Great Inventions of the last century.

Greatest inventions of the last century?

First, I must confess. I thought of this blog while looking at a box of Ziploc bags.

Here in the Former Soviet Union, there are some comodoties which are difficult to find. In fact, some cannot be found.

Peanut Butter, real peanut butter cannot be found.

Ziploc bags are mostly non-existent. And if you find them, you find low quality knock off bags.

Looking at that Ziploc box, I thought, “What great inventions have been made over the last century.”

But, what are the greatest inventions of our century?

Was it, as Patton declared, the M1 Garand Rifle from World War 2?

I do not think so. And I honestly do not think Computers, or the Internet make the top three. While they generate a lot of money, IBM did big business a century ago without computers.

So, here are my top three in no order.

1. Refrigeration. Yes, there were ice houses before. And yes, ice made Green Bay, Wisconsin wealthy. But, refrigeration has made modern living more convenient and our foods much safer.

Aren’t you glad you have AC when you have to drive across Texas in August?

2. The production line. I place this on my list for a not so obvious reason.

Usually, we are taught standardization in manufacturing was the great break through. I think Ford made an even greater break through.

His production line brought our modern management techniques to almost everyone. Yes, those techniques are to be found in US Army manuals. And yes, most, if not all, were discussed in the New Testament of the Bible.

But, before the ‘invention’ of the production line a worker interned for decades to learn a trade. They did NOT go to a six month class and learn how to fix computers and then go to work for a living wage.

The lucky interns worked for the brightest men, the unlucky ones did not do well.

Ford brought intelligent work environments to the masses. His leadership allowed most workers to work in intelligent systems.

Now, a great leader can lead a work force of one hundred thousand to greatness. Which is what Steve Jobs did at Apple. In the past, the only place for leaders to make great changes was on the field of combat.

That was usually not good for most people. Now greatness can be achieved by most business leaders without the loss of life.

Even if the production line and the changes it made to leadership does not make your top three or ten, wouldn’t you agree work life is better than a century ago?

3. Internal combustion. I wanted to say the airplane. Or maybe Corvette, or Ferrari ….

Honestly? The internal combustion engine (IC) has cheapened the cost of labor and made our ‘off time’ much more enjoyable.

One percent of our population now provides the rest of us with food. Throughout the rest of history, about 96% of our people worked on farms and ranches. Think how liberating the IC engine was for the rest of us?

Instead of drawing our inventors from a couple percent of the population, now we draw from the entire population.

Those are my top three.

What are your top three?


Oct 11, 2012 4:45 AM