The human race is bar none the most revolutionary species to have evolved. Our ingenuity has sparked several changes throughout the course of history. Of all inventions ever created by mankind, there are a few that’s been amazing in our every day lives. We’re looking at emojis. Never judge! Here are ten of the greatest inventions that literally changed the world. Sorry, there aren’t any emojis.
Related media: Top 10 Inventions Of All Time
#1. The Compass
This device in it’s day was like how Global Positioning System (GPS) is to our modern day lives. Ancient voyagers had to navigate with astronomical objects like the position of the sun and stars in the sky. The compass was actually invented by the Chinese during the Quin Dynasty from 221 to 206 Before the Common Era (B.C.E). Their invention comprised of load stones that had iron oxide that always aligned itself with the north and south axis of the Earth.
This device soon sparked the age of discovery as more voyagers now used the compass for all navigation; and by the 8th century in the Common Era (C.E), the compass was the standard means for navigation which facilitated trade across the Eurasian continent which also lead to the discovery of the New World — the continent of America by Christopher Columbus — which lead to so much more than we could have imagined.
#2. Gun Powder
This invention was revolutionary as much as it has been deadly in times past. It helped most human civilizations expand as well as consolidate. The gun powder was actually invented by Chinese alchemist during the 9th century, when they discovered that the carbon from charcoal together with an oxidizer forms carbon dioxide which releases energy. This energy was later used in pyrotechnics.
But it was the Song Dynasty who soon realized that gun powder was much more destructive than it was useful. Gun powder was then used in combat against the hostile nomadic Mongols, and was soon adopted throughout the Middle East, eventually reaching Europe by the 13th century. It was here where gun powder was used in guns and cannons. This lead to the rise and fall of many civilizations.
#3. The Printing Press
Reading has always been a common trait among the elite, and with the invention of the printing press gave birth to the age of enlightenment. Before printing, writing was how any form of text was published, with calligraphy being a lucrative venture back then. Handwritten books were only limited to a small number of religious monks and scholars who often read them out to the illiterate masses.
This all changed in 1439 in Mainz, Germany, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the most revolutionary mechanism that the world has ever seen — the printing press. This device was advanced that it could print out more than 3,500 pages a day, and by the 16th century there were over a thousand Gutenberg presses in use, and by the 17th century there were over 200 million published books throughout Europe.
#4. The Steam Engine
The combustion engine in our vehicles today wouldn’t have been a reality had it not been for the steam engine. Its invention wasn’t that of a thing as that of the knowledge of using steam to power machinery, which dates as far back as the first century C.E. The steam engine was reinvented by English inventor and engineer Thomas Avery who harnessed the true power of steam in 1698.
And ever since, steam power was used in industries like transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture revolutionized mass production of goods and services. This gave rise to the industrial revolution that made nations like Great Britain and the United States expand their dominance on the global economy. It was the steam engine’s principle of energy into motion that set the stage for further advanced forms of engines.
As much as humans love making babies (pun intended), we also don’t like making babies. Coitus interruptus has been the way to avoid making babies in ancient times, (it’s even in the Bible, look it up), but only if you’re fast enough. Whatever! There were many primitive means from using animal bladders to drinking mercury to eating weasel balls to who-knows-what else. Seriously? Not making babies is a heck as much as babies are.
In 1884, American inventor Charles Goodyear was the first to patent a condom for use; which was made of vulcanized rubber, and also patent cervical caps that served as a womb veil. But it took a century until the progesterone pill was invented by Austrian scientist Carl Djerassi, and in 1960, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill. No more unwanted babies, huh? How lucky you were born.
#6. The Light Bulb
This invention is pretty revolutionary as much as it’s application. Shut your eyes for a day and you’d know why. Days before the light bulb was only during the day, night falls and the day is over. Ta-da! That was the fear of one young genius known as Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb. Spoiler alert: not true. It was actually British inventor Humphrey Davey who invented the first electric light in 1802.
There were other inventors who improved upon the idea with platinum coils by 1840. So why is Edison credited? Because, he was the first inventor to file for patents for a practical incandescent lamp in 1878 for household usage, which helped placed his name and (improved) idea in the history books for good. The light bulb has ever since been used for all forms of lighting throughout the course of history.
#7. The Refrigerator
Refrigeration has been around since 1,000 B.C.E in China, and well, that’s a long ass time. There were several primitive means of preservation later about 500 B.C.E in Egypt and India where earthenware pots to make ice, and later cellars, caves and even salts all to preserve food. It was in 1720 that Scottish William Cullen observed that evaporation had a cooling effect. Try blowing into your palm and feel it.
This idea is what lead English inventor Michael Faraday to discover that liquified ammonia also has a cooling effect — the science behind modern compression refrigeration. Later in the 1890s, commercial refrigeration became available with GeneralElectrics’ “The Guardian” being available for household use by 1911. Today, 99.5 percent of people in urban cities have a refrigerator at home. Cool on!
Imagine a world where there are no antibiotics. Diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea would be epidemic. Huh? That was the case decades ago. Ancient Egyptians did treat wounds with “moldy bread” but had no idea of how bacteria played a role. Enter modern science when German physician Paul Ehlrich discovered the first application of the antibiotic arsphenamine in 1909 that treated veneral syphilis. Oh my word!
Here’s the real game changer: this was a clumsy discovery in 1928 by Scottish microbiologist Alexander Fleming, who had left a mess of bacteria in his lab and went on a vacation. Upon his return, he discovered the fungus pena cilium which had grown into free zones, that’s when he discovered penicillin — the antibiotic revolution was soon ushered into modern medicine. Who says tidying up is all that important?
#9. The Telegraph
Trying to send information has been our worry since the cradle of time. Ancient civilizations used all sorts of primitive means to convey messages — from smoke signals to bottled messages to ravens to what the heck else that could mess things in the way of sending information. Enter the telegraph: the revolutionary device that modernize long distance communication and launched the Information Age.
This was American inventor Samuel Morse of the “Morse code” fame, when he used a single circuit telegraph to send the first dots and dashes message from Washington, DC to Baltimore, Maryland in 1844. And in 1866, a telegraph line connected the United States to continental Europe which had an impact on everything, including government, commerce, banking, industry, warfare, and the media.
#10. The Internet
Last and not least, this invention is why you’re reading this article in the first place to begin with, and we must confess that it is the greatest invention of them all. The internet wasn’t single handedly created by someone, but it all started when Leonard Kleinrock wrote a paper he dubbed “Information Flow in Large Communication Nets.” Sounds familiar already.
However, in 1969, the United States Department of Defense also launched the Advanced Research Projects Network (ARPANET). The led to the creation and evolution of the International Network protocol, and for decades it was only used in the military and universities. But the groundbreaking revolution was in 1991, when British inventor Sir Tim Berners Lee created the worldwide web that made this website possible.
Which of these inventions do you think is the greatest?
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Jan 12, 2021.