Timeline of historic inventions

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The 15th-century invention of the printing press with movable type by the German Johannes Gutenberg is widely regarded as the most influential event of the modern era.[1]

The timeline of historic inventions is a chronological list of particularly important or significant technological inventions.

Note: Dates for inventions are often controversial. Inventions are often invented by several inventors around the same time, or may be invented in an impractical form many years before another inventor improves the invention into a more practical form. Where there is ambiguity, the date of the first known working version of the invention is used here.

Prehistoric[edit]

Note that the dates in the Paleolithic era are approximate and refer to the earliest discovered use of an invention, and are likely to change as more research is done and older sites are found. Similarly, the locations listed are for the site where the earliest example to date has been found, but in most cases there is little certainty how close that may be to where the invention actually first took place.

1st millennium BCE[edit]

7th century BCE[edit]

6th century BCE[edit]

With the Greco-Roman trispastos ("three-pulley-crane"), the simplest ancient crane, a single man tripled the weight he could lift than with his muscular strength alone.[30]

5th century BCE[edit]

3rd century BCE[edit]

An illustration depicting the papermaking process in Han Dynasty China.

2nd century BCE[edit]

The earliest fore-and-aft rigs, spritsails, appeared in the 2nd century BCE in the Aegean Sea on small Greek craft.[51] Here a spritsail used on a Roman merchant ship (3rd century CE).
  • 2nd century BCE: Finery forge in Han Dynasty China, finery forges were used to make wrought iron at least by the 2nd century BCE in ancient China, based on the archaeological findings of cast and pig iron fined into wrought iron and steel found at the early Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 AD) site at Tieshengguo.[52]
  • 2nd century BCE: Paper in Han Dynasty China: Although it is recorded that the Han Dynasty (202 BCE – CE 220) court eunuch Cai Lun (born c. 50 – CE 121) invented the pulp papermaking process and established the use of new raw materials used in making paper, ancient padding and wrapping paper artifacts dating to the 2nd century BCE have been found in China, the oldest example of pulp papermaking being a map from Fangmatan, Gansu.[53]

1st century BCE[edit]

1st millennium CE[edit]

1st century[edit]

2nd century[edit]

3rd century[edit]

Schematic of the Roman Hierapolis sawmill. Dated to the 3rd century AD, it is the earliest known machine to incorporate a crank and connecting rod mechanism.[75][76][77]

4th century[edit]

5th century[edit]

6th century[edit]

7th century[edit]

  • 7th century: Porcelain in Tang Dynasty China: True porcelain was manufactured in northern China from roughly the beginning of the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century, while true porcelain was not manufactured in southern China until about 300 years later, during the early 10th century.[100]

9th century[edit]

A Mongol bomb thrown against a charging Japanese samurai during the Mongol invasions of Japan after founding the Yuan Dynasty, 1281.
  • 9th century: Playing cards in Tang Dynasty China: The first reference to the card game in world history dates no later than the 9th century, when the Collection of Miscellanea at Duyang, written by Su E described players enjoying the "leaf game" in 868.[106][107]
  • 9th century: Numerical zero in Ancient India: The concept of zero as a number, and not merely a symbol for separation is attributed to India.[108] In India, practical calculations were carried out using zero, which was treated like any other number by the 9th century, even in case of division.[108][109]

10th century[edit]

  • 10th century: Fire lance in Song Dynasty China, developed in the 10th century with a tube of first bamboo and later on metal that shot a weak gunpowder blast of flame and shrapnel, its earliest depiction is a painting found at Dunhuang.[110]
  • 10th century: Fireworks in Song Dynasty China: Fireworks first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), in the early age of gunpowder. Fireworks could be purchased from market vendors; these were made of sticks of bamboo packed with gunpowder.[111]

2nd millennium[edit]

11th century[edit]

12th century[edit]

  • 1119: Mariner's compass (wet compass) in Song Dynasty China: The earliest recorded use of magnetized needle for navigational purposes at sea is found in Zhu Yu's book Pingzhou Table Talks of 1119 (written from 1111 to 1117).[114][119][120][121][122][123][124] The typical Chinese navigational compass was in the form of a magnetic needle floating in a bowl of water.[125] The familiar mariner's dry compass which used a pivoting needle suspended above a compass-card in a glass box was invented in medieval Europe no later than 1300.[126]

13th century[edit]

