Can you imagine a world without Wi-Fi, vehicles, machines, without television, radio, newspapers, electricity? It seems a pretty vague world for living in. Now imagine a world without wheels, nails, without compass, without telephone, and yes, without the internet. At one point in human’s history, that was the world people lived in. It is hard to imagine nowadays, but some inventions didn’t come until the 18th and 19th century. Thanks to some inventions, our lives nowadays are easier and more practical. So, what are the inventions that changed the world we live in? Let’s take a look.
How can you transport anything, without a wheel? Even a horse carriage required wheels. The only way people could transport anything was by carrying the item in their hands. The wheel was invented in 3500 B.C. and it completely changed the world.
There were few challenges with the invention of the wheel, but the hard work our ancestors put in paid off. The wheel and axle concept is brilliant invention, and the challenges, like the holes of the centers and so on were big to overcome.
The process of coming out with a perfect wheel required making a fixed axle with revolving wheels, for which the ends of the axle had to be perfectly round and smooth, as well as the holes in the center. The size of the axle was important as well. For example, thick axle generates too much friction, while narrow axle would be too weak to support the load. Back in the days, our ancestors solved the problem by making quite narrow wagons, so they could carry load.
With the invention of the wheel, agriculture and commerce gained popularity, and the invention allowed transportation of goods from and to any market.
Is there a way to build a house without nails? Nowadays? Not a chance. But back then, houses made from wood and stones could sometimes survive without nails. But thanks to the invention of nails that dates back to the Ancient Roman period, we can now build almost everything thanks to nails. It was in the Roman period that people could cast and shape metal. Before the invention of wheels, wood structures were built by interlocking adjacent boards geometrically.
Nowadays, there are more than 2,000 varieties of nails that are being produced and manufactured. No matter if you are professional builder of hobbyist, you are certainly using nails for building. The length of the nail determines the size. Nails nowadays start at 1 inch in length, classified as 2d, and can go as long as 6 inches in length.
Traveling was hard when there was no guidance system. Nowadays, it is easy thanks to modern navigation and GPS systems. But imagine having to navigate by looking at stars, celestial bodies and landmarks.
The Chinese invented the very first compass, and it dates back to time between the 9th and the 11th century. The first compass was made of naturally-magnetized iron ore. Nowadays, there are many other possibilities for magnetic fields and compass.
Back in history, Vikings used cordierite or other crystals on cloudy days, with the purpose to determine the direction of the sun. Nowadays, there are modern versions of compasses, including a dry compass, a bearing compass, a liquid compass and a sun compass.
We might not need the printing press soon, as hard copies and newspapers are getting out of time. But thanks to Johannes Gutenberg, we now have newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and so on. It was in 1440 that the German inventor found a way for transferring ink to movable type of paper. Some inventions made it possible for Gutenberg to come out with the printing press. For example, the hand mold and a new molding technique enabled rapid creation of large quantities of metal movable type.
Before Gutenberg, there were other inventions that developed movable type made from metal, but the German inventor took things up a notch by mechanizing the process.
The invention of the printing press made it possible for books to be mass produced, newspapers to be printed, and journalism was boosted.
An underrated benefit of the invention of the printing press is the mass production and printing of the Bible. With a wider access to the Holy Book, alternative interpretations came out. For example, Martin Luther King would have never been so famous and known without the wide access to the Bible. Martin’s “95 Theses” present a basis for the Protestant Reformation movement.
Internal combustion engine might be another invention that we won’t need in the near future, as vehicles and manufacturers are turning toward electric cars in order to save the planet. Ecologists and environmentalists over the world ask more and more electric cars which is one way to reduce the production of carbon dioxide in the air.
But back in the 19th century, there was a need for a vehicle that can move faster and more efficient. The industrial revolution had a huge impact in the internal combustion engine invention.
In essence, an internal combustion engine can convert chemical energy into mechanical work. Engineers were trying to come out with the solution for decades, but in the 19th century, they finally made it possible. Here are some early successes in the development of the internal combustion engine:
- In the third century a crank and connecting rod mechanism was used in Turkey
- In the fifth century, Roman engineers used the same crank and rod mechanism for sawmills
- Hydraulic devices in the 9th century used the crank mechanism
- In the 17th century, Christian Huygens develops gunpowder that can drive water pumps. He used the system to supply water for the Versailles Palace Gardens. It was the first idea of a rudimentary internal combustion engine
- In the 1780s, Alessandro Volta developed a toy electric pistol in which an electric spark would explode and fire a cork from the end of the gun
- In 1826, Samuel Morey from the United States of America patented “compressionless gas or vapor engine”. In other words, he received a patent for the first carburetor
- In 1838, William Barnett received the first patent for the in-cylinder compression
There were many people who worked on electronic voice transmission, but Alexander Graham Bell is credited for the invention of the telephone. He received a patent for his electric telephone in 1876, and later several lawsuits for intellectual property by other inventors.
Bell drew his inspiration for the telephone from teaching the deaf people and visiting his mom with hearing impairment. According to Bell, the telephone was “electrical speech machine”. The first telephone was a static one, but the invention revolutionized business and communication in a flash. In order to honor him, the US telephone service stopped for a minute when Bell died on August 2, 1922.
Nowadays, we have smartphones that are more than just electrical speech machines, but communication would not be the same without the invention of the telephone. Chances are, someone would have come up with the invention even if Bell didn’t. However, even with so many inventors in the field, it was Bell who delivered.
There is no need for introduction for the internet, a global system that connects every computer and smartphone network in the world. Billions of people are connected through the internet, making communication, but also file transfer especially easy. The internet was invented in the 1960, when a team of computer scientists in the United States developed ARPANET. The ARPANET was the first system that started the internet, a communication network that was connecting the computers in the Advance Research Projects Agency in the US Defense Department.