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File:Wheel Iran.jpg

The wheel was invented circa 4000 BC, and has become one of the world's most famous, and most useful technologies. This wheel is on display in The National Museum of Iran, in Tehran.

The history of technology is the history of the invention of tools and techniques, and is similar in many ways to the history of humanity. Background knowledge has enabled people to create new things, and conversely, many scientific endeavors have become possible through technologies which assist humans to travel to places we could not otherwise go, and probe the nature of the universe in more detail than our natural senses allow.

Technological artifacts are products of an economy, a force for economic growth, and a large part of everyday life. Technological innovations affect, and are affected by, a society's cultural traditions. They also are a means to develop and project military power.

Measuring technological progress[]

Many sociologists and anthropologists have created social theories dealing with social and cultural evolution. Some, like Lewis H. Morgan, Leslie White, and Gerhard Lenski, declare technological progress to be the primary factor driving the development of human civilization. Morgan's concept of three major stages of social evolution (savagery, barbarism, and civilization) can be divided by technological milestones, like fire, the bow, and pottery in the savage era, domestication of animals, agriculture, and metalworking in the barbarian era and the alphabet and writing in the civilization era.

Instead of specific inventions, White decided that the measure by which to judge the evolution of culture was energy. For White "the primary function of culture" is to "harness and control energy." White differentiates between five stages of human development: In the first, people use energy of their own muscles. In the second, they use energy of domesticated animals. In the third, they use the energy of plants (agricultural revolution). In the fourth, they learn to use the energy of natural resources: coal, oil, gas. In the fifth, they harness nuclear energy. White introduced a formula P=E*T, where E is a measure of energy consumed, and T is the measure of efficiency of technical factors utilizing the energy. In his own words, "culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased". Russian astronomer, Nikolai Kardashev, extrapolated his theory creating the Kardashev scale, which categorizes the energy use of advanced civilizations.

Lenski takes a more modern approach and focuses on information. The more information and knowledge (especially allowing the shaping of natural environment) a given society has, the more advanced it is. He identifies four stages of human development, based on advances in the history of communication. In the first stage, information is passed by genes. In the second, when humans gain sentience, they can learn and pass information through by experience. In the third, the humans start using signs and develop logic. In the fourth, they can create symbols, develop language and writing. Advancements in the technology of communication translates into advancements in the economic system and political system, distribution of wealth, social inequality and other spheres of social life. He also differentiates societies based on their level of technology, communication and economy:

  • hunters and gatherers,
  • simple agricultural,
  • advanced agricultural,
  • industrial,
  • special (such as fishing societies).

Finally, from the late 1970s sociologists and anthropologists like Alvin Toffler (author of Future Shock), Daniel Bell and John Naisbitt have approached the theories of post-industrial societies, arguing that the current era of industrial society is coming to an end, and services and information are becoming more important than industry and goods. Some of the more extreme visions of the post-industrial society, especially in fiction, are strikingly similar to the visions of near and post-Singularity societies.

By period and geography[]

Early technology[]


Agriculture preceded writing in the history of technology.

  • Olduvai stone technology (Olduwan) 2.5 million years ago (scrapers; to butcher dead animals)
  • Acheulean stone technology 1.6 million years ago (hand axe)
  • Fire creation and manipulation, used since the Paleolithic, possibly by Homo erectus as early as 1.5 Million years ago
  • (Homo sapiens sapiens - modern human anatomy arises, around 200,000 years ago.)
  • Clothing possibly 100,000 years ago.
  • Stone tools, used by Homo floresiensis, possibly 100,000 years ago.
  • Ceramics ca. 25,000 BC
  • Domestication of Animals, ca. 15,000 BC
  • Bow, sling ca. 9th millennium BC
  • Microliths ca. 9th millennium BC
  • Copper ca. 8000 BC
  • Agriculture and Plough ca. 8000 BC
  • Wheel ca. 4000 BC
  • Gnomon ca. 4000 BC
  • Writing systems ca. 3500 BC
  • Bronze ca. 3300 BC
  • Salt
  • Chariot ca. 2000 BC
  • Iron ca. 1500 BC
  • Sundial ca. 800 BC
  • Glass ca. 500 BC
  • Catapult ca. 400 BC
  • Horseshoe ca. 300 BC
  • Stirrup first few centuries AD

Stone Age[]

