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Greatest invention of the 20th century?

proXimityproXimity Registered User
edited December 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
So over Thanksgiving dinner, I got in a discussion (read: argument) about the greatest invention of the 20th century. My great uncle, who baited this topic, insists ("100%... no, 150% sure) that the single greatest invention of the 20th century is the television. I won't deny that it has been a revolutionary invention, but I can hardly agree that it is the most important of the century. I think that greatest invention of the 20th century was the transistor, but there are also several other super important inventions that have happened- the splitting of the atom and antibiotics come to mind.

So what is the greatest invention of the 20th century?

(this almost seems like it should go in D&D)

proXimity on
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Posts

  • TopiaTopia Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The dishwasher.

    edit: but no, really, this here internets.

  • TamTam I hate art I love artRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    This is most definitely a D&D topic.

    I'm going to go with the transistor.

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I would point out that the first television was actually created in the late 19th century.

    Secondly arguing with an uncle who decides that he is 150% convinced seems to be a waste of breath and would be better spent eating your dessert.

  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo Fake Board GamerRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I hear good things about these here computers with wireless intertubes. I can post in this thread, finish my christmas shopping, and masturbate simultaneously.

  • DemerdarDemerdar Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Polio vaccine.

    parabol
    nin_new2.gif
  • proXimityproXimity Registered User
    edited November 2009
    Blaket wrote: »
    Secondly arguing with an uncle who decides that he is 150% convinced seems to be a waste of breath and would be better spent eating your dessert.

    Yeah, I didn't argue for very long for that very reason, but it still got me thinking

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  • FightTestFightTest Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    It's the transistor if not something medical.

    MOBA DOTA.
  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
  • cooljammer00cooljammer00 Hey Small Businessman!Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I have an aunt who likes to say that the three best inventions are the microwave, the computer (and I assume she means internet), and the cellular phone.

    steam_sig.png

    I pronounce it bee-log. Most recent entry: VIDEO GAMES: GUNPOINT, OR A SCIENTIFIC STUDY ON WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GLASS MEETS TROUSERS. 3DS Friend Code: 2165-6448-8348
  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The light bulb, the steamboat, and the cotton gin!

    PSN: allenquid
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'd have to go with the personal computer, just because a lot of everything else follows on from cheap, widely dispersed and available computing power.

  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Clearly the modern battle tank. We have finally developed a workable armoured horse substitute that is not confined to the elite horse owning elite. We have democratised mobile warfare people!

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    My first thought was the transistor, but there are a few others that were pretty big. Was the polymerase chain reaction invented during the 19th century? Also, nuclear weapons/reactors are probably in the running as well, as are rockets. Well, liquid-fueled rockets, anyway. The airplane has to be pretty high on the list as well.

    You know, the world of the year 1900 would be totally alien to me. It would be like visiting another planet entirely. And yet, there are people alive who remember that year. I guess the lesson here is that I can't wait to see the year 2100.

    MWO User Name: Gorn Arming
    StarCraft II User Name: DeadMenRise
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited November 2009
    We've made so damn much progress in the last century, it's impossible to pick just one invention as the most important. I'd say television definitely isn't one of them though. Television is really little more than glorified radio. Everything television brought to the world was already available in audio format via the radio.

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  • XaevXaev Registered User
    edited November 2009
    The transistor is pretty great, yes, but I'm somewhat in disbelief that there's been no love for the airplane yet. As the transistor revolutionized communication and computation, so did the plane for transportation (and warfare).

    Steam - Lysus || XBL - Veax || PSN - Lysus || WoW - Lysus (Korgath - US) || Guild Wars - Lysus Yjirkar || Starcraft II - Lysus.781 || League of Legends - Lysus
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  • Donkey KongDonkey Kong Warning: Donkey Kong is not a real doctor Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The advent of television was more about the creative and business structure than the technology. The cathode ray tube was important, but it would have meant nothing without meaningful programming. A fancy teleconference solution for the government of the super-rich, maybe. The television industry is what really changed the world, and I doubt you could call it an "invention".

    The transistor is a much more key invention. It made amplifiers, transmitters, and intelligent circuits (both analog and digital) portable. They could be brought on to the battlefield or blasted off into outer space. That was a real breakthrough.

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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    The Pill, you freaking nerds. But yeah, mass communications too.

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  • dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    toasters

    without toasters, sliced bread is worthless

    where do you draw the line on invention though
    i mean does a significant innovation on an idea that came prior to the 20th century count?

    AAAAA!!! PLAAAYGUUU!!!!
  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited November 2009
    My first thought was the transistor, but there are a few others that were pretty big. Was the polymerase chain reaction invented during the 19th century? Also, nuclear weapons/reactors are probably in the running as well, as are rockets. Well, liquid-fueled rockets, anyway. The airplane has to be pretty high on the list as well.