  • 1277: Land mine in Song Dynasty China: Textual evidence suggests that the first use of a land mine in history was by a Song Dynasty brigadier general known as Lou Qianxia, who used an 'enormous bomb' (huo pao) to kill Mongol soldiers invading Guangxi in 1277.[127]
  • 1286: Eyeglasses in Italy[128]
  • 13th century: Dominoes in Yuan Dynasty China: The earliest confirmed written mention of dominoes in China comes from the Former Events in Wulin written during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368).[129] Dominoes first appeared in Italy during the 18th century, and although it is unknown how Chinese dominoes developed into the modern game, it is speculated that Italian missionaries in China may have brought the game to Europe.[130]
  • 13th century: Explosive bomb in Jin Dynasty Manchuria: Explosive bombs were used in 1221 by the Jin Dynasty against a Song Dynasty city.[131] The first accounts of bombs made of cast iron shells packed with explosive gunpowder are documented in the 13th century in China and were called "thunder-crash bombs,"[132] coined during a Jin Dynasty naval battle in 1231.[133]
  • 13th century: Hand cannon in Yuan Dynasty China: The earliest hand cannon dates to the 13th century based on archaeological evidence from a Heilongjiang excavation. There is also written evidence in the Yuanshi (1370) on Li Tang, an ethnic Jurchen commander under the Yuan Dynasty who in 1288 suppressed the rebellion of the Christian prince Nayan with his "gun-soldiers" or chongzu, this being the earliest known event where this phrase was used.[134]

14th century[edit]

15th century[edit]

The oldest known parachute is depicted in this anonymous Italian manuscript dated to the 1470s.[136]

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

A 1609 title page of the German Relation, the world's first newspaper (first published in 1605)[141][142]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

1800s[edit]

1820s[edit]

  • 1822: The pattern-tracing lathe (actually more like a shaper) is completed by Thomas Blanchard for the U.S. Ordnance Dept. The lathe could copy symmetrical shapes and was used for making gun stocks, and later, ax handles. The lathe's patent was in force for 42 years, the record for any U.S. patent.[147][148]
  • 1826: The friction Match is invented by John Walker[149]

1830s[edit]

1850s[edit]

  • 1856: Refrigeration: Using the principle of vapour compression, James Harrison produced the world's first practical ice making machine and refrigerator in Geelong, Australia.[150]

1870s[edit]

1880s[edit]

20th century[edit]

  • 1903: First manually controlled, fixed wing, motorized aircraft takes place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by Orville and Wilbur Wright. First modern fixed wing aircraft.

1910s[edit]

  • 1915: The tank was invented by Ernest Swinton,[154] although the British Royal Commission on Awards recognised a South Australian named Lance de Mole who had submitted a proposal to the British War Office, for a 'chain-rail vehicle which could be easily steered and carry heavy loads over rough ground and trenches' complete with extensive drawings in 1912[155]

1920s[edit]

1930s[edit]

1940s[edit]

  • December 1947: The Transistor, used in almost all modern electronic products was invented in December 1947 by John Bardeen and Walter Brattain under the supervision of William Shockley. Subsequent transistors became steadily smaller, faster, more reliable, and cheaper to manufacture, leading to a revolution in computers, controls, and communication.

1950s-1960s[edit]

1970s[edit]

1980s[edit]

  • 1982: A CD-ROM contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 Yellow Book standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data.[159]

1990s[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ See People of the Millennium for an overview of the wide acclaim. In 1999, the A&E Network ranked Gutenberg no. 1 on their "People of the Millennium" countdown. In 1997, Time–Life magazine picked Gutenberg's invention as the most important of the second millennium; the same did four prominent US journalists in their 1998 resume 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking The Men and Women Who Shaped The Millennium. The Johann Gutenberg entry of the Catholic Encyclopedia describes his invention as having made a practically unparalleled cultural impact in the Christian era.
  2. ^ Harvard Gazette, Invention of cooking drove evolution of the human species
  3. ^ Hadfield, Peter, Gimme Shelter
  4. ^ Earliest evidence of art found
  5. ^ Kouwenhoven, Arlette P., World's Oldest Spears
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  7. ^ Evolving in their graves: early burials hold clues to human origins
  8. ^ Scott Elias (12 September 2012). Origins of Human Innovation and Creativity. Elsevier. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-444-53821-5. 
  9. ^ Wadley L, Sievers C, Bamford M, Goldberg P, Berna F, Miller C. (2011). Middle Stone Age Bedding Construction and Settlement Patterns at Sibudu, South Africa. Science 9 December 2011: Vol. 334 no. 6061 pp. 1388-1391
  10. ^ a b Backwell L, d'Errico F, Wadley L.(2008). Middle Stone Age bone tools from the Howiesons Poort layers, Sibudu Cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science, 35:1566-1580. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2007.11.006
  11. ^ Jennifer Viegas (31 March 2008). "Early Weapon Evidence Reveals Bloody Past". Discovery News. 
  12. ^ Balter, M. (2009). "Clothes Make the (Hu) Man". Science 325 (5946): 1329. doi:10.1126/science.325_1329a. PMID 19745126. 
  13. ^ Kvavadze, E, Bar-Yosef, O, Belfer-Cohen, A, Boaretto, E, Jakeli, N, Matskevich, Z, Meshveliani, T. (2009). "30,000-Year-Old Wild Flax Fibers". Science 325 (5946): 1359. doi:10.1126/science.1175404. PMID 19745144. 
  14. ^ Conard, Nicholas J.; Malina, Maria; Münzel, Susanne C. (June 26, 2009). "New flutes document the earliest musical tradition in southwestern Germany". Nature 460: 737–740. doi:10.1038/nature08169. 
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External links[edit]

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