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.
Note that all dates refer to the earliest known evidence of an invention. Dates are often approximate and likely to change as more research is done and older examples of any given technology are found. Similarly, the locations listed are for the site where the earliest solid evidence 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.
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.
2nd century BC: Paper in Han DynastyChina: 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.
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'.
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.
7th century: Porcelain in Tang DynastyChina: 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: 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 DynastyChina, 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 weapon.
10th century: Fireworks in Song DynastyChina: 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.
1119: Mariner's compass (wet compass) in Song DynastyChina: 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: 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.
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.
1863: The first successful tunnel boring machine is invented by Frederick Edward Blackett Beaumont. Although the first machines to be built were invented by Henri Joseph-Maus, Charles Wilson and others none of them were truly successful in practice until Beaumont's invention.
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.
1886: Heinrich Hertz conclusively demonstrates the existence of radio waves. However, the effects of electromagnetic waves had been independently observed by many people before and after him, with the earliest observation dating back to experiments conducted by Luigi Galvani in the late 18th century.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
^Semaw, S.; M. J. Rogers; J. Quade; P. R. Renne; R. F. Butler; M. Domínguez-Rodrigo; D. Stout; W. S. Hart; T. Pickering; S. W. Simpson (2003). "2.6-Million-year-old stone tools and associated bones from OGS-6 and OGS-7, Gona, Afar, Ethiopia". Journal of Human Evolution45: 169–177. doi:10.1016/S0047-2484(03)00093-9. PMID14529651.
^De Heinzelin, J; Clark, JD; White, T; Hart, W; Renne, P; Woldegabriel, G; Beyene, Y; Vrba, E (1999). "Environment and behavior of 2.5-million-year-old Bouri hominids". Science284 (5414): 625–9. doi:10.1126/science.284.5414.625. PMID10213682.
^Stiner, Mary C.; Gopher, Avi; Barkai, Ran (2011). "Hearth-side socioeconomics, hunting and paleoecology during the late Lower Paleolithic at Qesem Cave, Israel". Journal of Human Evolution60 (2): 213–33. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.10.006. PMID21146194.
^Mazza, PPA; Martini, F; Sala, B; Magi, M; Colombini, MP; Giachi, G; Landucci, F; Lemorini, C; Modugno, F; Ribechini, E (2006). "A new Palaeolithic discovery: tar-hafted stone tools in a European Mid-Pleistocene bone-bearing bed". Journal of Archaeological Science33 (9): 1310. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2006.01.006.
^Backwell, L; Errico, F; Wadley, L. (2008). "Middle Stone Age bone tools from the Howiesons Poort layers, Sibudu Cave, South Africa". Journal of Archaeological Science35: 1566–1580. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2007.11.006.
^Francesco d’Errico et al. (2012) Early evidence of San material culture represented by organic artifacts from Border Cave, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences109(33): 13214-13219. It is called a notched bone, illustrated in Fig. 1, 12"http://www.pnas.org/content/109/33/13214.long".External link in |title= (help)
^Bowler JM, Jones R, Allen H, Thorne AG. (1970). "Pleistocene human remains from Australia: a living site and human cremation from Lake Mungo, Western New South Wales.". World Archaeol.2 (1): 39–60. doi:10.1080/00438243.1970.9979463. PMID16468208.
^Gregor, Thomas. Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian People. University Of Chicago Press (1987). p. 106 "Today we know that the bullroarer is a very ancient object, specimens from France (13,000 B.C.) and the Ukraine (17,000 B.C.) dating back well into the Paleolithic period. Moreover, some archeologists, most notable Michael Boyd—notably, Gordon Willey (1971,20) and Michael Boyd (Leisure in the Dreamtime 1999,21) —now admit the bullroarer to the kit-bag of artifacts brought by the very earliest migrants to the Americas."
^Frankel, Rafael (2003): "The Olynthus Mill, Its Origin, and Diffusion: Typology and Distribution", American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 107, No. 1, pp. 1–21 (17–19)
^Ritti, Tullia; Grewe, Klaus; Kessener, Paul (2007): "A Relief of a Water-powered Stone Saw Mill on a Sarcophagus at Hierapolis and its Implications", Journal of Roman Archaeology, Vol. 20, pp. 138–163 (159)
^Joseph F. O'Callaghan; Donald J. Kagay; Theresa M. Vann (1998). On the Social Origins of Medieval Institutions: Essays in Honor of Joseph F. O'Callaghan. BRILL. p. 179. ISBN978-90-04-11096-0. Developed in China between the fifth and fourth centuries BC, it reached the Mediterranean by the sixth century AD
^Beckmann, Martin (2002): "The 'Columnae Coc(h)lides' of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius", Phoenix, Vol. 56, No. 3/4, pp. 348–357 (354)
^Ruggeri, Stefania (2006): "Selinunt", Edizioni Affinità Elettive, Messina, ISBN 88-8405-079-0, p. 77
^Schnitter, Niklaus (1987): "Verzeichnis geschichtlicher Talsperren bis Ende des 17. Jahrhunderts", in: Garbrecht, Günther (ed.): Historische Talsperren, Verlag Konrad Wittwer, Stuttgart, Vol. 1, ISBN 3-87919-145-X, pp. 9–20 (12)
^Schnitter, Niklaus (1987): "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Bogenstaumauer", Garbrecht, Günther (ed.): Historische Talsperren, Vol. 1, Verlag Konrad Wittwer, Stuttgart, ISBN 3-87919-145-X, pp. 75–96 (80)
^Hodge, A. Trevor (2000): "Reservoirs and Dams", in: Wikander, Örjan: Handbook of Ancient Water Technology, Technology and Change in History, Vol. 2, Brill, Leiden, ISBN 90-04-11123-9, pp. 331–339 (332, fn. 2)
^Wikander, Örjan (2000): "The Water-Mill" in: Wikander, Örjan (ed.): Handbook of Ancient Water Technology, Technology and Change in History, Vol. 2, Brill, Leiden, ISBN 90-04-11123-9, pp. 371–400 (396f.)
