What were the most important inventions in the 20th century? We get a few ideas from the list compiled by the United States National Academy of Engineering.
The 20th century left us the legacy of a large number of technical developments. Although it is not easy to attempt to decide on the most influential ones, the United States National Academy of Engineering has already done so to serve as a guide. This government institution proposes 20 inventions and technological developments which shaped the last century. The range is far-reaching, from computers to the mechanization of agriculture. This post lists the top ten:
- The availability of electricity
Electricity was already widely used during the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, but it was the 20th century which saw this form of energy spread throughout society. Electricity now manages our daily lives.
- The car
Once again, this is an invention which appeared in the late 19th century but did not fully develop until the 20th century. The engine was defined in the early 1900s and mass production began with Ford’s Model T. It would be hard to imagine society without this means of transport nowadays.
- The aeroplane
The aeroplane is undoubtedly one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. When the Wright brothers took to the air for the first time in 1903, few could imagine that they were drastically reducing distances around the world.
- Running water supply
Just think for a moment what we would we do each day without running and drinkable water. The first experiments to create water supply networks in cities date back to the 19th and even the 18th centuries, but it was not until the 20th century that urban planning broadly integrated these services.
The starting signal for electronics came in 1948, when Bell Telephone Laboratories publicly presented a component that would change machines forever: the transistor. At the time it was said that it would be applied to the radio.
- Radio and television
The Unites States National Academy of Engineering puts these two inventions in the same category. Their importance, and the reason they are mentioned together, can be put down to the fact that they represent the advent of mass media, affecting the press at a time when most of the population began to be literate.
- Agricultural mechanization
In the early 20th century oxen were still used in the fields, which were sown by hand, while the work was exhausting and poorly paid. The implementation of motor vehicles and other mechanical devices in agriculture has not only improved the lives of people but has also led to increased food production.
This is another of the most important inventions of the 20th century which could hardly fail to make the list. Modern life would be inconceivable without the personal computers used at work and at home or without the systems made up of servers and complex machines. The first electronic computers capable of the most basic tasks appeared in the 1940s. From then onwards these programmable electronic devices became so important that the 20th century could be called the Computer Age.
- The telephone
Again we must go back to the 19th century, when Alexander Graham Bell popularized the telephone, but it was in the 20th century that the telephone network spread through and between cities. The evolution of this device has led to wireless communication which allows people to be permanently reachable.
- Air conditioning and refrigeration
The list of the United States National Academy of Engineering refers mostly to its own country, where air conditioning is more important than in Europe and other parts of the world. What we can agree on is the invention of refrigeration. The first domestic refrigerator appeared in 1913 and, from that moment onwards, people started to store in their homes food that they had previously had to buy every day. This also encouraged the emergence of new types of food.