    You know, the world of the year 1900 would be totally alien to me. It would be like visiting another planet entirely. And yet, there are people alive who remember that year. I guess the lesson here is that I can't wait to see the year 2100.

    Shit, just think about how different the average consumer's life is from 30 years ago. I was born in 1980 when the height of home entertainment was the VHS tape and a cassette for music. Now, we stream high definitions movies over the internet, play video games that look more realistic than TRON, carry tens of thousands of albums on a device smaller than the original cassette tape, and can become casual friends and carry on discussions in real time with people half a world away.

    It's gotten to the point where I wouldn't feel comfortable predicting what technology will rule our lives in 5 years, let alone 100.

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  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited November 2009
    Oh yeah, and we can carry the entire library of congress on a device as big as a DVD case, yet as thin as a pencil.

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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    I miss taping songs off the radio, all cursing when the DJ talked over the start

    wait, no I don't at all. Thank you, mp3 <3

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  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    My first thought was the transistor, but there are a few others that were pretty big. Was the polymerase chain reaction invented during the 19th century? Also, nuclear weapons/reactors are probably in the running as well, as are rockets. Well, liquid-fueled rockets, anyway. The airplane has to be pretty high on the list as well.

    You know, the world of the year 1900 would be totally alien to me. It would be like visiting another planet entirely. And yet, there are people alive who remember that year. I guess the lesson here is that I can't wait to see the year 2100.

    Shit, just think about how different the average consumer's life is from 30 years ago. I was born in 1980 when the height of home entertainment was the VHS tape and a cassette for music. Now, we stream high definitions movies over the internet, play video games that look more realistic than TRON, carry tens of thousands of albums on a device smaller than the original cassette tape, and can become casual friends and carry on discussions in real time with people half a world away.

    It's gotten to the point where I wouldn't feel comfortable predicting what technology will rule our lives in 5 years, let alone 100.
    Yup. From an engineering perspective, I'd say we have advanced at least as far in the last thirty years as we had in the previous two hundred thousand. The computer really changed everything, and newer computing techniques (GAs, neural nets, etc.) have made so much stuff possible that simply wasn't before. I can't even imagine trying to design anything without a computer. That people used to design wings or nozzles by hand just blows me away.

    MWO User Name: Gorn Arming
    StarCraft II User Name: DeadMenRise
  • Donkey KongDonkey Kong Warning: Donkey Kong is not a real doctor Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    My first thought was the transistor, but there are a few others that were pretty big. Was the polymerase chain reaction invented during the 19th century? Also, nuclear weapons/reactors are probably in the running as well, as are rockets. Well, liquid-fueled rockets, anyway. The airplane has to be pretty high on the list as well.

    You know, the world of the year 1900 would be totally alien to me. It would be like visiting another planet entirely. And yet, there are people alive who remember that year. I guess the lesson here is that I can't wait to see the year 2100.

    Shit, just think about how different the average consumer's life is from 30 years ago. I was born in 1980 when the height of home entertainment was the VHS tape and a cassette for music. Now, we stream high definitions movies over the internet, play video games that look more realistic than TRON, carry tens of thousands of albums on a device smaller than the original cassette tape, and can become casual friends and carry on discussions in real time with people half a world away.

    It's gotten to the point where I wouldn't feel comfortable predicting what technology will rule our lives in 5 years, let alone 100.

    I have a battery-powered device in my pocket that can place a phone call to anyone in the world, hop on a global information network and answer any question I ever have instantly, pinpoint my geographic location anywhere in the world to an accuracy of a few meters, and embarrass just about any computer from the 1980s in terms of power. I use it to play solitaire and listen to music when I'm bored, mostly.

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  • WashWash Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
  • AeolusdallasAeolusdallas Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    proXimity wrote: »
    So over Thanksgiving dinner, I got in a discussion (read: argument) about the greatest invention of the 20th century. My great uncle, who baited this topic, insists ("100%... no, 150% sure) that the single greatest invention of the 20th century is the television. I won't deny that it has been a revolutionary invention, but I can hardly agree that it is the most important of the century. I think that greatest invention of the 20th century was the transistor, but there are also several other super important inventions that have happened- the splitting of the atom and antibiotics come to mind.

    So what is the greatest invention of the 20th century?

    (this almost seems like it should go in D&D)

    Air Conditioning :mrgreen: and Integrated Circuts

  • Donkey KongDonkey Kong Warning: Donkey Kong is not a real doctor Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    penicillin

    So it saves lives. Would they be worth living in a world without television?

