Humans have come a very long way in terms of technology. The inventions of modern medicine, vehicles to travel great distances relatively easily, and even the microwave. All things we take for granted today. The majority of all inventions and technology as we know it has been invented in just the last 150 years! In a relatively short amount of time, we have moved forward lightyears beyond from where we were before that time. I wonder what great-great-great-great Grammy would have to say about some of the things we have today? Let’s dive into the top 5 greatest inventions of all time.

5. Air Conditioner

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Invented by American engineer, Willis Carrier, in 1902. Air conditioning itself has been found as far back as Ancient Egypt. This was done by hanging wet mats in the doorway. The water from the mats reduced indoor air temperatures and added refreshing moisture to their dry, desert environment. The modern day air conditioner, though, through a series of events beginning decades earlier by other scientists and engineers, finally came to fruition in the early 20th century. And thank goodness for this invention! All of you who live closer to our equator know exactly what I’m talking about.

The origin and use of cooling down our indoor environments began at a Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Printing Company in Brooklyn, NY.  Willis Carrier was hired to develop a system that would reduce excessive humidity inside this publishing plant because all of the extra moisture was wreaking havoc on the color register used for multi-color printing. The next year, another engineer by the name of Stuart Cramer was tasked to create a similar system for another factory and was the first to coin the term “air conditioner.”

4. The camera

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Much like the air conditioner, the person and exact date of when it was invented, is not cut and dry. The basic principles of optics and the camera were described by Chinese and Greek philosophers as far back as the 5th-4th centuries BC. The first person to really project real-life imagery, was Joseph Niepce in 1814. At the point, Niepce’s ‘photographs’ were more of a prototype for modern day photography and his method allowed light to draw the picture. This was called heliographs or sun prints. The method required eight hours of light exposure to create and the picture would soon fade away.

About 15 years later, Niepce formed a partnership with Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the first practical process of photography. His goal was to improve the process that Niepce developed. In 1839, after years of experimentation and the death of Niepce, Daguerre developed a more convenient and effective method of photography. The exposure time went from eight hours with Niepce’s method, to 30 minutes using the daguerreotype method, named after Daguerre. If you ever wonder why people are never smiling in photos in the 19th century… well, I think my cheeks would feel cramped too after 30 minutes of smiling.

3. The television

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We felt that the television deserved a spot in this list considering the average American spends 3-4 hours a day watching it. Unlike many inventions, the television was actually not created by any one person. It took many people over many years, beginning in the early 1900’s, to create what we know as the television today. At this point, there were two paths to creating the television, a mechanical way and electronic way. It was quickly realized the electronic way of projecting images worked better and eventually replaced mechanical systems.

German scientist, Karl Braun, invented the cathode ray tube oscilloscope (CRT) in 1897. This is just a fancy word for the picture tube we find in modern day tv sets. It wasn’t until decades later that Russian inventor, Vladimir Zworykin invented an improved CRT called the kinescope in 1929. He was one of the first people to demonstrate a television system with all the features of modern picture tubes. Not until 1947-1957 that you would see televisions beginning to emerge in American households. Well, we are 60+ years later and the trend certainly hasn’t stopped while the average American home has more tv sets than people.

2. The toothbrush

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Come on… the toothbrush deserves a spot on the top 5. It is one of those ‘ah-ha’ inventions that has changed the way we perceive people and improves the longevity of our lives and health. Whether we like it or not, we are all judged by our appearances. Nearly one-third, or roughly 29%, of Americans say the first aspect of someone’s face they typically notice is his or her teeth, while 24% say it is an aspect they remember the most after meeting someone.

The first patent for a toothbrush was by H.N. Wadsworth in 1850 in the United States, but it wasn’t mass produced until 1885. It wasn’t until World War II that the concept of brushing teeth really caught on, in fact it was part of American soldiers’ daily duty to brush their teeth. It wasn’t until soldiers returned home with military hygiene habits that brushing one’s teeth regularly became a widespread practice. We can thank these soldier’s for everyones good breath today!

1. The Internet

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The invention that holds the #1 spot today is of course the ‘Internet’. The average adult spends 20+ hours online per week, and this does not necessarily include duties associated with work. A report from a United Nations agency has reported that 47% of the world’s people use the Internet. The Internet is used for entertainment, watching movies and tv, social networking, education, and work. It has become one of the most integrated inventions into our society.

The first recorded social interaction that could be enabled through networking was a series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in 1962. His vision was to have a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs. In 1965, Leonard Kleinrock and MIT researcher Lawrence G. Roberts built the first wide-area computer network using a low speed dial-up telephone line. The concepts of networking continued to develop until the end of the 1970’s when a computer scientist named Vinton Cerf had developed a way for all computers on all of the world’s mini-networks to communicate with one another, which he coined “Transmission Control Protocol” (or TCP). His protocol transformed the Internet into a worldwide network. And this long journey was the birth of what we now see as the Internet today.

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