Culture Magazine

Technological Innovation Over the Long Haul

By Bbenzon @bbenzon

1840s—70s: Key manufacturing innovations occur (pneumatic process for cheap steel and sewing machine are invented); Transport (improvements in steam-engines. The Bollman bridge, air brake system, cable car are patented); Consumer Goods (board game, toothbrush, picture machine).

— Tamay (@tamaybes) February 22, 2021

1910s-50s: Chemistry (key inventions in plastics: PVC, nylon and bakelite. The broad spectrum antibiotic Tetracyline, and the first oral contraceptive are registered. Rubber, teflon and ethyl gasoline are patented). Chem innovations make up ~50% of all innovations in the 30s.

— Tamay (@tamaybes) February 22, 2021

1980-2000: A wave of innovations in genetics occurs—recombinant DNA methods, the PCR method for copying DNA segments, heat-stable DNA-replication enzymes. Share of health-related innovations reaches its peak.

— Tamay (@tamaybes) February 22, 2021

1990s onward: the Information Age continues: Koss patents the Excel Function, Bezos patents 1-click buying, Page creates Pagerank. ~80% of top patents now Electronics/IT related. Innovation has hardly ever before been this concentrated in so few sectors.

— Tamay (@tamaybes) February 22, 2021

Note in particular the concentration of inventions in a few fields in recent decades, vs. the breadth of innovation in the late 1800s.

— Jason Crawford (@jasoncrawford) February 22, 2021

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