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10 inventions that changed the world

From the invention of the wheel 5,500 years ago to the creation of the birth control pill, these…
10 Inventions That Changed The World

From the invention of the wheel 5,500 years ago to the creation of the birth control pill, these 20 innovations have significantly improved how humans have shaped the world.

Humans are naturally curious and creative, which has driven our species to make numerous scientific and technological breakthroughs. From the earliest days when our ancestors used rocks to create sharp tools, innovation has been constant. Several key advancements have been groundbreaking, from the invention of the wheel to the development of Mars rovers. While some inventions came from sudden flashes of insight, most resulted from many thinkers making gradual improvements over time. Here, we explore 20 of the most significant inventions in history, their scientific principles, and the stories behind their creation.


10 Inventions That Changed The World

Before the wheel’s invention around 3500 B.C., humans faced significant challenges transporting goods over land and across distances. David Anthony, an emeritus professor of anthropology at Hartwick College, explains that the real challenge wasn’t creating the wheel but figuring out how to attach it to a stable platform. This connection, known as the wheel-and-axle concept, required precise craftsmanship to ensure the wheel rolled smoothly on its axle without being too loose or tight.

David Anthony, a retired anthropology professor from Hartwick College, highlighted the brilliance of the wheel-and-axle concept in an interview with Live Science. He explained that while the idea was ingenious, creating it posed significant challenges. For example, ensuring that the holes at the center of the wheels and the ends of the fixed axles were perfectly round and smooth required meticulous craftsmanship. The size of the axle and its fit inside the hole were also crucial factors, needing to be just right—not too tight and loose—to ensure the wheel turned smoothly.

The effort bore fruit. Wheeled carts revolutionized agriculture and trade, making it easier to transport goods to markets and easing long-distance travel for people. Today, wheels are essential in many aspects of daily life, from clocks and vehicles to turbines.

David Anthony is a retired anthropology professor and curator at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. He has conducted extensive archaeological research in Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. Anthony authored the book “The Horse, the Wheel, and Language” in 2007 and has collaborated on studies, such as discovering that humans began riding horses 5,000 years ago.

David Anthony

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

The printing press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg, profoundly affected society. Increasing the speed of book production allowed knowledge to spread rapidly across Europe. Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, in her book “The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe,” noted that by 1500, printing workshops were established in major cities, contributing to the printing of millions of books. This accessibility to printed materials, estimated by some historians as many as twenty million volumes, played a critical role in shaping intellectual discourse and cultural development during the Renaissance and Reformation periods.

One of the most significant impacts of the printing press was its role in the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, a key figure in this movement, utilized the printing press to disseminate his ideas widely. His famous document, the “95 Theses,” was printed in large numbers and circulated throughout Europe. This widespread distribution of Luther’s criticisms of the Catholic Church sparked debates and alternative interpretations of religious doctrine. It ultimately led to significant religious and social changes across Europe, challenging established authorities and paving the way for religious reform movements.

The printing press also democratized access to knowledge, making books more affordable and accessible to a broader segment of society. It empowered individuals to engage with ideas, education, and information, fueling intellectual curiosity and innovation. As printing technology continued to evolve, it laid the foundation for the development of modern publishing, journalism, and mass communication, shaping the course of human history and influencing societal progress for centuries to come.

Johannes Gutenberg

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

It’s one of the most famous discovery stories in history. In 1928, the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming noticed a bacteria-filled Petri dish in his laboratory with its lid accidentally ajar. The sample had become contaminated with mold, and everywhere the mold was, the bacteria was dead. That antibiotic mold turned out to be the fungus Penicillium. Over the next two decades, chemists purified it and developed the drug penicillin, which fights many bacterial infections in humans without harming the humans themselves.

By 1944, penicillin was being mass-produced and advertised. This poster attached to a curbside mailbox advised World War II service members to take the drug to rid themselves of venereal disease.

About 1 in 10 people have an allergic reaction to the antibiotic, according to a study published in 2003 in the journal Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology. Even so, most of those people go on to be able to tolerate the drug, researchers said.

Alexander Fleming

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

The introduction of the compass had a profound impact on maritime history. By providing a reliable means of navigation regardless of weather conditions or time of day, the compass enabled mariners to embark on longer and safer voyages far from the coastline. This technological advancement spurred an era of exploration and trade expansion across the seas.

The compass technology spread to the West through maritime contacts, facilitating the Age of Exploration, during which European sailors discovered new lands and established global trade routes. The ability to accurately determine direction using the compass greatly enhanced navigational accuracy and efficiency, contributing to world mapping and exchanging goods and ideas between distant civilizations.

Today, the compass remains an indispensable tool in navigation, used in various forms across different industries and activities. Its invention is a testament to human ingenuity and has forever transformed our ability to traverse the oceans and understand the Earth’s magnetic fields.

Flavio Gioia

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish inventor, received the first patent for the electric telephone on March 7, 1876. Three days later, he made history by placing the first telephone call to his assistant, Thomas Watson, saying, “Mr Watson, come here — I want to see you.” His family background influenced Bell’s interest in the telephone: his father taught speech, and his mother, a musician, became deaf later in life. Bell’s wife, Mabel, whom he married in 1877, had been deaf since childhood.

