The most influencial INVENTION in history?

Inspired by an earlier thread (here )…

What would you consider the most influencial invention in human history – the invention that had the deepest impact on the development of human civilization and on human lives at large?

Would it be something simple, like paper or the wheel, or something more recent and complex, like the nuclear bomb or the internal combusion engine?

Fire. I’m sorry, but it is. A weapon, a light, the first step to controlling our environment… Later, smithing… all from fire.

Smoking meat, too.

I see your point, but fire is not a human invention. Learning how to control fire is just as important as you noted, but it’s not an invention.

I was thinking more in terms of the development of some contraption or design, rather than the discovery of how to control or generate something that already exists…

The Printing Press.

The horse collar.

The Wheel?

Got to be either the wheel or the printing press.

The plow?

Language. Followed by writing. Followed by the really filthy limerick.

Printing press, without question.


a big hello to all sentient life-forms in the universe, and to everyone else, the secret is to bang the rocks together

Pure and simple, the ability to make fire.

Humanity easily might not have survived without it. No other accomplishment can even approach the critical contribution of this one single capability. Almost all other technologies devolved from harnessing fire.

The ability to make fire with a bow drill or flint was most certainly a human invention.

The compass.



I’ll vote for the printing press.

Would the wheel count? Because I’m sure the Ogs of the world probably were using Big Round Rocks that happened to be sitting there, before they started making their own. So in essence, they were merely mimicking what naturally occured. I suppose using the Big Round Rocks could count, but that’s more of a Really Good Idea than an invention.

I vote for the use of fire, followed by the use of electricity.

All of these are great suggestions but the one that affected our culture more than others, the one that you could say created civilization itself is the cultivation of land to grow crops. (Related to the plow but the plow was an improvement on this.) Before man discovered he could grow his own crops he had to live on hunting and gathering. Tribes were small because food was scarce. But after they started to grow their own food the food became less limites. Tribes could grow into towns, then cities, then kingdoms. More people could live their lives not having to worry about obtaining food and they were allowed spend their free time doing other meaningful and important things, like writing, philosophy, mathematics, mechanics, etc.

The printing press and television. It’s hard to seperate the two in my mind.
BBQs aside, fire don’t count. Sorry all you backyard cavemen. :wink: