Thursday, March 22, 2012

Top 5 Older Technologies We Take for Granted

We've looked at recent technological advances we take for granted, but how about some older ones we can't live without, yet never think about?  Here are the top 5 older technologies we take for granted:

5: The Elevator (as early as 1793, but we'll give it to Elisha Otis in 1852 for giving us, more or less, the modern elevator) - Without these, we'd have no true skyscrapers, no beautiful skylines, and no elderly people employed above the first floor!

4: The Phonograph (1877, Thomas Alva Edison) - This device was used to record sounds and play them back--it led to the iPod.  Well there were a few intermediate steps along the way, but eventually - iPods.  Narrowly missing here was the invention of the radio, but since the phonograph was invented earlier (by a few years), that's the winner.

3: The Telephone (patented in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell) - There was a time when it took months to contact somebody who lived across the country.  The writing was better back then, since you packed everything you could into any letter you wrote, but it was crazy inconvenient.  So Bell patents the "apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically," and yada, yada, yada, Nixon calls the moon in 1969.

2: The Engine (too many types to choose from, but let's go with the ancestor of today's car engines in 1889, Gottlieb Daimler) - Whether internal combustion or steam varieties, engines get us from A to B without the need for wind, river flow, or horses.

1: The Light Bulb (possibly earlier, but for practical purposes 1879, Thomas Alva Edison) - The incandescent light turns day into night with considerably less risk of fire than, well fire.

All of these technologies were based on earlier technologies developed for decades, so crediting the inventor and noting the year is a bit of a lost cause (as you can see), but it gives you a sense of how old these things are. Next time you drive to work making deals on your Bluetooth and get into a well-lit elevator playing soft Muzak, realize just how much we stand on the shoulders of giants.  Can you think of inventions I missed?  If so, share your thoughts in the comments below.  And please like us on Facebook!


  1. i don't take them for granted. i think about them everyday. vertical movement, horizontal movement, reproduction of sound, transmission of sound through a closed circuit, terrestrial transceiver and or satellite communications. and last but not least illumination from an electrical current. cmon kid, who takes this stuff for granted?

  2. same here robert. i always do that myself too. every time i hold or use something that is very useful or something that is giving me comfort and convenience, i always think of who made this, who invented this; questions like that. just recently, i also made a post regarding sunglasses and at least telling how thankful i am to those who invented such wonderful things. we all know how comfortable we are now because of these things. 

  3. The more thoughtful readers might not take these things for granted, but I would bet - with the vast amount of stimuli that the modern person is bombarded with on a daily basis - that the vast majority of us do.