HomeenA list of essential inventions

A list of essential inventions

The number of inventions that humanity has produced is countless. Some very well known, others not so much but of great incidence in our daily life; curious, amazing, useless but novel, there are inventions of the kind you can imagine. Listed below is a very limited series of inventions, contemporary and ancient, valid today and obsolete, but which have contributed in some way to the development of our societies.

adhesives

The first patent for a glue was filed in Great Britain around 1750 and was made from a fish by-product.

Adhesive tape, Scotch tape or cellophane tape, was invented in 1930 by engineer Richard Drew of the 3M company.

airbags

It was in 1973 that a General Motors technology development team invented the first airbags to improve automobile safety. They were first offered as an optional add-on on a Chevrolet model.

air brakes

George Westinghouse invented air brakes in 1868.

Air conditioning of environments

It was Willis Carrier who invented air conditioning, greatly contributing to comfort on hot days.

Air Transport

There are many inventions related to the transport of people by air. Hot air balloons, airships and zeppelins are a few. But the most relevant was Wilbur and Orville Wright’s invention of the manned motorized airplane, which they patented as a flying machine.

Hans von Ohain and Frank Whittle independently developed the jet engine in the 1930s, which replaced the propeller engine in aircraft and is used in almost all aircraft today.

Related to air transport but which has other applications was the invention of the altimeter, an instrument that measures the vertical distance between a point in the air with respect to a reference level.

Also related to air transport, the parachute was invented in France by Louis-Sébastien Lenormand in 1783.

Hot air balloon. Hot air balloon.

alcoholic beverages

The manufacture of fermented alcoholic beverages dates back to the Neolithic, a period of human development that began between 6,000 and 4,000 BC, and lasted until 3,000 BC. From the fermentation of the sugar of the honey they obtained mead, with a graduation of 4 to 18% of ethyl alcohol. And from the fermentation of herbs they obtained beer.

alternating current

Charles Proteus Steinmetz was the one who developed alternating current, which allowed the industrial use of electrical energy.

Print

Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440. The first book to be printed was the 42-line Bible (the number of lines on each page), which played an important role in spreading the views of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation.

Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg. Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg.

Aluminum foil and the aluminum manufacturing process

The first industrially produced sheet metal in mass use was tin foil, which was replaced by laminated aluminium, paper or aluminum foil after World War II. Charles Martin Hall developed the method for the production of metallic aluminum in electrolytic cells in 1886; Being low in cost, he expanded the use of metallic aluminum in various applications.

the anemometer

Leon Battista Alberti, an Italian artist and architect, invented the first mechanical anemometer in 1450. Anemometer is a device that measures wind speed.

Computer

The first device similar to a computer was invented by the German engineer Konrad Zuse in 1941: the Z3. He also designed a programming language, as well as designing and building the Z4 in 1950, the first commercial computer.

The first high-level programming language was the FORTRAN language, developed by John Backus as part of an IBM company project that began in 1954.

The Apple Lisa, a computer made by Apple Computer in the early 1980s, was the first computer to have a mouse, or mouse , a graphical interface (GUI), and other advancements that became computer standards.

Archimedean screw

Invented by the Greek scientist Archimedes, the Archimedean screw is a simple machine that was originally used to lift water but has multiple applications.

the artificial heart

Willem Johan Kolff, considered the father of artificial organs, invented the first artificial heart and the first kidney dialysis machine.

Another related invention is the cardiac pacemaker, an invention of Wilson Greatbatch that began to be implanted in people in the 1960s.

Aspirin

In 1829 it was discovered that the compound called salicin, which was extracted from the bark of willow trees, acted as an anti-inflammatory agent in people, being also an analgesic and antipyretic. But it was already used as a medicine by Hippocrates, who discovered the analgesic properties of willow plants in the 5th century BC. The composition and biological effect of salicin is very similar to that of the active principle of aspirin.

automotive assembly line

Ransom Eli Olds developed the basic assembly line concept for the automotive industry. He built the first mass-produced car in 1901, the Curved Dash. Then Henry Ford would continue with the development of this form of mass production.

The atomic bomb

In the early 1940s, during World War II, the United States developed and built the first two atomic bombs, which were detonated over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, marking the first episode of the use of weapons of destruction. massive in the history of mankind.

explosion of an atomic bomb Explosion of an atomic bomb.

the atomic clock

The primary standard for frequency and time measurement in the United States is an atomic clock consisting of a radioactive source of cesium, developed in the laboratories of NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). .

Audio recording on magnetic tapes

Marvin Camras invented recording and playing audio on magnetic devices in the 1930s.

In 1963 the Philips company began manufacturing the compact audio cassette, based on electromagnetic recording on a tape.

But we must not forget that the first device that made it possible to record and reproduce sounds was the phonograph, invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1870.

Automatic tone of voice adjustment

In 1996 Andy Hildebrand developed the pitch correction software called Auto-Tune.

