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 3rd millennium BC
- 3 2nd millennium BC
- 4 1st millennium BC
- 5 1st millennium AD
- 6 2nd millennium
- 6.1 11th century
- 6.2 12th century
- 6.3 13th century
- 6.4 14th century
- 6.5 15th century
- 6.6 16th century
- 6.7 17th century
- 6.8 18th century
- 6.9 19th century
- 6.10 20th century
- 7 See also
- 8 Footnotes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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 found often. 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.
- ~23 to 5.3 million years ago (Ma), the Miocene epoch: Beds, composed of a sleeping platform including wooden pillows
A few non-invention dates are included in italics, for context. This time period is characterized as an ice age with regular periodic warmer periods – interglacial episodes – initially every 41,000 years slowing to
- 3.3-2.6 million years ago (Ma): Stone tools – found in present-day Kenya, they are so old that only a pre-human species could have invented them. The otherwise earliest known stone tools (Oldowan) were found in Ethiopia developed perhaps by Australopithecus garhi or Homo habilis
- 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
- 900-40 thousand years ago (ka): Boats
- 790 ka: Hearths, at Gesher Benot Ya'akov, in Israel (latest possible invention of cooking)
- 400 ka: Pigments in Zambia
- 400-300 ka: Spears in Germany likely by Homo heidelbergensis
- 350-150 ka: Estimated origin of language 
- 300 ka: Anatomically modern humans
- 200 ka: Glue in Italy
- 170-83 ka: Clothing
- 164 ka: Heat treating of stone blades.
- 135-100 ka: Beads in Israel and Algeria
- ~130-115 ka: Eemian interglacial period begins and ends, followed by the last glacial period
- 100 ka: Burial in Israel
- 90 ka: Harpoons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- 77 ka: Bug-repellent 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
- 49-30 ka: Ground stone tools – fragments of an axe in Australia date to 49-45 ka, more appear in Japan closer to 30 ka, and elsewhere closer to the Neolithic.
- 40-50+ ka: Behavioral modernity
- 44–42 ka: Tally sticks (see Lebombo bone) in Swaziland
- 40–20 ka: Cremation in Australia
- 40 ka: Cave painting in Spain and Indonesia
- 37 ka: Mortar and pestle in Southwest Asia.
- 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
- 35 ka: Flute in Germany
- 28 ka: Spun rope
- 28 ka: Phallus in Germany
- 16 ka: Pottery in China
- 15 ka: Bullroarer in Ukraine
- 14.5 ka: Bread in Jordan
- 14 ka: Dentistry in northern Italy
- 13–12 ka: Agriculture in the Fertile Crescent
- 13–11 ka: Domestication of sheep in Southwest Asia (followed shortly by pigs, goats and cattle)
- 11.7 ka: Last glacial period ends, followed by the Holocene
- 11-8 ka: Domestication of rice in China
- 11 ka: Constructed stone monument – Göbekli Tepe, in Turkey
- 8000–7500 BC: Proto-city – large permanent settlements, such as Tell es-Sultan (Jericho) and Çatalhöyük
- 7000 BC: Alcohol fermentation – specifically mead, in China
- 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
- 4500–3500 BC: Lost-wax casting in Israel
- 4400 BC: Copper Sewing needle in Naqada, Egypt
- 4000–3500 BC: Wheel: potter's wheels in Mesopotamia and wheeled vehicles in Mesopotamia (Sumerian civilization), the Northern Caucasus (Maykop culture) and Central Europe (Cucuteni–Trypillia culture).
- 3630 BC: Silk garments (sericulture) in China
- 3500 BC: Domestication of the horse
- 3200 BC: Sailing in ancient Egypt
3rd millennium BC
- 3000 BC: Writing – Cuneiform in Sumer, Mesopotamia (Iraq) (also see proto-writing)
- 3000 BC: Tin extraction in Central Asia
- 3000 BC: Bronze in Mesopotamia
- 3000 BC: Papyrus in Egypt
- 3000 BC: Comb in Persia.
- 3000 BC: Star chart in Korea.
