Most people probably know that the wheel is one of the greatest inventions ever, although some might not know why. Like the plow, it is not clear who invented the wheel, and the earliest evidence of its use date back to 3,000 BC. The wheel revolutionized transportation as it could be fitted into carts and chariots. Thousands upon thousands of other inventions would come to owe their success to the wheel, many of which are in use even today.
The Printing Press
Before the invention of the printing press as we know it today (in the 1430s by Johann Gutenberg), the concept was already in existence. But this was around the time this invention became a mainstream technology. This invention made it possible to print en masse. This lowered the price of printed materials, which made it easier for common people to afford books. Obviously, this had a huge impact in helping billions of humans have access to knowledge and education.
Like many other inventions in this list, the person who invented refrigeration is not known, although Carl von Linde’s work on the technology in 1876 is considered the beginning of modern refrigeration. Because of this technology, food can be harvested even when it won’t be consumed immediately. More importantly, the technology also allows for transportation of perishable foods over long distances without the risk of damage.
Samuel Morse’s work with communication in 1836 was an attempt to build on existing communication technologies. Based on his improvements, the world was able to get the telegraph, telephone, the radio, and even the television. Transmission of signals came first, then sound, and finally, pictures. Because of these inventions, the world is now a village, an event in any part of the world can be reported in any other part of the world in an instant through mass communication.
The Steam Engine
Considered the centerpiece of the Industrial Revolution, the steam engine improved transportation and production. Machines were able to take over from humans and animals. Surprising, the idea of engine-powered machines had been present for thousands of years, but it was made a practical reality in 1769 by James Watt, often considered its inventor. Although electric and internal combustion engines are taking over, the steam engine is still important in generation of power using coal, nuclear power, and natural gas.
The automobile made it easier for people to move around; and with that, culture, business, and societies changed drastically. The idea was not new at the time Karl Benz managed to make what is considered the first automobile, the 1885 Motorwagen. Quite literally, communities were built around automobile access, and governments have spent lots of money creating and maintaining infrastructure for use by this invention.
Thomas Edison may take credit for giving us the lightbulb in the 1870s, but as with many other inventions on this list, he simply made the idea commercially successful. Another thing, the lightbulb did not change the world per se, people could still work at night using gas lamps; it was the infrastructure it helped create that did. The power grid was initially created to support this invention. Today, this infrastructure supports machines, electronics, and other devices.
The idea of a computer was in existence long before Alan Turing made landmark progress in the use of this technology. This machine can process large amounts of data at blinding speeds, and over the last few decades, computers have proven that their capabilities are vast and breathtaking. Computers now permeate every industry imaginable: space exploration, medicine, business, transport, communication, and many other sectors.
Computers form the infrastructure that keeps the Internet alive. This twentieth century invention gives humanity access to vast oceans of information around the world in an instant. The technology also affects governments, business, culture, society, entertainment, education, politics, agriculture, and any other sector in existence. Many of the changes taking part in our world in this century can be attributed to the popularity of Internet.