Humans have been around for around 200,000 years. At least that’s when the oldest human fossil is dated. That’s 200 out of the past 5 billion years of earth’s existence. Yet the last 100 years of human life has boosted us substantially in a future that in some cases we may not have evolved for yet. We can get anywhere we want in the world with the click of a button and the help of a ticket, we are all interconnected through the world wide web, and can speak to anyone, at any time, in any place! It’s by far no argument that we live in the most exciting, and fun time to be a human. Let’s look at the top 40 inventions that pivoted the way humans evolved in the past 100 years!
Aerosol Spray Can
In 1927 a Norwegian engineer named Erik Rotheim was granted the first patent of aerosol spray. The cocktail inside an Aerosol can is composed of sesame oil, pyrethrum, Freon-12, and contained 16 ounces of what’s called the “bug bomb” inside each can.
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Despite being potentially useful at birth, the Aerosol Can would make its debut to the world during World War Two for soldiers serving in bug infested terrain. Aerosol is still used today despite there being many studies attributing it many human disease and environmental effect.
Quick-Release Ski Binding
Despite looking very easy, and even more so fun, skiing is actually very dangerous, and a head-on collision with a bolder, or tree while speeding down a slope at 50 miles per hour can cause serious injury, and even immediate death.
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That’s why in 1937, professional skier, Hjalmar Hvam introduced the quick-release ski binding mechanism to skis. Hvam was actually working on the idea while he was recovering from a ski injury himself.
The Super Soaker is no life-changing invention we know. (Previously known as the “Power Drencher,”) Was debuted in 1989 by no other than NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson, and by 1991 he may have already retired because his simple idea of a good water soaker sold him 2 million of them in the US alone!
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Water guns are still probably the only acceptable gun-themed toy in the American mainstream today.
You would think the idea of a blender has been around for at least a couple hundred years at least in its manual form. But the first commercial blender had only hit the market in 1937. By 1954 one million blenders had been sold in the United States.
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The first blender model was invented in 1922 by Stephen Poplawski in 1922, but it never took off, yet a lot of the accreditation on the product goes to the 1937 commercial model made by Fred Waring that cost $29.75 during its official release.
The first patent for a modern bra was filed in 1914 by Caresse Crosby, a socialite Manhattanite girl who was only in her teenage years when she thought up the idea of a simple harness system for women’s breasts.
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As a young girl, you can imagine it was more of an invention that she thought would be helpful for her and her friends. Little did she know that right after patent, she would already get an offer to buy the rights to the product from Warner Bros. Corset Co. for $1,500 which is equivalent for $37,684.95 in today’s money.
I spent my early 20’s as a combat medic and would spend many weeks out on the field training. The desert temperature during the summer would surpass 100 degrees on a daily basis, and had it not been for the invention of the picnic cooler in 1953 by Richard Laramy, and the Coleman Company, I would never have enjoyed the benefits of a cooler.
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Trucks would drive for miles from base to deliver us breakfast of fresh vegetables, eggs, cheeses all in the middle of the desert. It’s inventions like these that give humans from all walks of life a better way to live, and prosper.
Digital Video Recorder
Before the digital video recorder or DVR, people would just record what was on the TV through a cassette and have to pop it in later when they want to watch their favorite program.
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In 2002 the first DVR was invented, and the world of advertising was hurting big time! By no time, 40% of Americans would have a DVR system at home and would enjoy the fun of being able to easily record, and skip through any unwanted advertising. For TV networks things actually got better, as overall ratings on TV grew by 10%.
The Zippo lighter has been around since 1932. At the time the company was made of only three people. Founder George Blaisdell, and his two labor employees. In the first year of production, Zippo made only 82 lighters.
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The following year that production would go up to 367 orders, and by 2012, 500 million Zippo lighters have been produced in the company’s Bradford, Pennsylvania factory. The first Zippo was made using just a welding kit, kitchen hotplate, and a punch press.
