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A Timeline of Inventions

A list of some human miracles over the centuries.

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Inventions and Discoveries

One of my most profound epiphany’s is the realization that I am just two years younger than Google. For me Google represents a style of living I can’t imagine living without—and I have never lived without it. Being able to have seemingly everything at your fingertips with just a thought away is absolutely miraculous. But there are other things within our daily lives that we never think about living without. And yet just a few parents and grandparents ago, they didn’t exist.

You should remember to take a step back and gain perspective from time to time. To obtain true understanding of the relative importance of things around you.

The chief enemy of good decisions is a lack of sufficient perspectives on a problem.” — Alain de Botton

Here is a timeline of human things to try to help with some perspective of how far we’ve come. Be aware that technology often spans many decades of theoretical work, development, and production. So dates and people may be wrong.

BC

2400 BC (4420 years ago)
The first known calculator, the abacus, is invented.

1400’s

1450 (570 years ago)
Movable type printing press invented by Johann Gutenberg

1500’s

1593 (427 years ago)
Thermometer invented by Galileo Galilei

1700’s

1705 (315 years ago)
Steam piston engine invented by Thomas Newcomen

1784 (236 years ago)
Steam power patented for transportation in locomotives by James Watt

1798 (222 years ago)
First vaccination invented by Edward Jenner

1799 (221 years ago)
First battery made by Alessandro Volta

1800’s

1804 (216 years ago)
First time goods were transported over land by steam locomotive

1821 (199 years ago)
Electric motor invented by Michael Faraday

1822 (198 years ago)
First mechanical computer designed by Charles Babbage

1826 (194 years ago)
Photography invented by Joseph Nicephore Niepce

1830 (190 years ago)
Lawn mower invented by Edwin Beard Budding

1831 (189 years ago)
Electric generator created by Michael Faraday

1834 (186 years ago)
Refrigerator invented by Jacob Perkins

1837 (183 years ago)
First message sent by telegraph

1843 (177 years ago)
Typewriter invented by Charles Thurber

1844 (176 years ago)
First Morse Code message from D.C. to Baltimore by Samuel Morse

1858 (162 years ago)
First transatlantic telegraph completed

1863 (157 years ago)
First transcontinental railroad built

1875 (146 years ago)
First electric street lighting produced in France

1876 (144 years ago)
Telephone patented by Alexander Graham Bell

1877 (143 years ago)
Phonograph invented by Thomas Edison

1885 (135 years ago)
First gasoline-powered cars produced by Karl Benz

1886 (134 years ago)
First dishwasher invented by Josephine Garis Cochran

1889 (131 years ago)
First Jukebox invented by Louis Glass

1892 (128 years ago)
Rotary phone patented by Almon Brown Strowger

1893 (127 years ago)
Wireless communication invented by Nikola Tesla

1896 (124 years ago)
First (solely) movie theater

1898 (122 years ago)
Porsche’s first car rolled out. It was electric.

1900’s

1901 (119 years ago)
Vacuum cleaner invented by Hubert Booth

1903 (117 years ago)
Powered airplane invented by Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright

1907 (113 years ago)
First commercial plastic by Leo Baekeland

1908 (112 years ago)
Model T car produced by Henry Ford

1910 (110 years ago)
First electric-powered washing machine patent by Alva J. Fisher.
First public radio broadcast by Lee de Forest.
First headphone invented by Nathaniel Baldwin.

1911 (109 years ago)
Nuclear model of the atom discovered by Ernest Rutherford

1913 (107 years ago)
First moving assembly line by Henry Ford.
First refrigerator for home use.

1916 (104 years ago)
Technicolor color motion picture process invented by Herbert Kalmus

1924 (96 years ago)
First car radio installed by Kelly’s Motors

1927 (93 years ago)
First Television designed by Philo Taylor Farnsworth

1928 (92 years ago)
First Television Broadcast by Charles Francis Jenkins.
Sliced bread invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder. I mean somebody had to do it.

