Innovation. It’s the breath of life for a company, a shakeup for industry, and a revolution for society. Innovations are what transformed us from cavemen to real live humans, took us from horse and carriage to automobiles, and brought us from telephone to text message. This article discusses some of the great inventions to date.

The Printing press

The printing press was invented in the 1440s by Johannes Gutenberg. This machine allowed for the mass production of books and the wide spread of ideas worldwide.

The compass

The Chinese are credited with inventing the compass in the 12th century. It was used to navigate on land and sea, leading to the Age of Exploration by Europeans. This ultimately led to large-scale trade routes between Europe, Asia, and Africa.

We can see modern day compasses in things like GPS and the internet. These navigational tools help us find our way through life as we discover new places and people.

Paper currency

Paper currency is certainly one of the greatest innovations in history. Invented in China around the 8th century, it was a more convenient form of money than coins, which were heavy and bulky and far easier to transport than gold and silver. As paper money became more widely used and distributed, it replaced coins as the primary medium of exchange.

What makes paper currency unique? It is fiat money, backed by government order (or fiat) rather than by any underlying commodity or assets like gold or silver. If a central bank wants to create more paper currency (or “print” more money), there’s no need for any physical commodity to back the value of the bills—the government just has to issue them.

The electric light

While you may not know it by name, the electric light is a part of your daily life. Without it, you wouldn’t have been able to read this post! Thomas Edison and his team of researchers created the first commercially viable method for making incandescent lamps (light bulbs) in 1879, which kickstarted a revolution that would change all aspects of modern society, from industrial production to home entertainment to public health. Once night fell in the past, people left their workplaces and returned home. But now that we can illuminate those spaces with electric lighting, we can work 24 hours a day if necessary. Although there are many alternatives available today (fluorescent bulbs, LEDs), Edison’s invention is still widely used—and without it, our world would be very different indeed.

Steel

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Steel is more robust than iron but is also more expensive to produce. Steel is used for construction, ships, cars, tools and weapons.

Steel is made by reducing iron ore in a blast furnace.

Conclusion

It’s no secret that great ideas are responsible for making a benefit in the world. From the advent of agriculture to modern medicine, from technology to sports, these innovations have shaped who we are and how we function as a society. The worldwide impact of these ideas is vast, but one can’t help but notice the exponential growth in recent centuries.

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