- The early years: pre-history to 1800
- The industrial revolution and the birth of the modern era
- The age of information: 1800 to present
- The digital revolution: 1950s to present
- The mobile revolution: 1970s to present
- The internet revolution: 1980s to present
- The social media revolution: 1990s to present
- The big data revolution: 2000s to present
- The artificial intelligence revolution: 2010s to present
- The future of technology: 2020s and beyond
A look at how technology started and how it’s progressed over the years. From early man to the modern world, see how technology has shaped the way we live.
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The early years: pre-history to 1800
Technology is often considered to be a recent invention, but there is evidence that humans have been using technology since they first began to live together in groups. In fact, the history of technology can be traced back to pre-history, when early humans started using tools and making simple inventions.
The first real technological advances began to occur in the mid-1800s, with the industrial revolution. This was a time when new machines and factories were developed, which allowed people to produce goods more efficiently. As a result, many products became cheaper and more widely available. This also led to new inventions such as the telephone and the light bulb.
The industrial revolution was followed by a period of rapid scientific progress, known as the scientific revolution. This was a time when many important discoveries were made, such as the laws of motion and electricity. These discoveries led to new technologies such as the steam engine and the automobile.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was another period of rapid technological progress, known as the second industrial revolution. During this time, new products such as airplanes, radios, and televisions were invented. Additionally, new materials such as plastics and synthetic fibers were developed.
The industrial revolution and the birth of the modern era
The industrial revolution was a period of great change and invention. It began in the late 1700s and early 1800s in England and quickly spread to other parts of Europe and North America. This period saw the rise of new technologies, including the steam engine, the spinning jenny, and the locomotive. These inventions led to a boom in manufacturing and a sharp increase in productivity. The industrial revolution also brought about changes in social structure, as more people moved to cities to work in factories. The industrial revolution ushered in the modern era, which is defined by an increased reliance on science and technology.
The age of information: 1800 to present
The age of information began around 1800, when scientists started organizing what they knew about the natural world into the table of elements and Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution. This period witnessed a series of discoveries that led to our modern understanding of the physical world, including electricity, atoms, and the laws of motion. In the late 19th century, new technologies like the telephone and the telegraph revolutionized communications, while advances in transportation (such as the railways) and industry (such as the creation of steel) transformed society.
The 20th century saw even more change, with the development of television, radio, and film; the discovery of nuclear energy; and the growth of computing (which led to the Internet and the World Wide Web). Today, we are living in what is sometimes called the “information age”—an era in which computers and other technologies are increasingly playing a central role in our lives.
The digital revolution: 1950s to present
The digital revolution, also known as the third industrial revolution, is the shift from analog electronic and mechanical devices to digital technologies. This change began in the late 1950s and early 1960s with transistor radios, computers, and monolithic integrated circuits. These technologies increased the efficiency of communication and computation while also reducing their cost. The digital revolution continued through the 1970s with video games, home video players, personal computers, and cellular phones. The 1980s were a decade of continued innovation in digital technology with the development of the compact disc (CD), Compact Disc-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM), and CD-Recordable (CD-R). The 1990s saw a proliferation of digital technology in the form of the Internet, email, World Wide Web, and digital television.
The mobile revolution: 1970s to present
In the early 70s, the first commercial cellular network was launched in Japan. This allowed people to make calls from cars for the first time. The technology then spread to the US, where it was initially used by people in rural areas who could not access landlines.
The first true mobile phone was launched in 1983, and by the early 1990s, they were becoming commonplace. The introduction of text messaging in 1992 further boosted their popularity.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the mobile phone market exploded with the advent of color screens, Internet access, and cameras. This led to the development of smartphones, which are now an essential part of our lives.
The internet revolution: 1980s to present
In the 1980s, a new type of computer networking, using standardized protocols and called the TCP/IP protocol suite, emerged. This resulted in the formation of an global network of networks, commonly known as the Internet. In addition to commercial and academic uses, the military also saw the potential of this new technology and started to use it for their own purposes.
During the early 1990s, a number of commercial organizations started to provide access to the Internet for a fee. One of the most popular early providers was America Online (AOL). In 1993, when Netscape released its Navigator web browser, making it possible for users to surf the World Wide Web (WWW), the commercial possibilities of the Internet began to be realized.
Since then, there has been an explosion in both the use of the Internet and in the development of new technologies associated with it. These technologies include conditions applying software such as search engines and social networking sites, through which users can interact with each other.
In the 1990s, the social media revolution began with sixdegrees.com, followed by Classmates.com and AsianAvenue.com. These early platforms paved the way for Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, and countless others. In 2003, Facebook was founded, and in 2006, Twitter launched. Although these platforms were originally designed for personal use, they soon became invaluable tools for businesses and organizations seeking to reach a wider audience.
In the 2010s, we saw the rise of Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp. These new platforms allowed users to share photos and videos in real-time, making them ideal for news organizations and businesses seeking to connect with their customers on a more personal level. In 2016, live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat emerged onto the scene, furtherchanging the way we consume media.
Today, social media is an integral part of our lives. We use it to stay connected with our friends and family, to get our news fix, and to find out about new products and services. With over 2 billion active users worldwide, it’s safe to say that social media is here to stay.
The big data revolution: 2000s to present
In the past two decades, we have witnessed a revolution in the way that data is collected, stored, and processed. This revolution has been driven by advances in technology, particularly in the areas of sensors and computing power.
Today, we are able to collect vast amounts of data on everything from our personal behavior to the behavior of entire populations. This data is then stored in huge digital databases, or “data lakes.” Finally, powerful computing tools are used to analyze this data and extract useful information.
This “big data” revolution has led to major changes in many industries, including healthcare, finance, retail, and manufacturing. It has also had a profound impact on society as a whole, changing the way we live and work.
The artificial intelligence revolution: 2010s to present
In the early 2010s, a number of advances in artificial intelligence technology occurred simultaneously, leading to a rapid acceleration in the development of AI applications. In 2011, IBM’s Watson computer system won the game show Jeopardy!, defeating human champions. This was widely seen as a significant milestone, as it showed that computers could now outperform humans in tasks that require cognitive abilities such as natural language processing and pattern recognition.
In 2014, Google acquired the artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies. DeepMind’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence system defeated a professional human Go player in 2016, again showing that computers can now outperform humans in tasks that require cognitive abilities.
In 2017, Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, launched its own artificial intelligence research lab called Google AI. Google AI’s mission is to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most beneficial to humanity as a whole.”
Artificial intelligence technology is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, and its applications are becoming increasingly widespread. It is being used for tasks such as self-driving cars, automatic translation, image recognition, and cancer diagnosis.
The future of technology: 2020s and beyond
What will the future of technology bring? It’s hard to say for sure, but we can make some educated guesses based on the trends that are emerging today. Here are some of the things we think will shape the tech landscape in the 2020s and beyond.
-The rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning: We’re already seeing significant advances in these technologies, and they’re only going to become more widespread and sophisticated in the years to come.
-The continued growth of mobile: More and more people are using their smartphones as their primary computing devices, and this trend is only going to continue.
-The rise of the internet of things: An increasing number of devices are being connected to the internet, and this trend is only going to accelerate.
-The continued growth of streaming: Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are becoming increasingly popular, and this trend is likely to continue.