Engineering Gadgets that Changed the World

Not all inventions are created equal. While most engineers and gadget creators would be happy to create something that made even a little impact on people’s lives, some manage to create something that can confidently be said to change the world. In this list, we’ll take a look at some of the most important inventions that did just that.

Leica I

The Leica I may not seem very impressive in an age where just about any personal phone can also take a high quality picture, but its impact shouldn’t be underestimated. Introduced in 1925, the Leica I (A) was the first mass-produced 35mm camera, making it the first step in the camera becoming a tool available to the general public. While the original model came with a custom fitted lens, the 1930s Leica I (C) introduced interchangeable lenses.

Land Rover

The big, boxy Land Rover may be a luxury vehicle today, but it was an all-purpose utility vehicle when it was first introduced. Created by two brothers in 1948, the Land Rover allowed people to drive where they had never driven before. Originally meant for farmers and military applications, it eventually became loved by the general public, kicking off America’s love of all things 4×4.

Western Electric 400

If you see a Western Electric 400 today, it’s usually because someone is using it as an example of quaint phone technology or old-timey nostalgia, but when this rotary phone was introduced, consumers gobbled it up. In many American homes their first phone was a Western Electric 400.

The Plow

The plow might not be the most glamorous invention in the world, but it’s certainly one of the most important. Food is one of the few things that is absolutely essential to human survival (which can’t exactly be said about any of the previous entries in this list, jokes about needing your phone to live aside), and the plow may be the device that more than any other has kept human beings fed for the millennia since it was first created.

The Wheel

The ultimate example of the obviously simple creation that still managed to change everything, the wheel has been allowing people to transport more, and transport it faster, for thousands upon thousands of years. Before civilizations relied on telecommunications and interstate highways to function, they sprung up based on their use of the wheel to transport goods and people quickly, efficiently, and safely. Think about how many everyday tools rely on the use of the wheel to function, and you realize just how much we still rely on its use.

The Printing Press

Good, old fashioned ink on paper may seem quaint in the age of email and texting, but the positive effect of Guttenberg’s printing press on the development of human civilization cannot be underestimated, or even fully calculated. In its day, it had the same effect that digital communication had on the modern world – it drastically improved people’s abilities to produce written material, allowing it to be printed and shared on a massive scale unseen before its invention.


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