The car

Vehicles powered by a mechanical device have a long history. The first vehicle of this type, powered by a steam engine, was the brainchild of Nicolas Cugnot in 1769. However, the first vehicle with an internal combustion engine using gasoline as fuel was patented in 1860 by Etienne Lenoir. In addition, the construction of the first automobile with an internal combustion engine is attributed to Karl Friedrich Benz in 1886: the Benz Patent Motorwagen.

The electric car, a vehicle powered by an electric motor that stores the energy it uses in a rechargeable battery, was invented in the 1880s; these cars were used at the end of the 19th century until they were superseded by internal combustion engine automobiles. Today the reverse process is taking place, because electric cars do not generate the environmental damage that internal combustion engines do. They are up to three times more efficient, are quieter and have a better response to acceleration. Two-thirds of the roughly 10 million electric cars in use today are pure electric, while the remaining third are hybrids, combining an electric motor and an internal combustion engine.

steam car Steam automobile.

bakelite

Leo Hendrik Baekeland invented the first polymer, bakelite, in 1907, thus beginning the era of plastics. He also invented photographic paper in 1893, the rights to which he sold in 1899 to Eastman Kodak.

The pen

Hungarian by birth and Argentine national, Ladislao José Biró was the author of several inventions, the most famous being the one he patented in 1938, the ballpoint pen. To this day, in Argentina the pen is called “birome” in his honor.

The barcode

The first bar code patents were granted to Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver on October 7, 1952.

the barometer

The barometer is an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure. The mercury barometer was invented by Evangelista Torricelli in 1643.

Battery

The first battery or electric cell was invented by Alessando Giuseppe Antonio Volta in 1799.

Volta's electric battery. Volta’s electric battery.

glasses or glasses

Salvino D’Armato degli Armati is credited with inventing lenses in Florence, Italy, in the 13th century, although the accuracy of this information is doubted.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with creating the first pair of glasses that improve people’s vision both far and near: bifocals.

Bikini

The bikini was invented in 1946 and is named after Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The bikini designers were two Frenchmen named Jacques Heim and Louis Reard.

the blood bank

Charles Richard Drew was an American researcher who developed techniques for preserving blood for transfusions, making it possible to store it in large quantities. This began to be implemented at the beginning of World War II.

the bra

Mary Phelps Jacob began in 1913 the substitution of the corset for the bra. Depending on the country, it is also called a bra, brassiere or bra, among others.

the braille system

The tactile reading and writing system for the visually impaired, the Braille system, was created by Louis Braille in 1825.

the carborundum

Edward Goodrich Acheson invented carborundum or carborundum . Carborundum is the material with the highest surface hardness manufactured by man. Its chemical name is silicon carbide (SiC) and its surface hardness is similar to that of diamond, which is why it has multiple applications.

the catheter

Thomas Fogarty invented the balloon embolectomy catheter, while Betty Rozier and Lisa Vallino invented the intravenous catheter. Ingemar Henry Lundquist invented the catheter variant that is used in most angioplasty procedures in the world.

cloning

Cloning, ie the exact reproduction of an organism from its DNA, was first successfully completed in 1996 by Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland. The cloned organism was a sheep, who was named Dolly.

cotton shelling machine

Eli Whitney patented the cotton shelling machine in 1794. The machine separated the seeds and other materials from the cotton after it had been harvested.

the cyclotron

The first cyclotron was built by Ernest Lawrence and M. Stanley Livingston in 1931. The cyclotron is an atomic particle accelerator.

electric motor

The electric motor, the device that transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy, was part of Michael Faraday’s developments on electromagnetism.

the microscope

The light microscope uses optical lenses to magnify the image of small objects. Although there is no agreement on which was the first microscope designed, Zacarias Janssen’s design of the simple microscope in 1590 is recognized as one of the precursors. Then, in 1611, Johannes Kepler would propose the design of the compound microscope.

Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska developed the electron microscope between 1925 and 1932. Using the wave properties of electrons to magnify images of very small objects, its magnification capacity is much greater than that of light microscopes; this is because the wavelength of the electrons is less than that of the photons.

Photograph of a kidney stone taken by an electron microscope. Photograph of a kidney stone taken by an electron microscope.

the galvanized

Galvanizing, that is, the deposit of a metal on another metallic surface by electrodeposition using electricity, was invented in 1839. The function of the metallic layer is to protect the body of the piece formed by the other metal, as in the case of the deposition of zinc on pieces of iron. This method is also used to change the appearance of the piece, generating, for example, cheap pieces of jewelry.

The elevator

The construction of devices to lift objects or people dates back to ancient civilizations and multiple versions have been designed throughout history. As higher-altitude buildings were built, the need arose to design a device that would transport people vertically. On the conception of elevators, in the mid-19th century Elisha Graves Otis invented a brake system to cushion the fall if the cable that supported the elevator was cut; this provided the necessary security for the transport of people and laid the foundations of the elevator as we know it today.

explosives

The first explosive created by man was gunpowder, a combination of coal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate. It was invented in China in the 9th century during the Tang dynasty, when alchemists were searching for an elixir for immortality.

