Most of the living creatures on this planet get by just fine with what nature has decided to make available for them, but we humans are always dreaming up new ways to be more comfortable and make our lives easier. Our ability to build things can be both a blessing and a curse since we sometimes make things that do us more harm than good. The best inventions far outnumber the bad, however, so we’ve got a pretty good record so far. Let’s take a moment to consider which inventions might be worthy of inclusion of a list of the best inventions of all time.
Without paper, it would be hard to imagine that we would have made the kind of progress we have enjoyed through the years. Can you imagine carrying a pile of stone tablets to school every day? It is believed that paper was invented in China by the Han Dynasty during the Second Century.
2. The Wheel
There’s no way to diminish the importance of this invention. When most people think about important inventions, it’s not too often that the wheel is excluded. Just take a few minutes right now to think of all the cars, trucks, bicycles and other vehicles that are in motion on Earth right now and it will help give you some perspective on how important the invention of the wheel was for mankind.
The invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 propelled our ability to communicate light-years ahead of where it had been for thousands of years. The ability to simply pick up a phone and talk to someone across town or across the country seemed like pure magic at the time and laid the groundwork for all of the communications mediums we have at our disposal today, including the Internet and cell phones.
Before these drugs were created, millions of people were killed by bacterial diseases and infections that are now considered curable. While we might step on a nail or scrape a knee and think little of it in terms of our mortality, these were the types of injuries that could cause an infection serious enough to be fatal before antibiotics were developed.
5. Light Bulb
Although the invention of the light bulb may be best recognized for its ability to turn night into day, that may not have been the best thing to come of it. At the time gaslights were used for lightning quite effectively for lighting, but it was the electrical infrastructure that was constructed to power those light bulbs that gave as an amazing variety of inventions we use every day, from hair dryers to refrigerators to computers.
There was a time when the dream of soaring through the air like a bird was probably considered lunacy. Many attempts were made to build flying machines and most of them ended in failure and even loss of life. When Orville and Wilbur Wright succeeded with their attempt at flight in 1903 the world was changed forever.
It’s probably hard for any of us today to imagine having surgery performed on us while having to remain awake and experience all the pain and discomfort that goes along with it. Although early methods of anesthetizing people were somewhat crude and much more dangerous than they are today, it was a breakthrough that has spared millions from pain and misery.
8. Printing Press
Can you imagine writing a book and then having to literally re-write it by hand each time you wanted someone to have their own copy? Before the printing press there really was no good way to mass-produce a written text.
When you think about important inventions in history, language may not come to mind because it’s not something you can put your hands on. Language, however, is an invention, and an incredibly important one at that. It is certainly an invention that made many others possible. Without the ability to communicate, it would have been difficult or impossible to share ideas and pass important information from one generation to another.
10. Computers and the Internet
The invention of the computer made it easy for us to store and retrieve incredible volumes of information very quickly. When the internet came along and tied the world’s computers together, the greatest compilation of human knowledge ever known to man came into existence.
The internet changed the world and continues to change the world as a tool for learning that is unrivaled in human history, and as a way for us to communicate that seemed like a distant dream only a few decades ago.