Timeline of historic inventions
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The timeline of historic inventions is a chronological list of particularly important or significant technological inventions and the people who created the 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.
|History of technology|
- 1 Earliest inventions
- 2 2nd millennium BC
- 3 1st millennium BC
- 4 1st millennium AD
- 5 2nd millennium
- 5.1 11th century
- 5.2 12th century
- 5.3 13th century
- 5.4 14th century
- 5.5 15th century
- 5.6 16th century
- 5.7 17th century
- 5.8 18th century
- 5.9 19th century
- 5.10 20th century
- 6 See also
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The dates listed here refer to the earliest known evidence of an invention. Dates are often approximate and may change as more research is completed. Older examples of any given technology may arise in the future. The locations listed are for the site where the earliest solid evidence has been found, but in most cases there is little certainty how close that may be to where the invention took place.
- 2.6 million years ago (Ma): Stone tools (Oldowan) in Ethiopia, earliest finds are typically with Australopithecus garhi
- 2.3 Ma: Earliest likely control of fire and cooking, by Homo habilis
- 1.76 Ma: Advanced (Acheulean) stone tools in Kenya by Homo erectus
- 790 thousand years ago (ka): Hearths, at Gesher Benot Ya'akov, in Israel (latest possible invention of firelighting and cooking)
- 500 ka: Shelter construction in Japan
- 400 ka: Pigments in Zambia
- 400 ka: Spears in Germany
- 200 ka: Glue in Italy
- 170 ka: Clothing
- 110 ka: Beads in Israel
- 100 ka: Burial in Israel
- 77 ka: Bedding in South Africa
- 64–61 ka: Bone tool technology in South Africa, evidenced by the find of a spearhead along with what may be an arrowhead, suggesting bow and arrow, and a sewing needle
- 44–42 ka: Tally sticks (see Lebombo bone) in Swaziland
- 40–20 ka: Cremation in Australia
- 40 ka: Cave painting in Spain and Indonesia
- 36–9 ka: Weaving – Indirect evidence supports earlier end in Georgia and/or Moravia. The earliest actual piece of woven cloth was found in Çatalhöyük, Turkey
- 37 ka: Mortar and pestle in Southwest Asia.
- 35 ka: Flute in Germany
- 28 ka: Rope
- 16 ka: Pottery in China
- 15 ka: Bullroarer in Ukraine
- 13–12 ka: Agriculture in the Fertile Crescent
- 13–11 ka: Domestication of sheep in Southwest Asia (followed shortly by pigs, goats and cattle)
- 11-8 ka: Domestication of rice in Southeast Asia
- 8000–7500 BC: Proto-city – large permanent settlements, Jericho and Çatalhöyük
- 8000–7500 BC: Constructed stone monument - Göbekli Tepe, in Turkey
- 6500 BC: Evidence of Lead smelting in Çatalhöyük, in Turkey
- 6000 BC: Kiln in Mesopotamia (Iraq)
- 5000 BC: Copper smelting in Serbia
- 5th millennium BC: Lacquer in China
- 5000–4500 BC: Rowing oars in China
- 4400 BC: Copper Sewing needle in Naqada, Egypt
- 3630 BC: Silk garments (sericulture) in China
- 3500 BC: Wheels in Mesopotamia and the Caucasus
- 3200 BC: Sailing in ancient Egypt
- 3000 BC: Writing – Cuneiform in Sumer, Mesopotamia (Iraq) (also see proto-writing)
- 3000 BC: Bronze in Mesopotamia
- 3000 BC: Papyrus in Egypt
- 3000 BC: Tin extraction in Central Asia
- 3000 BC: Comb in Persia.
