Top 10 Inventions of All Time

These ideas changed the world. Whether they were invented to help spread information and ideas, to save lives, or to make life more simple, these are the inventions and innovations we can’t imagine living without. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 inventions of all time. Special thanks to our YouTube fan øyvind vatna, and to our users Luis Abreu, theenlightenedone, Nikola Tesla, Cal Smith, emmaround21, Ralph Bushey, ibriers 1, jkellis, The Elusive Whovian, Gratiën Versijpt, Gabriel Conlledo, John Paul Dela Vega, PowerCosmic901, Moise Joassaint and Focquer for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Inventions


These ideas changed the world. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 inventions of all time.

#10: Paper

One of the Chinese people’s Four Great Inventions, paper was invented and developed in the 2nd-century-BC by the Han Dynasty. The idea eventually traveled to Europe, where papermills began manufacturing the product on a larger scale. Without paper, the printing press would never have been invented, and our world would be very different: we would not have maps, paper currency, or books to disperse information – its impact is truly endless.

#9: The Compass

Before the compass, sailors depended on landmarks or even the stars to navigate their ships. But once the Chinese began using lodestones and magnetism to find their bearings between the 9th and 11th centuries, it quickly spread to the Arab world and Europe. This not only made circumnavigation of the globe easier, it also made it safer, which kicked off the Age of Discovery.

#8: Refrigeration

Though ice was used since prehistoric times to prevent food from spoiling and developing bacteria, the concept of refrigeration was only developed in earnest starting in the mid-1700s. The process was then refined and improved, changing the way the food industry transports and stores food. The implications of this discovery are far-reaching; as it transformed the way we eat and live.

#7: The Printing Press

Though Johannes Gutenberg is credited with this invention, he actually perfected and popularized existing technology. By combining the Chinese principle of movable type with European press systems already in use for winemaking, Gutenberg created that printed text on a wide scale, which in turn lowered the price of books and helped spread information and knowledge to the masses, spurring the Reformation, the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.

#6: Plumbing

The landscape of major cities would be drastically different without this innovation – after all, how would a high-rise exist without modern plumbing? Evolving from holes in the ground, to chamber pots, to outhouses and eventually to flush toilets as early as the 31st-26th centuries BC, the development of plumbing improved living conditions for millions of people across the globe and lengthened our lifespans.

#5: Medicine

Many medicines and vaccinations have extended and changed our lives significantly. Discovered by accident by Alexander Fleming, penicillin was the first group of drugs that fought illnesses like syphilis and strep infections. On the other side of the spectrum, since they were introduced to the public in the 1960s contraceptives such as the birth control pill helped level out the global population and launched a revolution in social change.

#4: Engines

These engines got industry and the population moving. Instead of relying on horses as transportation, people traveled across the countryside via Thomas Newcomen’s steam engine as of 1712, which was improved upon by James Watt later that century, quickly becoming the backbone of society and sparking the Industrial Revolution. Internal combustion ultimately replaced steam and ushered in the Second Industrial Revolution, and allowed individuals to affordably travel great distances.

#3: The Wheel

Though it’s still unclear which civilization was first to invent this simple machine in the 4th-century BC, it’s obvious that it’s been one of the world’s most vital innovations. The transportation, commerce and travel industries wouldn’t be the same without it, and today the wheel can be found in every aspect of our daily lives, from water wheels, gears, motors and engines, to more fun applications.

#2: Communications

Several inventions changed global communications forever: Samuel Morse brought us the electric telegraph in 1836, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was the first to be awarded a patent to transmit voices in 1876, Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesla developed radio in the late-19th-century, moving pictures first came across John Logie Baird’s television in 1925, Konrad Zuse developed the first computer in the early-‘40s, and Tim Berners-Lee proposed the World-Wide-Web in the late-‘80s – and all made the world a bit smaller.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The Cotton Gin
- Gun powder
- Optical Lenses
- Camera

#1: Electricity

Not only did sleep patterns change drastically with the introduction of electricity, so did work habits. From Ben Franklin, to Nikola Tesla, to Michael Faraday to Thomas Edison, many innovators made important contributions to this modernization, which brought light and power to the masses. However, electricity only became a necessity and standard to everyday life in the mid-20th century; before that it was enjoyed mainly in big cities.

Do you agree with our list? Which inventions could you not live without? For more informative top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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