When people think of important inventions of the last few decades, they usually think of things like computers, cell phones, the internet and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
While those items are certainly noteworthy, I feel several others had least as large, if not larger, of an effect on our daily lives. Sadly, though, they are often overlooked.
Today, they shall be underlooked as we shine a spotlight on the Top Five Great Inventions that Changed the World Without Much Attention.
First a few honorable mentions:
Buttons to lock and unlock car doors – When I was younger, we had to use keys to unlock our car doors and it was terrible! Now, buttons can unlock doors, pop trunks and do all kinds of great things. If every button didn’t also make the horn honk for some annoying reason, this invention might make it into the Top 5. Also, why can’t we use these on other types of doors?
Long phone cords – While this invention was quickly replaced by cordless phones and then cell phones, there was a time when the super long cords revolutionized talking on the phone. No longer did you have to sit or stand right next to the phone, you could walk all around the room! It was glorious!
All day breakfast – Many people today can’t imagine a world where you couldn’t order a waffle, scrambled eggs or even an egg sandwich after 10:30 a.m., but that world existed not too long ago. Thanks to great inventors, though, I can now order French toast at nearly any time of day at many restaurants and the world is a better place.
Fried cheese sticks – Did the cheese fall in there by accident? Is that how this magic was born? Thankfully, it has led to all kinds of other fried foods that are incredibly tasty while at the same time spectacularly terrible for us.
Rear window defrosters – I used to have to scrape ice and frost off all of the car windows, but now I only have to scrape off the windshield and the side windows because rear window defrosters are amazing. I can’t quite understand why this technology is not available on all car windows, but I suspect the big car scraper companies have something to do with it.
5. Squeezable jelly containers – You may not believe it, but there was a time when the only way to get jelly onto a piece of bread was to use a knife to scrape the jelly out of a jar. It was noisy, unwieldy and often wasteful, as it was impossible to get all of the jelly out. Thanks to recent advances in jelly technology (or jellynology), we now have squeezable jelly and it is much easier to make a sandwich. Sadly, peanut butter technology has not advanced as quickly.
4. Heated car seats – Heated car seats have changed winter for me. It may still take several minutes for the car to warm up, but my legs and back feel toasty thanks to the seats that heat up immediately. If it is cold outside, I run to the car as fast as a heated seat-seeking missile! They are also great for sore backs. Several times throughout the year, my wife and will I just drive around in order to help our backs feel better.
3. Debit cards – I know credit cards have been around forever and that they are terrible, evil things that were created in the depths of Hell in order to cause endless pain and torment, but debit cards are breathtakingly wonderful.
Do you realize that there was a time when you had to carry cash around to buy things? And if you didn’t have cash, you had to go to the bank, fill out a withdrawal slip and go through a whole process? Today, this would most likely be considered torture because we have these marvelous cards that can be used as cash.
Also, if we want to get some cash, these charming cards of amazement can get us money from ATMs or most stores. And to top it all off, they fit much better into our wallets than a bunch of wrinkled and dirty dollar bills. While they have similarities to their conniving, tempting and evil cousins, they are lovable, trustworthy and even helpful with scraping ice off of your windshield since the front windshield defroster is so slow.
2. Liquid hand soap – It wasn’t long ago that if you wanted to wash your hands at home, you had to pick up the bar of soap out of the soap tray near the sink. While the soap was there to clean your hands, it was questionable about just how clean that tray was or how clean the soap was after everyone else had used it. We had liquid soap for clothes and dishes and people on commercials would often be soaking their hands in it, but for some reason there was no liquid hand soap for most homes.
In the 1980s, though, Softsoap became the first mass produced liquid soap and the world was changed forever. Today, it is much easier to wash your hands and I am constantly washing mine now. I imagine that if liquid hand soap had been around earlier, things would have been very different for famous historical characters such as Pigpen, Dirty Harry and Lady Macbeth.
1. Clumping/scoopable cat litter – I can’t (and probably shouldn’t) tell you how often I am amazed by clumping or scoopable cat litter! Seriously, I think about this a lot.
Before clumping cat litter (or BCCL), cat litter boxes were super disgusting. We dumped the litter onto a bag in the litter box, covered it with a lid and then pulled out the bag and litter every so often to “clean” it. You had to put newspaper around the box because it was such a disgusting mess. They even sold special bags to go around the litter boxes, but they never worked very well. I feel bad for cats that lived in the BCCL period.
Today, though, the litter clumps up easily, the smell is at least 100 times better and while the littler box is still disgusting, at least it’s not super disgusting anymore.
The internet is filled with a crazy amount of information about the invention of cat litter in the 1940s and then clumping cat litter in the 1980s, but I still think this invention needs more praise. Sure things like electricity, wheels, fire and the light bulb are neat, but I’ll take my clumping cat litter any day of the week! And then I’ll wash my hands several times with liquid soap.
Any thoughts on additional inventions that changed the world? Feel free to comment below. Thanks.