- 2500 BC: Docks in Ancient Egypt
2nd millennium BC
- 2000 BC: Musical notation in Sumer
- 2000 BC: Chariot in Russia and Kazakhstan
- 1700 BC: Alphabet in Phoenicia (Modern Lebanon)
- 1500 BC: Seed drill in Babylonia
- 1500 BC: Coins in Lebanon or Lydia
- 1200 BC: Sword in Ancient Egypt
- 1000 BC: Glass in Lebanon
1st millennium BC
8th century BC
- 750 BC Fake Teeth in Etruria
- 750 BC Scissors in Europe
- 750 BC Lenses in Ancient Greece
- 750–700 BC Warship in Phoenicia (Modern Lebanon)
7th century BC
6th century BC
- c. 515 BC: Crane in Ancient Greece
- 6th century BC: A wagonway called Diolkos across the Isthmus of Corinth in Ancient Greece.
5th century BC
- 5th century BC: Crank motion (rotary quern) in Celtiberian Spain
- 5th century BC: Cast iron in Ancient China: Confirmed by archaeological evidence, the earliest cast iron is developed in China by the early 5th century BC during the Zhou Dynasty (1122–256 BC), the oldest specimens found in a tomb of Luhe County in Jiangsu province.
- 5th century BC: Crossbow in Ancient China and Ancient Greece: In Ancient China, the earliest evidence of bronze crossbow bolts dates as early as the mid-5th century BC in Yutaishan, Hubei. In Ancient Greece, the terminus ante quem of the gastraphetes is 421 BC.
- 5th–4th century BC: Traction trebuchet in Ancient China; appeared in the Mediterranean by the 6th century AD.
- Before 421 BC: Catapult in Ancient Greece (incl. Sicily) or Phoenician Carthage
- c. 480 BC: Spiral stairs (Temple A) in Selinunte, Sicily (see also List of ancient spiral stairs)
- 400 BC Mirror in Lebanon
4th century BC
- 4th century BC: Gears in China.
- Approximately 350 BC: Greek hydraulic semaphore system, an optical communication system developed by Aeneas Tacticus.
3rd century BC
- Early 3rd century BC: Canal lock (possibly pound lock) in Ancient Suez Canal under Ptolemy II (283–246 BC) in Hellenistic Egypt
- 3rd century BC: Valve Tower Sluice in Sri Lanka
- 3rd century BC: Cam during the Hellenistic period, used in water-driven automata.
- 3rd century BC: Water wheel and Liquid-driven escapement in Hellenistic kingdoms described by Philo of Byzantium (c. 280 – 220 BC)
- 3rd–2nd century BC: Blast furnace in Ancient China: The earliest discovered blast furnaces in China date to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, although most sites are from the later Han Dynasty.
2nd century BC
- 2nd century BC: Paper in Han Dynasty China: Although it is recorded that the Han Dynasty (202 BC – AD 220) court eunuch Cai Lun (born c. 50–121 AD) 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 BC have been found in China, the oldest example of pulp papermaking being a map from Fangmatan, Gansu.
1st century BC
- 1st century BC: Glass blowing discovered on the Lebanese coast.
- 1st century BC: Segmental arch bridge (e.g. Pont-Saint-Martin or Ponte San Lorenzo) in Italy, Roman Republic
- 1st century BC: Arch dam (Glanum Dam) in Gallia Narbonensis, Roman Republic (see also List of Roman dams)
- 150 BC Astrolabe invented in the Hellenistic world.
- Before 71 BC (possibly 3rd century BC): Watermill (grain mill) by Greek engineers in Eastern Mediterranean (see also List of ancient watermills)
- Before 25 BC: Reverse overshot water-wheel by Roman engineers in Rio Tinto, Spain
1st millennium AD
- 118 AD: Wheelbarrow was found in a tomb at Chengdu, Sichuan province during Han Dynasty China
- 132: Seismometer in Han Dynasty China, built by Zhang Heng. It is a large metal urn-shaped instrument which employed either a suspended pendulum or inverted pendulum acting on inertia, like the ground tremors from earthquakes, to dislodge a metal ball by a lever trip device.
- 2nd century: Crankshaft in Augusta Raurica, Roman Empire
- 2nd century: Negative numbers in Han Dynasty China.
- 2nd century: Law school in Beirut, Roman Empire
- Early 3rd century: Woodblock printing is invented in Han Dynasty China at sometime before 220 AD. This made China become the world first print culture.
- Late 3rd century: Crank and connecting rod (Hierapolis sawmill) in Asia Minor, Roman Empire
- Late 3rd–early 4th century: Turbine in Africa (province), Roman Empire
- 4th century: Field mill in Ancient China, first mentioned in the Yezhongji, or 'Record of Affairs at the Capital Ye of the Later Zhao Dynasty' written by Lu Hui in the 4th century, describing a field mill built by two engineers, Xie Fei and Wei Mengbian.
- 4th century: Fishing reel in Ancient China: In literary records, the earliest evidence of the fishing reel comes from a 4th-century AD work entitled Lives of Famous Immortals'.
- 347 AD: Oil Wells and Borehole drilling in China. Such wells could reach depths of up to 240 m (790 ft).
- 4th century: Stirrups in Ancient China: The first dependable representation of a rider with paired stirrups was found in China in a Jin dynasty tomb of about AD 322. The stirrup appeared to be in widespread use across China by AD 477.
- 4th century: Street Light in Syria
- 4th–5th century: Paddle wheel boat (in De rebus bellicis) in Roman Empire
- 5th century: Horse collar in Southern and Northern Dynasties China: The horse collar as a fully developed collar harness is developed in Southern and Northern Dynasties China during the 5th century AD. The earliest depiction of it is a Dunhuang cave mural from the Chinese Northern Wei Dynasty, the painting dated to 477–499.
- 5th/6th century: Pointed arch bridge (Karamagara Bridge) in Cappadocia, Eastern Roman Empire
- after 500 AD: Charkha (Spinning wheel): invented in India, between 500 and 1000 A.D.
- 563 AD: Pendentive dome (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople, Eastern Roman Empire
- 577 AD: Sulfur matches exist in China.
- 589 AD: Toilet paper in Sui Dynasty China, first mentioned by the official Yan Zhitui (531–591), with full evidence of continual use in subsequent dynasties.
- 672 AD: Greek fire in Constantinople, Byzantine Empire: Greek fire, an incendiary weapon likely based on petroleum or naphtha, is invented by Kallinikos, a Lebanese Greek refugee from Baalbek, as described by Theophanes. However, the historicity and exact chronology of this account is dubious, and it could be that Kallinikos merely introduced an improved version of an established weapon.
- 7th century: Banknote in Tang Dynasty China: The banknote is first developed in China during the Tang and Song dynasties, starting in the 7th century. Its roots are in merchant receipts of deposit during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), as merchants and wholesalers desire to avoid the heavy bulk of copper coinage in large commercial transactions.
- 7th century: Porcelain in Tang Dynasty China: True porcelain is 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.
- 9th century: Gunpowder in Tang Dynasty China: Gunpowder is, according to prevailing academic consensus, discovered in the 9th century by Chinese alchemists searching for an elixir of immortality. Evidence of gunpowder's first use in China comes from the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (618–907). The earliest known recorded recipes for gunpowder are written by Zeng Gongliang, Ding Du, and Yang Weide in the Wujing Zongyao, a military manuscript compiled in 1044 during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
- 9th century: Algebra in Syria
- 9th century: University in Morocco
- 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. In India, practical calculations are carried out using zero, which is treated like any other number by the 9th century, even in case of division.
- 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. Fire lance is the earliest firearm in the world and one of the earliest gunpowder weapons.
- 10th century: Fireworks in Song Dynasty China: Fireworks first appear 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.
- 10th century: Dry Docks in Song Dynasty China.
- 11th century: Ambulance by Crusaders in Israel and Lebanon
- 11th century: Early versions of the Bessemer process are developed in East Asia
- 1088: Movable type in Song Dynasty China: The first record of a movable type system is in the Dream Pool Essays written in 1088, which attributes the invention of the movable type to Bi Sheng. In the 13th century, Koreans invent metal-type movable printing. In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg invents the modern movable type system in Europe.
- 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). The typical Chinese navigational compass was in the form of a magnetic needle floating in a bowl of water. The familiar mariner's dry compass which uses a pivoting needle suspended above a compass-card in a glass box is invented in medieval Europe no later than 1300.
- 13th century: Soap in Babylonia
- 13th century: Rocket for military and recreational uses date back to at least 13th century China.
- 13th century: The earliest form of mechanical escapement, the verge escapement in Europe.
- 1275: Torpedo by Hasan al-Rammah.
- 1277: Land mine in Song Dynasty China: Textual evidence suggests that the first use of a land mine in history is by a Song Dynasty brigadier general known as Lou Qianxia, who uses an 'enormous bomb' (huo pao) to kill Mongol soldiers invading Guangxi in 1277.
- 1286: Eyeglasses in Italy
- 13th century: Explosive bomb in Jin dynasty Manchuria: Explosive bombs are used in 1221 by the Jin dynasty against a Song Dynasty city. The first accounts of bombs made of cast iron shells packed with explosive gunpowder are documented in the 13th century in China and are called "thunder-crash bombs", coined during a Jin dynasty naval battle in 1231.
- 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 suppresses the rebellion of the Christian prince Nayan with his "gun-soldiers" or chongzu, this being the earliest known event where this phrase is used.
- Early to Mid 1300s: Multistage rocket in Ming Dynasty China described in Huolongjing by Jiao Yu.
- By at least 1326: Cannon in Ming Dynasty China
- 14th century: Jacob's staff invented by Levi ben Gerson
- 14th century: Naval mine in Ming Dynasty China: Mentioned in the Huolongjing military manuscript written by Jiao Yu (fl. 14th to early 15th century) and Liu Bowen (1311–1375), describing naval mines used at sea or on rivers and lakes, made of wrought iron and enclosed in an ox bladder. A later model is documented in Song Yingxing's encyclopedia written in 1637.
- 15th century: Mainspring in Europe 
- 15th century: Rifle in Europe
- 1420s: Brace in Flandres, Holy Roman Empire
- 1439: Printing press in Mainz, Germany: The printing press is invented in the Holy Roman Empire by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, based on existing screw presses. The first confirmed record of a press appeared in a 1439 lawsuit against Gutenberg.
- Mid 15th Century: The Arquebus (also spelled Harquebus) is invented, possibly in Spain.
- 1470s: Parachute (with frame) in Renaissance Italy
- 1480s: Mariner's astrolabe on Portuguese circumnavigation of Africa
- 1494: Double-entry bookkeeping system codified by Luca Pacioli
- 1551: Taqi ad-Din describes a simple steam turbine-like device used in steam jacks.
- 1560: Floating Dry Dock in Venice, Venetian Republic
- 1569: Mercator Projection map created by Gerardus Mercator
- 1594: Captain John Davis invents the Backstaff
- By at least 1597: Revolver by Hans Stopler.
- 1605: Newspaper (Relation): Johann Carolus in Strassburg, Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (see also List of the oldest newspapers)
- 1608: Telescope: invented by Hans Lippershey, Zacharias Janssen or Jacob Metius in the Netherlands
- between 1590 and 1618: Microscope: invented by Zacharias Janssen in the Netherlands
- 1630: Slide rule: invented by William Oughtred
- 1642: Mechanical calculator. The Pascaline is built by Blaise Pascal
- 1643: Barometer: invented by Evangelista Torricelli, or possibly up to three years earlier by Gasparo Berti.
- 1650: Vacuum pump: Invented by Otto von Guericke.
- 1656: Pendulum clock: Invented by Christiaan Huygens. It was first conceptulized in 1637 by Galileo Galilei but he was unable to create a working model.
- 1663: Friction machine: Invented by Otto von Guericke.
- 1680: Christiaan Huygens provides the first known description of a piston engine.
- c. 1700: Bartolomeo Cristofori crafts the first piano.
- 1709: Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit invents the alcohol thermometer.
- 1712: Thomas Newcomen builds the first commercial steam engine to pump water out of mines. Newcomen's engine, unlike Thomas Savery's, uses a piston.
