The Greatest Inventions of All Time

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayIt’s difficult to pick one invention to stand out as the greatest of all time. There are so many manmade wonders that enrich our lives every day and make us question how we ever lived without them. For example: the wheel, the flushable toilet, beer, Velcro, eyeglasses, the atomic bomb and plastic storage containers.

The printing press and the Internet are certainly great inventions, but they make it just as easy to spread lies as the truth, so I can’t rate them high on my list. They certainly don’t rate above plastic storage containers, which have brought society nothing but positive outcomes.

It wasn’t long ago when people had to go to grocery stores and beg for flimsy cardboard boxes to package their belongings for a move. It was difficult to get a good grip on those boxes and I never knew when the bottom would fall out and all my Smurf glasses would smash at my feet. But plastic storage containers are lightweight, sturdy and stackable, with easy-to-grip handles on the sides. They are one of the greatest inventions of all time.

There are maybe a dozen inventions I would list ahead of plastic storage containers, and all of them are forms of contraception. I’d even put the withdrawal method near the top of the list. I know it’s not very effective, but it was a good start.

You might think computers should rank high on the list, but I disagree. Computers do make my life easier in many ways, but overall I would rate our relationship as mutually abusive.

There is a computer-related invention, however, that I think has potential to become the greatest of all time. It’s the keyboard command “Control + Z.” That is the magic key combination which allows you to undo your previous action. Say, for example, you are composing your master’s thesis and accidentally delete the entire text. All you have to do is simultaneously press the Control key and the letter Z to restore it.

The most impressive thing about Control + Z is that it is still in its infancy. There are countless other real-life uses for this technology that haven’t been perfected yet. We’re only a few years away from being able to use Control + Z to take back stupid things we say out loud.

When that spurned ex-lover of yours cries out, “I thought you said you loved me,” you’ll soon be able to reply, “Sorry baby, Control Z” and wipe the slate clean. You could undo a whole relationship — so it never existed.

It’s along those lines that Control Z will one day become the greatest invention of all time. It will put any other form of contraception to shame.

SpowlRibbonPaul Lundgren is author of The Spowl Ribbon, a book released in 2010 that finally broke even in 2015. Publishing success! The article above first appeared in Transistor.

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