1930 (90 years ago)
First dry electric razor patented by Jacob Schick

1933 (87 years ago)
FM Radio invented by Edwin Howard Armstrong

1935 (85 years ago)
First nylon fabric produced by Wallace Hume Carothers.
First sulfa drugs discovered by Gerhard Domagk.

1936 (84 years ago)
Fluorescent lamp patented by Edmund Germer

1939 (81 years ago)
First helicopter flight designed by Igor Sikorsky and built by the United Aircraft Corporation

1946 (74 years ago)
Microwave oven invented by Percy Spencer

1948 (72 years ago)
“Big Bang” theory formulated by Georges Lemaître

1951 (69 years ago)
First commercial computer, the UNIVAC, developed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly

1953 (67 years ago)
First Color Television Broadcast system designed by RCA.
First polio vaccine discovered by Jonas Salk.

1954 (66 years ago)
First commercial microwave oven produced by Raytheon Corporation

1956 (64 years ago)
Transatlantic telephone cable (TAT-1) laid. It was able to carry 35 simultaneous telephone calls.

1958 (62 years ago)
First video game, let’s just say Pong, and keep it at that.

1959 (61 years ago)
Three-point seatbelt invented by Nils Bohlin at Volvo

1960 (60 years ago)
First commercial oral contraceptive marketed by G. D. Searle

1962 (58 years ago)
First satellite television broadcast via the Telstar satellite

1963 (57 years ago)
Computer mouse invented by Douglas Engelbart.
Push button telephone invented by Bell Telephone.
Measles vaccine by John Enders.

1967 (53 years ago)
Handheld electronic calculator invented by Texas Instruments

1969 (51 years ago)
Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon

1971 (49 years ago)
Personal computer invented by John V. Blankenbaker.
E-mail invented by Ray Tomlinson.

1972 (48 years ago)
First direct transfer of DNA accomplished by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen

1973 (47 years ago)
First cellular phone by Motorola

1974 (46 years ago)
First bar codes used at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio

1975 (45 years ago)
First digital camera invented by Steven Sasson at Eastman Kodak.
Microsoft founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

1976 (44 years ago)
First cable television stations appear.
Apple founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.

1979 (41 years ago)
Walkman released by Sony

1982 (38 years ago)
First CD produced as a new way to store music by Sony and Philips corporations

1989 (31 years ago)
First handheld consumer GPS device launched by Magellan

1990 (30 years ago)
World Wide Web invented by Tim Berners-Lee

1994 (26 years ago)
Amazon founded by Jeff Bezos

1997 (23 years ago)
First rover successfully deployed on another planet

1998 (22 years ago)
Google founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin

1999 (21 years ago)
First commercial camera phone produced by Kyocera Corporation.
First mobile phone with built in GPS launched by Benefon.

2000’s

2001 (19 years ago)
First iPod introduced by Apple

2004 (16 years ago)
Facebook founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.

2005 (15 years ago)
Youtube founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim

2006 (14 years ago)
Twitter founded by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams

2007 (13 years ago)
First iPhone introduced by Apple

2009 (11 years ago)
4G technology launched commercially

2010 (10 years ago)
First iPad introduced by Apple

Moving into the future

Woah, shouldn’t there be more notable things of the last decade? Yes, and if you feel like this list is lacking something, feel free to contact me here and let me know.

As science advances, technology becomes more and more outside the realm of common understanding. Many innovative improvements being made in fields don’t mean anything to me as I’m not specialized in that specific field. And a lot of “innovations” we see is technology that has already been around for decades. Now that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to see VR and AI take over every field, but these inventions aren’t necessarily new, more of they’re being applied.

For example the first working AI programs were developed in 1951 by Christopher Strachey and Dietrich Prinz, while the first VR headset was created in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull, and the first autonomous cars appeared in the 1980s. None of these technologies are quite like what we have today but they are the earliest parts of the idea put in application.

Ideas spread through society in cycles, sometimes seemingly randomly taking off in a storm. Hopefully you were able to look back and imagine life without the things we use without a second thought.