Why did history unfold the way it did? The account of human history is a profoundly complex web of interconnected events and accidents. Modernity is but the surface layer, and attempting to understand its hinge and swerve entirely becomes a daunting task. However, if there is one common thread in the tapestry of human history, it is the power of intellect and innovation.
Human inventions, since our humble beginnings, have repeatedly changed the course of history. From the very moment that ancient people began to harness the power of fire, to the advent of the information age, human inventors have led the charge.
Here is our tribute to the 20 most impactful and history changing inventions of all time:
The harnessing of fire is without a doubt one of the most important moments in the entire history of Man. Current theories estimate that Man learned to control fire sometime around 790,000 years ago. With the aid of fire, Man was able to spread across the globe, protect himself from wild beasts, cook food, and fabricate tools and weapons. Perhaps most important of all of the fire´s contributions is that it gave Man the confidence to conquer the world.
Thanks to agriculture, human beings were able to shift their primary mode of subsistence dramatically. The mastery of cultivation allowed humans to move away from a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence and begin establishing permanent settlements. These settlements made population growth possible. Throughout history and into the present era agriculture continues to spur social and economic growth.
The development of metallurgy was a long and torturous process; however, the study of metals, their inherent properties, and their mixtures, allowed humans to build tools and weapons that furthered civilization. Additionally, as our knowledge of metals improved, we were able to advance agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, and even the arts.
Try imagining modern society without the wheel. What do you see? A world without the wheel would be radically different. Although the wheel was invented rather late in human history, with most evidence pointing to a date around 3,500 years ago, its impact was immediate. The invention of the wheel revolutionized the way human beings traveled and transported items from one place to another. Additionally, the wheel soon found extended use in irrigation and milling. Without a doubt, the late invention of the wheel stands as one of the great achievements of mankind.
Democracy´s roots are found in ancient Greece, specifically the city-state of Athens. Athenian democracy revolutionized politics and introduced to the world a concept of power that was untainted by wealth, privilege, and corruption. Even though the Athenian ideal of democracy did not survive, it served as the basis of every form of modern representative democracy to date.
6) The compass:
The compass was invented in China around the ninth century to determine directions in the open sea. Thus, it allowed navigators to more efficiently find new lands, establish commercial agreements, and overall contributed to the expansion of great empires.
7) Printing Press:
Most of us take printed material for granted, but throughout most of history, human beings did not have access to books, pamphlets, magazines, or newspapers. What the printing press did was provide humans with the ability to share information quickly and in vast numbers. At its core, the printing press changed the way society evolved and developed.
8) Steam Engine:
The steam engine is responsible for the ultimate success of the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the steam engine led to the eventual development of more efficient factories and methods of assembly as well as revolutionary modes of transportation such as steam locomotives.
9) Light bulb:
The historical significance of the light-bulb is probably easy to underestimate, but its invention, thanks to the official inventor, Thomas Edison, In 1879, allowed humans to continue working long after the sunset. Additionally, the popularity of the light-bulb contributed to the dissemination of electric power in the homes of the general populace.
The invention of the first successful vaccine, for smallpox, by Edward Jenner In 1796 is a historical achievement, which would go on to have a far-reaching impact on the advancement of public health and is responsible for saving millions of lives.
Electricity has been involved in virtually every significant invention of the last century. Without electrical power, modern society would not exist. Electricity enabled humans to invent and/or improve upon the fields of lighting, refrigeration, telecommunications, manufacture, medicine, and electronics.
12) Internal Combustion Engine:
The internal combustion engine profoundly affected the course of history and eventually allowed the invention of machines that have significantly improved the quality of life of humans everywhere.
The advent of fast long-distance communication enabled modern society to flourish. Being able to share information in a matter of seconds as opposed to weeks or even months revolutionized politics and economics.
Airplanes opened up the world. Thanks to the airplane, no matter where you are on the planet, everywhere are at worst a few hours away. The airplane enabled an unprecedented amount of cultural and intellectual exchange.
15) Assembly Line:
The assembly line sped up the manufacturing process to unimaginable heights. Factories began to churn out products and goods with such frantic speed that two things happened: The quality of factory working conditions improved drastically, and consumerism began to take shape.
Whether you believe that television has contributed to the deterioration of modern society or stimulated the education of the masses, the impact that it has had on humanity cannot be easily dismissed. Television gave millions of people access to events which they would otherwise not have had.
The discovery and subsequent development of penicillin, by Alexander Fleming in 1928, can be considered one of the major breakthroughs of modern medicine. Penicillin is perhaps the first practical antibiotic medicine and is responsible for saving countless lives since its invention. Furthermore, it served as a model for a substantial number of additional antimicrobial treatments
For many, the invention of the transistor marked one of the defining moments in history. Virtually all scientific advancements of the last 60 years were made possible because of the transistor. Its ability to amplify and/or switch electronic signals, in addition to its low cost, flexibility, and reliability have made the transistor integral to the modern field of electronics.
19) Personal Computer:
The invention of the modern computer has enabled humanity to achieve amazing feats. The personal computer led the charge in a digital disruption which revolutionized all aspects of modern living. An average household today has orders of magnitude more computing power than was used to put a man on the moon.
This global system of interconnected devices has transformed the lives of thousands of millions of people around the world. The rapid evolution of the internet has prompted the birth of new forms of social interaction and association. Since the advent of the internet, academia, business, communications, politics, and entertainment, have been permanently altered.