Cooking can be a very challenging ordeal, especially before the Teflon Pan. Before the Teflon, you had two options to frying eggs in at home, a steel nirosta pan, or a cast-iron pan, and if you got the heat wrong, or used the wrong oil, you were going to be doing more cleaning than eating. Cleaning burnt food off the pan that is.
The Teflon Pan changed life for the average American of the 40s who let’s face it, did not know how to cook like the French. With the Teflon, you can finally make mistakes, and not have to start all over again. Virtually no material can stick to the Teflon, and they are extremely time efficient as they are easy to clean!
The Flash Drive is by great extent a necessity still today for anyone who is doing anything meaningful with computers. Or even just great for sharing movies, and music.
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The inventors of the flash drive were Amir Ban, Dov Moran, and Oron Ogdan, all M-Systems employees at the time. The initial storage capacity of a flash drive was 8 MB. torage capacity of USB flash drives in 2013 was up to 1 TB while hard disk can be as large as 10 TB. As of 2011, USB flash drives were more expensive per unit of storage than large hard drives, but were less expensive in capacities of a few tens of gigabytes.
Sunglasses may seem like just a simple invention, and you would think they came around the same time as regular glasses, but it was actually many years later until sunglasses would be introduced to the world.
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A man by the name of Sam Foster made public, his first model of the invention in 1929. Ten years later he would open the Grant Plastic Company. He sold his first pair on the Jersey Boardwalk, and it would only get better from there. Very soon, sunglasses would make their way to every store across America.
In most American households today, between the hours of 6, and 10 am, there is a coffee being brewed slowly in the kitchen, drip by drip.
Ask any hard-working American, and they will tell you they can’t start their day without it. This is thanks to the Gottlob Widmann, who trademarked the invention in Germany in 1954. As of 2018 14 million drip coffeemakers are sold each year.
Pop-Up the Fun
There is nothing more household essential than a pop-up toaster. The first pop up toaster was invented in 1919 by Minnesota mechanic Charles Strite. It would be ten years earlier that General Electric built its first electric toaster, but it would not have the fun pop-up feature.
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Today there are more than 12 million units sold in America each year, and 90% of American homes have a toaster. As long as breakfast is around, I don’t think they will go anywhere.
Before being designated for leaves, there was a leaf blower. At the time it was just called a blower, and it was not meant to blow leaves into a pile. It was actually used to disperse chemicals onto crops in farms. It was not until the 50s when a man by the name of Aldo Vandermolen decided to attach a strap to the blower and redirect its use for collecting leaves.
Leaf blowers are very loud, and residents were not happy of the repurposing of the invention. At least 20 cities in the US have banned the use of the conventional leaf blower, and 80 more cities have the consideration on the ballad.
Spincast Fishing Reel
Spincast Fishing Reels are vital in the world of modern sport fishing. With a Spincast reel, your able to not just be able to reel in fish faster than average, but your able to do it with a lot less strength and energy.
Spincast Reels can even manipulate the drag of the reel if you catch something big and don’t want it to rip your line. Before the Spincast, sport fishing was much harder, and harder to do with the family.
If you were born after the mid-2000s, this might look like a relic to you. But no less than 20 years ago, the DVD player was nothing short of a tech monopoly in the entertainment industry, they may have come and gone fast, but without DVD’s we would not have had the competitive atmosphere that birthed company’s like Netflix, Hulu, Blue Ray, and so many more.
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The DVD player seemed like the next big thing, considerably because you didn’t have to rewind tape anymore.
Chainsaws are truly American symbol. They are one of the only American inventions that are both creepy, and helpful at the same time. Even if it were not for the Texas Chain Saw Massacre movies, the chainsaw would still be creepy.
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The first chainsaw was invented in 1949, but before that smoother, smaller instruments like it existed in hospitals to saw bone off. The same technology and design would later be used to produce what we know as a chainsaw to cut down trees.
The Electric Razor puts a smile on any working man’s face. Before it, shaving in five minutes either meant you have a lot of experience in shaving, or you were going to come to work with a face full of band-aids.
The first electric razors were patented around 1898, then invented by Remington Ran Corp in the 1930s. Battery and waterproof versions only coming around in the 1960s.
