(…and How They Shape Modern-Day Business)
Inventions have constantly changed the world and how people live, work, and play. To honor those who have created these world-changing inventions, Inventors’ Day was created to recognize and celebrate them. It was created on February 11, 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. February 11 was chosen because it’s the birthday of Thomas Edison, one of the most well-known inventors in the world.
Inventions are the lifeblood of IT, and they tend to revolutionize the industry regularly. Here are ten IT-related inventions that have helped to shape, and reshape modern-day business.
IT Invention: Charles Babbage’s Mechanical Computer
Most people think of the computer as a fairly new invention dating back to the 1970s or 80s, but the first mechanical computer was actually built in 1822 by Charles Babbage. While it may not look like our modern computers, his Difference Engine is recognized as the world’s first automatic computing device. It was able to perform basic mathematic functions and actually print out the results. Babbage was assisted by Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.
In 1837, Babbage created designs for the Analytical Engine. This device used punch cards and featured integrated memory, a logic unit, and basic flow control. While Babbage wasn’t able to actually build this computer due to a lack of funding, the idea was solid and is a clear precursor to modern computing.
IT Invention: The Telephone
Many people remember learning about Alexander Graham Bell and his invention of the telephone in grade school. Bell transformed how people and businesses communicate. Without the telephone, which he and his assistant Thomas Watson, created in 1876, businesses would have no way of easily communicating with customers or other businesses. The ease of picking up the phone and calling someone thousands of miles away changed business and has impacted the overall world of IT.
Without Bell’s phone, dial-up internet may have never been created, and without it, we may not have today’s cable and fiber-optic internet lines. We also may not have smartphones, another invention that has certainly shaped modern business. I wonder what Mr. Bell would think of the VoiP technology many modern-day businesses use to conduct secure conference calls? Although this invention has been around since 1995, technology keeps providing clearer communication for any enterprise conducting business and connecting to their vendors both inside and outside of the United States.
IT Invention: The Programma 101
While commercial computers were becoming more and more popular in the mid-1900s, they were still huge. These computers took up entire rooms and required a good amount of resources. In 1964, Pier Giorgio Perotto introduced the Programma 101 desktop computer at the World’s Fair in New York. This computer was much smaller, although it was still much bigger than what we think of when we talk about desktop computers today. The company Perotto worked for, Olivetti, went on to sell over 40,000 of these desktop computers, each with the relatively cheap (at the time) price of $3,200.
Without desktop computers, advances in software engineering, coding, and app development would be nearly non-existent. The need for businesses to develop technology to tailor solutions for the pain points in their industries will always be the way technology progresses. This keeps the demand for small, individual computers and devices at the forefront of both start-up and ongoing expenses for any business owner.
IT Invention: The Internet
It’s not a stretch to say that the internet has permanently transformed the world and has affected every aspect of business and life in general. The idea for the internet dates back to the 1960s, and crude versions of existed since then. The network that eventually grew into the modern internet began in 1983. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that the internet as we know it sprang into being when Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. Without the internet, business today would be very different. There would be no telecommuting, online collaboration, or e-Commerce. Social media marketing wouldn’t exist, and companies such as Google and Amazon may not even exist! Without the internet, modern business practices may not have evolved past the late 80s or early 90s. But with the prosperities of the internet for business, it also comes with a dark side. Email phishing scams, the dark web, hacking, and data breaches all have one thing in common: The Internet.
IT Invention: The iPhone
While cell phones were certainly commonplace before the iPhone was introduced in 2007, they weren’t exactly smart. The iPhone may have competition now, but in the beginning, it was the smartphone to have. It transformed the cell phone industry, giving us devices with more processing power, storage, and memory than many older computers. Today, nearly everyone makes use of a smartphone for calling, texting, playing games, and much more. Creating apps has become a full-time business venture for some. Businesses create apps to sell products and services to clients and engage with them.
Smartphones have even changed today’s computer security protocols. Two-factor authentication often involves getting a code from an app on your smartphone. This code along with your username and password is required to log in.
IT Invention: Wi-Fi
The advent of Wi-Fi took the world by storm, just like the internet. The start of Wi-Fi happened back in 1997, but it wasn’t until 1999 that homes became able to use it. Today, if you do not have both a home and business Wi-Fi, then you are totally disconnected. It is used to connect devices to the internet, plus track where people go, help boost communication, and allow for online transactions. There have been several bands of broadband over the years, each of which have been progressively stronger than before. Today’s Wi-Fi routers are more than capable of working to power the internet in nearly all parts of the world. One of our favorite WiFi router manufacturers is Ubiquiti Unifi, which keeps your WiFi connection at it all-time peak performance 24/7.
IT Invention: Fingerprint Scanners
One of the most secure ways of being able to log into many devices today is through a scan of someone’s unique fingerprint. However, these devices are relatively new. The discovery that fingerprints were unique enough to narrow down who commit a crime started before 1900. However, the power this unique identifying feature had did not come until later. Since 2010, fingerprint scanning has been able to happen without someone even having to touch a device directly, and in 2013, Apple started the process of biometrically locking iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks so only the recognized individual could open it. In many high-level Multi-Layered Security practices, this is common practice. Today, if your device does not open through fingerprint or facial recognition, then it is considered the exception, and not the rule.
IT Invention: Data Clouds
Many believe that data clouds are new inventions. However, this is not the case. The cloud dates back to the 1960s, if you can believe that! When Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider was able to connect computers and people over long distances, he invented the first cloud. Once the possibilities were recognized, storage became a natural progression. What began back in the early 1980s with just a few megabytes of storage, has progressed to terabytes of storage for corporations all around the world. Data Clouds are now a staple for any Los Angeles-based businesses that are trying to maximize the efficiency of their file storage, data mobility, and collaboration projects.
IT Invention: The Printing Press
When people think of IT, they think of computers, but it could be argued that one of the earliest inventions related to information technology and business came in 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press. The immediate impact of the printing press was that books became much more affordable, allowing knowledge to spread more quickly. Business owners had access to mathematic charts, dictionaries, manuals, almanacs, and other materials.
In the long-term, the printing press made it possible to create and distribute newspapers, magazines, books, and other publications, essentially creating these industries. The earliest printing presses were slow, enormous machines that took up an entire room. Today, nearly everyone has a miniaturized, modern version of the printing press in their office. Printers and copy machines are direct descendants of the printing press, and it’s hard to imagine how businesses would function without them. With technology advancing to allow these machines to be wirelessly connected to your network, they play a part in the efficiency and productivity of your business. Our Managed IT Services include making sure even these office staples don’t put a wrench in your workday.