^Donners, K.; Waelkens, M.; Deckers, J. (2002): "Water Mills in the Area of Sagalassos: A Disappearing Ancient Technology", Anatolian Studies, Vol. 52, pp. 1–17 (11)
^Wikander, Örjan (1985): "Archaeological Evidence for Early Water-Mills. An Interim Report", History of Technology, Vol. 10, pp. 151–179 (160)
^Wikander, Örjan (2000): "The Water-Mill" in: Wikander, Örjan (ed.): Handbook of Ancient Water Technology, Technology and Change in History, Vol. 2, Brill, Leiden, ISBN 90-04-11123-9, pp. 371–400 (396)
^Davies, Oliver: Roman Mines in Europe, Oxford (1935)
^ abRitti, Tullia; Grewe, Klaus; Kessener, Paul (2007): "A Relief of a Water-powered Stone Saw Mill on a Sarcophagus at Hierapolis and its Implications", Journal of Roman Archaeology, Vol. 20, pp. 138–163 (140, 161)
^Hsü, Immanuel C. Y. (1970). The Rise of Modern China. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 830. ISBN0-19-501240-2.
^Wilson, Andrew (1995): "Water-Power in North Africa and the Development of the Horizontal Water-Wheel", Journal of Roman Archaeology, Vol. 8, pp. 499–510 (507f.)
^Wikander, Örjan (2000): "The Water-Mill" in: Wikander, Örjan (ed.): Handbook of Ancient Water Technology, Technology and Change in History, Vol. 2, Brill, Leiden, ISBN 90-04-11123-9, pp. 371–400 (377)
^Donners, K.; Waelkens, M.; Deckers, J. (2002): "Water Mills in the Area of Sagalassos: A Disappearing Ancient Technology", Anatolian Studies, Vol. 52, pp. 1–17 (13)
^Needham (1986), Volume 4, Part 2, 159–160, 256–257.
^Stimson, Alan (1985): "The Mariner's Astrolabe. A Survey of 48 Surviving Examples", UC Biblioteca Geral, Coimbra, p. 576
^Al-Hassan, Ahmad Y., Taqi al-Din and Arabic Mechanical Engineering, with an offset copy of MS Chester Beatty No. 5232, Institute for the History of Arabic Science, University of Aleppo, 1976, pp. 38-42
^Sarton, George (1946): "Floating Docks in the Sixteenth Century", Isis, Vol. 36, No. 3/4, pp. 153–154 (153f.)
^Izuo, M (2004). "Medical history: Seishu Hanaoka and his success in breast cancer surgery under general anesthesia two hundred years ago.". Breast Cancer (Tokyo, Japan) 11 (4): 319–324. doi:10.1007/bf02968037. PMID15604985.
^EP 689208 "Method for block oriented addressing" – for block layouts see columns 1 and 2
^"Tim Berners Lee – Time 100 People of the Century". Time Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2010. He wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century. The World Wide Web is Berners-Lee's alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, nonproprietary and free. .
Bowman, John S. (2000). Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11004-9.
Buisseret, David. (1998). Envisioning the City: Six Studies in Urban Cartography. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-07993-7.
Day, Lance and Ian McNeil. (1996). Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-06042-7.
Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (1999). The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-66991-X (paperback).
Ebrey, Walthall, Palais, (2006). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Elisseeff, Vadime. (2000). The Silk Roads: Highways of Culture and Commerce. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 1-57181-222-9.
Hucker, Charles O. (1975). China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture. Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University. ISBN 0-8018-4595-5.
Hunter, Dard (1978). Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft. Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-486-23619-6.
Gernet, Jacques (1962). Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276. Translated by H.M. Wright. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0720-0.
Gernet, Jacques. (1996). A History of Chinese Civilization. Translated by J.R. Foster and Charles Hartman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-49781-7.
Kreutz, Barbara M. (1973) "Mediterranean Contributions to the Medieval Mariner's Compass", Technology and Culture, 14 (3: July), p. 367–383
Lo, Andrew. "The Game of Leaves: An Inquiry into the Origin of Chinese Playing Cards," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 63, No. 3 (2000): 389-406.
Loewe, Michael. (1968). Everyday Life in Early Imperial China during the Han Period 202 BC–AD 220. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd.; New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Needham, Joseph, Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd.,1986 ISBN 0-521-07060-0
Needham, Joseph (1962). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology; Part 1, Physics. Cambridge University Press., reprinted Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd. (1986)
Needham, Joseph and Tsien Tsuen-Hsuin. (1985). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part 1, Paper and Printing. Cambridge University Press., reprinted Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd. (1986)
Needham, Joseph. (1987). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part 7, Military Technology; the Gunpowder Epic. Cambridge University Press.
Pigott, Vincent C. (1999). The Archaeometallurgy of the Asian Old World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. ISBN 0-924171-34-0.
Ronan, Colin A. (1994). The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 4. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32995-7.
Sivin, Nathan (1995). Science in Ancient China: Researches and Reflections. Brookfield, Vermont: VARIORUM, Ashgate Publishing.
Stark, Miriam T. (2005). Archaeology of Asia. Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub. ISBN 1-4051-0213-6.
Wagner, Donald B. (1993). Iron and Steel in Ancient China: Second Impression, With Corrections. Leiden: E.J. Brill. ISBN 90-04-09632-9.
Wagner, Donald B. (2001). The State and the Iron Industry in Han China. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Publishing. ISBN 87-87062-83-6.