Where would we be without printers? The printer, in my opinion, is the most unappreciated invention in the modern world. Good luck running a big business before one, or making a cheap restaurant menu.
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The first laser printer ever made was developed by Xerox in the late 1960s and early 70s with their release of the 9700 Electronic Printing System. Only a few years later IBM would come around and make the first printer to utilize laser technology, and electrophotography at the same time.
Soldiers know one thing during their first few weeks in the military, and it’s not the stereotype “this is my rife” poem. No, a soldier’s best friend during basic training is their stopwatch, and even commanders of the late 1800s would use them to make sure that their new cadets were on time for various tasks.
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Being on time is an essential human growth factor, and the stopwatch helps us become better at being on time.
Before the Kodak Carousel, there were other projectors, but they were much harder to use. The Kodak Carousel would be the first user-friendly 35mm slide projector. Kodak cracked the code on making the carousel more efficient by taking out the mechanical feature of changing slides and just using the power of gravity.
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It worked pretty well and was known to be one of the more efficient inventions, with Kodak spending little money on returns or repairs of the machine.
Okay, so the Boombox was not so much an essential human invention as it was an inspiring one. If you grew up in the 70s, and 80s, you may remember the coolest kids showing up to school with one their shoulder bringing the party with them.
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But it’s that boombox mentality that ignited a need in Americans, and people around the world to want to hear and share, and connect with one another. Eventually, it would be the opposite as today, it is more critical how much sound headphones can cancel out in your surroundings. Almost depressing huh.
Like the boombox, electric toothbrushes are something mankind can go without, but if you asked parents of young children, they might beg the differ. I remember as a child myself not wanting to brush my teeth.
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That is until I got an electric toothbrush for my birthday, and could not wait to go upstairs and use it! Isn’t that kind of odd. Just adding a bit of movement to the machine, and giving me a button to press, and all the sudden it becomes a fun activity.
In the early 1900s binoculars were an expensive commodity, and were custom made to order. Binoculars became inexpensive during World War Two when the allies needed a way to be able to produce them without having to order the special lenses from Germany.
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This was proved to be not too much of a challenge considering the fact that the US film industry was happy to help the US government produce an easy to manufacture, and cheap lenses for allied forces. Today some high-powered binoculars can zoom very close towards the moon even!
The first variation of the zipper is actually called the “clasp-locker,” and was invented in 1839. It would not be until 1913 when the zipper as we know it today was born.
Despite the apparent benefits zippers offer us, it took some time for the idea to take off, and for the first four years of its existence, only 24,000 were sold in total. Today, for instance, Japan-based company YKK produces more than seven billion zippers a year.
The idea that some inventions even needed to be invented in the first place and did not just exist as a given is very much justified. The lunchbox for sure fall along that category. But yet, there was once a time where no one had yet thought of the fact that you can have a small sterile box that you can fit your lunch in.
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What did people do beforehand? Well, coincidently the lunchbox was invented in the late 1880s, the beginning of the industrial revolution, the beginning of man making more money, working more hours, and having to eat on the go.
In 1951 a man by the name of George A. Stephen, Sr, was said to have been sick of his neighbors complaining about the high amounts of smoke coming out of his grill pit in the front yard.
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So, he took a metal buoy, cut it in half, and mounted a lid on top with a few holes to air out the smoke slowly. A year later his company (Weber-Stephen Products Co.) Would begin the manufacturing of the new invention and see great success out of it. Makes you hungry just to think about it!
The smoke detector was patented in 1890 by a man by the name of Francis Robbins Upton. In the early 1900s, the first models of smoke detectors existed but only for commercial and industrial spaces. They were big expensive and not reliable.
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It would not be until 1965 that the modern fire detector would be invented. Before its existence, house fires were one of the leading causes of death in the united states. Today, you need to open all the windows just to make a burger in the house.
The Moog Synthesizer was effectively the first electric keyboard in existence. It was invented by Robert Moog in 1964 and had a very expensive asking price at the time of 15,000$ per unit.
