Baby Boomer inventions that changed the world


Filed under Mainstream coverage;
3 comments.

Many amazing technologies have been invented over the past hundred years, allowing humanity to travel and communicate in ways and at speeds unprecedented. Yet the people behind these developments have not yet made it into our history books. While today's students learn about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, they're more likely to know pop culture stars like Steve Jobs than they are modern inventors like Steve Wozniak.

The Web site SecondAct.com recently compiled a list that offers long-overdue acknowledgement to 25 such geniuses and their inventions. The list includes not only geek icons such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web, and Dean Kamen and his Segway transportation device and his portable dialysis machine, but also lesser-known heroes such as Gail Naughton and her synthetic skin products, and Sally Fox's Foxfibre naturally colored cotton.

It should be no surprise that the Apple II, considered by some to be our last technological revolution, made the list, as did its responsible parties:

Steve Wozniak, who was born in 1950, and his future partner Steve Jobs, born in 1955, both grew up in the San Francisco area and got to know each other as summer interns at electronics manufacturer Hewlett-Packard. Though neither finished college, they helped launch a technological revolution that transformed our culture. In 1977, they created and marketed the Apple II personal computer, which included color graphics, a sound card, expansion slots, and other features that made it the earliest machine to resemble today's PCs. It arguably did more than any other product to usher in an age in which computers would become as ubiquitous as TVs and telephones.

It's an honor just to be nominated — though had SecondAct.com presented these inventors and inventions in order of importance instead of seemingly randomly, the inclusion of the Apple II would be questionable, or at least laughable: it's sandwiched between bacterial cement and Sildenafil (not named here by its more common moniker so as to not trigger spam filters). I suppose all three keep people indoors, and a few may've even prompted some late nights.

Most of these inventions had humble beginnings; many have since become household names. Few of its creators have enjoyed similar fame. Thanks to SecondAct.com for its steps to rectify that situation.

  1. Woz did eventually finish college — Wozniak began attending the University of California at Berkeley in 1971; he finally returned to school and got his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 1986.

  2. Thanks, Sean! I've passed along that correction to the blog I was quoting.

  3. Martin Haye says:

    Amusing that they mention the Apple II having a "sound card". When I look inside I don't see any card for sound… maybe a chip or two, but nothing resembling a card is there?