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Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years /subdir/top-30-innovations_slide-show/

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Presentation on theme: "Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years /subdir/top-30-innovations_slide-show/"— Presentation transcript:

1 Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years http://www.pbs.org/nbr/site/features/special /subdir/top-30-innovations_slide-show/

2 Nightly Business Report - PBS business program Knowledge@Wharton 1,200 suggestions -- everything from lithium- ion batteries, LCD screens and eBay to the mute button, GPS and suitcase wheels A panel of eight judges from Wharton reviewed and selected the top 30 of these innovations

3 Judging Criteria 1. Did it improve quality of life, having a direct and/or material effect on quality of life? 2. Did it address a compelling need? solve a compelling problem? 3. Was it a fresh breakthrough with a "wow" factor? 4. Did it change the way business is conducted? 5. Did it increase the efficiency of how resources are used? 6. Did it spark an ongoing stream of new innovations on top of the original innovation? 7. Did it lead to the creation of a vast, new industry?

4 # 1 Internet/Broadband/World Wide Web The Internet has been called a network of networks. It is the infrastructure of computer connections that allows us to use the World Wide Web to send emails, share files, and look up information on just about any topic simply by typing a few keywords into a search engine. The foundations of the Internet came to life prior to 1979, but its use truly began to transform the way the world works in the late 1990's.

5 # 2 PC/Laptop Computers IBM coined the term PC (Personal Computer) when it launched its IBM 5150 model in 1981. The new term encapsulated IBM's goal of getting computers into the hands of individuals. Also in 1981, the Osborne 1 became the first laptop computer marketed to the public. It weighed more than 20 pounds. Throughout the next two decades, PC's and laptops gradually became smaller, more powerful, and more ubiquitous in both businesses and homes.

6 # 3 Mobile Phones The first mobile phone hit the market in 1982. It was manufactured by Nokia, and it weighed more than 20 pounds. Today, mobile phones weigh just ounces and have the functionality of computers. They have improved the efficiency of communication in developed countries, and they've done even more for undeveloped countries by bringing phone service to regions that lacked it.

7 # 4 E-Mail Historians believe e-mail (electronic mail) evolved from messages sent by programmers using a time- sharing computing system at Massachusetts Insitute of Technology in the 1960's. But, e-mail didn't really become accessible to the public until the late 1980's, and its use became more widespread in the 1990's. Today, e-mail is a staple of business and personal communication.

8 # 5 DNA Testing and Sequencing/Human Genome Mapping The structure of DNA was first discovered by Watson and Crick in 1953, but it wasn't until the late 1970's that scientists began to sequence some DNA molecules. Then, in 1990, the U.S. government organized the effort to map the human genome. This effort to identify all the 20,000 to 25,000 genes in human DNA was completed 13 years later, in 2003. The achievement has led to great advancements in the research of and treatment of genetic diseases.

9 # 6 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) In the 1970's, scientists figured out how to use nuclear magnetic resonance to produce images, and they began using those images to detect diseases in tissue samples. In 1977, a prototype of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine conducted the first full body scan. However, it wasn't until the late 1990's that MRI technology became truly portable and, as a result, widely available in hospitals and doctor's offices.

10 # 7 Microprocessors A microprocessor is a single integrated circuit that holds a central processing unit (CPU). The first microprocessors were developed in the 1970's for calculators. By the end of the 1970's, the microprocessor had led to the development of the microcomputer or personal computer. Ever since, the size of microprocessors has been shrinking while their processing capacity has been growing, and the world has been changing as a result.

11 # 8 Fiber Optics The science behind fiber optics has been studied since the 1800's, but it wasn't until the 1970's that the quality of optical fibers improved enough to allow their use in communication applications. Fiber optics quickly became the preferred medium for telecommunication and networking because the cables can span long distances with few repeaters and can carry signals at rates over 100 gigabytes per second, though speeds that fast aren't widely used.

