We look around this modern world of ours, and marvel at all the gadgets and inventions we take for granted. However, people often make the mistake of assuming that many of these are recent inventions, and that the late 20th and early 21st centuries have brought us lots of new technology.
In actual fact, the great age of invention was in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and very little has been invented from the 1950s onwards. Most of the modern technology we are familiar with are simply innovations or adaptations of much older inventions and technologies.
Let’s look at some of the modern gadgets and technologies and their history:
1877 First recording/reproduction device, patented by Thomas Edison the following year (cylinder)
1889 First disc recording (gramophone record)
1940 First vinyl discs
1930s Magnetic recording tape invented
1940s First tape recorders available
1937 First stereo recordings
1982 First digital recordings/CDs
1940s First electronic computers
1850 First dishwasher patented (hand powered)
1920s First plumbed-in electronic dishwashers
1940s First electronic drying elements for dishwashers
1691 First washing machine patented
1904 First electronic washing machines advertised for sale
1868 First vaccuum cleaner
1901 First powered vaccuum cleaner
1945 Microwave oven invented
1908 First mobile (wireless) phone
1947 First cellphone
1897 Color TV first patented
1928 Color TV demonstrated by John Logie Baird
1938 First color TV broadcast
1944 First demonstration by John Logie Baird of fully electronic, 600 line color TV
1844 3D photography invented with the stereoscope
1855 Kinematoscope invented for 3D animation
1922 First 3D movie ‘Power of Love’
1935 First 3D color movie
1941 John Logie Baird patented and demonstrated large screen 3D television. (It took over 60 more years for the BBC to demonstrate large screen 3D TV in 2008).
1943 John Logie Baird advocates adoption of 1000 line Telechrome color TV comparable in quality to today’s HD TV. His advice was ignored.
Early 20th Century First rocket engines developed
1957 First orbital space satellite – dawn of ‘space age’
1960 First working laser demonstration
1934 Nuclear fission discovered.
You’ll see that out of all these inventions, technologies and gadgets, only digital recording (1982) and lasers (1960) were invented/demonstrated after the 1950s. Lasers were first demonstrated one year after the 1950s ended, and digital recording is really just an innovation of earlier recording methods rather than a completely new invention.
Similarly the internet is only an innovation, the networking of individual computers via telephone lines and radio. So not much really new technology is involved there either.
Apart from all this ‘new’ technology, it is a sobering thought that in the 1950s a third of the world was hopefully marching forward towards the utopian society of Communism, and now we are back in the dark ages of imperialist wars and the recurring economic crises of capitalism with little or no progress, in most countries, in developing fairer and more democratic political, economic and social systems. The failure of Communism was largely due to a) the apathy of the masses and their refusal to become involved in political activity to govern society and b) the enthusiasm of careerists, opportunists and criminal elements to take advantage of this apathy and infiltrate the world’s Communist and Workers’ Parties which were in power.
However, all is not gloom and doom. The 21st Century also heralds the New Age of scientific and paranormal investigation and evidence, with the old orthodox religions and materialistic science becoming outdated. Quantum mechanics and New Age spirituality and awareness of other dimensions and realities give us all hope of using our modern technologies for the good of society, the world and the environment, and also of progressing to better and fairer political and economic systems. While we may never achieve the utopia of self-governing, stateless Communism, some form of Socialism is inevitable sooner or later.