Inventions Facts
Inventions Facts

Top 10 Greatest Inventions in History

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published January 14, 2018

What would you say is the most important invention in all of human history? See if your answer makes the cut and learn all about other world-changing creations with our list of the top ten inventions in human history. Explore little-known facts about famous inventors, inventions that changed the world, famous innovations, who invented the wheel, and the printing press invention. Eureka!

  • The Wheel, invented ca. 3,500 BC.[4]
  • Inventions Wheel
    While we think the invention of the wheel was invented soon after humans learned to walk, other inventions predated the wheel by thousands of years, such as the sewing needle, woven cloth, basket weaving, boats, and the flute. The first wheels were not even invented for travel; they were invented to serve as a potter’s wheel around 3500 B.C, some 300 years before someone figured out how to use them for chariots.

  • The Printing Press, invented by Bi Sheng (1045) in China and Johann Gutenberg (1450) in Germany.[3]
  • Printing Press
    The ability to inexpensively produce books on a large scale paved the way for the transmission of ideas and general education.

  • Steel, invented ca. 1,800 BC.[3]
  • Top 10 Inventions
    The modern world is cast in steel, and this amazing metal has long been used to make the best arms and armor.

  • Firearms, invented 11th century AD.[3]
  • Inventions guns
    Black powder weapons changed warfare forever, and traditional power structures with it. Firearms' relative ease of use took martial power out of the hands of aristocratic elites and placed it in everyone's hands.

  • The Computer, invented and refined between 1822 and 1950.[2][3]
  • Invention Computer
    For many people in the modern world, a day doesn't go by in which they aren't reliant upon the use of one or more computers. In 1833, Charles Babbage invented all the parts of a modern computer, but it wasn’t until 120 years later that the first “modern” computer would be invented. In 1936, Konrad Zuse created the first computer, named Z1.

  • The Steam Engine, invented by Thomas Savery (1698) in England.[2][3]
  • James Watt Steam
    The steam engine powered factories, ships, and trains, and paved the way for later engine designs, such as the internal combustion engine. Although steam locomotions are now almost extinct from most of the world’s railroads, their invention ranks with cars, airplanes, telephones, radio, and televisions as one of the greatest inventions of all time.

  • The Electric Light Bulb, invented by Thomas Edison (1879) in the USA.[2][3]
  • Edison Lightbulb
    Without electric light we would still be dependent upon natural light and expensive, inefficient light sources like coal and oil. The story of the lightbulb involves other important inventors and figures, including Alessandro Volta, Humphrey Davy, Warren de la Rue, and Joseph Swan who all contributed to the light bulb. Where Thomas Edison succeeded was in his creation of developing the practical and inexpensive bulb.

  • Penicillin, discovered by Alexander Fleming (1928) in Scotland.[1][2]
  • Invention Penicillin
    Arguably the most important medical discovery of the 20th century, penicillin and later antibiotics have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Penicillin was actually invented by accident when its inventor, Sir Alexander Fleming accidentally left out a staphylococcus culture plate. He noticed that the mold that had begun to grow was preventing the growth of staphylococci. His conclusion that the Penicillium mold prevent the growth of bacteria revolutionized medicine . . .and the world.

  • The Compass, invented in China, 5th Century BC.[2][3]
  • Magnetic Compass
    The magnetic compass greatly aided maritime travel, allowing for the expansion of exploration, trade, and warfare. You may not know the the compass was originally used for divination, geomancy, fortune-telling and for finding precious gems. Early compasses were made from a magnetized needle that was attached to a piece of wood or cork that floated freely in a dish of water. The marked end of the free-floating needle would then point toward magnetic north.

  • The Internet, invented in the USA, 1983.[4]
  • World wide web
    While the Internet is still in its infancy, it has already had an incalculable effect on nearly every aspect of human life. Originally title ARPANET, the Internet adopted TCP/IP on January 1, 1983 and users began to assemble the “network of networks.” The Internet became more recognizable to what we know now when in 1990 computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the Word Wide Web.


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