File:National park stone tools.jpg

A variety of stone tools

During the Stone Age, all humans had a lifestyle which involved limited use of tools and few, if any, permanent settlements. The first major technologies, then, were tied to survival, hunting, and food preparation in this environment. Fire, stone tools and weapons, and clothing were technological developments of major importance during this period. Stone Age cultures developed music, and engaged in organized warfare. A subset of Stone Age humans developed ocean-worthy outrigger ship technology, leading to an eastward migration across the Malay archipelago, across the Indian ocean to Madagascar and also across the Pacific Ocean, which required knowledge of the ocean currents, weather patterns, sailing, celestial navigation, and star maps. The early Stone Age is described as Epipaleolithic or Mesolithic. The former is generally used to describe the early Stone Age in areas with limited glacial impact. The later Stone Age, during which the rudiments of agricultural technology were developed, is called the Neolithic period. During this period, polished stone tools were made from a variety of hard rocks such as flint, jade, jadeite and greenstone, largely by working exposures as quarries, but later the valuable rocks were pursued by tunnelling underground, the first steps in mining technology. The polished axes were used for forest clearance and the establishment of crop farming, and were so effective as to remain in use when bronze and iron appeared.

Although Paleolithic cultures left no written records, the shift from nomadic life to settlement and agriculture can be inferred from a range of archaeological evidence. Such evidence includes ancient tools,[1] cave paintings, and other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf. Human remains also provide direct evidence, both through the examination of bones, and the study of mummies. Though concrete evidence is limited, scientists and historians have been able to form significant inferences about the lifestyle and culture of various prehistoric peoples, and the role technology played in their lives.

Copper and Bronze Age[]

File:Sword bronze age (2nd version).jpg

A late Bronze Age sword or dagger blade.

The Stone Age developed into the Bronze Age after the Neolithic Revolution. The Neolithic Revolution involved radical changes in agricultural technology which included development of agriculture, animal domestication, and the adoption of permanent settlements. These combined factors made possible the development of metal smelting, with copper and later bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, being the materials of choice, although polished stone tools continued to be used for a considerable time owing to their abundance compared with the less common metals (especially tin).

This technological trend apparently began in the Fertile Crescent, and spread outward over time. It should be noted that these developments were not, and still are not, universal. The Three-age system does not accurately describe the technology history of groups outside of Eurasia, and does not apply at all in the case of some isolated populations, such as the Spinifex People, the Sentinelese, and various Amazonian tribes, which still make use of Stone Age technology, and have not developed agricultural or metal technology.

Iron Age[]

File:Axe of iron from Swedish Iron Age, found at Gotland, Sweden.jpg

An axehead made of iron, dating from Swedish Iron Age.

The Iron Age involved the adoption of iron smelting technology. It generally replaced bronze, and made it possible to produce tools which were stronger and cheaper to make than bronze equivalents. In many Eurasian cultures, the Iron Age was the last major step before the development of written language, though again this was not universally the case. It was not possible to mass manufacture steel because high furnace temperatures were needed, but steel could be produced by forging bloomery iron to reduce the carbon content in a controllable way. Iron ores were much more widespread than either copper or tin. In Europe, large hill forts were built either as a refuge in time of war, or sometimes as permanent settlements. In some cases, existing forts from the Bronze Age were expanded and enlarged. The pace of land clearance using the more effective iron axes increased, providing more farmland to support the growing population.

By 1000 BC – 500 BC, the Germanic tribes had a Bronze Age civilization, while the Celts were in the Iron Age by the time of the Hallstatt culture. Their cultures collided with the military and agricultural practices of the Romans, leading those Europeans who were conquered to adopt Roman technological advances.


Main article: Science and technology in Africa

Science and technology in Africa has a history stretching to the beginning of the human species, stretching back to the first evidence of tool use by hominid ancestors in the areas of Africa where humans are believed to have evolved. Africa saw the advent of some the earliest ironworking technology in the Aïr Mountains region of what is today Niger and the erection of some of the world's oldest monuments, pyramids and towers in Egypt, Nubia, and North Africa. In Nubia and ancient Kush, glazed quartzite and building in brick was developed to a greater extent than in Egypt. Parts of the East African Swahili Coast saw the creation of the world's oldest carbon steel creation with high-temperature blast furnaces created by the Haya people of Tanzania.

Ancient civilizations[]

Main article: Ancient technology

It was the growth of the ancient civilizations which produced the greatest advances in technology and engineering, advances which stimulated other societies to adopt new ways of living and governance.


