Great Modern Inventions That Changed The World

The Electric Dynamo – 1831

The phenomena of electricity had been known by the ancient Greeks. Benjamin Franklin had displayed the relationship between lightning and electricity. But, it was the invention of the Electric Dynamo by Michael Faraday which really opened up the way to the practical use of electricity.

Analytical Engine (computer)- 1860s

Charles Babbage’s analytic engine is often seen as the forerunner of the modern computer. Though the first programmable computer weren’t really developed until after the 1940s.

Pasteurisation – 1864

Developed by Louis Pasteur. This provided a way to prevent the growth of bacteria in substances such as wine, beer and milk

Plastic – 1869

Developed by John Wesley Hyatt. Hyatt was an American printer and inventor. He was looking for a cheap substitute to Ivory billiard balls. Hyatt combined cellulose nitrate and camphor to produce a mouldable versatile material – celluloid.

Telephone – 1876

The telephone was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell. Scottish born Bell was a teacher for the deaf at Boston University. In researching ways to teach the deaf, he experimented with transmitting sound via electricity. Teaching by day, he spent many hours of his spare time, developing a form of telephone.

He applied for a form of patent on March 7, 1876. Three days later he performed a demonstration of the new device, speaking the words. “Mr Watson, come here, I want you.”

Within five years, private telephone exchanges were in place in most US cities. It was an invention that caught on very quickly

Phonograph – 1877

Thomas Edison found that sound could be captured and replayed using a rotating cylinder covered with paraffin paper and a stylus. In December 1888, Edison applied for a patent and over next few years helped to develop the modern gramophone based on the wax – cylinder model.

Lightbulb 1879

– Previously inventors had produced simple electric lights throughout the nineteenth century. For example, Joseph Swan, produced a simple electric light, but, he struggled to maintain a power source and the filament soon burned out when vacuum was exhausted. It was Thomas Edison who made the lightbulb into a practical low current version. He used a filament based on a burned sewing thread.

Bicycle 1885.

Velocipedes had been invented earlier in the nineteenth century. The most popular at the time was the Penny Farthing, with its huge big wheel. But, the big advancement in bike technology came with the introduction of a chain to link pedals to back wheel. This enabled a higher speed without relying on a huge wheel. The key model in the chain bike was the Rover Safety bike developed by John Kemp Starley

Motor Carriage – 1885.

In 1998, the German engineer Karl Benz produced the first modern auto-mobile. Using electrical ignition, a water cooled internal combustion engine and different gears.

Aluminium 1886.

Until the 1890s, Aluminium was considered a precious metal because it was so hard to isolate. However, Ohio chemist, Charles Martin Hall discovered how to isolate Aluminium, through a process of electrolysis. This simple method enabled high quantities of aluminium to be produced. Its price fell from $18 a pound to 18 cents. Aluminium has become one of the most popular and versatile metals in industry.

Pneumatic Tyre – 1888.

Invented by John Boyd Dunlop. Developed as a way to make tricycle riding more comfortable. His first attempt involved using an old garden hose fitted with air. He later developed this idea using a rubber pneumatic tyre and filed for a patent in 1888. It was later used on both bikes and motor cars

Box Camera – 1888.

George Eastman. Developed first small Kodak box camera made photography much more accessible to public.

Electrons discovered 1897.

Joseph Thompson. First scientist to show that the atom wasn’t the smallest element, but, was actually composed of even tinier particles of which electrons were one.

Radioactivity Measured 1898

Marie Curie played a key role in the discovery and measurement of radioactivity. Her discoveries led to the successful implementation and use of X ray machines by the First World War

Transatlantic Telegram.

Marconi developed the first long distance wireless communication. On December 12, 1901 the first telegram was sent across the Atlantic in Morse code

Different Blood Types 1901

Karl Landsteiner isolated different blood groups enabling the first successful blood transfusion later.

Aeroplane 1903


The Wright brothers piloted the first successful heavier than air aeroplane on Dec 17th, 1903.

Vacuum – 1908

James Murray Spangler invented the electric vacuum cleaner. the first model used a broomstick, pillow and a box containing electric motor and fan. He applied for a patent in 1808. William Hoover helped finance its development for the mass market.

Radar 1924

Edward Appleton developed a way of detecting aircraft using sonic radar.

Email 1972

The first true email system was MIT’s CTSS MAIL, in 1965. But, only worked for those logged into system. Email networks included the first ARPANET email sent in 1972 developed by Ray Tomlinson .

Internet / World Wide Web 1990.

Tim Berners Lee wrote software for the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1990. This helped to revolutionize the internet and make it freely available to the world.


1001 Inventions That Changed the World

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