The invention of the telephone transformed global communication and business practices. When Bell passed away on August 2, 1922, telephone service in the United States and Canada paused to honor his legacy.

Alexander Graham Bell

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

The Internet is a worldwide network connecting billions of computers. In the 1960s, scientists working for the U.S. Defense Department’s ARPA created ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, to link their computers. They used “packet switching,” a method of transmitting data developed by Lawrence Roberts and earlier by other computer scientists.

In the 1970s, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf advanced technology by creating key communication protocols known as TCP and IP. These protocols are crucial for how information travels across the Internet today, and they are often credited as the inventors of the Internet.

In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW). His idea was to combine computers, data networks, and hypertext to create a global information system that anyone could use easily. The WWW revolutionized the Internet, making it accessible to people worldwide and connecting the world like never before.

Tim Berners-Lee

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

The discovery of fire was a pivotal moment for early humans, drastically transforming their way of life. Beyond providing warmth and cooking food like meat, fire served as a social hub and offered protection against predators.

The exact origins of fire’s use have long intrigued researchers. Some studies suggest hominins in Kenya may have been the first, around 1 million years ago, to use fire for cooking. Evidence also points to Neanderthals in Europe and Asia using fire, while Homo sapiens in Africa became skilled at creating it. Recently, archaeologists in Israel uncovered signs of early fire use by hominins dating back 1.5 million to 2 million years ago.


10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

Franciscan friar and Oxford scholar Roger Bacon developed the magnifying glass in 1268. Known as “Britain’s first scientist,” Bacon built on the work of Muslim scholars.

However, optical tools have been used much earlier. Around 700 B.C., ancient Egyptians discovered that looking through crystals could enhance vision.

scholar Roger Bacon

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

The first battery was invented in 1800 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta. He stacked discs of copper and zinc, wrapped them in cloth, and soaked them in salty water, discovering that this setup conducted energy. In 1802, Scottish professor William Cruickshank created a variation called the trough battery, using 50 copper and zinc discs in a wooden box filled with a salt solution to conduct energy. However, French physicist Gaston Planté invented the first practical battery in 1859. Modern versions of Planté’s rechargeable lead-acid battery are still used in cars today.

Alessandro Volta

10 Inventions That Changed The World


10 Inventions That Changed The World

The idea of humans flying has fascinated inventors for centuries. The first human-operated flight happened in 1783 when Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Ètienne Montgolfier soared in a hot air balloon. In 1853, British engineer George Cayley designed the first successful glider. However, it was not until 1903 that Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved the first successful powered flight. Their plane took off from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, under its power, flew, and landed safely, unlike many earlier attempts. Inspired by birds, the Wright brothers’ glider had a wingspan of 32 feet (10 meters).

Wright Brothers

10 Inventions That Changed The World


the ten inventions that changed the world have significantly shaped human history and progress. From the wheel and the compass to the printing press and the internet, these innovations have revolutionized transportation, communication, and our understanding of the world. The telephone and electricity have transformed daily life, while the airplane and the battery have pushed the boundaries of exploration and technology. The development of vaccines has saved countless lives, and the creation of the World Wide Web has connected us in unprecedented ways. These groundbreaking inventions have not only improved our quality of life but have also laid the foundation for future advancements, driving humanity towards a more connected and advanced society.


Q1:What is the significance of the wheel?

Ans: The wheel revolutionized transportation and machinery, making it easier to move goods and people over long distances. It also played a crucial role in the development of various mechanical devices.

Q2: How did the printing press change the world?

Ans: The printing press allowed for the mass production of books and written materials, making information more accessible and promoting literacy and education. It was instrumental in the spread of knowledge during the Renaissance and Reformation.

Q3: Why is the internet considered a groundbreaking invention?

Ans: The internet has transformed communication, commerce, and access to information. It connects billions of people globally, enabling instant communication, online shopping, and access to vast amounts of information and entertainment.

Q4: How did the compass impact exploration?

Ans: The compass enabled navigators to determine direction even when landmarks were not visible, facilitating long-distance sea travel and leading to the Age of Exploration, which expanded trade and cultural exchange.

Q5: What was the impact of the telephone?

Ans: The telephone revolutionized communication by allowing people to talk to each other over long distances instantly. It transformed personal and business communication, making it faster and more efficient.

Q6: How did the discovery of electricity change everyday life?

Ans: The harnessing of electricity led to the development of numerous technologies, including lighting, appliances, and industrial machinery, drastically improving the quality of life and productivity.

Q7: What role did the airplane play in modern society?

Ans: The invention of the airplane made long-distance travel faster and more accessible, shrinking the world and promoting global trade, tourism, and cultural exchange.

Q8: Why is the invention of vaccines important?

Ans: Vaccines have saved millions of lives by preventing the spread of infectious diseases. They have eradicated or controlled many deadly diseases, significantly improving public health.

Q9: How did the battery contribute to technological advancement?

Ans: The battery provided a portable source of power, enabling the development of a wide range of electronic devices, from flashlights to smartphones, and facilitating advancements in various fields.

Q10: What is the significance of the World Wide Web?

Ans: The World Wide Web made the internet user-friendly and accessible to the general public, revolutionizing how we access and share information, conduct business, and communicate globally.

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