The top 10 Innovations of all time

Top 10 Innovations

The means to make Fire

Let’s not kid ourselves. This is the big one. Without this, nothing. While not truly a human invention (more of a discovery) controlling fire is one of the cornerstones of what separated us from the animals. It lit our nights. It kept the predators away. It cooked our food, helped us cure meats, and kept us warm.

The Lever


“Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it”. One of the original ‘six simple machines’ as defined by the scientist of the Renaissance era.  The Egyptians were known to use it as far back as the 3rd century BC; often to move blocks weighing up to 100 tons.

The Plough


When humans made the big switch from hunter-gatherer to simple agriculture, the Plough lead the revolution. Well, when I say ‘lead’ what I really mean is followed…from behind an ox.



More than just an inspiration for a great song by Jethro Tull, bricks allowed humans to build. And build we did. The earliest known bricks have been found in the region of what is now Turkey, and have been dated to 7500 BC.  As you can see, each invention brings us closer to an ideal. Fire kept us warm, the Plough kept us fed. The brick let us build everything from simple huts and houses to pyramids.

The Wheel


It’s inception is placed in about the 4th millenium BC, in several areas.  It’s impossible to determine who invented it first. The wheel is thought to have brought us not only the beginning of transportation, but also Industry. From water wheels and mills, to chariots and tires, the wheel is roundly (get it?) considered to be a pretty big deal.



The beginnings of written and recorded information date to around 8000BC Mesopotamia. Today, we consider writing to be the very identifiable distinction between history and prehistory. Written communication is, by and large, what defines us as species. It’s how we exchange our ideas, hopes and dreams. It’s also the basis of how we attempt to influence those around us.



The first evidence of this extractive metallurgy dates from the 5th and 6th millennium BC and was found in the archaeological sites of Serbia. As in many of the previous inventions, Metallurgy wasn’t an end in itself, but was generally an improvement upon what came before. Prior to this invention, we still had arrows, axes, and other tools.  But, with the introduction of metallurgy we are now able to produce superior tools made of metal.

Gutenberg’s Press


Johaness Gutenberg began working on his breakthrough invention in approximately 1436. We know this because he was subsequently sued. Ah…Innovation. Within a few short decades, there was a huge increase in the circulation of books, as printing presses began popping up in every town. As production increased, the unit costs fell, which gave rise to inventions like the ‘Newspaper’.  Suddenly the masses at large had increased access to news, information, and advertising.

The Harnessing of Electricity


When Ben Franklin went out to fly a kite in a thunderstorm little did he know what would follow. Simple advancements such as public Gas lighting making way for electric light made a huge improvement in the lives of millions of people. Suddenly the turbines and engines of the industrial revolution were being turned by electric power, and not the spindly little arms of Oliver Twist. Which is all to the good. Little Oliver never deserved that sort of thing.

The Computer / Internet


And here we are today. The Computer allowed humans to figure out math equations and logistics at a previously unheard of rate. Coupled with Moors law (which states that computer performance would double every year), we went from computers that were the size of a grocery store to slick little laptops that are as thin as a magazine. Along side (almost parallel) is the development of the Internet. Now that we have all of these personal computers, tying them all together seemed like the logical next step. Then Tim Berners-Lee developed the protocols to build what we call ‘websites’. Now, here we are in what is certainly a new golden-age, the age of the world wide web. People around the world not only have access to the web (and thus the combined human knowledge of all time) but the means to communicate with each other 24/7 despite geographical location. At first the barrier to entry was the ability to write computer code to create your own websites but now, thanks to programs like Digital Agent, anyone can build and write a well designed website of their very own.