The Greatest Inventions of All Time

January 21, 2010

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In this edition of The Soap Boxers, I will attempt to identify the greatest inventions in the history of mankind.  I’m going to skip around a bit, and will probably miss a few, but without further ado, let’s jump in!

The Caveman Trio – Fire, Wheel, and Meat.  I’m pretty cold blooded, so I’m glad that someone eventually realized that fire could be harnessed for warmth.  I can imagine how happy those first cave people would have been, basking in the warmth of the very first fire.  The wheel – the foundation of transportation – gets plenty of attention as well.  The last leg of the Caveman Trio – meat – gets the short end of the stick.  We owe a lot to the man who decided that it would be a good idea to kill an animal and eat its flesh, just for kicks.

Indoor plumbing – Can you imagine going outside to an outhouse when the temperature dips below zero?  Not my idea of a fun time, either.  Shower and sinks are pretty cool, too.

Perfumes, deodorants, anti-perspirants, and other stuff that makes people smell less awful.  Admit it – left to our own devices, we kind of reek after a while.  Products that allow us to minimize body odor get an A+ in my book.

The internal combustion engine – Prior to the Model T, people rarely traveled more than 25 miles from home – and when they did travel that far, it was quite the ordeal.  I commute further than this to work every day, one way.  Henry Ford’s Model T could not have been possible with Gottlieb Daimler’s internal combustion engine.

The assembly line – This time, we’ll give full credit to Henry Ford.  Ford’s idea of keeping workers stationary and moving the work to the workers allowed for considerably more efficient production.  Furthermore, it served as a catalyst for analyzing other workflows.

The printing press – Thank you, Herr Gutenberg!  The printing press allowed the sharing of knowledge to the masses.  No longer was the distribution of written works limited to handwritten manuscripts or the older woodblock printing.  I am a certified bibliophile – but without Gutenberg’s press, I wouldn’t have the ability to own hundreds of books.

The telephone – postal mail was great, and telegraphs were a step forward, but the ability to actively converse with another person over a phone line was revolutionary.  Now, if we can just get rid of the anachronistic use of the word “dial”.

Humor – A few simply jokes can serve as a pick-me-up to carry someone through the rest of the day.  Kudos to the person who first pushed their intellectual skills into the field of humor.

Electricity – From the simplest light bulb to complex medical equipment, electricity makes it happen.  Spend a few days without electricity during a blackout and you’ll realize exactly how important it is.

Baseball – You knew that I couldn’t leave this one out, right?  For more than one hundred thirty years, Americans have enjoyed the pleasure of watching professional baseball.

OK – that’s my list.  Is it complete?  Certainly not.  Throw out your list!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evan @ 40Tech
    Jan 21, 2010 @ 09:40:35

    The only thing I’d add would be the internet. It has already transformed the world, and I think we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg.
    .-= Evan @ 40Tech´s last blog ..Gdgt: Social Networking for Gadget Lovers =-.


  2. kosmo
    Jan 21, 2010 @ 20:41:20

    Agreed – the internet is a real game changer. The interesting thing is the diversity of the experience. You could have ten people tell each other what they do on the internet, and probably everyone in the group would be incredulous at how a few of the other “waste” time on certain activities.


  3. Living with Balls
    Jan 22, 2010 @ 13:39:33

    We must have been an awfully smelly society before the invention of soaps, shampoo and indoor plumbing. I’m glad I wasn’t around for that.
    .-= Living with Balls´s last blog ..Google Search Suggestions Expose Mass Shame =-.


  4. Martin Kelly
    Jan 22, 2010 @ 16:37:03

    One word – Antibiotics


  5. kosmo
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 08:41:17

    @ Balls – Yeah, the smellyness of the old days is a major reason why I leave my time traveling machine in the garage most of the time. No deodorant + infrequent bathing + lots of manual labor is a very bad combination.


  6. Marnie
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 13:56:59

    Hey Kosmo,
    Great food for thought. I’d like to add kissing–I know, it’s a strange one. However, there had to be someone who “thought” of it first, right? 🙂


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