Greatest American Inventions in the Last 200 Years

I’ve been thinking about technology and inventions in recent times that changed the world.  Looking back two hundred years there have been many.    I know this list is only from the US but it is a start.  Happy to accept other similar worldwide recommendations.



1801, Modern Suspension Bridge, James Finley

1853, Potato chips, George Crum

1856, Condensed Milk, Gail Borden

1861, Machine Gun, Richard Gutling

1877, Phonograph, Thomas Alva Edison

1879, Electric Light Bulb, Thomas Alva Edison

1885, Photographic Film, George Eastman

1885, Skyscraper, William Le Baron Jenney

1887, Disc Record, Emile Berliner

1894, Mousetrap, William C. Hooker

1897, Cotton Candy, William Morrison & John C. Wharton A personal favorite)

1903, Airplane, Wilbur and Orville Wright

1912 the electric traffic light by Lester Wire, a policeman from Salt Lake City.

1926, Liquid-Fuel Rocket, Robert H. Goddard

1929, Frozen Food, Clarence Birdseye

1929, Sun glasses, Sam Foster 1937, Edwin Land, Polarized sun glasses

1930, Chocolate chip cookie, Ruth Wakefield

1937, modern day digital computer by George Stibitz

1938, Nylon, Wallace H. Carothers 1956, Pantyhose, Ernest G. Rice

1945, Microwave Oven, Percy Spencer

1945, Nuclear Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer

1945, the microwave oven  Percy Spencer,

1950, Credit card, Ralph Schneider & Frank X. McNamara

1950, Disposable Diaper, Marion Donovan

1954, Nuclear Submarine, Hyman Rickover

1958, Integrated circuit, 1947, Transistor, Jack Kilby William Shockley

1960 the first LASER was built by Theodore H. Maiman

1960, Magnetic stripe card, Forrest Parry (no credit cards without it)

1962 light emitting diodes for lighting and image displays,  Nick Holonyak Jr.

1965 Compact Disk, by inventor Jack Russel

1965 Kevlar, Stephanie Kwolek

1968, Lunar Module, Tom Kelly

1971 Email The first email was sent in 1971 using ARPANET, by Ray Tomlinson.

1971, Personal Computer, John Blankenbaker

1973 The first the mobile phone was developed by a team headed by Dr. Martin Cooper.

1980s the personal computer

1981, Space Shuttle, George Mueller (although there were thousands working on it)

1982 – Internet Protocol Suite by US government.

1994 GPS became operational by the United States Air Force

1994 DNA computing is a form of computing which uses DNA, biochemistry and molecular biology. Leonard Adleman University of Southern California

1994 A CMOS image sensor by Eric Fossum, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California

1995 The computer mouse

1995 Java Script by Brendan Eich

1997, Mars Rovers, Howard Eisen (again, hundreds worked on them)

1999 The Torino Scale by Richard P. Binzel.  A method for categorizing the impact hazard associated with near-Earth (NEOs) asteroids and comets.

2008Bionic contact lens    A bionic contact lens is a digital contact lens worn directly on the human eye which in the future, scientists believe could one day serve as a useful virtual platform for activities such as surfing the World Wide Web, superimposing images on real-world objects, playing video games for entertainment, and for monitoring patients’ medical conditions. (Check out Edward of Planet Earth for more on this)


4 thoughts on “Greatest American Inventions in the Last 200 Years

  1. Very good list. I would add capitalism which is the engine for these world changing innovations , the assembly line, the submarine, antibiotics, the nuclear bomb, chewing gum, synthetic rubber, gasoline, the gasoline engine, plastic, xray, ultrasound, mri, cat scan, the Internet and gps.

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