Inventions Facts
Inventions Facts

Top 10 Greatest Inventions in History

By Nathan James, Associate Writer
Published January 14, 2018
  • The Wheel, invented ca. 3,500 BC.[4]
  • Inventions Wheel
    The wheel revolutionized travel and trade and continues to be a staple of everyday human life.

  • The Printing Press, invented by Bi Sheng (1045) in China and Johann Gutenberg (1450) in Germany.[3]
  • Inventions 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]
  • Inventions Steel
    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.

  • The Steam Engine, invented by Thomas Savery (1698) in England.[2][3]
  • Invention Steam
    The steam engine powered factories, ships, and trains, and paved the way for later engine designs, such as the internal combustion engine.

  • The Electric Light Bulb, invented by Thomas Edison (1879) in the USA.[2][3]
  • Invention Lightbulb
    Without electric light we would still be dependent upon natural light and expensive, inefficient light sources like coal and oil.

  • 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.

  • The Compass, invented in China, 5th Century BC.[2][3]
  • Invention Compass
    The magnetic compass greatly aided maritime travel, allowing for the expansion of exploration, trade, and warfare.

  • The Internet, invented in the USA, 1983.[4]
  • Invention Internet
    While the Internet is still in its infancy, it has already had an incalculable effect on nearly every aspect of human life.


1"Staphylococcus Aureus and Discovery of Penicillin," Accessed: November 16, 2017.

2The Smithsonian Book of Invention. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978.

3Williams, Trevor I., The History of Invention: From Stone Axes to Silicon Chips. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1987.

4Wolchover, Natalie, "Top 10 Inventions that Changed the World,", March 3, 2016. Accessed: November 16, 2018.

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