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Fifty Inventions That Shaped The Modern Economy

Tim Harford

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1. tiny microprocessors
2. memory chips
3. solid state hard drives
4. liquid crystal displays
5. lithium batteries

6. fast-fourier-transform algorithms
7. the Internet
8. http and html
9. cellular networks
10. GPS
11. touchscreens
12. Siri

But the person responsible was not Steven Jobs, it was Uncle Sam.

Most people know that the Internet started as the ARPANET, funded by US military to link computers together. The basic f-f-t algorithm was created by a memberof US militray program to detect Soviet nuclear tests. Touchscreens came from British govt program on radar, and then developed at CERN, theinter-European govt supported research unit. Final form that Apple bought was developed by a military funded program at U of Delaware. Siri came out of a DARPA funded attempt to provide smart assistants in battle.

Thomas Midgley themost disastrous inventor in history. He invented leaded petrol and helped persuade public that the highly toxic teraethyl lead was safe. (In fact, crime stats derived from different dates when different states finnally - after 40 years - banned leaded petrol, showed that the pollution cost US a fortune in crime and poor education.) Next Midgley invented chloroflourocarbon, which made refrigerators run better. Unfortunately it also destroyed the ozone layer.

In middle age Midgely was afflicted by polio. He invented an ingenious arrangement of ropes and pulleys to allow him to get outof bed by himself. One day they tangled round his neck and strangled him.

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