- 2500 BC: Docks in Ancient Egypt
2nd millennium BC
- 2000 BC: Musical notation in Sumer
- 2000 BC: Chariot in Russia and Kazakhstan
- 2000 BC: Glass in Ancient Egypt
- 1700 BC: Alphabet in Phoenicia (Modern Lebanon)
- 1500 BC: Seed drill in Babylonia
- 1500 BC: Coins in Phoenicia (Modern Lebanon) or Lydia
- 1500 BC: Scissors in Ancient Egypt
- 1300 BC: Lathe in Ancient Egypt
1st millennium BC
7th century BC
- 600 BC Lighthouse in Egypt
- Late 7th or early 6th century BC: Wagonway called Diolkos across the Isthmus of Corinth in Ancient Greece
6th century BC
- Late 6th century BC: Crank motion (rotary quern) in Carthage or 5th century BC Celtiberian Spain
- c. 515 BC: Crane in Ancient Greece
5th century BC
- 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)
4th century BC
- 375–350 BC: Animal-driven rotary mill in Carthage.
- 4th century BC: Gears in Ancient China
- Approximately 350 BC: Greek hydraulic semaphore system, an optical communication system developed by Aeneas Tacticus.
3rd century BC
- By at least the 3rd century BC: Archimedes screw in Ancient Greece
- Early 3rd century BC: Canal lock in Ancient Suez Canal under Ptolemy II (283–246 BC) in Hellenistic Egypt
- 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 century BC: Gimbal described Philo of Byzantium
- 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.
- 150 BC Astrolabe invented in the Hellenistic world.
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)
- Before 71 BC (possibly 3rd century BC): Watermill (grain mill) by Greek engineers in Eastern Mediterranean (see also List of ancient watermills)
- Before 40 BC: Trip hammer in China
- Before 25 BC: Reverse overshot water-wheel by Roman engineers in Rio Tinto, Spain
1st millennium AD
- 1st century: The Aeolipile, a simple steam turbine is recorded by Hero of Alexandria.
- 1st century: Vending machines invented by Hero of Alexandria.
- 1st century: Automatic doors invented by Hero of Alexandria.
- 118 AD: Wheelbarrow was found in a tomb at Chengdu, Sichuan province during Han Dynasty China
- 132: Seismometer and pendulum 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.
- 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: 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–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.
- 650 AD Windmill in Persia
- 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 Palestine and Lebanon
- 11th century: Early versions of the Bessemer process are developed in East Asia
- 11th century: Endless power-transmitting chain drive by Su Song for the development an astronomical clock (the Cosmic Engine)
- 1088: Movable type in Song Dynasty China: The first record of a movable type system is in the Dream Pool Essays, which attributes the invention of the movable type to Bi Sheng.
- 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 and the Islamic World no later than 1300.
- 1206: The camshaft, a shaft to which cams are attached, first described by Ismail al-Jazari
- 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 Concept 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
- 1378: Naval artillery in Korea
- 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.
- Early 15th century: Coil spring in Europe
- 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 before 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.
- 1480s: Mariner's astrolabe in 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
- 1577: Newspaper in Korea
- 1589: Stocking frame: Invented by William Lee.
- 1594: Backstaff: Invented by Captain John Davis.
- By at least 1597: Revolver: Invented 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: Patent applied for by Hans Lippershey in the Netherlands. Actual inventor unknown since it seemed to already be a common item being offered by the spectacle makers in the Netherlands with Jacob Metius also applying for patent and the son of Zacharias Janssen making a claim 47 years later that his father invented it.
- c. 1620: Compound microscopes, which combine an objective lens with an eyepiece to view a real image, first appear in Europe. Apparently derived from the telescope, actual inventor unknown, variously attributed to Zacharias Janssen (his son claiming it was invented in 1590), Cornelis Drebbel, and Galileo Galilei.
- 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. 1709: 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.
- 1738: Lewis Paul and John Wyatt invent the first mechanized cotton spinning machine.
- 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 weighing 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.
- 1790: Thomas Saint invents the sewing machine.
- 1792: Claude Chappe invents the modern semaphore telegraph.