12 # 9 Office Software Office software, including word processing and spreadsheet programs, has shaped the way we do business, improving efficiency and giving analytical power to more members of the workforce. This software evolved during the 1960's and 1970's. Visicalc -- the first spreadsheet program -- was distributed in 1979. WordStar, which also debuted in 1979, became the most popular word processing program of the early 1980's.

13 # 10 Non-Invasive Laser/Robotic Surgery The 1980's bred major developments in surgery. The first minimally invasive -- or laparoscopic -- surgery was performed in 1987. Robots were first used to perform biopsies in 1985. And, in the early 1980's, scientists discovered that lasers could be used to cut organic tissue. All of these developments helped make surgery more precise, which in turn, made surgery safer and reduced the recovery time for patients.

14 # 11 Open Source Software and Services Frustrated by copyrights companies added to software in the 1970's Richard Stallman -- a former MIT programmer -- launched the GNU Project in 1984. His goal was to create an operating system with no restrictions on accessing source code. Along the way, he published the first free software license. This GNU General Public License has since been used to release Linux, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla Firefox, WikiPedia, and other open source software and services.

15 # 12 Light Emitting Diode products (LEDs) Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are tiny, cool-running light sources. Scientists have been experimenting with them since the early 1900's, but the technology wasn't practical until the 1960's. The calculator was one of the first products to incorporate LEDs, and many products -- particularly appliances and automobiles -- followed suit in the 1970's and 1980's.

16 # 13 Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) Liquid crystals were first discovered in the late 1800's, but scientists didn't figure out how to use electricity to create intricate patterns with the crystals until the 1960's. The first liquid crystal displays (LCDs) began to appear in the 1970's. Today, LCDs are found in clocks, computers, televisions, automobiles, and many other products.

17 # 14 GPS The U.S. Department of Defense brought the Global Positioning System (GPS) -- a network of more than 24 satellites that can be used to pinpoint locations on earth -- online in 1993. Though conceived for military applications, the GPS quickly became a civilian navigation aid and spawned its own industry. Today, there are GPS devices in cars, mobile phones, watches, and other products.

18 # 15 Online Shopping/ E-Commerce/Auctions Today's electronic commerce (ecommerce) grew out of the Electronic Data Interchange companies used to conduct transactions via computer networks in the 1960's and 1970's. In the 1980's, CompuServe created an Electronic Mall for its users, but it wasn't user friendly. Once the World Wide Web and browsers were invented in the 1990's, ecommerce exploded and companies like Amazon.com and eBay sparked the dot-com boom.

19 # 16 Media File Compression Media file compression is a natural extension of the data compression computer scientists developed to store text files in the 1970's. In the 1980's, committees of experts created the popular compression standards we know as JPEG and MPEG. Without compression, we would not be able to transmit images, audio, and video via the Internet.

20 # 17 Microfinance The concept behind microfinance -- bringing financial services to poor or low-income individuals -- has existed for centuries, but it became a movement in the 1980's. That's when economist Muhammad Yunus founded his Grameen Bank and started making very small loans to the poor in Bangladesh. The goal of such loans is to give people the means to lift themselves out of poverty. Yunus and Grameen were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

21 # 18 Photovoltaic Solar Energy Scientists first discovered the photovoltaic effect in the 1800's, and a handful of industrial revolution-era factories used solar power to produce steam. The modern solar energy movement started as a response to the oil embargo and energy crises of the 1970's. Today, there are a number of commercial solar power plants, and some individuals are using solar panels to heat pools, water, and even return energy to the electric grid.

22 # 19 Large Scale Wind Turbines Wind power has an ancient history, with the first windmills appearing in 200 B.C. The modern wind energy movement started as a response to the oil embargo and energy crises of the 1970's. Today, many nations have wind power plants -- or wind farms -- in operation. The U.S. leads the world in total wind power generation, while Denmark leads the world in the percentage of wind power as part of total energy output.

