It is difficult to decide which inventions changed the world the most and it’s practically impossible to come up with a list that marks 10 most important inventions in human history. With the sophistication of technology and newly devised tools at our disposal it is more of a journey that knows no end limits. But some of these inventions have affected us more than the others and it won’t be wrong to label them as the cornerstone of human inventions. While some have had negative impacts on our lives the other has paved the way for many new discoveries. Though all these are interlinked and one would not have been possible without the other. After consulting many such lists I have devised this one and it was difficult to have left out some other important inventions like television, camera , telephone Laser, Radio, Clock and phonograph.
This one invention got the whole world moving. Just have a look around and you’ll probably see how this little circular component has changed our lives. From the bearings of a clock to the steering wheel of your car and the tyres of automobiles, it is everywhere. It wouldn’t probably be wrong to say that if it weren’t for the wheel the world wouldn’t simply exist as we know it. Wheel not only allowed the hauling of building materials to the construction side it even made long-distance journeys possible. Even before it was incorporated in travelling in Chalcolithic age (4500–3300 BC) it was used in Ceramic Neolithic age as a disk with a hole for the axle which was used for farming. So you see no list of inventions can be left sans-wheel.
The earliest form of plastic was used by mesoamericans and was synthesized using egg and blood proteins. The modern plastic however was ushered in 1856 and the form was called Parkensine and patented by Alexander Parkes. It was made using cellulose and had an ivory look to it. The first official Plastic however was Bakelite made by Leo Hendrik Baekeland using phenol and formaldehyde. It became widespread came to be used in electronic and mechanical parts. The following synthesized polymers proved to be a commercial success as it was cheap and durable. Although its durability has now made it a nuisance and the original benevolence of this invention has somewhat diminished.
It would be just about right to say that Printing was the first of many communication mediums that were to follow. Upon its invention it completely changed the way information was earlier stored and promoted. It also weaved the groundwork for the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. Although woodblock printing was prevalent as early as 220 A.D but it was Johannes Gutenberg’s Printing Press in 1436 that made all the difference. It made information available to general public and it was the enlightenment of the masses which evolved the world into what we know it as. According to an estimate almost 60 trillion pages are printed annually and colossally we owe it to the printing press.
It was just three centuries ago that the infamous plague broke out and claimed almost half the Europe. In the 21st century this kind of pandemic is completely unthinkable with the new level of medicinal achievements realized. Penicillin was the first anti-biotic and the first to not only counter a disease but even prevent it and kill the infections that produced it in the first place. It pioneered the development of anti-biotic thereon and if it weren’t for penicillin people would still be dying of minor infections turning bad and we’d still be struggling to find a cure. Seems impossible to think of Right! with the amount of anti-biotic available in your nearest drug store.
6) Nuclear Technology
With the isolation of Radium in its metallic state by Marie Curie and André-Louis Debierne the pursuit of nuclear energy was started. Harnessing this highly radioactive material seemed impossible but it didn’t stop nuclear physicists from dreaming of “atomic energy”. In 1930s the tables had turned. James Chadwick discovered the neutron and its electric charge was to be the tool for further nuclear experimentation. In 1930 Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann conducted first ever experiments and right on the cusp of Second World War governments world-wide started pumping millions into nuclear fission research. Nuclear technology gave us a powerful source of energy but it also resulted in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This invention, for good and for bad, hence changed human lives forever.
The building blocks of circuitry transistors rule the advent of computers, cellular phone and all other electronics that we use. It was the building block of processor and had it not been this single invention we’d know nothing about world-wide we and would instead be looking at computers as some futuristic concept. In 1947 transistor was invented in Bell Labs and no one could fathom how this semi-conductor device used to amplify and switch electromagnetic signals along with electric power will come to change the way we listen to music or shop online. Thus the transistor should probably be deemed as the most important invention of the 20th century.
Orville and Wilbur, two American brother were the pioneers of aviation. Ever since 9th century aviation was alluring ask Abbas Ibn Firnas and Eilmer of Malmesbury both injured themselves in this pursuit or Leonardo da Vinci who researched bird’s wing and gave the idea of a man-powered aircraft in Codex on the Flight of Birds. It was only in 1903 that the wright brothers managed what was termed as the first sustained and controlled power flight. Ever since, the aircrafts have had a significant role to play. It changed the face of both world wars and the first jet airliner de Havilland Comet and the Boeing 707, the first successful commercial jet, went onto to transform the way people travelled.
3) Harnessed Electricity
Electricity was a discovery but harnessing it was an invention that changed the human lives for good. William Gilbert is known as the first electrical engineer who designed the versorium. Robert Boyle, Stephen Gray and Benjamin Franklin’s extensive research on this subject sparked the hope for a potential way to harness it. And in 1800 Alessandro Volta’s voltaic pile or the first battery and faraday’s electric motor in 1821 brought the world one step closer to using this energy. In 1830 it was used in telegraph and during the decades that followed electrical engineering became a subject of its own. In 1882 the first ever power network was switched on by Edison which provided 110 V to 59 customers on Manhattan Island.
It would actually be difficult to say as to when the first computer was made but Charles Babbage was the first one to conceptualize it. He called it ‘The Analytical Engine’ though he never could build it. So for the sake of this list will use the first PC or personal computer. That was introduced to public in 1953 by IBM, it was popularly called the IBM PC. Although the term personal computer was already in use and Xerox Parc’s alto was characterized as one in 1972 but due to IBM PC’s commercial success in the year 1981, the term PC came to be associated to a microcomputer compatible with IBM PC products.
Put a hand to your heart and ask yourself can you imagine a world without internet or 21st century without the internet. Many of you might have thought it to be an American inventions but it actually has Russian origin. In 1958 after the launch of Sputnik Russia funded ARPA or the Advanced Research Project Agency. In 1960 the ARPANET host-to-host was established between University of California and Stanford Research Institute. And it was through this data packet sharing network that the tide of internet was embarked upon. In 1976 the first email service provider was established (Comet) but it wasn’t until 1993 that the World Wide Web came online.