- 1793: Eli Whitney invents the modern cotton gin.
- 1795: Joseph Bramah invents the hydraulic press.
- 1796: Alois Senefelder invents the lithography printing technique.
- 1797: Samuel Bentham invents plywood.
- 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: Alessandro Volta invents the voltaic pile, an early form of battery in Italy, based on previous works by Luigi Galvani.
- 1802: Humphry Davy invents the arc lamp (exact date unclear; not practical as a light source until the invention of efficient electric generators).
- 1804: Friedrich Sertürner discovers morphine as the first active alkaloid extracted from the opium poppy plant.
- 1804: Richard Trevithick invents the steam locomotive.
- 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: James Fox invents the modern planing machine, though Matthew Murray of Leeds and Richard Roberts of Manchester have also been credited at times with its invention.
- 1816: Francis Ronalds builds the first working electric telegraph 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: Marc Isambard Brunel invents the tunnelling shield.
- 1822: Thomas Blanchard invents the pattern-tracing lathe (actually more like a shaper) and was completed by 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: Nicéphore Niépce invents Heliography, the first photographic process.
- 1822: Charles Babbage, considered the "father of the computer", begins building the first programmable mechanical computer.
- 1823: Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner invents the first lighter.
- 1824: Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse invents the bolt-action rifle.
- 1825: William Sturgeon invents the electromagnet.
- 1826: John Walker invents the friction match.
- 1828: James Beaumont Neilson develops the hot blast process.
- 1828: Patrick Bell invents the reaping machine.
- 1828: Hungarian physicist Ányos Jedlik invents the first commutated rotary electromechanical machine with electromagnets.
- 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.
- 1837: Samuel Morse invents Morse code.
- 1838: Moritz von Jacobi invents Electrotyping.
- 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.
- 1841: Alexander Bain devises a printing telegraph.
- 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: Isaac Charles Johnson invents Modern Portland cement.
- 1846: Henri-Joseph Maus invents the Tunnel boring machine.
- 1847: Ascanio Sobrero invents Nitroglycerin, the first explosive made that was stronger than black powder.
- 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.
- 1849: James B. Francis invents the Francis turbine.
- 1850: Sir William Armstrong invents the hydraulic accumulator.
- 1852: Robert Bunsen is the first to use a chemical vapor deposition technique.
- 1852: Elisha 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: Sir. Henry Bessemer patents the Bessemer process for making steel, with improvements made by others over the following years.
- 1856: James Harrison produces the world's first practical ice making machine and refrigerator using the principle of vapour compression in Geelong, Australia.
- 1856: William Henry Perkin invents Mauveine, the first synthetic dye.
- 1857: Heinrich Geissler invents the Geissler tube.
- 1859: Gaston Planté invents the lead acid battery, the first rechargeable battery.
- 1860: Joseph Swan produces carbon fibers.
- 1862: Alexander Parkes invents parkesine, also known as celluloid, the first man-made plastic.
- 1864: Louis Pasteur invents the pasteurization process.
- 1865: Carl Wilhelm Siemens and Pierre-Émile Martin invented the Siemens-Martin process for making steel.
- 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: Alfred Nobel invents Dynamite, the first safely manageable explosive stronger than black powder.
- 1872: J.E.T. Woods and J. Clark invented Stainless steel. Harry Brearley was the first to commercialize it.
- 1873: Frederick Ransome invents the rotary kiln.
- 1873: Sir William Crookes, a chemist, invents the Crookes radiometer 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: Nikolaus August Otto invents the Four-stroke cycle.
- 1876: Alexander Graham Bell has a patent granted for the telephone. However, other inventors before Bell had worked on the development of the telephone and the invention had several pioneers.
- 1877: Thomas Edison invents the first working phonograph.
- 1878: Henry Fleuss is granted a patent for the first practical rebreather.
- 1878: Lester Allan Pelton invents the Pelton wheel.
- 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 practical 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.
- 1881: Nikolay Benardos presents carbon arc welding, the first practical arc welding method.
- 1884: Hiram Maxim invents the recoil-operated Maxim gun, ushering in the age of semi- and fully automatic firearms.
