17 January 2006

It's Not the Light Bulb...

Here's a question: What is the greatest invention of the 20th century -- other than computers and anything related to computing? (I figure computers or the internet would get the most votes, but I am interested in what other invention you think was most important.) Reply using the comments button below and I will post the results in a few days.

12 comments:

Monkey David said...

Hmmm...this is a tough one. I have three pretty big ones:

The Airplane
Penicillin
The Pill

I'll scratch the las one, since there were other ways to avoid contraception before that. But the other two are huge. It will have to be penicillin, though, since it saved so many lives (and the airplane brought so much death with it too).

Monkey David said...

My collegue James suggested sliced bread.

• B E N B E N E K • said...

That's a tough one...because many of the things we think were invented in the 20th Century were actually invented well before that (photography, the automobile, etc)

Although it's tempting to say that the AIRPLANE is the most important 20th Century invention, I will instead choose the humble and much beloved TELEVISION.

It appears that it wasn't even invented until the second quarter of the century (1926) and for all intents and purposes it's effects are felt by almost each and every one of us every single day (some of us more than others)

The amazing thing is that it's a relatively new invention...as compared to the WHEEL or FIRE

TELEVISION does it all and it does it very well...it continues to be the great hypnotizer, it's THE medium, THE great teacher and THE great babysitter.

It's influence continues to grow manifoldly day after day. In a way, everytime we look at our computers, we're looking at another version of TV...the same goes for our video iPODs, cellphone displays and digital camera viewfinders.

I could go on...but in my opinion TV is the #1 invention of the 20th Century...hands down, no contest...

Anonymous said...

Aviation, antibiotics and broadcasting are all likely candidates, but I vote for the DaDa art movement for its lasting influence on humour and freedom of expression.

Phillip said...

Antibiotics

Shannon said...

Well, since most of the mechanical devices I can think of were, I believe, technically invented in the 19th century (ie. automobile, airplane, etc.), I'd have to say two things, since I can't choose one: the polio vaccine and the interstate freeway system designed by Robert Moses. The polio vaccine ended a horrible disease in which people lived in abject fear every summer and from which many suffered; the interstate freeway system completely changed this country, brining suburbs and car culture to the masses, subsequently wiping out farm culture as we know it while introducing fast food and strip malls to the populace at large.

joy said...

Without a doubt, the modern tampon is the greatest invention (patented in 1929). Thanks Doctor Earle Haas!

Mass Bradley said...

I'm sure that many would say CAR, or some other mode of transport.

And if it ain't the LIGHT BULB, then I can't vote for that other fine filamenty fellow, the TOASTER (think about it-- you needed a dependable, cheap and efficient object with which to disperse heat, not light, but that is a long story unto itself-- and who doesn't positively ecstatically and eternally love TOAST, anyways?

So I'm torn between these three:

1) Atomic Bomb. Changed EVERYTHING. Bonus: we could off ourselves. Never could do that before.

2) Sulfa Drugs. The health Bomb. Man was now master of microbes, thus master of his own longevity in babies, the elderly, the poor, and soldiers. (Dr. Alfred Lister, The big Kahuna of germ policy, was SO 19th century, and therefore I disqualified him.)

3) The TV set. "Distance-Sight" indeed!
More insidious than any atomic bomb, stronger than any little airborne cootie, EVERYBODY has one, EVERYBODY uses one, it is the Avatar of who we are. The mirror. The window. The Alpha and Omega. It is US. Everyone knows about US because of it. We are richer for watching, even though it picks our pocket.
Case closed!

Matt Hinrichs said...

Plastic.

James (Silver Spring, MD) said...

Nuclear weapons. The invention has changed warfare and politics forever. They haven't been used much but they effect maybe everyone on the planet. And if they are ever used again...
Television comes in second. Huge impact on America and other developed countries. A lot of people in other places never see one though.

libby said...

The Beatles. One might argue they were not a *thing*--but you cannot argue with the fact that they changed music forever.

Anonymous said...

Fast Food! It's fast, it's easy, and fairly inexpensive.