Inventions that shaped us

Inventions without which we couldn’t have reached here

“When one is nothing, one invents. It fills the void.”
– Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
“To invent, you need a good imagination & a pile of junk.”
Thomas Alva Edison

If you ever run your eyes around the room you are in, you’ll be amazed that many everyday items are a lot older than you thought they were.
Let me start with the meaning: To invent is to create something new- an idea, a principle (democracy per say), a poem, a musical piece, a word, a device & anything & everything that generates a necessity.

I would like to talk about the technological inventions, some of them without which we cannot imagine our lives without. Some of them dating back to the era B.C.

#1 Clothing – 400,000 B.C (400,000 years ago)
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in the society.”
-Mark Twain
Humans devised a solution to protect themselves from the extremities of the environment. Look at the way we have grown today, making a necessity into an industry young designers want to get into. Anthropologists believe the earliest clothing was made from the fur of hunted animals or leaves creatively wrapped around the body.

#2 Toothpaste – 5000 BC
Egyptians were the initiators of pastes to clean teeth and freshen breath. Myrrh (fragrant gum resin), volcanic pumice, and the burned ashes of ox hooves, were mixed with crushed eggshells, oyster shells, & other fine abrasives, then applied with a finger to scour teeth and help remove food & bacterial deposits.
The making of toothpastes has surely changed over these many years.

#3 Toothbrush – 1498
Strangely funny, toothbrush was invented a thousand years after toothpaste was invented.
A Chinese encyclopaedia dating to 1498 describes the short, coarse bristles from the neck of a Siberian wild boar being embedded in a handle made from animal bone, which was then used to clean the teeth.

#4 Automatic Flour Mill – 1785
Can you imagine Automation 230 years back?
In 1782, Oliver Evans, along with his brother Joseph, opened a village store in Maryland, finding out how cumbersome the milling process was. The used mills were quite primitive & he suspected that there was a better way to make flour, & he began to design an automatic flour mill.
#5 Ice-cream Maker – 1843
“Age does not diminish the..
Disappointment of having..
Ice-cream fall from the cone.”
– Jim Fiebig, Columnist
How many of us savour an ice-cream irrespective of the season?
In 1846 Williams & Company- a small Philadelphia based wholesaler of kitchen appliances- purchased the patent for a new hand-cranked machine that could speed up the process of making ice-cream.
The design included placing the ice-cream’s ingredients of ice, sugar, vanilla, eggs & salt in a tin. Hand-cranking enabled the ice & salt to mix together and freeze rapidly.

#6 Air-Conditioning – 1902
Carrier makes the world a much cooler place to live in.
Ancient Romans kept cool by pumping water from aqueducts through the walls of their houses. Southeast Asians hung wet grass mats over the windows to lower the temperature inside. Modern air conditioning (1902) is the continuation of this rudimentary principle.
Wills Carrier of Buffalo, New York developed his first system which was designed for use in a printing plant where changes in the temperature and humidity caused the ink nozzles to be out of line which made colour printing problematic.

#7 Optical Fiber – 1952
A moment of pride – India-born Narinder Singh Kapany (b. 1927) is the father of fiber optics. While researching at Imperial College in London 1952, Kapany drew out fine filaments of optical-quality glass & found that when he shone a light in at one end, it emerged unchanged from the other, even if the fiber was twisted.
Optical fiber, made from glass or plastic, is used to guide light from a source to another location. First used in medicine to examine general organs, the technology has since been developed for many applications.

#8 Touch Screen – 1971
Hurst makes computer interaction easier.
During the rapid rise of computer in the second half of the twentieth century, people were always searching for the next best way to interact with them.
In the 1960s, U.S inventor Douglas Engelbert invented the computer mouse, which represented a milestone in computer interaction. The next big leap came forward in 1971 when Dr. Samuel C. Hurst invented the electronic touch screen interface. He came up with Elograph coordinate measuring system which made reading a huge amount from a strip chart easier. It was an input tablet that could measure where the user was pressing a stylus. Hurst and his team took 3 years to make a proper transparent version that could sit over a screen. In 1977, they came up with what was to become the most popular technology for touch screens today.

#9 Hubble Space Telescope – 1990
The Hubble Space telescope was named after Edwin Hubble, the U.S astronomer who showed the existence of other galaxies outside the Milky Way. It is an orbiting reflecting telescope designed to study the distant universe in visual light, funded by NASA.
Apart from capturing spectacular images of cosmic objects, Hubble can expose its detectors to the same region of sky for several days, and thus image objects that are much more distant from the Earth.
By searching for supernova explosions in distant galaxies, Hubble has discovered that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating.
Isn’t it amazing what these tech guys can do?

#10 iPhone – 2007
“We think the iPhone is a ‘game changer’.. it will change how people think about… handsets.” – Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T
Announced in January 2007 and eagerly awaited, the Apple iPhone could play music, take photographs, browse the internet, send e-mail, play movies, and store up to 8 gigabytes of information. It also had Wi-Fi capabilities, a calculator, a calendar, and a notepad, and operate via a nifty touch-screen mechanism. And it could make a telephone call.
It was novelty back in 2007. However, it did not capture as much market share as was anticipated, mainly because of its initial retail price of $599.

Summing up, I’d say that these inventions are a big deal for the reason of our existence.
Knowingly or unknowingly, we have made these an integral part of our living.
You might think that we already have whatever we need & there’s not really anything that could be invented but there’s no limit to Human imagination & you never know that the person you know might just come up with something to startle the mankind. Again.

“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.”
– Elbert Hubbard

Source – 1001 Inventions that changed the World (Book)

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