Main article: Iraqi technology

The peoples of Mesopotamia (Sumerians, Assyrians, and Babylonians), in present-day Iraq, have been credited with the invention of the wheel. They lived in cities from c. 4000BC,[2] and developed a sophisticated architecture in mud-brick and stone,[3] including the use of the true arch. The walls of Babylon were so massive they were quoted as a Wonder of the World. They developed extensive water systems; canals for transport and irrigation in the alluvial south, and catchment systems stretching for tens of kilometres in the hilly north. Their palaces had sophisticated drainage systems.[4]

Writing was invented in Mesopotamia, using cuneiform script. Many records on clay tablets and stone inscriptions have survived. These civilisations were early adopters of bronze technologies which they used for tools, weapons and monumental statuary. By 1200 BC, they could cast objects 5m long in a single piece. The Assyrian King Sennacherib (704-681BC) claims to have invented automatic sluices and to have been the first to use water screws, of up to 30 tons weight, which were cast using two-part clay moulds rather than by the 'lost wax' process.[5] The Jerwan Aqueduct (c. 688 BC) is made with stone arches and lined with waterproof concrete.[6]

The Babylonians were meticulous astronomers (see Babylonian astronomy), keeping a series of records spanning 800 years. They were able to plot the motions of the planets and to predict eclipses[7]

Later during the Parthian or Sassanid periods, the Baghdad Battery vessels were capable of producing electricity and are considered the first batteries.

For later medieval technologies developed in the Mesopotamian region, now known as Iraq, see Inventions in the medieval Islamic world.


Main article: Egyptian technology

The Egyptians invented and used many machines, such as the ramp to aid construction processes. They were among the first to extract gold by large-scale mining using fire-setting, and the first recognisable map, the Turin papyrus shows the plan of one such mine in Nubia.

Egyptian paper, made from papyrus, and pottery were mass-produced and exported throughout the Mediterranean basin. The wheel, however, did not arrive until foreign invaders introduced the chariot. They developed Mediterranean maritime technology including ships and lighthouses.

The earliest watermills, using hydropowered wheels, were invented in Egypt some time around the 6th to 3rd centuries BC. Later in Roman Egypt, the Hellenized Egyptian engineer Heron of Alexandria performed an early experiment with wind power (see Heron of Alexandria's windwheel) and even an early steam-powered device (the aeolipile).

For later technologies in Ptolemaic Egypt, Roman Egypt, and Arab Egypt, see Ancient Greek technology, Roman technology and Inventions in medieval Islam respectively.


Main articles: History of Indian Science and Technology and List of Indian inventions

The Indus Valley Civilization, situated in a resource-rich area, is notable for its early application of city planning and sanitation technologies.

Ancient India was also at the forefront of seafaring technology—a panel found at Mohenjodaro, depicts a sailing craft. Ship construction is vividly described in the Yukti Kalpa Taru, an ancient Indian text on Shipbuilding. The Yukti Kalpa Taru, compiled by Bhoja Narapati is concerned with shipbuilding. (The Yukti Kalpa Taru had been translated and published by Prof. Aufrecht in his 'Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts').

The Takshashila University was an important seat of learning in the ancient world. It was the center of education for scholars from all over Asia. Many Greek, Persian and Chinese students studied here under great scholars including Kautilya, Panini, Jivaka, and Vishnu Sharma.

Indian construction and architecture, called 'Vaastu Shastra', suggests a thorough understanding of materials engineering, hydrology, and sanitation. Ancient Indian culture was also pioneering in its use of vegetable dyes, cultivating plants including indigo and cinnabar. Many of the dyes were used in art and sculpture. The use of perfumes demonstrates some knowledge of chemistry, particularly distillation and purification processes.


Main articles: History of science and technology in China and List of Chinese inventions

The Chinese made many first-known discoveries and developments. Major technological contributions from China include early seismological detectors, matches, paper, cast iron, the iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, the parachute, natural gas as fuel, the magnetic compass, the raised-relief map, the propeller, the crossbow, the South Pointing Chariot, and gun powder.

Persian Empire[]

Main article: Science and technology in Iran

The Qanat, a water management system used for irrigation, originated in Iran before the Achaemenid period of Persia. The oldest and largest known qanat is in the Iranian city of Gonabad which, after 2,700 years, still provides drinking and agricultural water to nearly 40,000 people.[8] The Persian Empire was also responsible for developing the Royal Road, the first ancient highway.

Persian philosophers and inventors may have created the first batteries, sometimes known as the Baghdad Battery, in the Parthian or Sassanid eras. Some have suggested that the batteries may have been used medicinally. Other scientists believe the batteries were used for electroplating—transferring a thin layer of metal to another metal surface—a technique still used today and the focus of a common classroom experiment.[9]

In the 7th century AD, Persians in Afghanistan developed the first practical windmills. For later medieval technologies developed in Islamic Persia, see Inventions in medieval Islam.

