Yes, now you’re thinking Penicillin, the Wright brothers & the plane, the wheel, paper, the ability to print, steam engine and the list goes on. But you hear these stories over and over again and while they are awesome, let’s have a look at ideas that changed the world, but no one talks about them, yet you would not fancy your daily life without them.
While we are at it, let’s play a game: Guess the inventions just by reading the header.
It’s a Basin, It’s In the Closet and It’s Modern
A form of a water based sanitary earthenware was used by the Minoan civilisation as early as 2nd millennium BC in Knossos. The city of Harappa, Pakistan, had a form of flush toilet in every house (around 2000 BC). The principle lay usually on building the toilets and baths on a river, so that the constant flow washed the waste away. In the roman empire (1st-5th centuries AD) a similar system was used and a very well preserved example of latrines can nowadays be found at Hadrian’s Wall, Britain.
But with the decline of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages on its rise in Europe, focus shifted from life to afterlife under the influence of church, forgetting the inventions of Roman Times. This meant, among other things which will not be discussed in this article, that waste was commonly discarded onto streets, because, you know, you could be clean while in heaven.
Luckily with the Industrial Revolution everything changed. The father of a modern flushing toilet is considered Alexander Cumming, who’s patented invention of an S-strap laid the base on which the inventor Joseph Bramah built the first usable flushing toilet and obtained a patent for it in 1778. But it was not until the mid-19th century that made the flushing toilet a widely used invention thanks to the high levels of urbanisation.
I See You, or Do I?
The first known sketches of contact lenses were drawn by no one less famous than Leonardo Da Vinci in the turn of the 15th and 16th century, but it was not until more than three hundred years later that the first eye lenses saw the light of the day. There is, of course, some uncertainty about who did it first.
In 1887 the German glassblower F. A. Muller created the first glass contact lenses. Around the same time period, just a different location, a Swiss physician Adolf E. Fick and a French optician Edouard Kalt created (also the first) glass contact lenses to correct vision problems. The glass lenses could only be worn for a few hours and therefore were never widely used.
The biggest breakthrough came in 1959 when the Czech chemist Otto Wichterle invented the material used for the production of contact lenses today – the first hydrophilic hydrogel, or as it is called by the wide public, soft contact lens material. This invention resulted in the first FDA approved soft contact lenses in 1971 and 90% of today’s lenses are made from the water-loving gel. More information about lenses can be found.
The human powered vehicle
The great city of Copenhagen, the birthplace of Ideanote, is famous for an amazing culture of -yes- biking. And of course, that is why knowing a bit about its history is a must. The bicycle has been around for two hundred years, although it has not always looked the way it looks today. The first vehicle that could have been named a bicycle was first made in 1817. The trick to using it was to walk n’ slide, walk n’ slide (And is known as the Dandy Horse).
The commercially successful and widely used version of a bike came in the 1860s and it was French. And also, it was called the Boneshaker. The 1870s – the elegant high wheel bicycle was a better version of the bone shaker with its lighter frame and faster movement. But the breakthrough that led to the modern version we know today was the invention of pneumatic tires in 1888 by no one else than John Boyd Dunlop. And then it went from there, to bikes being the synonym for awesomeness.We love ideas and we write about the best ones quite often. Make sure to stay up to date and never lose in a Trivia game again. Here are some of the recent articles that will help you win – Awesome inventions born in Canada & Innovative Scandinavia and its secrets.