- c. 1730: Thomas Godfrey and John Hadley independently develop the Octant
- 1733: John Kay enables one person to operate a loom with the flying shuttle
- 1736: John Harrison tests his first Sea Clock, H1.
- 1745: Musschenbroek and Kleist independently develop the Leyden jar, an early form of capacitor.
- 1746: John Roebuck invents the lead chamber process.
- 1764: James Hargreaves invents the spinning jenny.
- 1765: James Watt invents the improved steam engine utilizing a separate condenser.
- 1767: Joseph Priestley invents a method for the production of carbonated water.
- 1769: Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot invents the first steam-powered vehicle capable of carrying passengers, an early car.
- 1770: Richard Salter invents the earliest known design for a Weighting Scale.
- 1774: John Wilkinson invents his boring machine, considered by some to be the first machine tool.
- 1775: Jesse Ramsden invents the modern screw-cutting lathe.
- 1776: John Wilkinson invents a mechanical air compressor that would become the prototype for all later mechanical compressors.
- 1783: Claude de Jouffroy builds the first steamboat.
- 1783: Joseph-Ralf and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier build the first manned hot air balloon.
- 1785: Martinus van Marum is the first to use the electrolysis technique.
- 1786: Andrew Meikle invents the threshing machine.
- 1789: Edmund Cartwright invents the power loom.
- 1792: Claude Chappe invents the modern semaphore telegraph.
- 1793: Eli Whitney invents the modern cotton gin.
- 1795: Joseph Bramah invents the hydraulic press.
- 1798: Edward Jenner develops the first successful vaccine, the smallpox vaccine.
- 1799: George Medhurst invents the first motorized air compressor.
- 1799: The first paper machine is invented by Louis-Nicolas Robert.
- 1800: The Voltaic pile, an early form of battery, is invented by Alessandro Volta in Italy, based on previous works by Luigi Galvani.
- 1802: Arc lamp invented by Humphry Davy (exact date unclear; not practical as a light source until the invention of efficient electric generators).
- 1804: Morphine is discovered as the first active alkaloid extracted from the opium poppy plant in December 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner.
- 1804: The steam locomotive is invented by Richard Trevithick.
- 1804: Hanaoka Seishū creates tsūsensan, the first modern general anesthetic.
- 1807: Nicéphore Niépce invents the first internal combustion engine capable of doing useful work.
- 1807: François Isaac de Rivaz designs the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine fuelled by hydrogen.
- 1807: Robert Fulton expands water transportation and trade with the workable steamboat.
- 1810: Nicolas Appert invents the canning process for food.
- 1811: Friedrich Koenig invents the first powered printing press which was also the first to use a cylinder.
- 1812: William Reid Clanny pioneered the invention of the safety lamp which he improved in later years. Safety lamps based on Clanny's improved design were used until the adoption of electric lamps.
- 1814: The modern planing machine is invented by James Fox, though Matthew Murray of Leeds and Richard Roberts of Manchester have also been credited at times with its invention.
- 1816: The first working electric telegraph is built by Francis Ronalds using electrostatic means.
- 1816: Robert Stirling invents the Stirling engine.
- 1817: Baron Karl von Drais invents the dandy horse, an early velocipede and precursor to the modern bicycle.
- 1818: The tunnelling shield is invented by Marc Isambard Brunel.
- 1822: The pattern-tracing lathe (actually more like a shaper) is completed by Thomas Blanchard for the U.S. Ordnance Dept. The lathe can copy symmetrical shapes and is used for making gun stocks, and later, ax handles. The lathe's patent is in force for 42 years, the record for any U.S. patent.
- 1822: Heliography, the first photographic process, is invented by Nicéphore Niépce.
- 1822: Charles Babbage, considered the "father of the computer", beins building the first programmable mechanical computer.
- 1824: Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse invents the bolt-action rifle.
- 1825: William Sturgeon invents the electromagnet.
- 1826: The friction match is invented by John Walker.
- 1828: The hot blast process is developed by James Beaumont Neilson.
- 1828: Patrick Bell invents the reaping machine.
