Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World. Photo KnowInsiders

Technology is a core component of the human experience. We have been creating tools to help us tame the physical world since the early days of our species. Any attempt to count down the most important inventions is certainly debatable, but here are some great inventions that changed the world.

1. The Wheel

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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Some people consider the wheel to be the greatest invention of all time. The concept of a rolling cylinder wasn’t impossible to imagine, but it was challenging to make. In order to work, there needed to be a fixed axle. To make a fixed axle with revolving wheels, the holes in the wheels and the ends of the axle needed to be smooth and round. To ensure good rotation, axles needed just the right amount of tightness to fit correctly into the wheel holes.

By the time the wheel was created by the Sumerian people in Mesopotamia, basket weaving, sewing needles, woven cloth, and the boat had already been invented. The wheel led to other innovations, including wheelbarrows and chariots, and changed the way people lived, worked and traveled. Other advances such as mills, steamboats, and a few of the inventions on this list, also owe their creation to the basic but incredible wheel.

2. Light bulb

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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The invention of the light bulb transformed our world by removing our dependence on natural light, allowing us to be productive at any time, day or night. Several inventors were instrumental in developing this revolutionary technology throughout the 1800s; Thomas Edison is credited as the primary inventor because he created a completely functional lighting system, including a generator and wiring as well as a carbon-filament bulb like the one above, in 1879.

As well as initiating the introduction of electricity in homes throughout the Western world, this invention also had a rather unexpected consequence of changing people's sleep patterns. Instead of going to bed at nightfall (having nothing else to do) and sleeping in segments throughout the night separated by periods of wakefulness, we now stay up except for the 7 to 8 hours allotted for sleep, and, ideally, we sleep all in one go.

Another major change in people's routine was the invention of electrical appliances, now an essential part of the operation of every home. First came the iron, and it was followed by refrigerators, washing machines, and others.

These objects primarily helped substitute the physical load and reduce work times for women, who were the ones mostly responsible for household chores.

READ MORE: Unplug 6 Devices to Reduce Electricity Bill Costs

3. Steel

While early human societies made extensive use of stone, bronze and iron, it was steel that fueled the Industrial Revolution and built modern cities. Evidence of steel tools dates back 4,000 years, but the alloy was not mass-produced until the invention of the Bessemer Process, a technique for creating steel using molten pig iron, in the 1850s. Steel then exploded into one of the biggest industries on the planet and was used in the creation of everything from bridges and railroads to skyscrapers and engines. It proved particularly influential in North America, where massive iron ore deposits helped the United States become one of the world’s biggest economies.

4. Steam Engine

A Spanish mining administrator named Jerónimo de Ayanz is thought to have been the first person to develop a steam engine. Hie patented a device that used steam power to propel water from mines.

However, it is Englishman Thomas Savery, an engineer, and inventor, who is usually credited with developing the first practical steam engine, in 1698. His device was used to draw water from flooded mines using steam pressure. In developing his engine, Savery used principles set forth by Denis Papin, a French-born British physicist who invented the pressure cooker.

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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In 1711, another Englishman, Thomas Newcomen, developed an improvement in the engine, and in 1781, James Watt, a Scottish instrument maker employed by Glasgow University, added a separate condenser to Newcomen's engine, which allowed the steam cylinder to be maintained at a constant temperature — dramatically improving its functionality. He later developed a double rotating steam engine that, by the 1800s, would be powering trains, mills, factories, and numerous other manufacturing operations.

5. The Elevator

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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First introduced in New York in 1857, elevators catalyzed the development of skyscrapers, and forever transformed urban architecture, landscapes and living.

The world’s first successful safe passenger elevator was designed by Elisha Otis and installed in March 1857 in the five-story 24-meter tall Haughwout Building on Broadway in New York City. It cost $300 and moved at about 20 cm per second.

This development led to exciting times. As designers and architects began to appreciate the possibilities offered by elevators, much higher buildings became feasible, eventually leading to the enormous skyscrapers of today.

The first electric elevator was built by the German inventor Wener Von Siemens in 1880.

In 1889, the first commercially successful electric elevator was installed.

In 1887, an electric elevator with automatic doors that would close off the elevator shaft was patented. This invention made elevators safer.

Many changes in elevator design and installation was made by the great advances in electronic systems during World War II.

Space elevators use the same concept of classic elevator. They will be used to transport people to space station. This concept theoretically can considerably reduce the cost for putting a person into space.

6. The Printing Press

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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Invented in 1439 by the German Johannes Gutenberg, this device in many ways laid the foundation for our modern age. It allowed ink to be transferred from the movable type to paper in a mechanized way. This revolutionized the spread of knowledge and religion as previously books were generally hand-written (often by monks).

Who Invented the Printing Press Before Gutenberg?

Gutenberg hardly invented printing itself; he simply found a brilliant way to mechanize the process so it could be performed on a mass scale.

Before Gutenberg’s adaptation of moveable type, Chinese printers had been working with woodblock printing for nearly a thousand years.

And in Korea in 1250, a civil minister, Choe Yun-ui, built on previous attempts by the Chinese to create moveable type. He successfully created small metal pieces with raised, backward letters that could be arranged in a frame, painted with ink, and pressed onto a piece of paper—essentially, what Gutenberg would do nearly 200 years later.

