It’s hard to imagine a world without Bluetooth, IPhones or Facebook. Even technology like the microwave or a pacemaker hold such importance in our lives today. However, a mere century ago, these innovative technologies weren’t even a thought.
While it’s hard to image a time without the technology we have now, it’s even harder to picture what the next 100 years have to offer us. See below for our list of the most innovative technologies of the past century.
Percy Spencer accidentally discovered the first microwave in 1945. In a lab with radiation from materials made for the second World War, Percy Spencer noticed a peanut bar in his pocket begin to melt while he was standing particularly close to a magnetron. Next, he attempted a bag of popcorn and noticed all the kernels popping. After issuing some patents, the first microwave was created. It took some years to develop and perfect, but his accidental invention revolutionized food preparation throughout the mid- to late-1900s.
For a full history of the microwave oven, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! This invention is still very much used today. While there is speculation on the dangers of radiation and the impact it has on our food, for the most part people trust the microwave and it is an appliance found in almost every household.
Technically, the concept of artificial intelligence was likely imagined by many scientists throughout the past decades, so it’s difficult to distinguish when it was initially established. In our opinion, it began when Alan Turing discovered he could measure how ‘human’ a computer is, with his own development called the Turing Test. This required training the computer to react and respond in a way a human would, which included making some mistakes. If a computer passed the test, it was considered ‘intelligent’.
For a full history of AI and Alan Turing, click here.
Do we still use it today? AI has only grown and developed over the years into something that is actually frightening to most people. The concept of ‘robots’ or lifelike computers can really expand our capabilities as humans, which is why so much work is put into the expansion of AI.
When the hard disk drive was first established, it was the size of two refrigerators and returned less than 5 MB of storage. This was then perfected into the tiny SD cards that we see today, which was done by working with computers and following the progression of them.
For a full history of Hard Drives, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! Hard drives are now built into laptops, and its properties are widely accepted as the best for condensing files and storing them. (More on the Cloud later…)
The first pacemaker was created by a Canadian man named John Hopps. He recognized that a heart will stop when the body’s temperature drops low enough and that it could be restarted artificially. They were about the size of a shoe box, making them far too large to allow patients to be ambulant. These devices were developed into products that could be fit to someone’s heart and batteries were manufactured for them, which then resulted in the surge of popularity for pacemakers.
For a full history of the pacemaker, click here.
Do we still use it today? Yes! These devices help hundreds of thousands of people every year, and have been perfected to aid in slowing down heart rates as well as speeding them up.
The first desktop computer was launched in 1964 and called the Programma 101. They started off as the bulky, massive devices that took up several feet of space. Because of their exorbitant price and size, these computers were only mainly used corporately. It wasn’t until 1975 that “personal computers” were being sold, and they started to develop the shape that we recognize today. Throughout the years, desktops have become smaller and more powerful, and extremely popular devices worldwide.
For a full history of the computer, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! Although desktops were traded out for laptops throughout the 2000s, they still prove extremely useful for certain tasks. Most people still prefer to sturdiness and reliability of a desktop computer, and they have been perfected to the point of being as sleek and compact as many laptops.
It’s very difficult to imagine a time when you couldn’t plug a destination into your phone and listen to step-by-step directions as you navigate. Before that was searching an address up on the computer and writing down the directions, and before that was searching an address up on a map and then mapping out your directions. Before that however, people would have to navigate based on their own memory or someone else’s. GPS stands for global positioning system, and was introduced in 1978. It was designed initially to gain competitive advantage during the war, but was perfected for commercial use. With the help of satellites and advancing technology, we have the GPS systems that we rely on today.
For a full history of the GPS, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! The thought of travelling anywhere without the help of a navigational system is enough to make most of us sick. It has become such a reliable tool, and it has also been integrated in programs such as Uber. It has also made courier tasks and travel astronomically more simple.