- 1829: The first true centerfire cartridge, one of the most widely used cartridges for firearms, is developed by Clement Pottet. However, it would not be perfected until 1855.
- 1829: William Mann invents the compound air compressor.
- 1830: Edwin Budding invents the lawn mower.
- 1831: Michael Faraday invents a method of electromagnetic induction. It would be independently invented by Joseph Henry the following year.
- 1834: Moritz von Jacobi, a German-born Russian, invents the first practical electric motor.
- 1835: Joseph Henry invents the electromechanical relay.
- 1836: Samuel Morse invents Morse code.
- 1839: William Otis invents the steam shovel.
- 1839: James Nasmyth invents the steam hammer.
- 1839: Edmond Becquerel invents a method for the photovoltaic effect, effectively producing the first solar cell.
- 1842: William Robert Grove invents the first fuel cell.
- 1842: John Bennet Lawes invents superphosphate, the first man-made fertilizer.
- 1844: Friedrich Gottlob Keller and, independently, Charles Fenerty come up with the wood pulp method of paper production.
- 1845: Modern Portland cement is invented by Isaac Charles Johnson.
- 1845: The first rimfire cartridge is produced by Nicolas Flobert. However, it lacked powder at first.
- 1846: The pinfire cartridge is upgraded by Benjamin Houllier to a fully metallic cartridge with powder, the first of its kind.
- 1847: Nitroglycerin, the first explosive made that was stronger than black powder, is invented by Ascanio Sobrero.
- 1848: Jonathan J. Couch invents the pneumatic drill.
- 1849: Walter Hunt invents the first repeating rifle to use metallic cartridges (of his own design) and a spring-fed magazine.
- 1850: Sir William Armstrong invents the hydraulic accumulator.
- 1852: Robert Bunsen is the first to use a chemical vapor deposition technique.
- 1852: Elisha G. Otis invents the safety brake elevator.
- 1852: Henri Giffard becomes the first person to make a manned, controlled and powered flight using a dirigible.
- 1853: François Coignet invents reinforced concrete.
- 1855: James Clerk Maxwell invents the first practical method for color photography, whether chemical or electronic.
- 1855: The Bessemer process for making steel is patented by Sir Henry Bessemer, with improvements made by others over the following years.
- 1856: Using the principle of vapour compression, James Harrison produces the world's first practical ice making machine and refrigerator in Geelong, Australia.
- 1857: Heinrich Geissler invents the Geissler tube.
- 1859: Gaston Planté invents the lead acid battery, the first rechargeable battery.
- 1862: Alexander Parkes invents parkesine, also known as celluloid, the first man-made plastic.
- 1864: Louis Pasteur invents the pasteurization process.
- 1865: The Siemens-Martin process for making steel is invented by Carl Wilhelm Siemens and Pierre-Émile Martin.
- 1865: Gregor Mendel publishes 'Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden' ("Experiments on Plant Hybridization"), effectively founding the science of genetics, though the importance of his work would not be appreciated until later on.
- 1867: Dynamite, the first safely manageable explosive stronger than black powder, is invented by Alfred Nobel.
- 1873: The rotary kiln is invented by Frederick Ransome.
- 1873: The Crookes radiometer is invented by the chemist Sir William Crookes as the by-product of some chemical research.
- 1873: Zénobe Gramme invents the first commercial electrical generator, the Gramme machine.
- 1874: Gustave Trouvé invents the first metal detector.
- 1876: Four-stroke cycle invented by Nikolaus August Otto.
- 1876: A patent for the telephone is granted to Alexander Graham Bell. However, other inventors before Bell had worked on the development of the telephone and the invention had several pioneers.
- 1877: The first working phonograph is invented by Thomas Edison.
- 1878: Henry Fleuss is granted a patent for the first practical rebreather.
- 1879: Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison both patent a functional Incandescent light bulb. Some two dozen inventors had experimented with electric Incandescent lighting over the first three-quarters of the 19th century but never came up with a piratical design. Swan's, which he had been working on his since the 1860s, had a low resistance so was only suited for small installations. Edison designed a high resistance bulb as part of a large scale commercial electric lighting utility.