Hellenistic Mediterranean[]

Hellenistic engineers around the Eastern Mediterranean developed several technologies and improved upon pre-existing technologies. The Hellenistic period saw a rise in technological inventiveness, fostered by a climate of openness to new idea, royal patronage the blossom of a mechanistic philosophy and the establishment of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt and its close association with the adjacent museion. In contrast to the typically anonymous inventor of earlier ages, ingenuine minds now remained known by name to posterity, such as the Greek engineers Archimedes and Philo of Byzantium, and the Egyptian engineers Heron and Ctesibius.

Ancient agriculture, as in any period prior to the modern age the primary mode of production and subsistence, and its irrigation methods were fairly advanced by the application of several previously unknown water-lifting devices, including possibly the vertical water-wheel, or compartmented wheel, as well as the Archimedes screw, the bucket-chain and pot-garland, and quite possibly the chain pump.[10] Other developments for the operation of mechanical devices included the right-angled gear and the screw.

Roman Empire[]

The Romans developed an intensive and sophisticated agriculture, expanded upon existing iron working technology, created laws providing for individual ownership, advanced stone masonry technology, advanced road-building, military engineering, civil engineering, spinning and weaving and several different machines like the Gallic reaper that helped to increase productivity in many sectors of the Roman economy. Roman engineers also built monumental arches, amphitheatres, aqueducts, public baths, true arch bridges, harbours, reservoirs and dams, vaults, and domes. Notable Roman developments include the Codex, glass blowing, and concrete. Because Rome was located on a volcanic peninsula, with sand which contained suitable crystalline grains, the concrete which the Romans formulated was especially durable. Some of their buildings have lasted 2000 years, to the present day.


The engineering skills of the Inca and the Mayans were great, even by today's standards. An example is the use of pieces weighing in upwards of one ton in their stonework placed together so that not even a blade can fit in-between the cracks. The villages used irrigation canals and drainage systems, making agriculture very efficient. While some claim that the Incas were the first inventors of hydroponics, their agricultural technology was still soil based, if advanced. Though the Maya civilization had no metallurgy or wheel technology, they developed complex writing and astrological systems, and created sculptural works in stone and flint. Like the Inca, the Maya also had command of fairly advanced agricultural and construction technology. Throughout this time period much of this construction, was made only by women, as men of the Maya civilization believed that females were responsible for the creation of new things. The main contribution of the Aztec rule was a system of communications between the conquered cities. In Mesoamerica, without draft animals for transport (nor, as a result, wheeled vehicles), the roads were designed for travel on foot, just like the Inca and Mayan civilizations.

Medieval and Modern technologies[]

Islamic Agricultural Revolution[]

Main articles: Islamic Agricultural Revolution, Inventions in medieval Islam, and Timeline of science and engineering in the Islamic world

From the 8th century, the medieval Islamic world witnessed a fundamental transformation in agriculture known as the "Islamic Agricultural Revolution", "Arab Agricultural Revolution", or "Islamic Green Revolution".[11][12] Due to the global economy established by Muslim explorers and Islamic traders across the Old World during the "Afro-Asiatic age of discovery" or "Pax Islamica", this enabled the diffusion of many crops, plants and farming techniques between different parts of the Islamic world, as well as the adaptation of crops, plants and techniques from beyond the Islamic world, distributed throughout Islamic lands which normally would not be able to grow these crops.[13] The diffusion of numerous crops during this period, along with an increased mechanization of agriculture, led to major changes in economy, population distribution, vegetation cover,[14] agricultural production and income, population levels, urban growth, the distribution of the labour force, linked industries, cooking and diet, clothing, and numerous other aspects of life in the Islamic world.[13]

Muslim engineers in the Islamic world were responsible for numerous innovative industrial uses of hydropower, the early industrial uses of tidal power, wind power, and petroleum, and large factory complexes (tiraz in Arabic).[15] The industrial uses of watermills were in widespread use since the 8th century. A variety of industrial mills were developed in the Islamic world, including fulling mills, gristmills, hullers, sawmills, shipmills, stamp mills, steel mills, sugar mills, and windmills. By the 11th century, every province throughout the Islamic world had these industrial mills in operation, from al-Andalus and North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia.[16] Muslim engineers also developed crankshafts and water turbines.[17] A number of inventions were produced by Muslim scientists and engineers during this time, including inventors such as Abbas Ibn Firnas, the Banu Musa brothers, Al-Jazari, and Taqi al-Din.[18][19][20]

