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NaturalMineralWater's avatar

What was the greatest invention of all time at the time of its conception?

Asked by NaturalMineralWater (11303points) February 17th, 2010

I’m not necessarily talking about the invention that benefited mankind the most, or even the greatest invention for a certain time period. What I’m talking about is that greatest “a ha” moment.. like when the very first person accidentally or otherwise heated up a popcorn kernel until it popped. What do you think?

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32 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

The wheel, fire, the stirrup, gunpowder, the crossbow.

ragingloli's avatar

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that In my opinion the greatest ‘invention’ at its time was the Special and General Theory of Relativity, followed by Quantum Mechanics, the Theory of Evolution, Atomic Theory, Germ Theory. Electrical theory and classical mechanics.

faye's avatar

internal combustion engine

Mamradpivo's avatar

The printing press. This had gigantic impact on society within a few generations that has lasted for centuries.

Steve_A's avatar


forestGeek's avatar

I agree with @Mamradpivo, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Other than @gailcalled, these are some fairly recent inventions. Are recent inventions really the greatest a ha moments? I think I like @gailcalled ‘s answer “fire” the most so far. It certainly had to have been a vastly profound moment in history, even though it was more of a discovery of an entity which already existed.

And yes, this question was inspired by the popcorn which I’m currently eating. I can just imagine the first person who made popcorn, and the look of surprise when it popped up into a tasty treat. XD

Cruiser's avatar

Pop Rocks and still one of the greatest!

SeventhSense's avatar

My guess is Archimedes when he discovered displacement.
He even had the perfect word for it

dpworkin's avatar

The germ theory of disease.

sevenfourteen's avatar


TheLoneMonk's avatar

Dirt. Pretty much can’t do anything without dirt.

Oh Ok, Plastic. Err um, also Space Aged Materials. Otherwise the infomercial would never have been born,

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Refridgeration.Now,fetch me a cold one!

dpworkin's avatar

Oh. Trebuchets were pretty cool.

rebbel's avatar


syz's avatar

Type “greatest invention” (or some variation of) in the search bar. You’ll find a great many answers on the great many versions of this question.

Likeradar's avatar

I don’t know if it’s the greatest, but birth control in modern form is up there.

dpworkin's avatar

@rebbel My daughter Rachel invented disobedience in 1983.

rebbel's avatar

@dpworkin I thought Eve was some years earlier then your daughter, but i’m sure she made her proud ;-)

dpworkin's avatar

I can only vouch for the invention I was there to see.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I’m pretty sure it was sliced bread. It inspired it’s own phrase, which is more than most inventions can hope to achieve.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Fire wasn’t an invention. It was a discovery. It existed long before we figured it out.

Medicine was probably the greatest invention.

Berserker's avatar

I wonder who was the first person to look at a cow’s utters and go, gee I wonder what happens if I yank on those.

It’s from Calvin and Hobbes, but I guess it’s not an invention.

Therefore, I choose any invention that involves a phallus shaped object sticking into a hole, like uh…“Trails off.*

faye's avatar

@dpworkin I was going to say penicillin but then I thought, no, that’s not an invention. @Natural I think if we include research, penicillin has to be a great one.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

The internet is the most significant invention of our lifetimes thus far.

SeventhSense's avatar

And of course we have Al Gore to thank for that~

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

That would be Tim Berners Lee and others though Al Gore did give some money to the project.

SeventhSense's avatar

It was Hal working behind the scenes for decades.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@loser I really wonder now about the evolution of beer. And I’m thirsty.

Berserker's avatar

Some guy named Charlie apparently.

dpworkin's avatar

Beer is sometimes given credit for the beginning of human settlements and the domestication of cats. Settlements grew up around the granary, and cats also proved their worth by controlling granary rodent pests.

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