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The ten most important innovations of all time

Bright Idea

Any list like this is bound to be controversial, but at least it gets a conversation started. Here’s the list:

  1. Paper (105AD – Europe 10th century – Germany 1400)
  2. Printing Press (1450)
  3. Telegraph (1837)
  4. Telephone (1876)
  5. Modern Public Library (1850-1945 depending on country)
  6. Commercial Radio (1920)
  7. Commercial Television (1936 UK, 1948 US)
  8. World Wide Web (1991)
  9. Wikipedia (2001)
  10. YouTube (2005)

The author argues that this list indicates our society is too dependent on technology. What do you think? Is he right? Is the list acceptable?

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  • Tim

    You misspelled “encyclopedia.” Wikipedia? Seriously?

  • The Wheel? Steam engine? Combustion engine? Mass production? Fire? Pizza?

  • Commercial Electricity?
    Commercial air travel/flight?

  • heated bucket seats? pop rocks? pocket fisherman?

  • mike

    Antibiotics, money and banking, public sanitation

  • Compass?

  • And ignoring the rest of the comments (which are right) the next one to WWW should be e-mail. Wikipedia and youtube should never be in this kind of list.

  • The rule of law. None of the others would be of any use without it.

  • Mmmm…. Pizza!

  • Agriculture is the most important of all. It allowed humans to stop being hunter-gatherers and settle in permanent locations. The printing press would be not be of much use to a hunter-gatherer. Nor would a fixed line telephone.

  • Marriage was also a pretty important innovation.

  • Headline is wrong: “important communication innovations” is what it should say.
    Otherwise, I’d say toilet paper is pretty important. Although it probably has ended so many marriages from either forgetting to put a new roll on, or putting it on upside-down.
    It’s funny, all the suggestions above which are not related to communication would not be dispensed very efficiently if it wasn’t for digital data communications via phone, email, etc. Every lawyer has a laptop and cell phone. Orders for anything are all online.
    Communication has allowed humans to transfer huge amounts of information to each other, and to save it for later generations so that later generations didn’t have to recreate the wheel. Saved information gives descendants a knowledge “base” to go even further. That’s why human advancement would graph like a hockey stick. We landed on the moon less than one whole lifetime from the first plane flight. Innovations in agriculture, databases of legal decisions, SCADA control of utility infrastructures, knowledge bases of scientific and medical info… technology. It’s why the rats in this finite cage of Earth haven’t yet killed each other off – yet.

  • Charanjit

    Electric bulb ? Internet??

  • A

    I won’t say these are THE 10 most important, but they are all certainly influential
    Direct/Alternating Current
    Printing Press
    Circuit Board