Bomb used by the Mongols during the invasion of Japan in the 13th century. Bomb used by the Mongols during the invasion of Japan in the 13th century.

fiber optic

Optical fiber is a very thin light-conducting thread that allows information to be transmitted over greater distances and faster than electrical cables. In 1952, the Indian physicist Nrinder Singh Kapany carried out the first experiments that led to its invention, also giving it its current name. He is considered the father of fiber optics.

Freon and refrigerators

Freon is the first compound invented from the CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) group. It was developed in 1928 by a team from the General Motors company made up of Thomas Midgley and Albert Leon Henne in order to replace ammonia and other gases used in refrigeration because they are highly toxic, explosive or flammable. These compounds degrade the ozone layer of the atmosphere, which is why their use in refrigeration systems and in aerosols has been prohibited since 1987.

rockets and missiles

The propulsion of an object to move through the air, initially for war purposes, dates back to the discovery of gunpowder in China and its use to make rockets. The Chinese, Mongols and Ottomans used them for centuries, but in the West they were incorporated into armies much later.

They were used in India against the British in the late 18th century; in turn, the British recorded its importance and promoted its use during the 19th century, with William Congreve being the pioneer in the development of its design and manufacture. But it was in the first decades of the 20th century that the technological advances that allowed their development took place, culminating in 1943 with the production of the V2 rockets designed by Wernher von Braun in Germany during World War II.

the jacuzzi

Roy Jacuzzi invented and marketed the first fully integrated, self-contained whirlpool bath in 1968, by incorporating water jets into the sides of the tub. Jacuzzi is the registered trademark name for the invention.

penicillin

Penicillin, the first widely used antibiotic, was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928; however, its use prior to Fleming’s discovery by the Costa Rican scientist Clodomiro Picado Twight is also recognized. Ernst Boris Chain and Howard Walter Florey developed a method that allowed its mass production.

satellites

Artificial satellites, human-made objects that orbit the Earth, began to be developed in the 1950s, with the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 being the first artificial satellite; it was released on October 4, 1957.

Satellites are made for very different purposes: some are both Earth and space observation satellites, others are used for communications or geolocation; there are also weather and navigation satellites. Space stations are also satellites.

Seatbelt

Preston Tucker first included seat belts in 1948 on the only model car he ever produced, the Tucker Torpedo.

The skyscrapers

High-rise buildings began to be built in the late 19th century in the United States, first in Chicago and then in New York. The Home Insurance Building built in 1885 in Chicago is considered the first building of its kind.

the ringing

Sonar, the device that uses the transmission and reflection of acoustic waves in water to locate and identify submerged objects, was developed after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The first patent for such equipment was filed by Lewis Richardson one month after this accident and in 1913 Alexander Behm applied for another patent for similar equipment.

the steamboat

Robert Fulton designed and built the first steamship, which made its maiden voyage sailing along the Hudson River in the United States in 1807. Fulton also designed one of the first sailing submarines, the Nautilus.

The steel

It is steel is an alloy of iron and carbon that can have other components in small proportions. The oldest steel elements were found in Africa and their manufacturing date was determined in the year 1400 BC. Steel production in China is also recorded during the Han dynasty, around the 1st century BC.

Television

The first television device was developed by Scottish inventor John Logie Baird, who made the first demonstration on January 25, 1926. He also invented the first color television system. The first public television broadcasts were made in 1927 in England, in 1930 in the United States and in 1935 in France.

The Therm

The thermos, the device that thermally insulates the material it contains, was invented by James Dewar towards the end of the 19th century. It is also called a Dewar glass.

The use of tidal energy

The first time that tidal energy was used was to propel windmill blades in coastal areas by filling tanks at high tide, driving the mill by draining accumulated water. There are records of this use of tidal power in the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages. Currently there are power plants that use tidal energy, a clean source that is more predictable than the wind.

The touchscreen

The touch screen was developed by Eric Johnson at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern, England, in 1965. Its application in air traffic control systems was published in 1968.

The traffic light

The first traffic lights were installed near the House of Commons in London in 1868.

arc welding

Nikolai Benardos and Stanislav Olszewski obtained a patent in 1885 for an electric arc welder with a carbon electrode; They are considered the fathers of welding equipment.

The plow

The plough, the tillage implement that allows to open a furrow and then plant, is one of the oldest inventions of humanity. There are multiple designs, from plows pulled by various animals or even by people, to modern mechanized systems.

Egyptian painting from the year 1250 BC showing the use of a plow. Egyptian painting from the year 1250 BC showing the use of a plow.

Sources

Curiosities about Gutenberg and the printing press.

History of computing and informatics.

74 years have passed since the first explosion of an atomic bomb .

Steve Garber. Sputnik and The Dawn of the Space Age NASA.