- 1884: Hiram Maxim invents the recoil-operated Maxim gun, ushering in the age of fully automatic and portable machine guns.
- 1884: Paul Vieille invents Poudre B, the first smokeless powder for firearms.
- 1884: Modern steam turbine invented by Sir Charles Parsons.
- 1886: Carl Gassner invents the zinc-carbon battery, the first dry cell battery, making portable electronics practical.
- 1886: The Hall–Héroult process for economically producing aluminum invented by Charles Martin Hall and independently by Paul Héroult in 1886.
- 1886: Karl Benz invents the first petrol or gasoline powered auto-mobile (car).
- 1887: The Bayer process for the production of alumina is invented by Carl Josef Bayer.
- 1887: James Blyth invents the first wind turbine used for generating electricity.
- 1887: John Stewart MacArthur, working in collaboration with brothers Dr. Robert and Dr. William Forrest develops the process of gold cyanidation.
- 1888: John J. Loud invents the ballpoint pen.
- 1888: Heinrich Hertz publishes a conclusive proof of James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory in experiments that also demonstrate the existence of radio waves. The effects of electromagnetic waves had been observed by many people before this but no usable theory explaining them existed until Maxwell.
- 1891: Whitcomb Judson invents the zipper.
- 1893: Rudolf Diesel invents the diesel engine (although Herbert Akroyd Stuart had experimented with compression ignition before Diesel).
- 1895: Guglielmo Marconi invents a system of wireless communication using radio waves.
- 1895: The Lumière Brothers invent the cinematograph.
- 1900: The first Zeppelin is designed by Theodor Kober.
- 1903: The first successful gas turbine is invented by Ægidius Elling.
- 1903: First manually controlled, fixed wing, motorized aircraft flies at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by Orville and Wilbur Wright. First modern fixed wing aircraft. Gustave Weisskopf (Whitehead), a German-American immigrant, is credited with motorized aircraft flight in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1901. Flights are witnessed by citizens and other associates and recorded in the Bridgeport Herald, a local newspaper, but were not mentioned in a 1904 article in Scientific American.
- 1904: The Fleming valve, the first vacuum tube and diode, is invented by John Ambrose Fleming.
- 1907: The first free flight of a rotary-wing aircraft is carried out by Paul Cornu.
- 1907: Leo Baekeland invents bakelite, the first fully synthetic plastic.
- 1908: Cellophane is invented by Jacques E. Brandenberger.
- 1909: Fritz Haber invents the Haber process.
- 1909: The first instantaneous transmission of images, or television broadcast, is carried out by Georges Rignoux and A. Fournier.
- 1911: The cloud chamber, the first particle detector, is invented by Charles Thomson Rees Wilson.
- 1915: The tank is invented by Ernest Swinton, 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. Additionally, an Austrian by the name of Günther Burstyn designed a tank in 1911 and a Captain Levavasseur of the French army proposed a design in 1903.
- 1916: The Czochralski process, widely used for the production of single crystal silicon, is invented by Jan Czochralski.
- 1917: The crystal oscillator is invented by Alexander M. Nicholson using a crystal of Rochelle Salt although his priority was disputed by Walter Guyton Cady
- 1926: The Yagi-Uda Antenna or simply Yagi Antenna is invented by Shintaro Uda of Tohoku Imperial University, Japan, assisted by his colleague Hidetsugu Yagi. The Yagi Antenna was widely used by the US, British, and Germans during World War II. After the war they saw extensive development as home television antennas.
- 1927: The Quartz clock is invented by Warren Marrison and J.W. Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories.
- 1928: Penicillin is first observed to exude antibiotic substances by Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming. Development of medicinal penicillin is attributed to a team of medics and scientists including Howard Walter Florey, Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley.
- 1928: Frank Whittle formally submitted his ideas for a turbo-jet engine. In October 1929, he developed his ideas further. On 16 January 1930 in England, Whittle submitted his first patent (granted in 1932).
- 1930: The Phase-contrast microscopy is invented by Frits Zernike.
