Which was more important to history, penicillin or the arch? How about steel, or maybe the printed circuit?
Which was more important to history, penicillin or the arch? How about cement—invented by the Romans, I believe. Or steel. Or the circuit. Or the cell phone.
When I was writing my Editor’s Note for last Friday’s newsletter, I realized that both Brian and Max had dredged up a few impressive innovations during the week. This got me thinking on the history of innovating in general. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, innovation is “the introduction of something new.” Sounds pretty simple, but what is “new”—I went back to Webster: “having recently come into existence.” So, an innovation is the introduction of something that did not previously exist. Wow.
The author Ken Follett included a truck load of innovations in his two novels set in the 12th and 14th centuries. According to Follett, the 12th century saw the invention of flying buttresses, stained glass windows, the fulling (or felting) machine, vibrant red dye, and much more. Which led me to wonder, what was the most innovative century ever and what were the greatest innovations of all time?
Put forth your opinion, backed up with some thoughtful reasoning. Once we have a good list, I’ll put it to a vote and we can crown one innovation the greatest in the world.