A particularly important contribution from the Islamic world was the 'water management technological complex' which was central to the "Islamic Green Revolution" and,[12] by extension, a precondition for the emergence of modern technology.[21] The various components of this 'toolkit' were developed in different parts of the Afro-Eurasian landmass, both within and beyond the Islamic world. However, it was in the medieval Islamic lands where the technological complex was assembled and standardized, and subsequently diffused to the rest of the Old World.[22] Under the rule of a single Islamic Caliphate, different regional hydraulic technologies were assembled into "an identifiable water management technological complex that was to have a global impact." The various components of this complex included canals, dams, the qanat system from Persia, regional water-lifting devices such as the noria, shaduf and screwpump from Egypt, and the windmill from Islamic Afghanistan.[22] Other original Islamic developments included the saqiya with a flywheel effect from Islamic Spain,[23] the reciprocating suction pump[17][24][25] and crankshaft-connecting rod mechanism from Iraq,[26][27] the geared and hydropowered water supply system from Syria,[28] and the distilled water and water purification methods of Islamic chemists.[29][30]

Medieval Europe[]

Main article: Medieval technology

European technology in the Middle Ages may be best described as a symbiosis of traditio et innovatio. While medieval technology has been long depicted as a step backwards in the evolution of Western technology, sometimes willfully so by modern authors intent on denouncing the church as antagonistic to scientific progress (see e.g. Myth of the Flat Earth), a generation of medievalists around the American historian of science Lynn White stressed from the 1940s onwards the innovative character of many medieval techniques. Medieval technologies included, for example, mechanical clocks, spectacles, and vertical windmills. Medieval ingenuity was also displayed in the invention or adoption of seemingly inconspicuous items, like the watermark or the functional button. In navigation, the foundation to the subsequent age of exploration was laid by the introduction or adoption of pintle-and-gudgeon rudders, lateen sails, the dry compass, the horseshoe, and the astrolabe.

Significant advances were also made in military technology with the development or adoption of plate armour, steel crossbows, counterweight trebuchets and cannon. Perhaps best known are the Middle Ages for their architectural heritage: While the rib vault and pointed arch gave rise to the high rising Gothic style, the ubiquitous medieval fortifications gave the era the almost proverbial title of the 'age of castles'.

Renaissance Europe[]

Main article: Renaissance technology

The era is marked by advancements like the printing press, linear perceptivity, patent law, double shell domes or Bastion fortresses. Note books of the Renaissance artist-engineers such as Taccola and Leonardo da Vinci give a deep insight into the mechanical technology then known and applied. Architects and engineers were inspired by the structures of Ancient Rome, and men like Brunelleschi created the large dome of Florence Cathedral as a result. He was awarded one of the first patents ever issued in order to protect an ingenious crane he designed to raise the large masonry stones to the top of the structure. Military technology developed rapidly with the widespread use of the cross-bow and ever more powerful artillery, as the city-states of Italy were usually in conflict with one another. Powerful families like the Medici were strong patrons of the arts and sciences. Renaissance science spawned the Scientific Revolution; science and technology began a cycle of mutual advancement.

Age of Exploration[]

Main article: Age of Exploration

The sailing ship (Nau or Carrack) enabled the Age of Exploration with the European colonization of the Americas, epitomized by Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis. Pioneers like Vasco de Gama, Cabral, Magellan and Christopher Columbus explored the world in search of new trade routes for their goods and contacts with Africa, India and China which shortened the journey compared with traditional routes overland. They also re-discovered the Americas while doing so. They produced new maps and charts which enabled following mariners to explore further with greater confidence. Navigation was generally difficult however owing to the problem of longitude and the absence of accurate chronometers. European powers rediscovered the idea of the civil code, lost since the time of the Ancient Greeks.

Industrial Revolution[]

Main article: Industrial Revolution

The British Industrial Revolution is characterized by developments in the areas of textile manufacturing, mining, metallurgy and transport driven by the development of the steam engine. Above all else, the revolution was driven by cheap energy in the form of coal, produced in ever-increasing amounts from the abundant resources of Britain. Coal converted to coke gave the blast furnace and cast iron in much larger amounts than before, and a range of structures could be created, such as The Iron Bridge. Cheap coal meant that industry was no longer constrained by water resources driving the mills, although it continued as a valuable source of power. The steam engine helped drain the mines, so more coal reserves could be accessed, and the output of coal increased. The development of the high-pressure steam engine made locomotives possible, and a transport revolution followed.

