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Top 25 Innovations of the Past 25 Years 624

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the counting-them-down dept.
HarvardAce writes "CNN has just released a list of 24 of the top 25 innovations of the past 25 years. Most of them are things we use every day in life, such as cell phones (#2), PCs (#3), and e-mail (#5). CNN won't release the #1 innovation until Sunday, January 18 at 8pm EST (Monday, Jan 19 @ 1AM GMT), so I wanted to see if Slashdot users could come up with what they think the #1 innovation is and comment on the rest of the list."
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Top 25 Innovations of the Past 25 Years

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  • #1 will be... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by waynegoode (758645) * on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:47AM (#11296816) Homepage
    #1 will be The World Wide Web/The Internet.
    • by PoopJuggler (688445) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:56AM (#11296897)
      or the George Foreman Grilling Machine.
      Tough call...
    • Re:#1 will be... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by heller (4484)
      If they say the Web or the Internet then they'ld be wrong. The internet was started 35 years ago by DARPA and the Web, while ostensibly "invented" in the early 90's was actually just an application of the the hyptertext idea which was invented in the 1950s. The verification of this data is left as an excercise to the reader.
      • Come on, the innovation was applying hypertext to documents located on 1 or more remote machines, thus creating the web.
      • IAWTP (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Uber Banker (655221)
        How can PCs be #3 when they are the requirement for #1 (if #1 is indeed teh intarweb) - perhaps a hierarchy could be ordered - perhaps assessed on their own merits, anyway, I Agree With The Parent? Is this reflex journalism another excuse to fill the time and earn some $$$?

        Or is this another excuse for hypnotic television:
        #1 Rule of profitable television - do not offend the advertised
        #2 Rule of profitable television - do not challenge the viewer
        #3 Rule of profitable television - pander to the viewer'
        • Re:IAWTP (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jessecurry (820286)
          How can PCs be #3 when they are the requirement for #1 (if #1 is indeed teh intarweb)
          PCs are not required for the internet to function. Almost any consumer good that you purchase now has a version with internet connectivity; these range from the obvious, cellular telephones, to the not so obvious, washer/dryer, oven, refrigerator, etc...
          PCs just happened to be the first such item that most individuals used to connect to the internet. The internet itself is far more valuable to society than just a forum
        • #1 Rule of Slashdot -if using a numbered list include #.???? and #+1. Profit!!!!! but seriously: How can PCs be #3 and the internet #1? Because the internet was established, and could exist, with only mainframes and "non-personal type" computers. I think home computers would have become obsolete and replaced with more specialized devices (as many people had predicted) if they did not evolve into useful (although not the only) device for accessing the internet.
      • If they say the Web or the Internet then they'ld [sic] be wrong. The internet was started 35 years ago by DARPA. . .

        Not necessarily. Yes, the internet was invented 35 years ago, but so were hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are on there so, a Modern internet could also be on the list.

      • Read the article (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dean Edmonds (189342) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:12AM (#11296998)
        They don't say that these innovations were created in the last 25 years, just that they "have become widely used since 1980".

        The net most certainly falls into that category.
      • ...The Internet did not become a commercial entity until 1992, the year that the US military moved their servers off the Internet (more or less).

        But you have to admit one thing though: the real explosion of Internet use started in the fall of 1995, when Windows 95 with its built-in SLIP/PPP networking stack gave PC compatible users easy access to the Internet for the first time (Windows 3.1 could access the Internet using third-party addons, but given the nature of computer users that was still relatively
      • Re:#1 will be... (Score:5, Informative)

        by dspeyer (531333) <dspeyer@@@wam...umd...edu> on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:02PM (#11297324) Homepage Journal
        The internet goes back to around 1970, but TCP/IP was invented in 1983. This gave us truely scalable routing and a seperate (therefore optional) transfer layer. The internet wouldn't be able to do all the useful things it does now if it still ran NCP.
        • Re:#1 will be... (Score:3, Informative)

          by isdnip (49656)
          To be more precise, the ARPAnet first went live in 1969, using NCP, and TCP/IP was invented in the early 1970s. In 1983, NCP support was turned off, and TCP/IP became mandatory. But it had been bopping around the lab, and to some extent the net, for years before "flag day".

          And while it's probably true that NCP as it existed wasn't adequate, TCP/IP is rather kludgey too for today's use. It is there because of inertia and religious support for it (people worship it as if it were handed to Moses on Sinai).
    • One thing they didn't mention was microchips, from which most of this stuff, including the Internet, stems. I think it will be #1.
      • Re:#1 will be... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by STrinity (723872)
        One thing they didn't mention was microchips, from which most of this stuff, including the Internet, stems.

        Microchips were invented after 1980?
    • Internet pr0n. It's the reason that most people use #3 (PC's,) fiber optics (#4) were invented to deliver it faster, and e-mail (#5) makes it available to the masses. As for cell phones (#2), the best use for which is to call up women so you can eventually *see* them naked... how many /.ers know any women in the first place?
      • by Monty_Lovering (842499) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:38PM (#11297606)
        Actually, this reminds me of a great bit from a UK comedy called 'Coupling', a bit like Friends except you never feel like killing the main characters, it is far ruder, and actually really funny. In it one character managed to build a convincing argument that every single major technological innovation was to enable men to see more breasts. Fire; you can see breasts at night. Art; enabled people to draw breasts. Clothing; you don't appreciate seeing breasts the same if they are out there all the time. Domesticated beats of burden; you can travel longer distances to see breasts. Agriculture; no mote multi-day hunting trips away from breasts. Water transport; now water is no barrier to seeing breasts. Writing; allowed communication about breasts. The wheel; as per beast of burden. Printing; allowed mass production of the art. Photography; allowed you to see real breasts even if they weren't there. The telephone; enabled calling women to arrange seeing their breasts. Film; moving breasts! .. and so forth. And the Internet is the crowning achievement, as it means a man (or woman if so inclined) can see more breasts in an afternoon than a person could realistically ever have seen in their lifetime.
    • The Spork! (Score:2, Funny)

      by oskard (715652)
      Nuff said.
    • It's obviously the Segway.
    • Re:#1 *should* be... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by anactofgod (68756)
      Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

      Or, perhaps, a related technology like gene therapy.
    • Re:#1 will be... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by benna (614220)
      With all the hype surrounding blogs this year, that has to be it. (Yes it would be stupid, but you just know they will do it anyway).
  • The internet? (No, I didn't RTFA)
  • i have a strong feeling #1 is 'www', i guess it could be internet , but then email wouldn't be on the list
  • Retarded CNN (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Directrix1 (157787) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:48AM (#11296824)
    Yeah Plasma TVs and HDTV is a real super innovation. Give me a break, this list is just a big ad.
  • If so...the answer is simple: Internet Pr0n :-)

    -JT
  • segway (Score:3, Funny)

    by bmwm3nut (556681) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:50AM (#11296840)
    it's gotta be the segway. afterall wasn't "it" supposed to revolutize our lives? :)
  • by Carewolf (581105)
    The top invention has do be news networks, just to pad themselves on the back :)

    Seriously "The World Wide Web" is a pretty good bet, the have only listed email so far.
    • Or, more specifically, how about satellite phones, to allow them to file copy faster. (Technically, sat phones are different from cellphone / mobiles, already listed, but CNN may deem them different enough).

      Or, for something that Joe public would recognise, how about Central door locking for cars?
      • Or, for something that Joe public would recognise, how about Central door locking for cars?

        Sorry, but that's been around for much more than 25 years. I've ridden in 60's Cadillacs with central locking doors.

  • Boo on this list. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garcia (6573) * on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#11296855)
    For example, many people turn off their PCs (No. 3) and their HDTV (No. 19) or plasma screen TVs (No. 18) as they leave their homes.

    Excuse me? PCs are VERY important and probably deserving of #3 but to say that HDTV and Plasma are in the top 100 is pushing it.

    I have only seen HDTV at stores and on display at the state fair (I'm relatively unimpressed). I know one single person that has it and he uses it through DirecTV. I don't know a single person that owns a Plasma screen and I really don't think that they are terribly important.

    HDTV is a bunch of tax-funded bullshit that's going to bring down the right to record as you choose. Media conglomorates aren't going to want you to have digitized recordings of high-def format because then you can compete with their DRMd discs.

    Boo on this list.
    • by maynard (3337) <`j.maynard.gelinas' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:05AM (#11296944) Journal
      I have only seen HDTV at stores and on display at the state fair (I'm relatively unimpressed). I know one single person that has it and he uses it through DirecTV.

      I own two HDTVs, an Hitachi rear projection CRT set and a Sony HS-20 front project or for my living room. Combined with a decent DD 5.1 sound and a home theater really does compete with commercial movie theaters. In Boston every broadcast station is now digital; that's ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, UPN, and WC. I actually get more HD content from broadcast than DirecTV (I have DirectTV too). HBO and Showtime in HD is pretty damn nice. Widescreen aspect ration is very damn nice! Uhhh... whether HDTV is the greatest consumer invention since sliced bread, I don't know. But... I like it! :)

      HDTV is a bunch of tax-funded bullshit that's going to bring down the right to record as you choose. Media conglomorates aren't going to want you to have digitized recordings of high-def format because then you can compete with their DRMd discs.

      Uhhh... just so we're clear: HDTV display technology and broadcast standards are different from the political policies being pursued by media conglomerates in their attempt to limit consumer freedom. Right? HDTV deployment does not mandate the consumer limitation by politcial fiat. --M
    • I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, I feel so about most of the things on the list, too.

      How important is HDTV really to *most* Americans?

      Boo to that list, indeed!
    • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:11PM (#11297410) Homepage
      Yeah, because having a shotgun blank fired into a plastic bag 18 inches from your face is *sooo* much safer than wearing a seatbelt.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#11296856) Homepage Journal
    so I am expecting CNN to be listed as the greatest innovation in the past 25 years.
  • iPod (Score:5, Funny)

    by ponds (728911) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#11296858)
    It's obviously the iPod, we can stop speculating now.
  • RFID (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amembleton (411990) <.moc.toofgib. .ta. .notelbmea.> on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#11296863) Homepage
    I am suprised that RFID is at #10 on the list.

    From the article: In creating the list, the group hoped to single out "25 non-medically related technological innovations that have become widely used since 1980, are readily recognizable by most Americans, have had a direct and perceptible impact on our everyday lives, and/or could dramatically affect our lives in the future

    Is RFID really recognisable by most Americans?
  • When HTML and HTTP came out, the internet exploded. Home computers started coming out with internet connectivity built-in. (Remember the days of Winsock?)

    I also noted that Magnetic Resonance Imaging wasn't in the article. That technology changed surgery.
  • I mean after all the Dean Kamen hype for like two years before he came out with that thing how could it not be?

    Remember, these are journalists they don't admit mistakes.
  • The number one innovation is...

    The Fleshlight! Super-tight, just like prom night.
  • It's a no brainer. The Internet proper
  • RDS Radio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by amembleton (411990) <.moc.toofgib. .ta. .notelbmea.> on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:01AM (#11296924) Homepage
    I would have expected RDS Radio to have featured somewhere in the list. Do you have RDS Radio available in the states? Basically as you drive around your car radio looks for a stronger signal from the same station and then switches to it if it finds one. Also you can search for stations based upon criteria like News or Pop Music. And, the radios can display text, like phone numbers for a competion or the name of the track that is playing.

    Other inovations I would have expected, would be Digital Radio and Digital TV. But they aren't as common as RDS because they are newer.
    • Yes it's available here in the states, and my car stereo has RDS capability.
    • ah, you crazy brits and your "radio one" or whatever they're calling it these days. No, here in america every station in an area is a being unto itself, you'd never be able to find two stations playing the same thing close enough together for you to pick up both of them. On long car trips that take us outside the range of the stations we know, we'll just listen to CDs instead.
      • I suppose the population density here in the UK is a lot greater than it is in the states. So, with that getting a radio signal would be difficult.

        But, I keep hearing about satelitte radio here on /., so wouldn't that be an innovation, or is it not that widespread?
    • RDS isn't common at all in the states. I remember having a rental car in the UK 7 years ago with RDS and thinking it was pretty neat. But in all that time, it hasn't crossed the pond. -dave
  • ...I would have to say DNS (around 1981), which brought the internet to what it is today.
  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@nOSpaM.barbara-hudson.com> on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:05AM (#11296948) Journal
    #1 will be search engines - google, yahoo, etc.

    They make the web, newgroups, etc useful.

    "Google it" :-)

  • NetBSD - www.NetBSD.org
    • by pschmied (5648)
      Thanks Hubert! You and the rest of the NetBSD team rock.

      I'm not sure that NetBSD is the #1 technical innovation in the last 25 years, but it's pretty damn nice.

      I'm happily running NetBSD 2.0 with my Netgear WG311T wireless card, and I was pleasantly surprised at how seemless the whole process was. (Finding the right card was the trick).

      In any case, NetBSD never fails to impress me with its professional polish.

      -Peter
  • What is wrong here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canuck57 (662392) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:06AM (#11296954)

    ... PCs (#3), and e-mail (#5). ...

    Hm, in 1978 I remember using a Commodore PET PC. I believe Apple IIs also existed in 1978... BSD was there also with uuget and uuput and we bundled mail for nightly transmission. 2005 - 1978 == 27 years.

  • The internet is more than 25 years old. So they can't do it.

    I could see them doing something like "commercialized internet" like they did for GPS.
    • The internet is more than 25 years old. So they can't do it.

      I could see them doing something like "commercialized internet" like they did for GPS.

      Email is pretty much the same age as Internet, which is closer to 35 than 25 years.

      On the other hand, innovation means roughly the same thing as commercialization, I think...

  • Or are they up to 4-blade by now?
  • the #1 innovation in the last 25 years was......

    Windows.

    After all, Microsoft does nothing but innovate, right?
  • by loftwyr (36717) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:13AM (#11297006)
    The DVD isn't on the list.

    As HDTV made it and DVDs were invented in the past 25 years (and this is CNN, not Nature) it'll be #1.
  • Credit card readers built into the side of gas pumps.

    jeff
  • Is the VCR. Granted, I'm pretty sure it was developed for home use before 1979, but it certainly didn't become widespread until the 1980s.

  • by gloth (180149)
    "have had a direct and perceptible impact on our everyday lives, and/or could dramatically affect our lives in the future..."

    Ok, I have to call bullshit here. The space shuttle does not have much of an impact on our lives. Other than being a drain of tax money, of course.

    It's old and obsolete technology, so it won't have much of an effect on our future either. These days, it doesn't inspire anyone anymore either. I can get excited about SpaceShip one, but about the next shuttle mission? Give me

  • Keeping women from going mental has been the best invention of the century.
    • A good history can be found in Rachel Maines' paper "Socially Camouflaged Technologies: the Case of the Electromechanical Vibrator" which was published in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, June 1989, Vol. 8, Issue 2, pages 3-11,23. It can be found here [ieee.org].

      Another interesting article from Wired titled "Love Machines" can be found here [wired.com].

  • the past 25 years have been so full of new technological advances that it's impossible to objectively determine what the top innovation has been, much less what a 3rd party that is the brainchild of ted turner would choose.

    of course, they'll pick the web. but what about military applications, that are missing from the list? the american military has driven technology in to nearly incomprehensible realms, and they seem only to get recognition for doing so once the products are mainstreamed.
    • OK, the JDAM is clever and everybody wants a GPS in their car, but we're observing right now that urban warfare technology hasn't meaningfully advanced since 1961.
  • by Decaff (42676) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:35AM (#11297146)
    For example, how could they include 'Commercialised GPS'(6)? The innovation is GPS alone, or is making something 'commercial' innovative these days?

    Also, portable computers (3) have not been 'innovative' in the usual sense of the word - its been a long slow evolution over decades, from small-screened 'luggables' in the early 1980s.

  • I hope there is a poll with the best suggestions, could be fun to see what slashdotters guess :)
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:40AM (#11297171) Homepage Journal
    Suing everyone around you for money instead of working for it.

  • Since no one else seems to have said it yet, I'm going to say Email.

    Sure, it's been around for more than 25 years, but as others have pointed out, that wasn't the criteria.

    Last I checked, it was still the top Internet application.

    If #1 is not an Internet application, then my guess will be microwave burritos.
  • Without which the other 25 would not be possible.

    I think the CNN list is a bit lame, and some of the timings to make it within the 25 years are questionable.

    Also to lump in Flash memory with CD technology is ... well wrong !

    regards

    dbcad7

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:48AM (#11297221) Homepage
    "The device that causes an airbag to inflate in a crash is a nanotech device," said David Kirkpatrick, senior editor at Fortune Magazine.

    No, it's not. It's an accelerometer made in an IC fab. That's not atomic-level engineering. Not even close. By IC standards, it's huge.

    The "nanotechnology" label is getting out of hand. It used to apply to concepts for elaborate structures made atom by atom. Now that funding is available, it's used to refer to finely ground particles.

  • The list sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:48AM (#11297225) Homepage
    Some of their choices were obvious. Others were poor. Here are my complaints:

    10) RFID tags. Given that RFID is still mostly smoke and mirrors, is it reasonable to call it a major innovation of the past 25 years? Maybe 10 years from now we'll think so, but it doesn't belong on this year's list.

    11) MEMS. What? No! VLSI is vastly more important than MEMS, and it didn't even make the list. Besides, MEMS is little more than a pit stop on the road to nanotech.

    19) HDTV. HDTV is not a top innovation of any year, let alone a top innovation of the past 25. It was a committee-designed system haphazardly thrown together that has yet to make any meaningful impact on everyday life.

    21) Nanotech. Nanotech will be an amazing innovation if it ever gets here, but is it fair to call something that's still mostly science fiction a top innovation of the past 25 years?

    24) Modern hearing aids. Yes, they're better, but its evolutionary not revolutionary.

    25) Short Range, High Frequency Radio. Uh yeah. This is not an innovation. Its a category of innovations like digital radio, spread spectrum, 802.11 and cordless phones.

    And of course, #1 will be the World Wide Web. Since they've seperated email from the Internet, they'll seperate that as well.

    But, having split out the Internet into its components the panel has failed badly in missing TCP/IP v4 from 1981, clearly a critical innovation of the past 25 years. Vastly more important than HDTV.

  • Some errors IMO (Score:5, Informative)

    by Graemee (524726) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:52AM (#11297245)
    The shuttle, wasn't that designed and built in the 70's?

    The PC is a product of the late 70's too. The Apple II, Atari and Commodore PET all were released in 78-79.

    So # 3 & 20 are 70's

    Air bags date to the 60's but is the footdragging by and reluctance of goverments to make the car makers use them innovation? NO

    Strike number 13 too.

    So it down to 22.

  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:58AM (#11297282)

    Fake breasts ....

    Think about it for a minute. Without fake breasts we would never have had Bay Watch. Without Bay Watch, David Hasselhoff would have been a has-been alcoholic actor rather than an alcoholic actor in the twilight of a mediocre career in television. What a crying shame that would have been.

  • by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon&gmail,com> on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:03PM (#11297340)
    I have to disagree with this statement in the article. HDTV is not yet common place. 90 percent of homes in my neighborhood have regular TV's. I don't see Hotels putting a plasma HDTV in thier room. When hotels start adding HDTV in form of a plasma screen, ONLY THEN will I consider them to be common place.
  • by adolfojp (730818) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:38PM (#11297607)
    I will bet my left testicle on the Integrated Circuit. Without it there would be no internet, personal computers, calculators, modern home appliances, cell phones, satelite comunications...

    Cheers,
    Adolfo
  • Sony Walkman (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xigxag (167441) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:47PM (#11297656)
    ...came out in 1980, not-so-coincidentally 25 years ago. So it's probably #1.

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