In a time where gadgets and devices are the norm, it’s easy to take electrical inventions for granted. However, innovative thinkers have poured out incredible inventions over the past few decades that require some recognition. In celebration of Inventor’s Month, here’s a look at five of the best electrical inventions in the last 20 years.
You can’t discuss the top inventions of the modern era without bringing up the internet. This worldwide network of wirelessly connected devices has become the backbone of most American’s lives.
The internet’s history dates back to the 1960s with early work into packet switching. Slow but steady advancements over the decades led to the World Wide Web being invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee. With the rise of email, instant messaging and VoIP, the web made way for blogs, social networks and online shopping sites we couldn’t live without today.
Credit for the invention of portable media players goes to Kane Kramer, a British scientist who designed one of the earliest digital audio players back in 1979. However, the prototype never entered commercial production and the world remained without MP3 players until 1997 when South Korean company Saehan Information Systems launched its MPMan. The flash-based players could hold six to 12 songs.
The first Apple iPod didn’t enter the mix until 2001, but the hard drive-based 5 GB capacity was admittedly a huge improvement. The iPod’s launch marked the beginning of the end of portable CD players.
While the history of “filmless cameras” dates back to 1961, the technology behind scientist Eugene F. Lally’s mosaic photosensor had yet to catch up with the concept. By 1975, Eastman Kodak’s Steven Sasson built the first electronic camera for scientific and later military purposes. It wasn’t until the mid to late 90s that digital cameras became common among consumers.
Today, most new cameras are digital, and just about every Smartphone on the market has a built-in digital camera, reinventing the way consumers see and capture the world around them.
Using classified engineering design studies from the 1960s, the US Department of Defense began its Global Positioning System project in 1973. In 1995, the system became fully operational thanks primarily to three men behind the project: Roger L. Easton, Ivan A. Getting and Bradford Parkinson.
It’s easy to take GPS for granted today – what with its integration in Smartphones and newer car dashboards – but before this amazing electrical invention, road trippers had to rely on paper maps and asking for directions to get around.
With so many different components coming together – from rechargeable batteries to electricity to automobiles – it’s impossible to credit a single person with the invention of electric cars. It may surprise you to hear that the first models were produced way back in the 1880s when electricity was new. It wasn’t until advances in the internal combustion engine came about that electric cars left the scene. Short-lived interest in electric cars resurfaced in the 1970s and 80s during the energy crisis.
However, it wasn’t until 2008 that electric vehicle manufacturing reached a mass marketing stage due to concerns of increasing oil prices and emissions from gasoline-powered cars. Thanks to advancements in batteries and energy management, today’s electric cars are better than ever. They’re already making a big difference in terms of air quality and independence from foreign oil.
Thank you, top inventors of the past 20 years, for bringing these electrical inventions into our lives! If you ever need help powering these inventions at home, Mr. Electric® is just a phone call away.
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