Technology and history of mankind are closely linked. Innovations, discoveries, and technology breakthroughs have always been part of evolution ranging from primitive developments in Stone Age to modern high-tech gadgets.
Here are the five big turning points in technology history:
Electricity: With Benjamin Franklin demonstrating that lightning had electricity in 1752, the path was laid for the everyday use of electricity. In this famous experiment, Franklin tied a metal key to a string that he held and proved his theory by sustaining an electrical shock from the storm clouds.
This was the foundation for further developments in electricity and finally, in 1879, Thomas Edison discovered the long-lasting electric light bulb.
Internal Combustion Engine: The combustion engine has transformed the way we travel and was first invented in the 19th-century with Etienne Lenoir first conceptualizing it in 1859 and Nikolaus Otto improvising the idea in 1876. The engine that can convert chemical energy to mechanical energy laid the foundation for the modern cars and airplanes.
Smartphone: The first commercial device that inspired the modern smartphones dates back to 1992 with IBM developing a prototype called “Angler” which soon came into the market as “Simon” in 1994. But the origins of smartphone technology dates back to 1909 when Nikola Tesla first integrated data signals with the telephone.
The caller ID was first demonstrated in 1971 by Theodore Paraskevakos while he was working with a transmitter and receiver. The series of developments since then has led to the smart devices that have become indispensable today.
IBM’s Simon featured an LCD touchscreen and a stylus. It was capable of sending and receiving emails and faxes apart from making calls. Launched fifteen years before Apple made the first iPhone, Simon also had other useful features like an address book calendar, clock, and an appointment scheduler.
The Internet revolution: The Internet took the world by storm much like the industrial revolution. As with many other important breakthroughs, the Internet revolution was spearheaded by many scientists, engineers, and programmers. Nikola Tesla had conceptualized the “world wireless system” back in 1900s and in the 1940s, the concept of mechanized storage of books and media was born.
The turning point came with J.C.R. Licklider in 1960s developing the concept of “Intergalactic Network” of computers. The first practical prototype came in the form of ARPANET funded by the U.S. Defense department. In the late 1990s, the modern World Wide Web was developed by Tim Berners-Lee that has led to the 'world wide connectivity' in all realms.
The Personal computer: The first one was a 30-ton machine that was invented in 1947 and it was in the 1970s that the first personal computer took shape.
One of the earliest turning points in terms of personal computers was born in 1974 with “Altair” developed by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS).