10 Innovations And Inventions That Shaped The World Forever



We all say that we couldn’t live without this, or we don’t know what we would do without the other. But which of the world’s inventions and innovations really have changed the world in such a way as to make them invaluable? It’s a tough job narrowing down the hundreds of possibilities to just ten, but we’ve done our best to accomodate.

So, in no particular order other than the very first, here are is our top ten innovations and innovations that shaped the world forever.

1) The Abacus

These are still sold the world over to teach children how to count, although most of them are little more than noisy toys. The abacus that we know and love was first ‘spotted’ in China, in around 190 AD, but the name itself was first attributed to earlier apparatus.

The Greek “abax” means “board covered with dust” which was used for counting by the Babylonians. However, the Chinese version was much easier to use and very fast. In fact, an abacus in the right hands is faster than a modern calculator.

2) The Ball Point Pen

The world’s first ball point pen was invented a Hungarian journalist named Laszlo Jose Biro. Had he not sold the patent to Baron Bich, his estate today would be worth billions. What Biro had managed to do was to design a nib that contained a ball-bearing, while ensuring that is was able to transfer smudge proof ink to paper.

Today, something in the region of 14 million of his pens are sold every single day, which in itself could put it in contention for the title of World’s Most Successful Gadget. So successful is the Biro, that just about all ballpoint pens are referred to as biro’s.

3) Man’s Red Fire

Okay, so maybe fire wasn’t exactly invented and it could possibly be argued that it isn’t a gadget. That said, since the day that man learned how to control it, it has had an enormous impact on the world and continues to do so.


Man learned to command fire around 800k years ago, but it took until 1827 for the first match to be invented.

4) Paper

Man’s biggest and longest kept secret? Did you know that the creation of paper was kept secret for 500 years? You do now. The Chinese were using paper made of bamboo fibres and bark around 2k years ago but it took centuries for the news to reach anybody else. Eventually though, the secret came out and it is still widely used by just about everybody to this day.


5) The Plough

No, not the dodgy pub on the corner. The need to turn over soil, and the implements to do it have has been around just as long as agriculture has. Before the plough was invented, farmers would use anything: sticks, roots, rocks… Bones.

Agriculture in heavier soils in Europe demanded something a little more robust, though, and so the plough was created. What happened next propelled humanity forward like a catapult.

6) The Wheel

Something of an inevitability, and deserving of a top spot if there was one. And it wasn’t Abacus shaped. In fact, the only reason it isn’t number one is because it was inevitable.

Having said that, we humans were a little slow on the uptake when it came to the wheel and it probably should have been invented much earlier. After all, the incas seemed to manage just fine without it. Up to a point.

For the rest of the world, this gadget has literally been propelling mankind along since it was first invented.

7) Computers

The impact that these desk weights have had on the world cannot possibly be overstated and was first made possible by the dark art of PCB assembly. Electronics as a whole has had a profound effect on the lives of virtually every living person on the planet.

From the tiniest calculator, right up to the behemoths making sense of air traffic as it goes thundering across our sky. The humble computer has touched every part of our lives.

8) The Telescope

Although Galileo invented the word "telescope", he did not invent the gadget. The Telescope was actually invented by the two Dutchmen, Hans Lipperhey and Zacharias Jansen.

These two were the first people to combine two different lenses, convex and concave, at either end of a tube. Galileo originally called it a military aid, before turning his gaze skyward.

Early telescopes could only magnify object by a factor of 20, but even the cheapest of devices today can grant you a factor of 500.

9) The Short Message Service (SMS)

This thing has given an entire generation massive bicep thumbs. Or something. Anyway, the very first proper text (for proper, read unabbreviated) message was sent by British engineer Neil Papworth 15 years ago.

The message simply read: "MERRY CHRISTMAS". Millions of texts are sent every single day now, and not just to ask your partner downstairs to bring up a sandwich. Texts today can pay bills, buy services, vote in reality TV shows and even check your bank balance.

Smartphones today just wouldn’t be the same without this digital gadget.

10) The Saddle

When it was first domesticated, in something like 4,000 BC, the horse very nearly went extinct. Nobody is sure what happened to secure the horse its rightful place in the world once more, but early hunters started riding instead of eating them.

Using blankets, or sometimes going bareback, hunting efficiency wasn’t that great until the arrival of the saddle. They had to wait a good while though, because it wasn’t until around 200 AD that the saddle was invented by Chinese Nomads.

And there it is. 10 of the greatest innovations and inventions to have shaped our world. The effects of these are still felt today, and many of the older ones such as the abacus and the saddle are still widely used. What’s your favourite?




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