19th century[]

File:Stephenson's Rocket.jpg

The preserved Rocket

The 19th century saw astonishing developments in transportation, construction, and communication technologies originating in Europe, especially in Britain. The Steam Engine which had existed since the early 18th century, was practically applied to both steamboat and railway transportation. The first purpose built railway line opened between Manchester and Liverpool in 1830, the Rocket locomotive of Robert Stephenson being one of the first working locomotives used on the line. Telegraphy also developed into a practical technology in the 19th century to help run the railways safely.

Other technologies were explored for the first time, including the Incandescent light bulb. The Portsmouth Block Mills was where manufacture of ships' pulley blocks by all-metal machines first took place and instigated the age of mass production. Machine tools used by engineers to manufacture other machines began in the first decade of the century, notably by Richard Roberts and Joseph Whitworth. Steamships were eventually completely iron-clad, and played a role in the opening of Japan and China to trade with the West. Mechanical computing was envisioned by Charles Babbage but did not come to fruition. The Second Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century saw rapid development of chemical, electrical, petroleum, and steel technologies connected with highly structured technology research.

20th century[]

File:Buzz salutes the U.S. Flag.jpg

Landing on the Moon

20th Century technology developed rapidly. Communication technology, transportation technology, broad teaching and implementation of scientific method, and increased research spending all contributed to the advancement of modern science and technology. Due to the scientific gains directly tied to military research and development, technologies including electronic computing might have developed as rapidly as they did in part due to war. Radio, radar, and early sound recording were key technologies which paved the way for the telephone, fax machine, and magnetic storage of data. Energy and engine technology improvements were also vast, including nuclear power, developed after the Manhattan project. Transport by rocketry: most work occurred in the U.S. (Goddard), Russia (Tsiolkovsky) and Germany (Oberth). Making use of computers and advanced research labs, modern scientists have recombinant DNA.

The National Academy of Engineering, by expert vote, established the following ranking of the most important technological developments of the 20th century [1]:

  1. Electrification
  2. Automobile
  3. Airplane
  4. Water supply and Distribution
  5. Electronics
  6. Radio and Television
  7. Mechanised agriculture
  8. Computers
  9. Telephone
  10. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
  11. Highways
  12. Spacecraft
  13. Internet
  14. Imaging
  15. Household appliances
  16. Health Technologies
  17. Petroleum and Petrochemical Technologies
  18. Laser and Fiber Optics
  19. Nuclear technologies
  20. Materials science

21st century[]

File:NASA Mars Rover.jpg

The Mars Exploration Rovers have provided huge amounts of information by functioning well beyond NASA's original lifespan estimates.

Main article: 2000s in science and technology

In the 21st century, technology is being developed even more rapidly, especially in electronics and biotechnology. Broadband Internet access became commonplace in developed countries, as did connecting home computers with music libraries and mobile phones.

Research is ongoing into quantum computers, nanotechnology, bioengineering, nuclear fusion (see ITER and DEMO), advanced materials (e.g., enhanced armor), the scramjet (along with railguns and high-energy beams for military uses), superconductivity, the memristor, and green technologies such as alternative fuels (e.g., fuel cells, plugin hybrid cars) and more efficient LEDs and solar cells.

The understanding of particle physics is also expected to expand through particle accelerator projects, such as the Large Hadron Collider – the largest science project in the world [31] and neutrino detectors such as the ANTARES. Theoretical physics currently investigates quantum gravity proposals such as M-theory, superstring theory, and loop quantum gravity.

Spacecraft designs are also being developed, i.a. under the Project Constellation (see Orion and Ares V). The James Webb Space Telescope will try to identify early galaxies as well as the exact location of the Solar System within our galaxy, using the infrared spectrum. The finished International Space Station will provide an intermediate platform for space missions and zero gravity experiments. Despite challenges and criticism, NASA and ESA plan a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

By type of technology[]

History of biotechnology[]

Main article: History of biotechnology

To be incorporated into main article:

  • Timeline of agriculture and food technology
  • Hunter-gatherer
  • Agriculture
  • Food science
  • Genetically modified food
  • History of agricultural science
  • History of gardening
  • Biotechnology (timeline, etc.)
  • History of sushi
  • History of tea in China

History of civil engineering[]

Main articles: History of civil engineering and History of construction

To be incorporated:

  • Civil engineering
  • Architecture and building construction
  • Bridges, harbors, tunnels, dams
  • Surveying, instruments and maps, cartography, urban engineering, water supply and sewerage

History of communication[]

Main article: History of communication

To be incorporated:

  • Communications
  • Writing systems
  • Telecommunications
  • History of mobile phones
  • History of animation
  • History of broadcasting
  • History of radar
  • History of radio
  • Printing
  • Cinema
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Internet

