It’s amazing how far humanity has grown over the past century.
What might have seemed impossible 100 years ago is now just a regular daily occurence. It is this growth that allows our society to thrive and keep developing new inventions/techniques to solve problems.
With that being said, what are some of the most IMPORTANT inventions of the 20th century (from 1900-2000)?
All of these have GREATLY influenced not only the 20th Century, but still affect us even today.
With so many impactful inventions, it’s hard to decide how to properly weight the rankings. Here are the criteria we used to place the inventions on this list:
Popularity: how well known is the invention?
Global Reach: How much of the world did it impact?
Impact: what lasting legacy did this invention leave?
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the world’s biggest investions from the 20th Century.
It’s hard to imagine a household without a television, but it wasn’t that long ago NO ONE had one!
First developed in the 1920’s, the television really took off for mainstream society in the 1950s and 1960’s. Before long, it seemed like every house had a television!
Not only did this greatly change the world of entertainment, it also greatly increased the ability to transmit information. This is a tradition that continues today, where over 80% of houses across the world have access to a television. Definitely an invention with a longlasting effect!
While people have been working on designs for submarines for centuries, it wasn’t until WW1 that they became widespread and commonly used.
These inventions not only changed the course of the war, but also played a massive role in developing scientific discoveries. Over 70% of the planet is covered by water, and submarines give us the option to explore those depths with much greater accuracy.
Today, all of the greatest militaries in the world use submarines and our understanding of the world’s marine depths continue to expand, which would be much more difficult without the submarine.
While younger generations may never understand the prevalance of paper in the 20th century as we move towards digital, the copier was truly a gamechanger.
Imagine having all of your work on paper, but having to physically write every single copy by hand. While there were rudimentary copy machines, they were often very messy, complicated and expensive.
The Xerox photocopier changed this once and for all, revolutionzing the entire business world and saving trillions of dollars and hours. The fact that the world is already moving beyond paper photocopiers and into 3D printing is a testament to hoq quickly inventions can change the world.
For centuries, humans have been looking for ways to fight disease. However, it wasn’t until 1928 when Alexander Fleming proposed Penicillin that we had a truly reproduceable and serviceable antibiotic.
As an antibiotic that can be used to treat a range of diseases, penicillin changed the health world in ways that are hard to understand today. Since then, we have greatly developed our understanding of antibiotics, but without that fruitful invention, our health risks would still be much higher.
While today we’re so used to getting out news from the TV or from our cellphones, the radio used to be primary source of information. Crazy to imagine it only came around in the 20th Century!
While inventors had been developing the science behind radio waves in the 19th Century, it wasn’t until 1912 when Guglielmo Marconi opened the 1st radio factory that the world truly started to understand the importance of radio.
Instantly, the ability for news and information to travel at a much faster rate than paper changed the world.
5) Personal Computers
It’s hard to imagine a world where work and entertainement was done WITHOUT screens.
However, that’s exactly what the world looked like before personal computers. While the first iterations of the computer were large and cumbersome, nothing like the sleep laptops we see today, there impact on efficiency cannot be overstated.
The computer managed to turn hours-long computations into events that could be done in seconds. It wasn’t long until everybody was trying to get their hands on a computer.
Another invention that started in the 19th Century but only really took off in the 20th Centiry, automobiles changed our entire way of life.
Instead of travelling by horses or boats, automobilies allowed for the expansion of suburbs and urbanisation. This happened to occur right around the time the USA was increasing it’s foothold as one of the world’s superpowers, so the convergence of these 2 factors led to a massive worldwide phenomenon.
Today, it’s hard to imagine city’s that AREN’T build around roads and highways (although we will see what happens as the world switches to a more environmental city concept).
While most humans remember the Moon landing, it’s important to also remember none of that would be possible without satellites.
Today, much of our world’s communication network relies on satellites. While they may be out of sight, out of mind for most, they are now thousands of them constantly circling the Earth and sending us beams of information.
Even more important, the information from these satellites will help us understand outer space, which could be invaluable as our science approaches interstellar travel.
2) Cell Phones
It’s hard to imagine the world without cell phones, but this invention might be the most recent on the list.
The world had rudimentary cellphones in the 1970s and 1980s, but it wasn’t until the very end of the 20th Century that cellhphones became common place for everyday citizens. They started off as simple phones, but today have become so much more.
Today, it seems like half our lives spent with our phones in one form or another. As the technology continues to develop, cellphones will continue to be an integral part of our lives in the near future.
There is no invention in the past century that has changed the world more than the internet.
For starters, it is the driving catalyst behind a umber of OTHER inventions on this list (cellhphones, satellites, radio, etc.) The internet is pervassive in almost every aspect of our daily lives.
It’s hard to imagine living in a world without the internet, and even crazier to imagine that it wasn’t that long ago we didn’t have it at all!
What’s wonderful about all these inventions is seeing how they all impact each other. With each new invention, the world must adapt, putting us in a constant state of change.
We’ve already seen some amazing inventions take place in this 21st Century. It will be incredible to look back at this list and see which are still applicable in the year 2100!
Do you agree with our list? Which invention would YOU have placed #1?