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Despite not catching in the mainstream for a little while, Moog stayed true to his worth, took the keyboard to be showcased in the Monterey Pop Festival, and it took off ever since, being used by greats like the Beatles, Doors, Grateful Dead, and many more. Today the same model will cost you around 150,000 dollars.
The CD was a crazy invention. It was the beginning of the end for music consumers though, as music actually became more expensive when CD’s were invented. The CD was developed in 1966 by James T. Russel, but the CD-ROM format changed the game and gave people the ability to store any type of sound data inside it.
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It had more storage capacity, and was easier to handle than a floppy disk, and could be used by the music industry, who could sell it to the public as new and expensive, yet hold the secret that it is really cheaper than making a record.
Had Hair Dryers not been invented, most female hair dews that we see today would not have been invented at all.
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The first hair dryer was actually called just a dryer and was invented in France in the year 1890 for the purpose of drying just about anything that needed drying. It would not be until the early 1920s where company Hamilton Beach came across the idea of repurposing a (portable milkshake heater?) as a hair dryer, that’s right ladies, your favorite hair product in the 80s was intended to heat milkshakes that were too cold.
Look at your smartphone right now. Scroll through the apps, even the simple ones! You would not have any of the features on your phone had they not been invented individually. One of the essential features every phone comes with today is a recording app. This app would have never existed had it not been for the tape recorder.
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After being invented in the late 20s, they would only prove themselves useful during World War Two. Imagine how ignorant you have to be to be skeptical about the effectiveness of a tape recorder!
The CB radio was actually made famous for its use by truckers during the early 50s when they began work with police to organize convoys and create speed traps with police.
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By the late 70s, more than 20 million American’s owned CB radios. “You can press buttons with it, and it also has exciting knobs. Twist turn, even crank! This radio has everything!”
You would think the ballpoint pen would have been invented years ages ago. But try to remember the paintings and portrayals of our forefathers writing the declaration of independence with a feather.
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That was 1776, the first ballpoint was invented in 1945. One pen cost about $12.50 which is the equivalent of $170 today! The price of the ballpoint would not drop until about five years later as some competition would start to be introduced.
Let’s skip through about 100 years into the future. The Kindler E-Reader was invented by mega-corporation Amazon in the early millennium, as a competing model against already existing Soft Book, and Rocket eBook.
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The difference with the Kindle? It was the first of its kind to pick up a wireless signal, and give you the ability to download a huge variety of eBooks.
I’m very sad that cassette tapes are not around anymore, they are actually one of the shortest lasting technological tools in my life, but they still hold a dear meaning to me.
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It was almost like a fun game to be able to rewind a tape for a few minutes and then load it into the cassette player, but once CD and digital audio came around, that was all she wrote.
The circular saw was invented by Edmond Michel in 1923, as a result of his frustration with the big size of existing sawmills.
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The saw had no electric circuit to connect to, so an external generator would need to be invented as well. That is why Michel went further to develop the worm-drive motor as well!
Gaming on the go is by far what took the gaming industry from a player in the tech game to a dominating force! The Gameboy was the driving force behind the gaming revolution! It was simple, easy to store, with later versions even being rechargeable.
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Parents love it more than kids, because it was much easier to take away a Gameboy, then to unplug a PlayStation. The Gameboy helped create the graphics hungry, finger fast, gaming generation of the modern world.
I was born in 1994, so just like for the video cassette, and VHS tapes, I also saw the Walkman be something very short-lived. The Walkman was a personal cassette player that you can listen to music with while storing it just in your pocket.
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When it was invented in 1979 you needed to be rich to have it, but by 2010, at the end of its production life, you could sell it for less than a dollar, and 220 million units would have been sold. They are all gone now, be sure of that!
After the invention of workable home computers, people needed to be able to store their work, and for some reason, computer creators did not think of building in a memory system yet. In 1971 IBM introduced the floppy disk to the world.
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It would start at eight inches, and shrink all the way to 3.5 square inches. It would mark the beginning of the end for the ballpoint pen or typewriter, and that end would not come slow. Today we use floppy disks as nothing more the coffee coaster.