History of computing[]

Main article: History of computer hardware
  • History of computing hardware before 1960
  • History of computing hardware (1960s–present)
  • History of computer hardware in Soviet Bloc countries
  • History of computer science
  • History of operating systems
  • History of software engineering
  • History of programming languages
  • History of artificial intelligence
  • History of the graphical user interface
  • History of the Internet
  • History of the World Wide Web
  • History of computer and video games

History of consumer technology[]

Main article: History of consumer technology
  • Timeline of lighting technology
  • History of textiles and clothing
  • History of materials science
  • Family and consumer science
  • History of knitting
  • History of lensmaking
  • History of the chair
  • History of the umbrella
  • Manufacturing

History of electrical engineering[]

Main article: Electrical Engineering#History
  • History of street lighting in the United States

History of energy technology[]

Main article: History of energy
  • Energy (History, Use by humans, See also)
  • History of coal mining
  • History of perpetual motion machines
  • History of petroleum
  • History of the oil shale industry
  • History of wind power
  • Hydropower
  • Timeline of steam power
  • Timeline of alcohol fuel
  • Timeline of hydrogen technologies
  • Timeline of nuclear fusion
  • Working animal

History of materials science[]

Main article: History of materials science
  • Timeline of materials technology
  • Metallurgy
  • Materials and processing

History of measurement[]

Main article: History of measurement
  • History of time in the United States
  • Timeline of time measurement technology

History of medicine[]

Main article: History of medicine

History of military technology[]

Main article: History of warfare

History of nuclear technology[]

Main article: Nuclear technology#History
  • Manhattan Project
  • Atomic Age
  • Nuclear testing
  • Nuclear arms race

History of science and technology[]

Main article: History of science and technology
  • History of telescopes
  • Timeline of telescopes, observatories, and observing technology
  • Timeline of microscope technology
  • Timeline of particle physics technology
  • Timeline of low-temperature technology
  • Timeline of temperature and pressure measurement technology

History of transport technology[]

Main article: Historic transport
  • Timeline of motor and engine technology
  • Timeline of photography technology
  • Timeline of rocket and missile technology
  • Timeline of communication technology

See also[]

Related history[]

Related disciplines[]

  • Timeline of historic inventions
  • List of independent discoveries
  • Critique of technology
  • Technical education
  • Philosophy of technology
  • History of science and technology (field of study)
  • History of ideas (field of study)
  • Technology Dynamics (field of study)
  • Technology
  • Engineering
    • Mechanical engineering
  • Science and technology in Canada

Related subjects[]

  • High technology
  • Simple machine
  • Deindustrialization

Future of science and technology (speculative)[]

Futures Wiki, an external wiki

  • Emerging technologies
  • Futurology
  • Technological singularity
  • Technocapitalism
  • Technological change
  • Technological determinism
  • Technology forecasting
  • Robotics


  • List of engineers and list of inventors
  • Biography of inventors and explorers
  • Technical societies
  • Technocracy
  • Technology and society

Historiography of science and technology[]

  • Kranzberg's laws of technology
  • Lexikon der gesamten Technik
  • Exploratory engineering

Historians of science and technology[]

  • Johann Beckmann
  • I. Bernard Cohen
  • Ruth Schwartz Cowan
  • John L. Heilbron
  • Thomas P. Hughes
  • Daniel Kevles
  • Melvin Kranzberg
  • Thomas Kuhn
  • Dylan Stiddle
  • Lewis Mumford
  • Joseph Needham
  • Abraham Pais
  • George Sarton
  • Charles Singer
  • W. Patrick McCray
  • W. David Lewis
  • Silvio A. Bedini
  • Paul Josephson
  • Harry Lintsen

Journals and periodicals in the history of science and technology[]

  • History of Technology
  • ICON
  • Technology and Culture
  • Transactions of the Newcomen Society


  • Marx's notebooks on the history of technology

Research institutes[]

