While there have been numerous inventions over the last 100 years that have made our lives better in some way, some more than others have significantly changed the way we do things in our everyday lives, and had the ability to change industries and markets.
We present 15 of them (in no particular order). Click on the Commodore 64 below to start the slideshow, and let us know, in the comments section below, if you agree with us, or if we missed something big.
It can be argued that the birth of personal computing began with the Commodore 64, introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International. Some even claim the computer remains the highest selling computer of all time, although it’s difficult to prove. Claim notwithstanding, the Commodore 64 certainly made the PC accessible to a wide audience and ushered in the now-thriving market for home computing systems. The Commodore 64 also provided a platform for a new generation of computer programmers that would change the world with their inventions years later. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)
Great slideshow, Liz. Regarding the Commodore 64 volume sales claim, that's got the be bunk based on math and common sense alone. Most people back then didn't have a PC and didn't even know what they were or why you'd want one. Several years later everything had changed and the market became a saturated one, meaning, most people that were going to buy one had.
I think the reason for the big number on the C64 is that the machine was a specific model. I'm sure the x86 platform has sold far more units, but the number of units is spread across tens of thousands of different models rather than a single specific model.
I remember when the VIC20 debuted with a $300 price tag, and it was worth every 1980 penny back then. The next four years really added excitement to the CES, until the big crash in 1984.
I had a feeling the claim was due to some such juggling of sales figures. I still think it's highly unlikely that this model sold more than, say certain Win '95 models after Intel's "Intel Inside" campaign--that's when people who knew nothing about PCs started buying them in high volumes.
I really enjoyed the slide show - it brought back some great memories. I do remember Netscape and my first computer was the TI99/4A which was of the same era as the Commodore. One invention that I wish never came to pass is that of the game console. I teach at the college level and it saddens me to see the number of hours young people waste on playing video games. I am not against video games in general as a form of entertainment and relaxation, but so many tend to obsess over them and are wasting time that could be so much better spent. They are also losing social skills as their main interaction is in cyberspace. I vote to remove gaming from the list.
Great slideshow. All of these are really strong entries, but the most underrated (and often the most forgotten) is Netscape. Someone else would surely have gotten there eventually, but Netscape changed the world in ways no one had imagined by linking it to the web.
Slide 14 reminds us that Kodak invented the digital camera. But Kodak execs decided to quash the invention (or at least de-emphasize it) because it might hurt their film business. Kodak used to make copiers and printers. Kodak filed bankruptcy and quit making film. Now it just prints stuff and will transcribe your family Super8 movies and VCRs into DVDs. This is a classic case study for the business courses.
Many scientists believe the most important invention of the 20th Century was the Haber process which converts atmospheric nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia. Fritz Haber was a German Jew who invented this process. In the first World War, Germany was cut off from its supply of saltpeter from Chile. Chile saltpeter was required to make explosives. Were it not for the Haber process, Germany would not have been able to make ammonia and thereto wage war.
In the 1950s, China was suffering extreme famine which killed 30 million people. Exports of fertilizer, much of it from the U.S. saved China from worse disaster. This fertilizer was made possible by the Haber process. Now, scientists tell us that this fertizer is a mixed blessing. It increases crop yields, but it has contributed to the human population of 7 billion which threatens the planet. The human population could not have grown to this level without the Haber process. The fertilizer is overused; Farming in the Midwest causes algae blooms that suffocate lakes and causes dead zones from the Mississippi River drainage into the Gulf.
Ironically, Germany forced the exile of the Jew Haber in the 1930s. Of course it also forced exile of the great theoretical physicists who brought us into the nuclear age. Haters always lose.
@Nancy yes there was a time when not only students but a great part of the population was involved in these game console bu we cant say that it is totall waste of time because these days research has shown that people who play these video games or computer games have higher IQ level and analytucal skills as compared to those who dont because it opens or broadens the mind and vision .
Thanks Elizebeth for such an interesting post , it actually recalled my memory of cameras there was a time when people used to carry cameras and then there was a long procedure of developing the film but technology has moved so ahead when i look at digital cameras .Now its just a matter of few minutes to take a click and get the pic on either mobile or laptop .Thats really very great and thoughtfull to see how technology is moving ahead .
@Ipods no doubt were very interesting and very famous invention of its times . I still can remember that in 2004 every student in the university used to carry ipod to listen music. It always fascinated me because it made the lives of music lovers very easy and portable . It was just a matter of a wireless gadget that composed of songs .
Researchers have been developing a number of nano- and micro-scale technologies that can be used for implantable medical technology for the treatment of disease, diagnostics, prevention, and other health-related applications.
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