Sliced bread is awesome. But, if it’s truly one of the greatest inventions of all time, why do people still own bread knives? Here are some other suggestions for the top innovative inventions of all time. While these inventors may not have won Nobel Prizes, they certainly deserve some recognition.
5. The Printing Press
The early printing presses were mechanical devices that could be loaded with letters to be printed onto a page. This made the production of books and other printed media significantly easier. Before the days of laserjet printers, the printing press was responsible for the spread of knowledge. Long ago, books were significantly more expensive, as each book had to be handwritten by a scribe. The invention of the printing press by Johanes Gutenberg in the 1400s was one of the most significant events for the lower and middle classes in history. The printing press gave the lower classes increased access to books, which at the time meant increased knowledge, which has made possible each of the following inventions on this list.
4. The Internet
CERN’s TCP/IP connection, and the youngest invention on this list has definitely made a name for itself. If the Internet was shut off, the effects would be disastrous. In the 21st century, the Internet has become our primary tool for communication. If the whole network of communication went down, we wouldn’t have access to email, telephones, television, radio, and more. Without the Internet, suppliers would not be able to coordinate with consumers. Food and other merchandise would stop being delivered. Even electricity is often managed by the Internet, so it would be hit-and-miss without it. Without significant government action, millions of people could die due to starvation, weather effects, and other disasters. It goes to show that the internet provides a bit more than Facebook.
3. The Transistor
Electrical devices are everywhere, and so are transistors. From cell phones to microwaves to stoplights, every electrical device you come into contact with is likely made primarily of transistors. A transistor is a little electrical switch, invented by a team at Bell Labs in the 1940s. In modern computers, there are billions of these little switches. The number of devices using transistors is staggering. Cars, planes, and nearly every computer made makes use of transistors by the million.
Since the mid-1800s when it became popular, the process of vaccination has saved hundreds of millions of lives. The idea is quite simple: the immune system develops antibodies which render harmful agents in a human blood useless. However, when a person is infected with a terrible disease like smallpox or polio, the number of microbes in the blood becomes so large, so quickly, that the immune system cannot respond in an adequate amount of time. A vaccination is just a small dosage of living or dead microbes causing the illness, which can be killed by the immune system. Then, when the person contracts the illness later in life, the immune system “remembers” the microbes and is much quicker to mount a response, saving the person’s life. While the mechanisms for its action were unknown to Jenner and Pasteur hundreds of years ago, they noticed that it was effective in preventing illness.
1. The Internal Combustion Engine
No invention has been more influential than the internal combustion engine. Try to imagine life without it: we would not have cars, planes, trains, boats, and a number of other things which depend on these forms of transportation. Everything that was manufactured and transported any more than a few miles could not easily make the journey without the internal combustion engine. This invention, conceived by Carnot, first manufactured by Otto, has transformed our lives in unimaginable ways.