Over the centuries there have been thousands, if not millions of fantastic inventions, some obviously are better than others and tend to stick around unchanged for decades, others fade away into the history books relatively quickly, and the rest are kept alive with inventors finding new uses for / or making improvements to already existing established products. People don’t realise that most inventions are stumbled upon whilst trying to create something else altogether, the inventor realises the potential and puts their idea into production.
I intend to break away from traditional thinking and am not mention two of the best inventions in the history of man, simply because these cannot be attributed to specific individuals, but only a period of time, these inventions are “The Wheel” and “Fire”, I believe that if these two inventions were not discovered in the Caveman days, somebody else would have realised the importance sooner or later. So instead of being as technologically advanced as we are now in the 21st Century, we may only just be entering the Industrial Revolution era.
There are significant differences on who was the first person to invent the Computer, This may be because of different terminology for the word Computer. Some people say that this was invented by the Chinese or Babylonians in 2400 BC, upto the recent invention in 1822 by Mathematics Professor Charles Babbage. As far as modern day computers go I think that the accreditation should go to Herman Hollerith who founded the Tabulated Machine Company in 1896, which later became more commonly known as IBM. Since the invention of the Computer the hardware has become more powerful, and smaller and used worldwide from Business, to Games Consoles. In fact the latest generation of Games Consoles (including X-Box360, Wii, and PS3) all include Micro-processes developed by IBM.
The Mobile Telephone
Imagine how Head of Research Joel Engel, (AT&T Bell Labs) felt on April 3rd 1973, when he received a telephone call from his rival Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola, as he walked down the streets of New York talking on the first ever mobile phone.
Just as the technology for the Computers has got smaller and more powerful, so to has the Mobile Phone Technology, in fact over the years not only have the phones become smaller in size the technology is available for you to take a picture, access your e-mail’s, text people, and even surf the internet. Imagine what we can do in the next 20 years if development continues at this pace.
Originally there were FTP sites which enabled you to access e-mail, and only scientists could question and answer each other, the father of the Internet was called ARPANET (Which stood for Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork) and development of this concept started in 1964, in 1969 the first messages were sent between the Stanford Research Institute and UCLA. Since that day, Professors and Scientists are continuing to develop the way the internet based on user requirements. The information super highway is one of the fastest developed invention which has brought you such things wonders as Google maps, On Line Role Play Games, and shopping – all at your fingertips. In fact you never need to leave your house again.
The Internal Combustion Engine
The first patent of a 4 cylinder engine was done by Alphonse Beau Rochas, however Christian Reithmann beat him by a whole year, but since he didn’t patent it very little is know about him. There are records about various engineers producing and patenting a vast range of compression-less engines, and other types of Gas combusting engines.
One of the more commonly know engineers successfully patented his reliable two stroke gas internal combustion engine in 1879, which was based on the same technology ad Rochas’s four stroke design. In 1885 the engineer developed his own four stroke engine which he patented in 1886 for his automobiles. Karl Benz created his own car company and named it after his daughter, Mercedes.
The Post it Note
Whilst trying to invent the strongest adhesive glue ever produced, Dr. Spencer Silver accidentally stumbled across a low tack, reusable, pressure sensitive adhesive. In 1974, a colleague used the post it notes as bookmarks in his hymnbook.
First launched in 1977, the post it note was a complete flop because consumers had not tried the product, after issuing free samples to residents of Boise, Idaho – 90% of people agreed that they would buy the product if it ever went on sale. In 1980 the product was being sold across America, and a year later the product was launched in Europe and Canada.
The sticky stuff on the back of the post it note is in-fact the most adhesive substance known to man, and is watered down by 99.6% before it is applied to the product. It is not a commonly known fact that the adhesive (Called canstickahandtoadeskium or Acrylate-copolymer microspheres) is also used in golf balls, and aircraft joints.
The Jet Engine
Since the Wright brothers first flight on December 17th 1903, the aeroplane has been redesigned, changed, adapted and improved upon. If it had not been for a Royal Air Force Officer by the name of Frank Whittle, planes may still be using propellers. The introduction of the Jet engine into the aeronautical world has been tremendous, with the introduction of Space Travel, and even supersonic passenger flights, reducing the time it takes for cross Atlantic flights, if the jet engine had not been invented, it would take considerably longer in a propeller powered aircraft.
There is a lot of debate about this topic, who did invent the Bicycle? Some history books claim that this was the invention of French father and son, Pierre and Eanest Michaux during the 1860’s, but others say that it was prior to that. One thing is certain thought Eanest Michaux did invent the pedal and cranks in 1861, which can still be found in modern bicycles.
In 1790, Frenchman Comte Mede de Sivrac invented a bike called Celerifere, but it had no steering, before that German Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbronn invented the “Running Machine” or “Laufmaschine”, the rider would push the machine along with their feet, as it had no pedals to make the machine go forward, the machine was made entirely of wood, and dates around 1818.
The most comical, and recognisable bike of all has to the “Penny Farthing”, with it’s enormous front wheel, and it’s tiny rear wheel, but at least this had pedals, and handlebars to steer. The front wheel had to be large, as the chain mechanism had not been invented.
Looking through the history books, it would appear that the modern day bicycle was never really invented, it just happened.
In 1928 Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Flemming stumbled upon a medicine formed from Penicillium Fungi which appeared to have a healing property, even though the invention of Penicillin was granted to Alexander Flemming, there are reports of injuries / wounds being treated with bread which had a blue mould on dates back to the Middle ages.
Not many people know that during the testing of the medicine, every animal who was given the drug died. When Alexander Flemming became ill himself, he was so convinced that the medicine worked, he administered it himself against the recommendation of friends and colleagues. Over the years pharmacists have changed, improved and brought about a whole new anti-biotic range which includes the commonly known Amoxicillin, and the lesser known Phenoxymethylpenicillin Potassium.
Michael Faraday began a series of experiments in 1831, and discovered Electomagnetic Induction and the fact that electromagnetic forces extended into the empty space around the conductor, but for some reason Faraday never went on to complete his work on this matter.
Thomas Edison announced on November 28th 1875, he was able to produce basic sounds whilst experimenting with the telegraph, but it was in fact Guglielmo Marconi who was awarded the patent in 1896 for Improvements in transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals and in Apparatus There-Of, or otherwise known as the radio. Marconi used various earlier techniques and experiments in order to achieve his goal of transmitting sound through radio waves. In 1897, Marconi established the first radio station on the Isle of White. and opened his his first Radio factory in Chelmsford, employing 50 people in 1898.
Scotsman John Logie Baird first publicly demonstrated television on 26th January 1926 in his London laboratory, surpassing larger companies with greater financial support. John Logie Baird managed to beat them with very little money by utilising friends and relatives who were unpaid for their assistance.
Since the birth of television, we have seen it mature from black and white, to glorious technicolour, from Analogue signal to Digital and even High Definition picture quality or 3D.
Each one of my Top 10 Greatest Inventions of all time have all been developed, altered, improved upon and adapted based on consumer demand, nothing can stop the way progress is made in technical advancements, things become smaller, faster, and more powerful as time goes by. The state of the art thing today could very well be out of date tomorrow. The future is ours to behold, thanks to the vision of people like these, so what have we got to look forward to….
Richard Branson has already indicated that he will be introducing commercial Space travel.
Perhaps a Television screen which emits three-dimensional hologram pictures?
A computer which can think for itself?
Let’s see what tomorrow brings…..