However, Gutenberg did perfect the process by using a wine press and finding the right combination of metals that would melt at a low temperature and harden quickly. In addition, Gutenberg’s alphabet was more practical for casting letters compared with the Korean alphabet, which was not phonetic at the time.

7. Vaccines

The concept of inoculation is an old idea. It goes back to Buddhist monks who drank snake venom and people in 17th century China who purposely exposed their skin to cowpox in an effort to protect against smallpox, a related but far deadlier disease. But it was British doctor Edward Jenner who pioneered the field of vaccinology with his development of the smallpox vaccine in 1796. From there, Louis Pasteur made advances in the field, developing cholera, anthrax and rabies vaccines.

By 1970, there were separate vaccines to address deadly measles, mumps and rubella; in 1971, American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman combined them into one (MMR). Hilleman developed more than 40 vaccines over his career, including hepatitis A and B, meningitis, pneumonia and more. The invention and evolution of vaccines have saved countless lives around the world.

8. The Computer

It’s hard to think of an aspect of modern society that hasn’t been affected by the computer. The word "computer" was first used in 1613 in the book The Yong Mans Gleanings by Richard Braithwaite and originally described a human who performed calculations or computations. The definition of a computer remained the same until the end of the 19th century, when the industrial revolution gave rise to mechanical machines whose primary purpose was calculating.

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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In 1822, Charles Babbage conceptualized and began developing the Difference Engine, which is considered the first automatic computing machine that could approximate polynomials. The Difference Engine was capable of computing several sets of numbers and making hard copies of the results. Babbage received some help with the development of the Difference Engine from Ada Lovelace, considered to be the first computer programmer for her work. Unfortunately, because of funding, Babbage was never able to complete a full-scale functional version of this machine. In June 1991, the London Science Museum completed the Difference Engine No 2 for the bicentennial year of Babbage's birth and later completed the printing mechanism in 2000.

How did computers change the world?

Computers have changed the world in many ways. They allow huge amounts of information to be stored in a small space. They also allow a person to calculate mathematical problems with ease. Finally, computers allow people to communicate with one another through internet sites such as Facebook, My Space, and Twitter.

9. The internet

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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The internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that is used by billions of people worldwide. In the 1960s, a team of computer scientists working for the U.S. Defense Department's ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) built a communications network to connect the computers in the agency, called ARPANET, the predecessor of the internet. It used a method of data transmission called "packet switching", developed by computer scientist and team member Lawrence Roberts, based on prior work of other computer scientists.

This technology was progressed in the 1970s by scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, who developed the crucial communication protocols for the internet, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), according to computer scientist Harry R. Lewis in his book “Ideas That Created the Future:(opens in new tab) Classic Papers of Computer Science(opens in new tab)” (MIT Press, 2021). For this, Kahn and Cerf are often credited as “inventors of the internet”.

How has Internet changed throughout the time?

The Internet has turned our existence upside down. It has revolutionized communications, to the extent that it is now our preferred medium of everyday communication. In almost everything we do, we use the Internet. Ordering a pizza, buying a television, sharing a moment with a friend, sending a picture over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand when it opened in the morning and buy a local edition reporting what had happened the previous day. But today a click or two is enough to read your local paper and any news source from anywhere in the world, updated up to the minute.

The Internet itself has been transformed. In its early days—which from a historical perspective are still relatively recent—it was a static network designed to shuttle a small freight of bytes or a short message between two terminals; it was a repository of information where content was published and maintained only by expert coders. Today, however, immense quantities of information are uploaded and downloaded over this electronic leviathan, and the content is very much our own, for now we are all commentators, publishers, and creators.

10. Antibiotics

A giant step forward in the field of medicine, antibiotics saved millions of lives by killing and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Scientists like Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister were the first to recognize and attempt to combat bacteria, but it was Alexander Fleming who made the first leap in antibiotics when he accidentally discovered the bacteria-inhibiting mold known as penicillin in 1928.

Antibiotics proved to be a major improvement on antiseptics—which killed human cells along with bacteria—and their use spread rapidly throughout the 20th century. Nowhere was their effect more apparent than on the battlefield: While nearly 20 percent of soldiers who contracted bacterial pneumonia died in World War I, with antibiotics—namely Penicillin—that number dropped to only 1 percent during World War II. Antibiotics including penicillin, vancomycin, cephalosporin and streptomycin have gone on to fight nearly every known form of infection, including influenza, malaria, meningitis, tuberculosis and most sexually transmitted diseases.

11. Telephone

Top 11 Great Inventions That Changed The World
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The first telephone call – “Mr. Watson (Thomas Watson), come here, I need you” – was made by Alexander Graham Bell who introduced the Bell Telephone in 1876.

The telephone was invented to improve the capabilities of the telegraph.

The telegraph allowed people to send messages from one place to another but was limited by the fact that to send and receive messages they had to use Samuel Morse code, which was impractical for transmitting many non-English texts because there were no codes for letters with diacritical marks.

Before the invention of the telephone, if something happened, you had to wait for someone to tell you about it, or you had to find out for yourself. With the telephone network, everything changed. You could call your relatives and tell them about your life, or you could call your friends and ask them how they were doing. It made life much easier for everyone.
The invention of the telephone made it easier and faster for people to communicate with each other, even if they were far apart. The telephone created new jobs for telephone operators, salespeople, and customer service representatives.
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