The most important technological inventions from the 60s to today

The technological inventions of the last sixty years have been considered in different ways: ingenious, ambitious, irreverent. But whatever you decide to call them, they represent our legacy and the springboard to new discoveries 

They wrote songs, textbooks and even poems about the fabulous 60s , which have become icons of change, transgression, the desire for freedom, equality and social justice. These are also the years of great social revolutions, with the development of feminism, anti-racial struggles and pacifism, but also – and above all – of the economic boom.

The protagonists of these changes are young people, with their desire to break the old patterns of the past. And it is precisely in these years that we must start to consider what have been the most important technological inventions of recent years.

It began with medical-scientific discoveries, such as the invention of the laser and the first human heart transplant, to then arrive at the digital revolution, which began in the early 2000s, when the internet was born, with the first search engines, up to to get to the birth of social networks. Here is a list of the most important technological inventions.

10 important technological inventions

The birth of the laser

Although the study of laser technology began with Albert Einstein in the early 1900s, this technology further evolved in 1960 when the first laser was built at Hughes Research Laboratories.

In fact, On May 16, 1960, Theodore Maiman operated the first working laser in his laboratory in Santa Monica, California. The invention of the laser is today considered one of the most important technological inventions of the twentieth century, due to its applications in many fields, from medicine to telecommunications.

The first interactive video game

It is a short step from science to entertainment. At least that’s what three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students thought in 1962: Steve Russell , Martin Graetz , and Alan Kotok .

The trio has the paternity of the game Spacewar ! , considered the first interactive video game : for the first time, in fact, players could duel by shooting each other from spaceships, with the first joystick models, winning a place in the “ranking” of the most important technological innovations of recent times.

The first human heart transplant

On December 3, 1967, South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard performed what was then deemed a “miracle”: he made Louis Washkansky , a 53-year-old suffering from severe heart failure, “the first man with a young woman’s heart.”

The patient, after the heart transplant , resumed speaking 33 hours later saying he felt much better – as reported by the chronicles of the time – but died 18 days later of pneumonia. The heart was functioning perfectly, but the immune system was weakened by the immunosuppressive drugs.

Professor Barnard became world famous, and died in 2001 at the age of 79 following a severe asthma attack. There are around 6,000 heart transplants a year around the world today.

The first landline phone

Come here Watson, please. I need her! “. These are the words said by Alexander Graham Bell when he made the first official telephone conversation in history , in Boston. It was March 10, 1876.

Bell, of Scottish descent, was Professor of Speech and Diction Psychology at the University. The telephone model of him consisted of a microphone (transmitter) and a loudspeaker (receiver), connected by an electrical circuit with a battery in series.

on March 7, 1876 Bell filed his project to be patented – with the number 174.465 – but the matter is more complex than that: the Florentine Antonio Meucci, who emigrated to New York, had already built the first prototype, the telephone , in 1854 he used to communicate at home to communicate with his wife confined to bed by deforming arthritis, then in 1871 he was able to file a temporary patent at a price of 10 dollars a year, not being able to afford the definitive one. He only managed to pay twice and no telegraph company agreed to finance him. So Alexander Graham Bell, who had probably seen his design, filed for the patent and for many years he was considered the inventor of the telephone.

Among the most important technological inventions comes the smartphone to beat the competition 

There are also different schools of thought for the paternity of the smartphone. Many people, especially the younger ones, are used to thinking that it was Steve Jobs, in 2007, the primary creator of this technology – obviously there is no doubt that the iPhone is among the most important technological innovations – but in reality we have to go back to 1992, when BellSouth put Simon on the market , the first smartphone ever .

Designed by IBM, Simon had many innovative features that may seem trivial today, including e-mail and notepad, but which were by no means taken for granted at the time.

Although Simon is therefore the grandfather of all the phones we use today, the main brands we know all arrived between 2006 and 2008: Nokia, Android and finally, of course, Apple.

The birth of the VCR

The very first commercial video recorder in history was the VRX-1000 introduced by Ampex in 1956. To make the presence of video recorders in homes massive, however, it was Ray Dolby, an American engineer and inventor who was responsible, in 1967, for the first silent video recorder , with audio without that annoying rustle that was present before this important milestone in the history of home entertainment.

This discovery, coupled with Sony ‘s production of U-matic , the first system that replaced bulky reels with the first compact tape cassettes, drastically changed people’s lives and habits.

The love for videotapes and pizza-based dinners with friends on sabot evening is due, without a shadow of a doubt, to Blockbuster , which arrived in Italy in 1994.

This chain, now closed for years, allowed you to rent video cassettes of films, from the most recent to the cult ones, which had to be rigorously rewound, out of politeness and respect towards the next renter.

For the nostalgic there is good news: June 7 has been declared the day for celebrating VCR Day, in memory of the VCR .

The birth of the Walkman, music in your pocket

The Walkman was almost lost in memory, after the iPod conquered the hearts of the whole world, but then, here it is, in one of the most watched Marvel films ever, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Lord ‘s inseparable travel companion , played by American actor Chris Pratt.

The first Walkman saw the light on July 1, 1979 , when Sony produced the first TPS-L2 model, in blue-silver color. The idea came to the minds of Sony engineers, analyzing the Pressman, or a tape recorder for journalistic use.

They quickly removed the recording device and added a simple set of headphones to create their first portable music player prototype. Sony has released products with similar names, including the Discman (CD player) and the Watchman (a portable TV), just to try to replicate the timeless success of the Walkman, considered to all intents and purposes one of the most important technological inventions. 

The birth of the Internet

 On April 30, 1986, Italy connected to the Internet for the first time , an epochal event that not even the newspapers noticed, this is because at the beginning, the enormous potential of the web was still not understood.

The first Internet signal from Italy departed from Pisa and arrived in Roaring Creek in Pennsylvania, sent over the Internet thanks to Telespazio satellites in Abruzzo.

The Internet, before being called that, in 1969 was still called Arpanet, from the name of the American research agency that had designed it, the Arpa (Advanced Research Project Agency) and had begun to use the protocols that still make it work. , that is the TCP / IP (Transfer Control Protocol / Internet Protocol).

The most important technological inventions of the 2000s

There is no doubt that from the 2000s onwards, new technologies have made great strides. With the advent of the Internet, then of the fast connection, to reach unlimited internet on smartphones, several surprising systems have been developed that form the basis for new projects such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

In the early 2000s, students around the world rejoiced after Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger opened Wikipedia on January 15, 2001, calling it “The First Free Encyclopedia”. Not to mention Skype which – especially veterans of the Covid-19 pandemic – is considered by 52% of Italians to be one of the greatest technological inventions of the last 20 years, precisely because of its ability to connect two or more people, perhaps even in different countries. of the world, in front of a screen, a bit like being in a bar.

Impossible not to mention the social networks, from Facebook , son of the mind of Mark Zuchemberg who, to be recognized as paternity, had to fight hard, to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.

And how not to mention Google Maps , which according to a survey conducted by Mobile Metrix is ​​the seventh application downloaded in Italy, with 57% of Italians using it daily.

In short, it is the prerogative of the human being to always invent something new. But innovation depends on how it is understood, borrowing the words of Margherita Hack:

Innovation means imagining new ways of producing the same things at lower cost, or inventing new products, from the most complex to the simplest, which in some way facilitate our daily life at home or at work, or machines or tools that are easier to use than existing ones, or create contraptions and make them indispensable.