The past 1,000 years has been one of change, discovery and more. Over the course of those years, everything about our civilization has changed. We progressed from a time of very little learning and study to one where we are all connected across the world through computers, reaching into space and discovering fascinating things about our planet and the universe around us. All of our inventions today are built from the trials and errors of inventors before us, and their inventions. Without the telegraph, we would not have the phone. Without the phone we would not have cellular phones. That is just one example of the amazing process that has brought us to the point we are at now.
It should be noted this is a subjective list and not all of the greatest inventions can be included. What one person thinks of as a great invention, others may think of as a minor invention.
The printing press is a mechanical device that applies pressure to an inked surface resting on paper or cloth, allowing ink to transfer over. The printing press as we know it was created by Johannes Gutenberg, who lived in the Holy Roman Empire in 1440, who based his press on screw presses. His printing press is often considered to be one of the most influential inventions of the second millennium AD, if not the most influential. The impact of the printing press cannot be understated as it completely revolutionized the way people conceived and described the world that they lived in. Most historians agree that the printing press ushered in the modern world we know.
The impact of the Gutenberg printing press spread quickly throughout Europe. Thanks to his invention, the printed world was made available and affordable and the democratization of knowledge had begun, paving the way for the modern knowledge-based economy we now have.
The printing press introduced the era of mass communication and altered the very structure of society from that point on. Information could now be released and produced on a grand scale, which threatened the power of political and religious authorities, while allowing a regular person to become literate, which previously was only reserved for the elite. Proto-nationalism also began to appear thanks to the printing press created by a German goldsmith over 500 years ago. The printing press itself took off very fast as an invention. From Gutenberg’s print shop in Germany, the printing press spread to 236 cities in 12 European countries by the end of the century, including in 77 cities/towns in Italy.
By 1500, 20,000,000 volumes of books were being created thanks to the printing press. By 1600, that number had increased to 200,000,000 volumes of books.
Something else that was created thanks to the printing press was the newspaper. This allowed the mass communication of news from across the continent, allowing people to catch a glimpse of the world outside of where they had lived their entire lives.
The ability to convey up-to-date information to the public was one of the biggest impacts of the printing press.
When people think of the invention of the telescope, they think of Galileo. However, Galileo did not invent the telescope and most historians have narrowed down the birth of the telescope to 1608 in the Netherlands by one of three men; Hans Lippershey, Zacharias Janssen and Jacob Metius. It was Galileo though that took the concept of the telescope and greatly improved upon it. It was also Galileo who took the telescope and began gazing up into the sky with it. From that point on, mankind would begin to look to the stars in order to understand itself better. Thanks to the telescope we began to accept that the Earth was not the center of the universe, that the solar system was a lot bigger than we ever though and the sun wasn’t so perfect. We discovered galaxies, new stars, planets and more. The telescope revolutionized astronomy and eventually led us to the moon and beyond. The telescope, in no small way, changed how humanity saw itself in the grand scheme of things.