In almost any film taking place in the 80s-90s, there is homage paid to the classic Sony Walkman. The walkman was originally created as a means to listen to opera on-the-go. Masaru Ibuka (Sony’s co-founder), thought up the concept that was then designed by Norio Ohga, which resulted in the first mobile cassette player. This allowed people to take their music with them on-the-go, where they could listen to it with their own headphones. Although it very popular within the first month of launch, the Walkman went on to gain popularity and inspire the way we listen to music today.
For a full history of the Sony Walkman, click here.
Do we still use it today? Not quite. With smartphones and various streaming apps, there isn’t a need for a seperate device that plays music. There is a Sony Walkman app, but that’s as far as it goes.
The Microsoft Word that we all know and love today is commended for being user-friendly, efficient and available on various operating systems. Microsoft in 1983 was a small, hardly recognizable company who created this software called “Multi-Tool Word”. It was developed and improved upon, and became functional for all operating systems available at the time. It gained popularity, and evolved into the program we recognize today.
For a full history of Microsoft Word, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! Even with newer programs such as Google Suite, Microsoft Office remains widely popular and efficient.
Photoshop has come a long way from this unattainable yet interesting process that only skilled professionals could practice. Now, it is as simple as downloading an app on your phone. We are now able to identify when something has been photoshopped or edited, and in the past few years apps like FaceTune have really taken off. It is a process so natural to many people – teeth whitening, blurring skin, slimming waist – that it seems like these programs have been around forever. Developed by John Knoll and Thus Thomas, Photoshop shaped the advertising, modelling and media industry.
For a full (and very interesting) history on Photoshop, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! It has been perfected and learned by so many people that it’s a second-nature to most.
Bluetooth was established in 1997 by Jim Kardach and Sven Mattisson, but it isn’t actually owned by any single person or company. It was designed to replace the wires used to connect devices to each other. It acts similar to radio, and was inspired by walkie-talkies and other technology used during war.
For a full history of Bluetooth, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! Bluetooth has spearheaded the idea of handsfree which has made driving much safer. It’s automatically installed on all phones, and is utilized to connect devices.
It’s difficult to determine when cloud storage was actually created, because it was technically always there. It can be thought of as the space between a user and their provider, which was the popular explanation in the 90s. Cloud computing is essentially keeping a lot of your data on the internet and in the hands of your provider. This can be understood through programs like Google Suites, where all of your files are kept online so you can utilize them from any device. This maximizes the effectiveness of the device while not compromising the storage or functionality. This has revolutionized the way many people do work, and will continue to change the way programs and apps are created. Apple also launched its own version of the Cloud called iCloud where images, music and other files are stored on your Apple account.
For a full history of the Cloud, and a more in-depth explanation of it, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! The Cloud is replicated in many different ways, but its properties increase functionality and maximize our devices. The Cloud also eliminates the possibility of a computer crashing, and taking all of your files with it.
Although a lengthy production process, the first MP3s appeared in 1999. Developed and patented by Fraunhofer-Gesellchaft, the MP3 was one of the first devices that could compress music files and allow you to listen to them with minimal reduced sound quality. It could play music that sounded like it was from a CD, but was entirely digital. It was a cheaper alternative to buying new albums in CD form whenever they were released, and was sleeker than a WalkMan. This sparked the movement into strictly digital music, leading to the obsoleteness of the CD.
For a full history of the MP3, click here.
Do we still use it today? Technically, yes. The process of compressing files to play on a device is still very much used today. However, programs like Apple Music and Spotify have encouraged users to either stream music from these apps using data, or downloading the songs directly from these programs.
Following the first PlayStation, Sony immediately began working on PS2. Not only did this newer system update issues with the original console, it added a DVD player. The PS2 revolutionized gaming and encouraged all people to purchase the system, expanding the demographic from a niche younger audience to people of any age. Because it was cheaper than the DVD units at the time and considering you could play both PS1 and PS2 games, this system was flying off the shelves. Of course, the creation of various games also increased the popularity of the system. This machine is the highest selling console of all time.
For a full history of the PS2, click here.
Do we still use it? Sadly, no. Although there are some diehard fans that will still use the original device, it definitely pales in comparison to the systems available now. While it obviously inspired the majority of the gaming systems today, there would be no benefit to using your PlayStation 2 – especially because a lot of the classic games available for PS2 were remastered and made accessible for newer consoles.
A site originally created to connect students at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004. He majored in psychology as he already had plenty of knowledge in computer programming. Psychology likely played a huge part in the creation of Facebook because it not only drew people in but encouraged them to share personal stories, details and photos while interacting with other users. Originally titled Thefacebook, the platform looked very similar to its current state. However, Zuckerberg had to overcome several legal obstacles to develop it into the Facebook that we know today. Allegedly, Zuckerberg had stolen the concept from some of his collaborators but didn’t want to surrender any due portion of the company. Frankly, with the success of Facebook it’s easy to understand why he wanted to keep it all for himself. In the years to follow, Facebook grew exponentially and became one of the most successful companies in the world.
Following the extremely positive feedback and increased sales for the iPod, Steve Jobs incorporated the same features into a phone. At the beginning of the year 2007, the first iPhone ever was launched. Naturally the futuristic aspects of it, such as being almost entirely touch screen, were enough to sell this concept on all smartphone users. Apple managed to make all other smartphone options look primal, and have continued on the legacy with cutting-edge and user-friendly products.
For a full history of the iPhone, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! In fact, iPhones are constantly near the top of lists regarding the best mobile phones of all time. Despite recent scandals involving the integrity of iPhone and Apple, namely the battery depletion and poor treatment of factory workers, the phones will likely be very popular for a very long time.
The first Bitcoin transaction took place on January 12, 2009, and it really took the world by storm. Bitcoin is a bankless form of electronic cash that is said to be highly secure and nearly impossible to trace. It became quite popular for black market transactions, and adopted an actual value on top of its dollar-for-dollar amount. Bitcoin aimed to eliminate the need for central banks, but sadly the stocks for Bitcoin became volatile, the process of mining grew increasingly difficult, and now it is actually illegal in many countries. This among many other complicated issues resulted in the downfall of Bitcoin.
For a full (and intensive) history of Bitcoin, click here.
Do we still use it today? No. The illegality of it has rendered it almost obsolete at this time. While the concept was quite interesting, the execution resulted in too many loopholes which meant some people were making money off of the transactions (which technically wasn’t really the original objective of the program). This upon various other scandals such as potential insider trading led to the ultimate demise of Bitcoin.
Premiering on the iPhone 4S, Siri was a female-represented assistant on your phone that you could call upon with your voice. She was meant to assist you in connecting with various search engines and web services. She traditionally would help its user find anything from concert tickets and movie showtimes near you to specific restaurants and hotels in another country. Siri was meant to be a personal assistant who could hear your specific wants and outsource other sites to find precisely what you were asking for.
For a full history of Siri, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! Siri has even inspired other responsive mobile assistants such as Iris and Alexa. These programs help people use their phones or devices handsfree, and can direct its users to some web pages they may not have otherwise thought to visit. Today, Siri can also coordinate someone a car ride home if they’re too drunk to drive and issue emergency calls.
The path of Tesla’s Model 3 has been rocky from start-to-finish. That being said, this model single handedly will change the automotive world forever. Originally mentioned in 2015 by Elon Musk, this was bound to be the first affordable self-driving vehicle. The model was finally shared with the world in 2016 following several setbacks – production setbacks that Tesla continues to face today – and consumers were over-the-moon. This car has seen many scandals, including faulty self-driving features and delayed delivery dates. But if perfected, this could eliminate the need for hiring drivers, taxis, and reduce the amount of drunk driving accidents. Regardless of the issues this model and this company have faced in the past years, this car will revolutionize the industry and lead us in a more environmentally conservative future.
For a full history of the Tesla Model 3, click here.
Do we still use it today? Absolutely! This car is flying off the shelves, so to speak, and is likely the first of many self-driving electric vehicles.
This concludes our list of the Top Tech Movements of The Past Century. It’s clear we’ve come very far as a society, but with any luck, this article will be outdated before we know it! Thank you for taking the time to read, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our articles for interesting takes on topics from Technology to Business & everything in between!