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Dylan Anderson

September 1st, 2015


FYS 156
Prof. Narayanan

History of Technology
In the history of technology, there have been many inventions that have shaped the
world around us and brought us ever closer to innovation. Some have laid the groundwork for
other inventions, such as the steam engine, the telescope, the bicycle, the camera, and even as
far back as fire and cloth itself. But, for the focus of this essay, the most important inventions of
the last 150 years will be discussed: the car, the television, the cellphone and the World Wide
Web. Without these inventions in particular, the world would not be where it is today. They are
integral to the history of technology and to the world at large.
First of all, the car. The first automobile was created in 1885 by Karl Benz of the
company Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik Benz & Cie, which went on to become Mercedes-Benz.
It was called the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The patent was filed on January 29, 1886 and
unveiled in July of that year. Even though it only had 0.9 horsepower at the time, it would paved
the way for later car companies to create bigger and better cars. Now, before the car was
invented, there was no gas-powered vehicle that could take one person from one destination to
another in a short amount of time. There were steamboats, but that was for the water There
were horse-drawn carriages, but those werent nearly fast enough to get anywhere quickly.
There were also bicycles, but those consumed a lot of energy for the person riding it and still
wasnt quick enough. This was the first self-powered vehicle that was quick and efficient and
could cover long distances. The boons of the car were that you could get to places quicker and
that you could save your energy that you would normally use pedalling a bicycle or reining the
reins on a horse-drawn carriage. You could just sit back, put your feet on the pedals and have
your hands on the wheel and drive on. However, when Karl Benz created his Motorwagen, he
couldnt have anticipated the blowbacks of his creations descendents; the accidents that are
caused by so many factors that could maim or kill people such as engine failure, blown tires
and, of course, distraction.The smog and greenhouse gases that are emitted from the cars of
today that pollute the environment and destroy the ozone layer. The costs of the maintenance
and gas and oil and tires for these vehicles. He might not have created it if he had known of
these things. There were winners and losers in this battle, the winners being the car companies
and the losers being cyclists.
Next came the television. It was invented by Philo T. Farnsworth in 1927 and
successfully tested that September. This was experimental at the time, but it got the ball rolling
in terms of other companies coming along and trying to replicate his ideas. This was the first
time that people could capture a moving image on a screen in their own home. This meant that
they didnt have to travel long distances to see a play at the theater or go to the cinema to watch
a film. This also meant that they had pictures for the first time instead of just having sound with

the radio. This, in the 1920s, was revolutionary. The positive aspects of the the television were
that you could have social interaction with people about the shows you watch and childhood
learning through shows like Sesame Street. The negative, however, can include addiction
through overwatching, loss of interaction involving with overwatching and possibly influencing
violent behavior in people through violent programs on TV. The winners in this battle are the
cable companies and the networks, while the losers are the radio stations and theaters.
46 years later came the cellphone. Even though the technology had been proposed for
many years, the first mobile phone was created in 1973 by Motorolas research expert Martin
Cooper. The first cell phone call took place on April 3, 1973 in New York City at the Burlingame
House. This was the first phone call without wires attached to the phone. Now, imagine that in
the 70s. A phone with no wires that you could walk down the street with. It would have blown
peoples minds back then. So thats why Motorola waited until 1983 to release it. This has
changed our world in so many ways. Almost every person in the world has a cell phone with the
official statistic being 6 billion cell phones to 7 billion people. Before this, you had landlines,
which were connected to wires, and payphones, which was in a box that didnt move. They
couldnt stay away from the wires. And now, they have mobility and no wires. Positive effects of
the cell phone include easy communication from around the world, convenience through the
easy access, speedy business transactions and usefulness in studies. Negative effects include
texting while driving, becoming addicted to the phone and overall distraction. Winners are the
cell phone companies like AT&T, Apple and Samsung. Losers are the landlines users and those
without access.
And finally, the one invention that has shaped our culture, our lives, everything in one fell
swoop. In fact, without it, you wouldnt even be reading this essay right now. The invention is the
World Wide Web. It was created at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland in 1989 by Tim
Berners-Lee as a database of documents. This has become the single most massive storage
center in the world. Its also widely known that the main sites (Google, Facebook, YouTube) that
are easily accessible by search engines are only 4% of the WWWs full database. The other
96% is in whats called the dark or deep web. Before the World Wide Web, there wasnt an
easy way to access information. You usually had to go to a library to find out any information
about a subject. Sometimes, there wouldnt even be books on the subject you were interested
in. But, nowadays, you can just go online and look up whatever your heart desires. Its so much
simpler now than what it used to be. Positive aspects include the easy access of information,
social interaction through social media and the easy exchange of information. Negative aspects
include viruses, hacking, cyber-terrorism, privacy breaches, addiction (its the third most
common addiction in the world), wasting time and most importantly, becoming inactive. The
winners in this battles are the internet companies (Google, Facebook, those that generally get a
lot of traffic) while the losers are those without the access.