Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Inventions that transformed society

When I was in high school, there was an assignment in history class to write about what three modern inventions had the most impact on society.

The automobile.

This one seemed obvious. Technically, when I was in high school, the up to date picture of a car should be a Camaro or a Mustang or a Firebird, but I still like the look of the 1957 Impala.

Sue me.

The telephone.

Again obvious, and putting it in era appropriate perspective, it has to be a dial phone.

The birth control pill.

I wouldn't have thought of this, but I talked to my dad and this was his recommendation. It made a big difference in society for women to have reproductive choice, as we have seen over the past fifty years.

The computer.

This wouldn't have been an obvious choice in the the early 1970's when I was asked the question, but if we asked modern day high schoolers the same question, the computer would definitely be a top ten choice.

The container ship.

Like the birth control device, this is not an obvious choice, but listening to UC Berkeley professor Richard Walker on iTunesU giving a lecture on dispersed production in his Economic Geography class, this is more important than you might think. Container ships are one of the most economic ways to transport goods over long distance, and without this innovation in the mid 20th Century, the era of globalization would be impossible.

Do you have any inventions you'd like to add?

p.s. I have a new and unrelated essay up at The Smirking Chimp today.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I would add air conditioning, the use of rebar in buliding sky scrapers, and the refinement of antibiotics.

Padre Mickey said...

The jet plane, as it makes it possible to travel all over the planet.

Karlacita! said...

Lolcatz, as it makes interspecies communication more festive.

Jess Wundrun said...

The washing machine.

It allows people to own alot of clothes, making WalMart possible and the desire for enormous homes with walk in closets. Cheap foreign clothes are what's packed in that container ship.

Really, how many pairs of jeans would you own if you had to beat them on a rock?

namastenancy said...

Really good choices; if I had to add another, I think it would be the TV set and the whole culture/innovations that developed from it. BTW - that red phone? I still have mine.

dguzman said...

I would've gone with the phone and the car. Maybe I'd add the Payday candy bar. Revolutionary, the combination of salty and sweet.

FranIAm said...

What karlacita, la hermana buena de matty said!!

Mathman6293 said...

Your choices make sense to me.

Matty Boy said...

Excellent additions from one and all.

It reminded me of a Gershwin tune "Our Love Is Here To Stay" that has the lyric.

The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies and in time may go.

No one mentioned the movies or the radio, and only one of those can be considered a major oversight.