  • Bell Labs
  • Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin


  1. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0114_040114_siberianhumans.html
  2. JN Postgate, Early Mesopotamia, Routledge(1992)
  3. See entries under Nineveh and Babylon
  4. S Dalley, The Mystery of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Oxford University Press(2013)
  5. Dalley (2013)
  6. T Jacobsen and S Lloyd, Sennacherib's Aqueduct at Jerwan, Chicago University Press,(1935)
  7. CBF Walker, Astronomy before the telescope, British Museum Press, (1996)
  8. Ward English, Paul (June 21, 1968). "The Origin and Spread of Qanats in the Old World". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 112 (3): pp 170–181. JSTOR.
  9. BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Riddle of 'Baghdad's batteries'
  10. Oleson, John Peter (2000), "Water-Lifting", in Wikander, Örjan, Handbook of Ancient Water Technology, Technology and Change in History, 2, Leiden, pp. 217–302, ISBN 90-04-11123-9 
  11. Thomas F. Glick (1977), "Noria Pots in Spain", Technology and Culture 18 (4), p. 644-650.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Edmund Burke (June 2009), "Islam at the Center: Technological Complexes and the Roots of Modernity", Journal of World History (University of Hawaii Press) 20 (2): 165–186 [174], doi:10.1353/jwh.0.0045 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Andrew M. Watson (1974), "The Arab Agricultural Revolution and Its Diffusion, 700-1100", The Journal of Economic History 34 (1), p. 8-35.
  14. Andrew M. Watson (1983), Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-24711-X.
  15. Maya Shatzmiller, p. 36.
  16. Adam Robert Lucas (2005), "Industrial Milling in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds: A Survey of the Evidence for an Industrial Revolution in Medieval Europe", Technology and Culture 46 (1), p. 1-30 [10].
  17. 17.0 17.1 Donald Routledge Hill, "Mechanical Engineering in the Medieval Near East", Scientific American, May 1991, p. 64-69. (cf. Donald Routledge Hill, Mechanical Engineering) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Hill2" defined multiple times with different content
  18. Paul Vallely, How Islamic Inventors Changed the World, The Independent, 11 March 2006.
  19. Bosworth, C. E. (Autumn 1981), "A Mediaeval Islamic Prototype of the Fountain Pen?", Journal of Semitic Studies XXVl (i) 
  20. "Origins of the Fountain Pen ". Muslimheritage.com. Retrieved on September 18 2007.
  21. Edmund Burke (June 2009), "Islam at the Center: Technological Complexes and the Roots of Modernity", Journal of World History (University of Hawaii Press) 20 (2): 165–186 [168], doi:10.1353/jwh.0.0045 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Edmund Burke (June 2009), "Islam at the Center: Technological Complexes and the Roots of Modernity", Journal of World History (University of Hawaii Press) 20 (2): 165–186 [168 & 173], doi:10.1353/jwh.0.0045  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Burke-173" defined multiple times with different content
  23. Ahmad Y Hassan, Flywheel Effect for a Saqiya.
  24. Ahmad Y Hassan. The Origin of the Suction Pump: Al-Jazari 1206 A.D.. Retrieved on 2008-07-16.
  25. Donald Routledge Hill (1996), A History of Engineering in Classical and Medieval Times, Routledge, pp. 143 & 150-2
  26. Sally Ganchy, Sarah Gancher (2009), Islam and Science, Medicine, and Technology, The Rosen Publishing Group, p. 41, ISBN 1435850661 
  27. Ahmad Y Hassan, The Crank-Connecting Rod System in a Continuously Rotating Machine
  28. Howard R. Turner (1997), Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction, p. 181, University of Texas Press, ISBN 0-292-78149-0
  29. George Rafael, A is for Arabs, Salon.com, January 8, 2002
  30. Levey, M. (1973), ‘ Early Arabic Pharmacology’, E. J. Brill; Leiden
  31. DiscoveryChannel.ca – Colossal construction: The world's nine largest science projects


  • Singer, C., Holmyard, E.J., Hall, A. R and Williams, T. I. (eds.), (1954-59 and 1978) A History of Technology,, 7 vols., Oxford, Clarendon Press,. (Vols 6 and 7, 1978, ed. T. I. Williams)
  • Kranzberg, Melvin and Pursell, Carroll W. Jr., eds. (1967)Technology in Western Civilization: Technology in the Twentieth Century New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Pacey, Arnold, (1974, 2ed 1994),The Maze of Ingenuity The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, 1974, [2ed 1994, cited here]
  • Derry, Thomas Kingston and Williams, Trevor I., (1993) A Short History of Technology: From the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900. New York: Dover Publications.
  • Brush, S. G. (1988). The History of Modern Science: A Guide to the Second Scientific Revolution 1800-1950. Ames: Iowa State University Press.
  • Bunch, Bryan and Hellemans, Alexander, (1993) The Timetables of Technology, New York, Simon and Schuster.
  • Greenwood, Jeremy (1997) The Third Industrial Revolution: Technology, Productivity and Income Inequality AEI Press.
  • Landa, Manuel de, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, 2001.
  • Olby, R. C. et al., eds. (1996). Companion to the History of Modern Science,. New York, Routledge.

External links[]

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