A Brief History

Real invention is rare – innovation is more common.  The methods of innovation, the development of a formal system that protects invention or innovation, and the current explosion of patents in conventional as well as novel digital areas, all have quite a remarkable history.  For a compiled list of inventions dating thousands of years back to present-day, sources range from www.wikipedia.org to modern-day colleges, think-tanks, and those among us.

Cooking, for example, is thought to have been invented 1.8 million years ago, claims the Harvard Gazette.  Shelter construction came about 500,000 years ago, and woven flax clothing came about 36,000 years ago.  Musical entertainment from a flute came about 35,000 years ago.  Putting all this together, could one surmise there were naked people living in caves or unsheltered for over 1 million years, with little form of entertainment as we know it now?

Well, “more modern” inventions included the crane (so instrumental in the tall skyscrapers), in about 515 B.C., paper in 200 B.C. from China, which subsequently would not develop the bank note for another 900 years.  Three hundred years ago, in India, the concept of “zero” was created and used in calculations.

Moveable type (precursor to this blog) was originally invented in China in the 11th century, and independently by Gutenberg in the 15th century.  Finally, in the 17th century, Carolus invented the newspaer in Roman Germany.  The Fahrenheit and Celsius scales were invented in the 18th century, the light bulb in 1870’s, nuclear power in 1951, this Apple computer on which this blog is written in 1970’s by Jobs/Wozniak, and the world wide web in the 1990s.  So, working on an Apple computer, using the world-wide web to blog, listening to music, taking occasional bites of (cooked) food, in a heated room, using a (derived-over-generations) alphabet, there are many inventors over a million years to thank for making it all possible.   But what makes invention possible?  A couple of analysts/futurists have some interesting ideas about that.