When great intellects, prompted by necessity, apply their knowledge and imagination to the betterment of human life, they produce incredible inventions. These have spurred technological progress since the beginning of time, when the invention of fire and water vessels altered the course of human development forever. We now benefit from tens of thousands of years of innovation and invention, and today enjoy several technologies which enable and drive our modern lifestyles.
Portable and Contained Fire
While humans cannot take credit for the invention of fire, we can pat ourselves on the back for finding countless ways to use, transport, and contain the hazardous chemical reaction. From lighting the dwelling places of early humans, to providing warmth and cooking food, the invention of portable fire enabled humanity to develop and enjoy a much higher quality of life than had been previously enjoyed before the advent of nighttime lighting and cooked food.
Before the recording of language in written form, all of human knowledge was shared and preserved through oral tradition. This meant that many things, including histories, social training, and production methods, were easily lost or altered when retold. With the advent of written, recorded language, humanity’s history could be “written in stone”, or at least recorded to the best of the author’s abilities.
In the late nineteenth century, most communication problems in the United States were due to the considerable distances between towns. It was Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of the telephone on the 10th of March, 1876 , which provided the solution. His was the invention that transformed sound into electrical signals, beginning the age of instantaneous, long-distance communication.
The Electric Bulb
The first inventor of the electric light bulb was Joseph Swan, in 1860. His bulbs, however, burnt out too quickly to be of use as a practical light source. Thomas Edison, improving on Swan’s ideas, created the long-lasting electric filament light we’re all familiar with as the light bulb. Will Adams, of Brothers Lighting & Electrical Service, says that electric light is one of the most crucial elements of modern life. As a specialist in electrical repair in Houston, he has seen the chaos and confusion caused by a power outage or broken electrical line. Most people, Adams says, barely know how to function without lighting, often resulting in injury, frustration, and a loss of productivity as they try to navigate the darkness that few of us have to deal with anymore.
The first device recognized as a mechanical computer is The Difference Engine, a machine capable of carrying out arithmetical and logical operations. Invented by Charles Babbage in 1822, this was the predecessor to all modern computers.
The Internal-Combustion Engine
This fuel burning engine was first developed by Nicolaus Otto in 1876 and later perfected by Gottlieb Daimler in 1885. The internal-combustion engine compresses fuel until a resulting explosive action drives a mechanical component within a cylinder. Vehicles powered by improved variations of this engine quickly replaced the slow, inefficient horse-drawn carriage.