The 5 Most Important Inventions In Human History

Further ReadingThe Top 7 Most Influential Inventors of the Modern Era

In the entirety of human history there are 5 inventions which have forever changed society. Each of these inventions have marked a shift in the entire world’s development. As such in order to land on the following list each item would have had to introduce new concepts that billions of people interact with everyday.

The 5 inventions that have changed human history are the following:

  • The Printing Press
  • The Telephone
  • The Analytical Engine
  • The Battery
  • The Steam Engine

Each of these inventions are important because without them our modern world would look completely different. Under each of the following sections is a further reading section that outlines the invention in more detail if you would like to learn about its importance and inventor.

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Without further ado, here are the 5 most important inventions in human history.

The Printing Press

Invention NamePrinting Press
Invention Date1440 A.D.
Cultural Impact LevelHigh
InventorJohannes Gutenberg
Region of WorldCentral Europe, 15th century
Further ReadingThe 3 Impacts of the Printing Press on the Protestant Reformation

In 15th century Europe an invention was about to be unveiled that would forever change human history; the printing press.

The printing press was invented sometime around 1440 AD by German Goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg. By applying gold die molding techniques to letters Gutenberg would create a way for books to be mass produced in a fast manner.

This forever changed human history as it allowed information to spread outside of the European church which up until the 15th century held a monopoly over all knowledge production.

The printing press changed human history through 2 distinctive ways.

First, the printing press allowed knowledge production in Europe to happen outside the Catholic Church. Before the printing press was invented the only way for a book to be published was by having it hand copied by armies of Monks in the church.

When the printing press was invented it allowed books to now be rapidly produced across the world.

Second, before the invention of the printing press all books were written in the high language of Latin. This made reading them extraordinarily difficult and only those with several years of experience could effectively read and translate the books.

The printing press allowed books to be mass translated into other languages. Now people can easily write and read books in their native languages.

As a result of this the printing press remains one of the most important inventions in human history.

The Telephone

Invention NameThe Telephone
Invention Date1876
Impact LevelHigh
InventorAlexander Graham Bell
Region of WorldUnited States, 19th century
Further Reading3 Ways the Telephone Changed the Economy of the United States

One of the most important inventions in human history was introduced during the 19th century in the United States. This was the invention of the telephone and it forever changed how the world works.

The inventor of the telephone was a man named Alexander Graham Bell. Bell from an early age would spend countless hours taking apart and rebuilding things to discover how they work.

This curiosity would serve him his entire life. In 1876 Graham applied for and received the patent for the Telephone. At this point in society most of the world communicated through telegraph lines or by mail. Most people did not see the importance of the telephone at first.

However the telephone would forever change human history through 3 distinct ways.

First, the telephone allowed for near instant communication on business ideas. A letter would take several weeks to get to a destination which made conducting business slow and cumbersome. The telephone allowed merchants and business owners to interchange ideas and concepts faster than ever before.

Second, the telephone allowed for a faster spread of national identity. Before the invention of the telephone people had to communicate ideals and politics through letters which had to be physically delivered. In the harsher frontier lands of the world these ideas could not be received. Telephones would allow this to forever change. It is not coincidence that the rise of the telephone coincided with the rise of nation states.

Third, the invention of the telephone forever changed human history by allowing efficient markets to develop. Before the telephone prices on stocks and goods would have a delay of several hours at the fastest. The telephone allowed investors and merchants to be able to efficiently price goods and create an incredibly efficient market.

To this day the telephone continues to shape our world and history. As such it firmly lands on this list of the top 5 most important inventions that forever changed human history.

The Analytical Engine

Upload by Mrjohncommings 2013-08-28
Invention NameAnalytical Engine
Invention Date1837
Impact LevelHigh
InventorCharles Babbage
Region of WorldEngland, early 19th century
Further ReadingThe 3 Differences Between The Analytical And Difference Engines

One of the most important inventions in human history was introduced by an English mathematician named Charles Babbage who understood the limits of Human mathematical ability.

Charles Babbage would develop the world’s first modern computer. He named this device the Analytical Engine.

Babbage knew that humans could only process very basic levels of mathematics. He would spend hours performing calculations and needed a way to speed up the process.

Working with engineers this Victorian man created the world’s first modern computer. This machine came with a computer processor, computer memory, and the ability to perform advanced calculations in loops.

All modern computers have stemmed from this one machine.

Babbage’s Analytical Engine was designed to be able to take a series of numbers and perform a series of calculations upon them. Babbage would use this machine to speed up his own calculation times.

Today all modern computers use the three components of the Analytical Engine; the processor, memory, and computation loops.

Because of this invention the world would begin to develop computers. It’s amazing that such an advanced machine was built shortly after the American and French Revolutions.

As such the Analytical Engine lands on this list of the top 5 most important inventions in human history.

The Battery

Invention NameThe Battery
Invention Date1800
Impact LevelHigh
InventorsAlessandro Volta and Luigi Galvani
Region of WorldItaly, 18th and 19th century
Further ReadingThe Battery: 3 Ways The Invention of The Battery Changed History

One of the most important inventions in human history came about in Italy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; this was the invention of the battery.

Two Italian inventors named Alessandro Volta and Luigi Galvani created the first modern battery in 1800. For the first time in human history people could now capture energy and store it for later use. This was a monumental accomplishment.

The concept of storing energy in a battery was not a new concept. We have evidence that inventors have been experimenting with energizing liquids and solids to store energy since the ancient Greeks. However, these ancient inventions would fail as they could not hold an electrical charge long enough to make the battery useful.

Volta and Galvani changed this by creating a device which could store energy for an extended period of time. This forever changed human history by giving humanity the ability to store excess energy for long periods of time.

Now inventors could begin to experiment with large scale machinery powered by excess energy which was stored by using battery technology. The Battery directly led to a revolution in machinery and factory production that today we call the Industrial Revolution.

As such the invention of the battery remains one of the most important inventions in human history.

The Steam Engine

Invention NameThe Steam Engine
Invention Date1776
InventorJames Watt
Impact LevelHigh
Region of WorldEngland, 18th century
Further ReadingSteam Engine: 3 Reasons Why It Changed The World

Easily one of the most important inventions in human history is the steam engine.

The concept of a steam powered device was not new during the modern era. The ancient Romans and Greeks had been experimenting with steam as a source of power nearly 1,500 years before the Steam Engine was formally invented. However, the one limiting factor of these early steam engines was the fuel needed to run it.

This would change during the 18th and 19th century in England when large amounts of coal deposits were discovered near the surface across the British Isles.

Coal was a better fuel source for steam power because of its higher burning temperature. Previously wood was the primary fuel source across Europe, however as the population grew the European forests started to decline.

Coal presented a new fuel source that was easily mined. Now it was cost effective to create steam powered engines that could produce massive amounts of energy easily.

As such in 1776 James Watt patented the world’s first modern steam engine. Over the next 40 years steam power came to dominate the world’s energy generation and would jumpstart the Industrial Revolution.

Without the steam engine it’s doubtful that the world and human history would look the same as it does today. As such the steam engine lands firmly on this list of the top 5 most important inventions in human history.


There you have it; an entire article dedicated to the top 5 most important inventions in human history.

Several other inventions could have been included on this list. However, the reason that only 5 made the list is because today nearly everyone around the world interacts with them on a daily basis. Without these inventions the world would look considerably different.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

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