23 # 20 Social Networking via Internet Social network websites are defined by their combination of two features -- profiles and friend lists. SixDegrees.com, which launched in 1997, is considered the earliest social network site. The first social networks mainly appealed to early adopters; then came MySpace. In 2003, MySpace launched and began to appeal to broader audiences. Today, social network sites, led by MySpace and Facebook, have changed the way people connect.

24 # 21 Graphic User Interface (GUI) Douglas Englebart -- the father of the graphical user interface (GUI) -- invented the first GUI in 1968. It had a CRT display, two keyboards, and the first mouse. Englebart's work inspired others, and GUI design really began to advance in the late 1970's and early 1980's with the development of onscreen windows and icons. Today, the GUI is the preferred method of human- machine interaction.

25 # 22 Digital Photography/Videography The earliest forays into digital imaging were rooted in video. The first solid-state video camera was prototyped in 1970, and the Mavica still camera Sony built in 1981 actually worked more like a video camera. In the late 1980's, the development of the mega pixel sensor and improved storage mediums made digital photography and videography commercially viable. And, it only took time for the digital market to outstrip the film market.

26 # 23 RFID and Applications Radio frequency identification (RFID) grew out of efforts to identify aircraft during World War II. In the 1970's, the first patents for RFID tags were issued, and in the 1980's RFID went commercial when it was used to develop an automated toll payment system. Today, many of the world's largest retailers -- including Wal- Mart -- use RFID to track inventory.

27 # 24 Genetically Modified Plants The development of genetically modified plants was a natural evolution of the work of Gregor Mendel in the 1800's and the discovery of DNA structure in 1953. In 1994, the first genetically modified plant -- a crop of California tomatoes -- went to market. Today, commercial growers modify crops to make them resistant to diseases and to make them better able to tolerate pesticides.

28 # 25 Biofuels The early history of biofuels is tied to the history of Rudolf Diesel, whose first engines ran on biofuels like peanut oil. In 1908, Henry Ford built a Model T that ran on ethanol. Of course, both Diesel and Ford soon found petroleum to be a more efficient fuel source. In the 1970's, energy crises and the adoption of the U.S. Clean Air Act boosted interest in biofuels. Today's biofuel market continues to grow in response to energy and environment issues.

29 # 26 Bar Codes and Scanners The first bar code (with reader) was invented in the 1950's, but bar code wasn't used commercially until the 1960's. Its use expanded in the 1970's once a bar code standard (UPC) was developed and the first supermarket -- Marsh's in Troy, Ohio -- installed a UPC scanner. Bar codes are now a standard in the retail industry and also have important manufacturing and military applications.

30 # 27 ATMs Early versions of the automatic teller machine (ATM) appeared in the 1960's, but they dispensed only predetermined amounts of money and were not networked to computers. Use of ATMs expanded in the 1970's, after the magnetic stripe card was introduced and the machines were networked to computers. These days ATMs have become a part of daily life, and they allow many people to do their banking with little human contact.

31 # 28 Stents The inspiration for the invention of the modern coronary or heart stent came from the failings of angioplasty. In some cases, an artery would close up again after the angioplasty balloon was removed. Doctors wanted a way to keep those arteries open permanently. The first stent was inserted in a human coronary artery in 1986, and the first stents were approved for use in the U.S. in 1994.

32 # 29 SRAM/Flash Memory Static random access memory (SRAM) was invented in 1970, around the same time dynamic random access memory (DRAM) was invented. SRAM is simpler and faster than DRAM, which makes it better suited to handle cache memory functions in computers. Flash memory was invented in 1980, and the first USB Flash Drive went to market in 1996. The drive quickly revolutionized the storage and transfer of computer data.

33 # 30 Anti-Retroviral Treatment for AIDS AIDS became an epidemic in the 1980's. In 1984, the retrovirus that caused the disease was isolated, and doctors turned to zidovudine - - a 20 year old, rejected anti- cancer drug -- for help. Renamed AZT, this drug attacked the virus and saved lives. In 1987, AZT became the first antiretroviral drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In the 1990's, more antiretrovirals were developed.


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