Every decade, or perhaps every year, brings with it some epic geniuses and their ground-breaking inventions that changed the world. But then there are those inventions that, once invented, consume us, alter the way the human species lives, and make the world smarter, better, and sometimes even more fun. Here are just 10 such inventions that have metamorphosed the world we live in.
1. Steam Engine
Inventor: James Watt
Although the first version of a steam engine dates back to the 3rd century AD, it was not until the turn of the 19th century and the advent of the Industrial Age that a modern form of the internal combustion engine came into existence. It took decades of designing, the blueprints of which were made by James Watt, to create the mechanism where the combustion of a fuel releases a high-temperature gas, and as it expands it thereby applies pressure to a piston and moves it. This phenomenal invention played a pivotal role in the invention of other machinery such as automobiles and airplanes that changed the face of the planet we live in.
The idea of a symmetrical component moving in circular motion on an axis has existed in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Europe separately in different time periods. Thus, it cannot be ascertained by whom and where the wheel emerged first, but this great invention appeared in 3500 BC and has grown to become one of mankind’s most important inventions ever. It has been used to facilitate farming and transportation and discover other great
inventions from clocks to vehicles.
3. Printing Press
Inventor: Johannes Gutenberg
Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450 AD borrowing heavily from Chinese assets and applying them to a sophisticated machine. It wasn’t until the 19th century that iron materials replaced wooden materials to speed up the process of printing. The cultural and industrial revolution in Europe would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the rapidity with which the printing press allowed documents, books, and newspapers to be disseminated to a much wider audience in Europe. These documents included the Bible and other important texts that allowed people to start questioning and reasoning by reading for themselves. By 1500, twenty million had been printed in Western Europe.
Inventor: Charles Babbage
The principle of the modern computer was first mentioned by Alan Turing and later the first mechanical computer was invented in early 19th century. This invention has indeed accomplished amazing things in more areas of life than we realize. It has helped high-performance military aircraft to fly, put a spaceship into orbit, control medical equipment, create visual imagery, store vast amounts of information, and allow the functioning of cars, phones, and power plants.
Inventor: Vinton Cerf
The internet was first developed in 1973 by Vinton Cerf backed by the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Its initial use was to provide a network of communication within research labs and universities within United States and expanded over time. This invention (along with the World Wide Web) has been the foremost revolutionary invention of the 20th century. In 1996, more than 25 million computers were connected through the internet across 180 countries.
6. World Wide Web
Inventor: Tim Berners-Lee
The World Wide Web as we know was first predicted by Arthur Clarke when he wrote that one day satellites would bring accumulated knowledge of the world to our fingertips, combing the telephone, photocopier, television and computer. However, the invention was made 19 years later in 1989 by a CERN employee, Tom Berners Lee. The web has transformed the way we work in various field including education, music, finance, reading, medicine, dating, networking, language and the like. The Web potentially trumps all the world’s greatest inventions.
Inventor: Vladimir K. Zworykin and Philo Farnsworth
Although the invention of the television cannot be attributed to one person, it is largely believed that the invention of the modern television was the work of two people: Vladimir Kosma Zworykin (1923) and Philo Farnsworth (1927). The television was also one of the greatest inventions which have evolved from mechanical to electronic to color to digital to smart and now 3D versions. People typically spend around 4-8 hours watching TV per day and it has drastically impacted family and social life.
8. Light Bulb
Inventor: Thomas Alva Edison
The invention of the light bulb developed throughout the 1800s with Thomas Edison attributed as the primary inventor of a bulb that lasted for 1500 hours without burning out in 1879. The idea was taken forward by many others to create a workable and bright light bulb that revolutionized indoor living.
Inventor: Alexander Fleming
Accidently discovered in a bacteria-infested Petri dish by Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Fleming in 1928, the Penicillin drug is a group of antibiotics that cures several infections in human beings without harming them. Penicillin was mass-produced during World War II to rid servicemen of venereal diseases and is still used as a standard antibiotic for infections. It was one of the most famous discoveries made in the field of medicine.
Inventor: Alexander Graham Bell
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell joined two cups with a thread at the bottom of both ends and used it to talk from one end and listen from the other. This laid the foundation work for another revolutionary invention that is today the attachment that we all carry in our hands or pockets. The telephone which later also developed as a mobile phone has had a life-saving impact on mankind, especially in the field of business and communication. The extension of audible speech from within one room and across the world is a work unrivaled till today.