The 6 Most Influential Inventions of the Past 100 Years

Over the past few decades, technology has taken some huge steps. We've gone from clunky computers to sleek tablets, from paper cash to cryptocurrency, and from phone calls and letters to DMs and FaceTime. Things certainly have changed drastically, but, what were the big milestones that changed the game in the world of tech?

1. The Smartphone

If you're part of the GenZ era, you might not remember a time when smartphones weren't the norm. Well, before the late noughties, smartphones were still a thing of the future. This was a time when flip phones and “brick” phones ruled the world.

While the first (very, very basic) smartphone was technically created by IBM in the early 90s, the first classic smartphone was released in the late 2000s. However, everyone's idea of the first smartphone is different. Many believe it was the iconic iPhone, released in June 2007. This phone changed the world in a sense, with 6.1 million units being sold in the space of a year.

People's expectations of what a phone could do were certainly met, or exceeded, with the release of the first iPhone, and millions around the world are now loyal to the brand. Many brands then followed suit, with Samsung, LG, HTC, and Nokia releasing their own smartphones. Now, smartphones are the norm globally, and their capabilities continue to improve.

2. Electric Cars

In recent years, the issue of global warming has become a huge concern for governments, companies, and individuals alike. And, we all know that a huge contributor to global warming is the release of greenhouse gases from petrol and diesel vehicles. This is where the electric car can make a huge difference.

Related: Common Questions About Electric Cars You Always Wanted to Ask

The electric car isn't exactly a modern concept, with the first being invented in the late 1800s. However, electric cars weren't a huge topic of interest at this point, and it wouldn't be for another hundred or so years before electric cars were put into mass circulation.

In 1996, General Motors released their own model of an electric car, named the EV1. But, people still mostly favored petrol and diesel cars at this point. It wasn't until the early 2010s that electric cars became more commercially successful, especially with the widespread commercial availability of Tesla electric cars, a company that brought fame and wealth to entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Tesla rose to success in the mid-2010s, and now many more car companies are developing and releasing their own electric or hybrid models.

3. 3D Printers

3D printers have now made things never thought possible a reality. These awesome devices can three-dimensionally print objects by building up one layer at a time using a method called fused depositional modeling (or FDM).

Where 3D printing becomes important is its applications in a number of industries. Currently, 3D printing can be used to produce customizable end-use parts, for prototyping products, and for the production of jewelry and accessories.

However, most notably, 3D printers are now being considered in the production of synthetic organs for transplant patients. Developing organs in this way could totally eliminate the risk of organ rejection from the patient's body, and could rapidly reduce the number of people on transplant waiting lists around the world. Pretty exciting stuff!

4. Wi-Fi

What would we do without Wi-Fi? This amazing creation has changed the way in which we work, shop, communicate, and more.

Wi-Fi was invented by an Australian organization named the Wi-Fi Alliance in 1998. This technology uses radio frequencies to transmit information between different devices, allowing for Wireless Fidelity (or Wi-Fi!).

However, it took some time for Wi-Fi to become as popular as it is today. This is because, for Wi-Fi to be used, you need devices that support it. And, it wasn't until the early-to-mid 2000s that such devices became widely available to the public. Once laptops, phones, and other popular devices were able to support Wi-Fi, it soon became a worldwide success, and it is now an essential part of the lives of millions.

5. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been a hot topic of debate for some time now. This technology essentially simulates human intelligence in order to do things that traditional tech couldn't dream of.

Related: Should AI Be Treated Like Humans?

The idea of artificial intelligence has been around for hundreds of years, reaching as far back as the 14th century AD, when a Catalan poet and theologian conceptualized a very rudimentary version of AI. However, it was not till 1955 that the term “artificial intelligence” was officially coined. This coining came with the invention of the first AI computer program, developed by Allen Newell, Herbert Simon, and Cliff Shaw.

Though it has been almost 70 years since the development of the first AI program, the technology is still on shaky ground. We still haven't created a strong form of artificial intelligence, and the perfection of this technology is estimated to be a decade or two away at least. However, AI is already being used in many different areas, including medicine, speech recognition, robotics, and more.

6. GPS

Some of us can still remember a time when we had to whip out the A-Z paper map when we wanted to get somewhere. Well, thanks to GPS, paper maps are now mostly a thing of the past.

The first GPS, or Global Positioning System, was invented by the US Department of Defense in 1973. The first satellite was developed and launched by the US Air Force, and was launched a year later. But, it wasn't until 1993 that a full system of 24 satellites was launched to create the first fully functional GPS.

GPS satellites work by sending and receiving signals from devices on Earth, such as your phone or laptop. It measures the time it takes for a signal to reach it from Earth, and then uses an atomic clock to determine a device's location. Pretty nifty stuff!

Since then, GPS has become useful in a number of different areas, including travel, security, and even fitness. Next time you use your phone to find your way somewhere or to track the run you just went on, you have GPS to thank.

In 20 Years, This List Will Be Twice as Long!

With the rapid advancement of technology these days, we'll probably be seeing a lot more amazing inventions that will change the game in the not-so-distant future. We can only imagine what kind of amazing technology will be part of our lives in 20 years, but it sure is exciting to think about!

Author: Katie Rees

Source: Katie Rees.” The 6 Most Influential Inventions of the Past 100 Years”. Retrieved From

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