    Hardly.

    easy_tetris_sig.gifbubbulon3_sig.png
  • TheStigTheStig Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    24 hour news pundits

    the-place-beyond-the-pines-03_thumb_zps3d4e0ec7.jpg
    360: Sir Stiggleton PSN: Stiggy_PA GFWL: RacerStig Steam: TheStig
  • Captain VashCaptain Vash Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    My first thought was the transistor, but there are a few others that were pretty big. Was the polymerase chain reaction invented during the 19th century? Also, nuclear weapons/reactors are probably in the running as well, as are rockets. Well, liquid-fueled rockets, anyway. The airplane has to be pretty high on the list as well.

    You know, the world of the year 1900 would be totally alien to me. It would be like visiting another planet entirely. And yet, there are people alive who remember that year. I guess the lesson here is that I can't wait to see the year 2100.

    Shit, just think about how different the average consumer's life is from 30 years ago. I was born in 1980 when the height of home entertainment was the VHS tape and a cassette for music. Now, we stream high definitions movies over the internet, play video games that look more realistic than TRON, carry tens of thousands of albums on a device smaller than the original cassette tape, and can become casual friends and carry on discussions in real time with people half a world away.

    It's gotten to the point where I wouldn't feel comfortable predicting what technology will rule our lives in 5 years, let alone 100.

    I have a battery-powered device in my pocket that can create a wireless voice connection to anywhere in the world, connect to a global information network that can answer any question I have, instantly, pinpoint my geographic location anywhere in the world to an accuracy of a few meters, and embarrass just about any computer from the 1980s in terms of power. I use it to communicate where/when I will be drinking.

    I changed it a bit, because this is exactly what I was going to say.

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  • KastanjKastanj __BANNED USERS
    edited November 2009
    For me, the most radical change came from the internet.

    For the entire population of the world, it's either plastics, the cellphone, internet, television, or something else I am too deficient in common sense or cleverness to think of.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The internet, no doubt.

  • RentRent I'm always right Fuckin' deal with itRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Easily the internet

    Easily

  • fjafjanfjafjan Registered User
    edited November 2009
    Internet is pretty nice, but if this should not just be "the most recent thing" (ie, the most awesome) you need some other metric. The latest invention of the internet already HAS the internet so it's better, but is it a better invention?

    I'm probably gonna go with Henry fords production method (production line? Not sure what the English name is). It singelhandedly revolutionized the way we make things and made it tons and tons more efficient.

    Yepp, THE Fjafjan (who's THE fjafjan?)
    - "Proving once again the deadliest animal of all ... is the Zoo Keeper" - Philip J Fry
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    Ok, starting to piss me off, because most people on the planet still either have no access to the internet or no clue how to use it

    now, plastics, on the other hand, are fucking everywhere. There was pretty much no plastic even in, like, WWII, duders. That is nuts, because plastic is in pretty much everything now, including all the gear you use to get on the internet and be all "look at me, I have no perspective on the world".

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'm in the antibiotics camp, but I haven't given it too much thought.

  • SeolSeol Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The von Neumann architecture - ie, programmable computers. Not the integrated circuit, not the transistor: that's the moment of creation that made everything possible.

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The Cat wrote: »
    Ok, starting to piss me off, because most people on the planet still either have no access to the internet or no clue how to use it

    now, plastics, on the other hand, are fucking everywhere. There was pretty much no plastic even in, like, WWII, duders. That is nuts, because plastic is in pretty much everything now, including all the gear you use to get on the internet and be all "look at me, I have no perspective on the world".

    Hm? I don't think "greatest invention" necessarily means most used or most available.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    Think about where plastics are in your life. Make a list.

    tmsig.jpg
  • fjafjanfjafjan Registered User
    edited November 2009
    There's also the problem of what "a" invention is. Saying "plastics" is a whole lot of inventions. I could just as well say "modern factories" or something.

    Conclusion:
    "Greatest" = Vague term
    "Invention" = Vague term
    This discussion is useless.

    Yepp, THE Fjafjan (who's THE fjafjan?)
    - "Proving once again the deadliest animal of all ... is the Zoo Keeper" - Philip J Fry
  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The Cat wrote: »
    Think about where plastics are in your life. Make a list.

    Again, let me repeat myself, "I don't think 'greatest invention' necessarily means most used or most available. "

    Of course these are vague terms, I'm just suggesting that I wouldn't place my vote using that criteria. I think the internet has allowed the world to be connected like never before, and it's influence will stay with society as long as it exists (this instant connection, instant communication, etc). Sure we were able to get the internet through the use of plastics, but I see the internet being a greater product than the parts it is made from.

  • BogartBogart Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Those hats with beer attached to the sides and a straw from the can to your mouth are pretty neat.

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