Top Ten Innovations in Past 20 years (Part 1)

Posted by in Best Of, Intriguing




I’ve already shown my admiration for the show Modern Marvels, yet in a recent episode they even outdid themselves. The episode delves into the top ten innovations that took place over the past twenty years and it’s impact upon society. This is taken directly from the episode, and I claim no originality, but it was too interesting just to let pass.

10: Barcodes

As a product of the mid 80’s, I grew up thinking that barcodes, or more specifically known as Universal Product Code (UPC), was an established staple of commerce.  Although the concept behind barcodes was invented decades before, it wasn’t until 1974 in Troy, Ohio was the first UPC labeled item was scanned at a grocery store (the first item was a pack of  Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.) It took almost another decade to reach full infiltration amongst all commercial stores across the rest of the country.  Not only has barcodes allowed for an faster checkout times, they have helped keep track of inventory, product turnover, and ensured freshness for foods prone to spoilage.  UPC’s have continued to evolve to more complex system of codes, such as QR codes based on a 2-dimensional image, to active near field communication devices that literally identify themselves.  Barcodes have helped organize our lives, and speed up commerce dramatically.

9: Time shifting (DVR/VOD)

Time shifting, or the generalized term for the technology that allows you to record and playback TV content at your leisure, has changed the way we watch TV.  For generations, people planned there days around their favorite show TV schedule.  If you missed the episode, you simply had to pray that they would show a rerun months down the line.  VCR’s gave us a rather limited option to record and play your show at later time point, but it was always a challenge to find a blank tape, and determine the date and time of the show and navigate the incredible complicated screen to punch in your time.  With Tivo and other DVR devices, it’s easy as pie to set up a recording for a single episode or an entire season.  Now you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, and most importantly, skip through all the commercials.  Watch on my friends.

8: GPS

Global Positioning System (GPS) have revolutionized our ability to navigate our vast world.  Initially used by the military in 1973 to monitor soldier positioning, the technology was permitted for civilian use in 1992, and ever sense the technology has exploded.  The American Global Positioning System is a network of 24 satellites rotating around the earth on 6 axises.  At any given point, a single GPS device only needs 3 satellites to triangulate the device’s position, and relay the information back to the user. In the beginning, there were only a handful GPS specific devices geared towards outdoor adventurers, but now the device has infiltrated common day use, such as in cars and the latest smart phones.  GPS has truly made the paper maps a thing of the past.

7: Lithium Ion battey

Lithium Ion batteries have revolutionized mobile electronics.  Without using this type of technology, we would not have achieved the level of power density required to be able to simultaneously make our electronics smaller yet still incredibly powerful.  Also a HUGE advantage of Lithium Ion technology is that it is rechargeable, therefore lowering the overall cost of our electronic equipment.  Although this ability is lost overtime, it beats having to exchange batteries every couple weeks…. especially nowadays when we are all constantly glued to our devices.

6: Digital technology

Digital Technology has permanently transformed our world into a digital world.  With the invention of digital technology, the spread of information has grown exponentially.  The amazing thing about digital technology is that it has spread into many aspect of technology that were previously distinct technologies.  Cameras, television, computers, radios and telephones have all adopted digital technology, and it has only allowed each to progress.  I urge you to read the link about Digital Technology so that you can fully grasp and appreciate how revolutionary this technical advance has been on society….not to mention they can explain it a lot better than I can.

More is soon to come, so stayed tuned for Part 2, when we will conclude the list of Top 10 Innovations.