10 Fascinating Ways That Inventions Changed History
We’re now living in a modern world. But this wasn’t the life our ancestors lived. Over the years, the world has witnessed various inventions that have shaped our planet. Most of these innovations have changed how humans live, work, and interact with each other. While the list of inventions is long, some breakthroughs drove global growth and development. Here are fascinating ways that inventions changed history.
Do you know that over 94% of paved roads in the USA are surfaced with asphalt? Asphalt pavements are a top choice, not only in America but worldwide. Approximately 90% of Canadian roads are asphalt. Why this popularity? Engineers worldwide understand that asphalt is the most versatile paving material globally.
But where did it all start? The story of asphalt began millions of years ago. Asphalt occurs naturally in asphalt lakes and rock asphalt. The ancient Mesopotamians traditionally used the material to waterproof water tanks and temple baths. But still, it was not common as it is today.
The first recorded asphalt road was built in Babylon in 625 B.C. The ancient Greeks also utilized asphalt in various construction applications. In fact, the word asphalt comes from the Greek word “asphaltos,” meaning “secure.” In 1970, Belgian chemist Edmund J. DeSmedt laid the first true asphalt pavement in Newark, N.J., U.S.A.
Since then, asphalt has been one of the best inventions on earth. And if there’s a sector that inventions made a breakthrough is transport and roads. The material is common today, creating a smooth, durable surface for walking paths, driveways, roads, and parking lots. And in addition to being used as a paving material, asphalt is also used to waterproof walls and surfaces and in shingles for residential roofing. So if you notice missing shingles on your roof, you can use asphalt to replace them.
2. Central Plumbing
Central plumbing refers to a system in a building designed to distribute and manage water and sewage from a central location throughout the entire structure. Typically, it includes fixtures, pipes, and other components that ensure the proper flow of clean water into a building. There are various ways that inventions changed history, and central plumbing is among the most common breakthroughs.
The invention of central plumbing systems has impacted human history profoundly, shaping how societies live, work, and interact with environments. For instance, before the invention was made, urban areas had poor sanitation characterized by open sewers and inadequate waste disposal. Such environments were the leading causes of the spread of typhoid, cholera, and other diseases.
Additionally, the development of central plumbing required innovations in engineering, materials, and construction techniques. The invention of pipes made from materials like copper and plastics revolutionized plumbing infrastructure. It’s also one of the reasons we now have water heaters.
Before modern refrigeration, people used underwater or underground storage like cold cellars for refrigeration. After a while, they started building ice boxes using chunks of snow or ice cubes for cold storage. The boxes were insulted with natural materials like seaweed or sawdust. The Chinese harvested ice from lakes and rivers as early as 1000 BC.
The modern refrigeration we know today stems from various inventors. In 1805, Oliver Evans, an American inventor, designed a blueprint for the first refrigeration machine. However, he didn’t build a concept. Later on, Jacob Perkins built the first refrigeration machine based on Oliver Evan’s design. His invention was designed to cool temperatures using a vapor compression cycle.
As cities grew, attracting many people, household refrigeration became a necessity. This is because people have moved away from food sources in local areas to urban areas. Therefore, there was an increased need for fresh food.
Today, there are various ways that inventions like refrigeration have changed history. For instance, food preservation is no longer a challenge. Thanks to modern refrigeration, you can easily store perishable foods and other items at lower temperatures. What’s more, this invention has transformed the global food industry, enabling the transportation of perishable goods across continents.
The invention has also impacted the healthcare industry. Hospitals can now store and transport vaccines, medications, and biological samples at controlled temperatures. Refrigeration has significantly contributed to effective distribution and storage, improving disease prevention and eradication.
It’s been a long journey before the automobile became the form of transport we know today. And this invention can’t be tied to a single inventor. Various inventors took part in the invention of the automobile. And since then, this invention has profoundly impacted how people move from one place to another.
It all began with the invention of the wheel, sometimes around 3,500 BCE. This invention led to various other innovations, such as tires for bicycles and cars. Automobiles have revolutionized the transport sector in multiple ways. Before this invention, people used horses, bicycles, and other traditional transportation modes. Unfortunately, these modes weren’t as efficient and reliable as automobiles.
Automobiles offered a personal, convenient, and flexible mode of transportation, allowing individuals to travel over long distances faster than before. Over the years, automobiles have facilitated urbanization. Urban areas have expanded as people can now commute to and from work faster and conveniently.
Additionally, the invention of the automobile became a significant driver of economic growth. The sector has created numerous job opportunities, including drivers and mechanics. Also, the automobile industry continues to spur infrastructural developments as the need for roads, highways, and gas stations spike.
The travel and tourism industry has also benefited immensely from the invention of automobiles. Today, there are multiple vehicle manufacturers, creating modern vehicles. You can even request a vehicle with unique properties, like specific types of wheels. And without a doubt, the future of automobiles is bright.
Imagine a world without Facebook, one of the most common social platforms. Well, people used to live without it before the internet was invented. There was no standard way for computers to communicate with each other. However, the internet was invented in 1983, marking a new beginning in the human race. Following the invention, a universal language could now connect all computers and networks.
However, the road to creating the Internet started long before 1983. The invention involved various programmers, engineers, and scientists. The World Wide Web, or WWW, was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990. This invention allows you to connect to other pages on the internet. It’s typically what most people consider the internet. However, it’s simply a way to access the internet.
Then came Google in 1998, invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. And this is one of the ways that inventions changed history. The invention of the internet has revolutionized communication. Today, thanks to the internet, you can communicate with people from every corner of the world. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have broken geographical barriers, fostering connections among individuals, communities, and cultures.
The invention of the internet has also made it easier for you to access information. All you need is a secure connection and an internet-enabled device. There’s also a significant impact on the economic space. The Internet has enabled the creation of E-commerce platforms like Amazon, connecting buyers and sellers. So now, you don’t have to worry about where to sell jewelry or any other product. You can do it online and reach a global audience.
Smoke signals, drum beating, and messengers were the common ways ancient people communicated before telephones were invented. As a result, relying on information over a long distance was challenging. A messenger could take days, weeks, or sometimes months on the road before delivering a message. But then came a huge invention that transformed communications.
Antonio Meucci, an Italian innovator, received the credits for inventing the first basic phone in 1849. Later on, in 1854, Frenchman Charles Bourseul devised a phone. However, Alexander Graham Bell won the first telephone patent in 1876. Days later, he made the first telephone call to his partner Thomas Watson. Since then, this innovation has revolutionized communication, allowing people to communicate in different locations. The telephone has introduced real-time voice communication, allowing people to converse over long distances, regardless of geography.
The invention has also transformed business operations by allowing faster communications between partners, suppliers, and customers. Today, big businesses have call centers to provide quick real-time customer services. Employees can easily collaborate remotely, share information and make decisions without meeting physically. This is one of the ways that inventions impacted history.
Concrete is a common construction material used on roads, sidewalks, foundations, and buildings. But like every other invention, concrete has an impressive history. The story of concrete began thousands of years ago, before the Egyptian pyramids. The earliest evidence of concrete was found in Israel. The Nabataea traders, or Bedouins, built the first concrete-like structures around 6500 BC.
Fast forward, this invention has played a crucial role in architectural advancements. The use of concrete allowed for the creation of more complex and innovative architectural designs that could stand the test of time. Engineers could now build structures with curves, arches, and intricate detailing, which were not feasible with traditional building materials like brick.
Additionally, the invention of concrete has hastened infrastructural development. Most roads, bridges, and tunnels are now made using concrete, thanks to their strength and durability. The material can support heavy loads and endure the stresses of heavy transportation systems. Concrete paving services have become common thanks to this invention.
Today, almost everything uses electricity, from home appliances like freezers and washing machines to automobiles and lighting fixtures. It is one of the most reliable sources of energy we have today. However, electricity has a long history, dating back to the 6th century BC. Before then, people relied on candles and oil lamps to illuminate indoor spaces.
Benjamin Franklin is the inventor of electricity. This is what most people know. However, electricity was not discovered at one time. Instead, it stemmed from a series of innovations from various inventors and engineers. Regardless, Franklin played a significant role in the invention of electricity. He flew a kite during a thunderstorm to show that lightning was electricity.
Today, electricity has many uses. The most common use of electricity is for lighting and illumination. The invention of electricity revolutionized both indoor and outdoor illumination. Most of the lighting fixtures you see today are powered by electricity. It’s one of the fascinating ways that inventions changed history. The invention extended productive hours while enhancing safety. People could now work late at night thanks to the ample light from electricity.
Also, the invention has impacted almost every industry. For instance, smartphones use energy from electricity. Moreover, most home appliances are powered by electricity. The electric fireplace uses the same energy source. And there are multiple other ways that inventions rely on electricity.
9. Printing Press
Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the printing press in 1436. His invention has impacted the world significantly. The discovery of the mechanical movable printing press helped disseminate knowledge faster than before.
Following the invention of the printing press, a global news network was launched. The printing press revolutionized the way books were produced. It allowed for rapid and efficient production of books on a much larger scale. Unfortunately, Johannes didn’t live to see the impact of his invention. The printing press also allowed for preserving cultural and historical works through bookkeeping. And this is one of the profound ways that inventions changed history.
Photography has come a long way and has left a mark on history. The first permanent photograph was invented by Joseph Nicephore Niepce, a French inventor, in 1826. The invention marked a significant breakthrough in the history of photography.
But before this invention, people created visual records through drawings, paintings, and written descriptions. However, photography introduced a new level of accuracy and objectivity to visual documentation. You could capture more accurate headshots, now called passport photos.
We cannot exhaust all the ways that inventions changed history. And as long as we continue living, we should expect more inventions in the future. Some will impact the world positively, while a few will have a negative impact.