- 1884: Paul Vieille invents Poudre B, the first smokeless powder for firearms.
- 1884: Sir Charles Parsons invents the modern steam turbine.
- 1884: Hungarian engineers Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri intvent the closed core high efficiency transformer and the AC parallel power distribution.
- 1885: John Kemp Starley invents the modern bicycle.
- 1886: Carl Gassner invents the zinc-carbon battery, the first dry cell battery, making portable electronics practical.
- 1886: Charles Martin Hall and independently Paul Héroult invent the Hall–Héroult process for economically producing aluminum in 1886.
- 1886: Karl Benz invents the first petrol or gasoline powered auto-mobile (car).
- 1887: Carl Josef Bayer invents the Bayer process for the production of alumina.
- 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.
- 1890s: Frédéric Swarts invents the first chlorofluorocarbons to be applied as refrigerant.
- 1890: Clément Ader invents the first aircraft, airplane, fly machine called Eole (aircraft) or Ader Éole
- 1891: Whitcomb Judson invents the zipper.
- 1892: Léon Bouly invents the cinematograph.
- 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: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen invented the first radiograph (xrays).
- 1898: Hans von Pechmann synthesizes polyethylene, now the most common plastic in the world.
- 1899: Waldemar Jungner invents the nickel–cadmium battery.
- 1900: The first Zeppelin is designed by Theodor Kober.
- 1901: The first motorized cleaner using suction, a powered "vacuum cleaner", is patented independently by British engineer Hubert Cecil Booth and American inventor David T. Kenney.
- 1903: The first successful gas turbine is invented by Ægidius Elling.
- 1903: Édouard Bénédictus invents laminated glass.
- 1903: First manually controlled, fixed wing, motorized aircraft flies at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by Orville and Wilbur Wright. See Claims to the first powered flight.
- 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.
- 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.
- 1913: The Bergius process is developed by Friedrich Bergius.
- 1913: The Kaplan turbine is invented by Viktor Kaplan.
- 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
- 1925: The Fischer–Tropsch process is developed by Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Kohlenforschung.
- 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.
- 1926: Robert H. Goddard launches the first liquid fueled rocket.
- 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).
- 1928: Philo Farnsworth demonstrates the first electronic television to the press.
- 1929: The ball screw is invented by Rudolph G. Boehm.
- 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.
- 1935: Nylon, the first fully synthetic fiber is produced by Wallace Carothers while working at DuPont.
- 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
- 1941: Polyester is invented by British scientists John Whinfield and James Dickson.
- 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 terminating 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.
- 1952: The float glass process is developed by Alastair Pilkington.
- 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.
- 1953: The first video tape recorder, a helical scan recorder, is invented by Norikazu Sawazaki.
- 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: The hovercraft is patented by Christopher Cockerell.
- 1955: The intermodal container is developed by Malcom McLean.
- 1956: The hard disk drive is invented by IBM.
- 1957: The first PC used by one person and controlled by a keyboard, the IBM 610 is invented in 1957 by IBM.
- 1957: The first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, is built and launched by the Soviet Union.
- 1958–59: Independent invention of the integrated circuit by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce.
- 1960: The first functioning laser is invented by Theodore Maiman.
- 1963: The first electronic cigarette is created by Herbert A. Gilbert. Hon Lik is often credited with its invention as he developed the modern electronic cigarette and was the first to commercialize it.
- 1965: Kevlar is invented by Stephanie Kwolek at DuPont.
- 1969: ARPANET first deployed via UCLA, SRI, UCSB, and The University of Utah.
- 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: The first capacitive 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 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.
- 1983: Stereolithography is invented by Chuck Hull
- 1984: The first commercially available cell phone, the DynaTAC 8000X, is created by Motorola.
- 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
- 1994: Stanford Federal Credit Union becomes the first financial institution to offer online internet banking services to all of its members in October 1994.
- 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.
- Accelerating change
- List of emerging technologies
- List of inventors
- Outline of prehistoric technology
- Timeline of electrical and electronic engineering
- Timeline of human prehistory
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