Today, we’re surrounded by innovation. From complex, high-tech creations to the downright simple, it’s not usual to hear people react to ground-breaking inventions with “I wished I’d invented that.”
Here are eight pioneering creations you may wish you had invented.
Most of us drive past hundreds, if not thousands of these every day. Catseyes are a world-renowned invention, developed by a Yorkshire man in 1934. Percy Shaw set up his very own company Reflecting Roadstuds Ltd to manufacture and sell the studs in 1935 and today they’re used all over the world, including in Hong Kong, New Zealand and the USA.
- The printing press
It’s hard to establish who initially invented the printing press, but historians have an idea of where it may have been developed. In the 1430s a man named Johannes Gutenberg spent time improving pre-existing print-esque technologies. He worked on combining block printing with a screw press that would then become the start of mass printing.
Many people think Facebook is one of the greatest inventions of modern times. Not only does it let users connect with friends and family, share news and events, but it also enables them to reconnect with people from all around the world. If you’ve ever seen ‘The Social Network’, you’ll know the story of how Facebook became the social giant it is today. Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004 and now, 12 years later, the website is used by over 1.55bn people a month. Despite Zuckerberg and Facebook having to go through a public lawsuit for possible plagiarism, the site shows no signs of slowing.
One of the most interesting things about the iPod is that it wasn’t the first mp3 available on the market. Portable MP3 players had been available since the mid-90s, but Steve Jobs felt as though they didn’t offer users enough. In October 2001, the first iPod was released, with 5GB of storage and small enough to fit in your pocket. The birth of the iPod triggered Apple’s quick growth and enabled the business to become the technology giant it is today.
The invention of antibiotics completely changed the world. Penicillin was first discovered as an antibiotic in 1928 by a man called Alexander Fleming. He’d left a selection of petri dishes containing bacteria while he was away on holiday and returned to find a blob of mould on one that was preventing the bacterial growth. After further research and a lot of fermenting, penicillin as a treatment began. Now, a vast range of antibiotics have been developed for a multitude of purposes and the pharmaceutical industry plays a hugely important role in the economy of the UK.
The original idea of Braille was developed by soldiers in the early 1800s, who would use raised dots and dashes to be able to communicate at night without speaking. After Louis Braille lost his sight at a young age, he was introduced to this style of communication. Although he thought it was useful, he felt that it was too complicated for people to use. By the time he was 15, Louis had developed 63 ways to place dots in an area no larger than a fingertip. Now, Braille is used around the world by blind and partially sighted people.
- Credit and debit cards
As of November 2015, 97.4m debit cards, and 60m credit cards were in circulation in the UK. It’s safe to say that the invention of card payments has completely changed the way businesses and consumers transact. The idea of credit was present in the US in the 1800s as consumers and merchants exchanged goods with a guarantee to pay them back. The first idea of a credit card started with a small cardboard card called ‘Diners Club Card’. Debit cards didn’t make an appearance until the 1970s when banks realised an alternative way to pay from cash or cheques would be beneficial.
- Bagless vacuum cleaner
Many people recognise the name James Dyson but, if you don’t, he’s the British man who invented the bagless vacuum. Dyson was disappointed with his vacuum cleaner’s performance and dismantled it to find the bag was clogged and causing problems.
In 1978, he started to develop the idea of a bagless vacuum and according to the Dyson website, it took him five years and 5,127 prototypes to perfect the idea. Not only is the bagless vacuum cleaner a simple and effective idea but it’s much more efficient and environmentally friendly than using bags.