- 1931: The electron microscope is invented by Ernst Ruska.
- 1933: FM radio is patented by inventor Edwin H. Armstrong.
- 1938: Z1 built by Konrad Zuse is the first freely programmable computer in the world.
- 1938, December: Nuclear fission discovered in experiment by Otto Hahn (Nazi Germany), coined by Lise Meitner (fled to Sweden from Nazi-occupied Austria) and Fritz Strassman (Sweden). The Manhattan Project, and consequently the Soviet atomic bomb project were begun based on this research, as well as the German nuclear energy project, although the latter one declined as its physicists were drafted into Germany's war effort.
- 1939: G. S. Yunyev or Naum Gurvich invented the electric current defibrillator
- 1942: The V-2 rocket, the world's first long range ballistic missile, developed in Nazi Germany during World War II.
- July 1945: The atomic bomb is first successfully developed by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada as a part of the Manhattan Project and swiftly deployed in August 1945 in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, effectively causing the end of World War II.
- 1946: Sir James Martin invents the ejector seat, inspired by the death of his friend and test pilot Captain Valentine Baker in an aeroplane crash in 1942.
- 1947: Holography is invented by Dennis Gabor.
- December 1947: The transistor, used in almost all modern electronic products is 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.
- 1947: Floyd Farris and J.B. Clark (Stanolind Oil and Gas Corporation) invents hydraulic fracturing technology.
- 1948: The first atomic clock is developed at the United States's National Bureau of Standards.
- 1948: Basic oxygen steelmaking is developed by Robert Durrer. The vast majority of steel manufactured in the world is produced using the basic oxygen furnace; in 2000, it accounted for 60% of global steel output.
- December 20, 1951: First use of nuclear power to produce electricity for households in Arco, Idaho
- 1952: The first Thermonuclear weapon is developed by the United States of America.
- 1954: Invention of Solar Battery by Bell Telephone scientists, Calvin Souther Fuller, Daryl Chapin and Gerald Pearson capturing the sun's power. First practical means of collecting energy from the sun and turning it into a current of electricity.
- 1955: Christopher Cockerell files his first patent for a hovercraft.
- 1955: The intermodal container is developed by Malcom McLean.
- 1957: The first PC used by one person and controlled by a keyboard, the IBM 610 is invented in 1957 by IBM.
- 1958–59: Co-creation of the integrated circuit by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce.
- 1960: The first functioning laser is invented by Theodore Maiman.
- 1969: ARPANET first deployed via UCLA, SRI, UCSB, and The University of Utah.
- 1969: Unix is invented.
- 1970: The pocket calculator is invented in Japan.
- 1971: Email is invented by Ray Tomlinson.
- 1971: The first commercially available microprocessor, the Intel 4004 is invented.
- 1972: The first video game console, used primarily for playing video games on a TV, is the Magnavox Odyssey.
- 1973: The first commercial graphical user interface is introduced in 1973 on the Xerox Alto. The modern GUI is later popularized by the Xerox Star and Apple Lisa.
- 1973: An early Touchscreen is developed at CERN
- 1975: Altair 8800 is the spark that ignited the microcomputer revolution.
- 1973–75: The Internet protocol suite is developed by Vinton Cerf and Robert E. Kahn for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) ARPANET, creating the basis for the modern Internet.
- 1980: Flash memory (both NOR and NAND types) is invented in Japan by Dr. Fujio Masuoka while working for Toshiba. It is formally introduced to the public in 1984.
- 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.
- 1984: The first commercially available cell phone, the DynaTAC 8000X, is invented by Motorola.
- 1985: Alec Jeffreys invents DNA profiling.
- 1990: The World Wide Web is first introduced to the public by English engineer and computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
- 1993: MOSAIC, the first popular web browser is introduced
- 1995: DVD is an optical disc storage format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions.
- 1996: USB interface launched by: Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Nortel
- Accelerating change
- List of emerging technologies
- List of inventors
- Outline of prehistoric technology
- Timeline of electrical and electronic engineering
- Timeline of human prehistory
- 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.
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