Throughout history, a multitude of inventions have been forgotten, but others have represented major social and technological progress for humanity. In general, we do not stop to think about the story behind many of them, but the arrival of the vast majority of these inventions changed the course of history, allowing society to progress.
We have put together a list with some of the most important small inventions in history, either to solve problems, or simple ingenuities that facilitate routine tasks.
They currently exist in all shapes and sizes – for lefties and even to use with your feet – but did you know that they already existed in mythology? And that in some cultures, it is believed that giving them as a present is bad luck? They are one of the oldest technologies invented by human beings.
The patent issued to Samuel B. Fay in 1867 is often cited as the first patent for a paperclip, but it’s design was not conceived primarily for paper. Fay’s invention was intended to replace pins used to attach pieces of paper to clothes, especially for delicate fabrics.
The can opener
In 1855, Robert Yeates of the U.K. introduced the very first can opener: a wooden handle with a claw-shaped blade that stuck in the lid, turning laboriously around the edge. Three years later, Ezra Warner of the U.S. patented a similar, but much more complex system with replaceable parts.
The drinking straw
According to archeologists, the Sumerians and Babylonians used drinking straws – not because of a trend or a whim, but in order to drink their dense beer without swallowing the grounds or pieces in the foam. Some biologist suggest that the proboscis of certain insects, like butterflies, partly work like a straw, meaning that nature had already invented it before we did.
The Curta calculator was the first pocket calculator. It also managed to save the life of its creator, the Austrian prisoner Curt Herzstark. After World War II, it became a vital tool for engineers and accountants: it fit in one hand, could be used with one finger and did addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, as well as exponents and square roots.
Melitta coffee maker
Melitta coffee makers get their name from Melitta Bentz of Germany, who invented the coffee filter in 1908. At the time, strainers did not filter the coffee properly, leaving grounds in the drink. Melitta tried different types of filters until she used blotting paper over a perforated plate. This allowed her to make coffee without impurities. It was a huge success, which encouraged her to set up a business based on her invention..