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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 their inventors, where known.[a]

Paleolithic[edit]

The dates listed in this section refer to the earliest evidence of an invention found and dated by archaeologists (or in a few cases, suggested by indirect evidence). Dates are often approximate and change as more research is done, reported and seen. Older examples of any given technology are often found. The locations listed are for the site where the earliest solid evidence has been found, but especially for the earlier inventions, there is little certainty how close that may be to where the invention took place.

Lower Paleolithic[edit]

The Lower Paleolithic period lasted over 3 million years, and corresponds to the human genus prior to the emergence of Homo sapiens. The original divergence between humans and chimpanzees occurred 13 (Mya), however interbreeding continued until as recently as 4 Ma, with the first species clearly belonging to the human (and not chimpanzee) lineage being Australopithecus anamensis. This time period is characterized as an ice age with regular periodic warmer periods – interglacial episodes. Some species are controversial among paleoanthropologists, who disagree whether they are species on their own or not. Here Homo ergaster is included under Homo erectus, while Homo rhodesiensis is included under Homo heidelbergensis.

Middle Paleolithic[edit]

The dawn of Homo sapiens around 300 kya coincides with the start of the Middle Paleolithic period. Towards the middle of this 250,000-year period, humans begin to migrate out of Africa, and the later part of the period shows the beginning of long-distance trade, religious rites and other behavior associated with Behavioral modernity.

Upper Paleolithic to Early Mesolithic[edit]

50 ka has been regarded by some as the beginning of behavioral modernity, defining the Upper Paleolithic period, which lasted nearly 40,000 years (though some research dates the beginning of behavioral modernity earlier to the Middle Paleolithic). This is characterized by the widespread observation of religious rites, artistic expression and the appearance of tools made for purely intellectual or artistic pursuits.

Agricultural and proto-agricultural eras[edit]

The end of the Last Glacial Period ("ice age") and the beginning of the Holocene around 11.7 ka coincide with the Agricultural Revolution, marking the beginning of the agricultural era, which persisted there until the industrial revolution.

Neolithic and Late Mesolithic[edit]

During the Neolithic period, lasting 8400 years, stone remained the predominant material for toolmaking, although copper and arsenic bronze were developed towards the end of this period.

Bronze Age[edit]

The Nippur cubit-rod, c. 2650 BCE, in the Archeological Museum of Istanbul, Turkey

The beginning of bronze-smelting coincides with the emergence of the first cities and of writing in the Ancient Near East and the Indus Valley. The Bronze Age starting in Eurasia in the 4th millennia BC and ended, in Eurasia, c.1200 BC.

Iron Age[edit]

The Late Bronze Age collapse occurs around 1200 BC,[187] extinguishing most Bronze-Age Near Eastern cultures, and significantly weakening the rest. This is coincident with the complete collapse of the Indus Valley civilisation. This event is followed by the beginning of the Iron Age. We define the Iron Age as ending in 510 BC for the purposes of this article, even though the typical definition is region-dependent (e.g. 510 BC in Greece, 322 BC in India, 200 BC in China), thus being an 800-year period.[e]

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.[192]

Classical antiquity and medieval era[edit]

5th century BC[edit]

4th century BC[edit]

Egyptian reed pens inside ivory and wooden palettes, the Louvre[220]

3rd century BC[edit]

An illustration depicting the papermaking process in Han dynasty China.
The earliest fore-and-aft rigs, spritsails, appeared in the 2nd century BC in the Aegean Sea on small Greek craft.[243] Here a spritsail used on a Roman merchant ship (3rd century AD).

2nd century BC[edit]

1st century BC[edit]

1st century AD[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.[269][270][271]

4th century[edit]

5th century[edit]

A Nepali Charkha in action

6th century[edit]

7th century[edit]

8th century[edit]

9th century[edit]

A Mongol bomb thrown against a charging Japanese samurai during the Mongol invasions of Japan after founding the Yuan dynasty, 1281.

10th century[edit]

11th century[edit]

12th century[edit]

13th century[edit]

  • 13th century: Rocket for military and recreational uses date back to at least 13th-century China.[332]
  • 13th century: The earliest form of mechanical escapement, the verge escapement in Europe.[333]
  • 13th century: Buttons (combined with buttonholes) as a functional fastening for closing clothes appear first in Germany.[334]
  • 13th century: Explosive bomb in Jin dynasty Manchuria: Explosive bombs are used in 1221 by the Jin dynasty against a Song dynasty city.[335] 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",[336] coined during a Jin dynasty naval battle in 1231.[337]
  • 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.[338]
  • 13th century: Earliest documented snow goggles, a type of sunglasses, made of flattened walrus or caribou ivory are used by the Inuit peoples in the arctic regions of North America.[339][340] In China, the first sunglasses consisting of flat panes of smoky quartz are documented.[341][342]
  • 13th century - 14th century: Worm gear cotton gin in India.[343]
  • 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.[344]
  • 1286: Eyeglasses in Italy[345]

14th century[edit]

The 15th-century invention of the printing press with movable type by the German Johannes Gutenberg.[350]

15th century[edit]

Early modern era[edit]

16th century[edit]

[358][359]

17th century[edit]

A 1609 title page of the Relation, the world's first newspaper (first published in 1605)[362][363]

18th century[edit]

1700s[edit]

1710s[edit]

1730s[edit]

1740s[edit]

1750s[edit]

1760s[edit]

1770s[edit]

1780s[edit]

1790s[edit]

Late modern period[edit]

19th century[edit]

1800s[edit]

1810s[edit]

Karl von Drais on his original Laufmaschine, the earliest two-wheeler, or hobbyhorse, in 1819

1820s[edit]

1830s[edit]

1840s[edit]

1850s[edit]

1860s[edit]

1870s[edit]

1880s[edit]

1890s[edit]

20th century[edit]

1900s[edit]

1910s[edit]

BERy articulated streetcar no. 2 in 1913. The Boston Elevated Railway was the world's first street railway system to use articulated streetcars.

1920s[edit]

1930s[edit]

1940-1944[edit]

Contemporary history[edit]

1945-1950[edit]

1950s[edit]

1960s[edit]

The original 0 series Shinkansen train. Introduced in 1964, it reached a speed of 210 km/h (130 mph).

1970s[edit]

1980s[edit]

1990s[edit]

21st century[edit]

2000s[edit]

  • 2000: Sony develops the first prototypes for the Blu-ray optical disc format. The first prototype player was released in 2004.
  • 2000: First documented placement of Geocaching, an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon.
  • 2001: The Xbox Launches and is the first game console with internal storage
  • 2004: First podcast, invented by Adam Curry and Dave Winer, is a program made available in digital format for download over the Internet and it usually features one or more recurring hosts engaged in a discussion about a particular topic or current event.[498][499][500]
  • 2005: YouTube, the first popular video-streaming site, was founded
  • 2007: Netflix debuted the first popular video-on-demand service
  • 2007: Apple Inc. released the iPhone
  • 2007: The Bank of Scotland develops the worlds first banking app
  • 2007: SoundCloud, the first on-demand service to focus on music is debuted
  • 2007: First Kindle introduced by Amazon (company) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who instructed the company's employees to build the world's best e-reader before Amazon's competitors could. Amazon originally used the codename Fiona for the device. This hardware evolved from the original Kindle introduced in 2007 and the Kindle DX (with its larger 9.7" screen) introduced in 2009.[501]
  • 2008: Satoshi Nakamoto develops the first blockchain.[502]

2010s[edit]

2020s[edit]

See also[edit]

By type

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dates for inventions are often controversial. Sometimes inventions are 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.
  2. ^ Earthen pipes were later used in the Indus Valley c. 2700 BC for a city-scale urban drainage system,[105] and more durable copper drainage pipes appeared in Egypt, by the time of the construction of the Pyramid of Sahure at Abusir, c.2400 BCE.[106]
  3. ^ Shell, Terracotta, Copper, and Ivory rulers were in use by the Indus Valley civilisation in what today is Pakistan, and North West India, prior to 1500 BCE.[147]
  4. ^ A competing claim is from Lothal dockyard in India,[155][156][157][158][159] constructed at some point between 2400-2000 BC;[160] however, more precise dating does not exist.
  5. ^ The uncertainty in dating several Indian developments between 600 BC and 300 AD, due to the tradition that existed of editing existing documents (such as the Sushruta Samhita and Arthashastra) without specifically documenting the edit. Most such documents were canonized at the start of the Gupta empire (mid-3rd century AD).
  6. ^ A 10th century AD, Damascus steel blade, analysed under an electron microscope, contains nano-meter tubes in its metal alloy. Their presence has been suggested to be down to transition-metal impurities in the ores once used to produce Wootz Steel in South India.[195]
  7. ^ 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.[244]

Footnotes[edit]

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External links[edit]