UTAH (ABC4) – The last time the Utah Jazz made a run for the NBA title was in 1998 against the Chicago Bulls and the man many regard as the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan, marking nearly a quarter-century of time passed. In the last 24 years, the world has shifted dramatically thanks to a few key inventions.
Modern history has granted us some particularly important inventions, such as vaccination, anesthesia, the electric lightbulb, radio, telephone, television, automobiles, airplanes, and computers.
Leading up to ’98, there were some key inventions that would lay the groundwork for future generations, but one that would arguably be the most impactful — the internet.
Since then, technology has skyrocketed and allowed for some amazing inventions, some of which would eventually be phased out and some that would continually shape our modern times:
- International Space Station (1998) – The Functional Cargo Block, or Zarya, launched into space as the first piece of the International Space Station (ISS) on November 20, 1998. The station would become one of humanity’s greatest achievements as a multinational collaborative project, serving as a research laboratory for astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics and more.
- Bluetooth (1999) – Bluetooth, the technology that is now used in countless products throughout the world and is an essential feature of the smartphone debuted on July 26, 1999. This piece of tech meant “wireless,” and was a huge step forward for product design and possibility. It was named after King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson of 10th-century Denmark.
- USB Flash Drive (2000) – The Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash drive was first introduced in the U.S. by IBM in 2000. It was called the DiskOnKey, and originally only held 8 megabytes worth of storage.
- iPod (2001) – The iPod, originally holding 1,000 songs, was a revolutionary device that came out less than a year after iTunes. The invention would begin phasing out the popularity of compact discs (CD) altogether.
- Blu-ray Disc (2002) – Blu-ray came out 20 years after the CD was invented, and while Blu-ray is now becoming obsolete, it remains an important marker in the world’s aspiration for high definition video.
- Human Genome Project (2003) – The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, identifying the full set of human genes, sequencing them all, and identifying some alleles that can cause disease when they get mutated. The project was an international research effort to determine the DNA sequence of the entire human genome.
- Facebook (2004) – Facebook was launched in 2004 from Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room, and would become the world’s largest social media network. Facebook’s impacts on the world today cannot be overstated, with the platform holding nearly 3 billion users.
- YouTube (2005) – YouTube was launched in 2005 as an online video-sharing platform. The platform is now the second most visited website in the world, behind Google Search.
- HPV Vaccine (2006) – The first vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) hit the market in 2006, created by a team of researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia. The vaccine most importantly protects people from some of the most deadly strains of HPV which causes cervical cancer.
- iPhone (2007) – Apple first released the iPhone in 2007, which would turn out to revolutionize society entirely. The phone laid the foundation for the modern smartphone, giving users constant access to the world’s information at the touch of a fingertip. The touch screen, app store, built-in camera, GPS, music player, internet service, and more made this release arguably the most important since the invention of the internet itself.
- Consumer DNA Test (2008) – 23andMe was founded in 2008 as a genetic testing company with a saliva test that could tell people about their genetic predispositions to diseases. Another test would tell people about their ancestry, leading people to uncover information about their family trees. The popularity of genetic testing helped police solve major cold cases.
- Bitcoin (2009) – Released in 2009, Bitcoin was the first popular cryptocurrency, allowing for anonymous peer-to-peer encrypted currency exchange. The use of blockchain was essential to decentralizing and verifying payments, giving birth to the immensely popular world of crypto.
- iPad (2010) – The release of the iPad was significant in that it ushered in a whole new category of devices. The “tablet” category would bring about a new market that continues to find new uses with its large touch screen.
- IBM Watson (2011) – Watson was developed by IBM as a supercomputer, making its national appearance on “Jeopardy!.” The computer was developed not just to win on the historic television show, but to “create a new generation of technology that can find answers in unstructured data more effectively than standard search technology,” according to IBM. The goal was not to model the human brain, but to understand natural language problems and find answers in the unstructured information.
- Oculus VR (2012) – Oculus VR was founded in 2012, marking the beginning of the modern virtual reality headset market. The market is expected to grow dramatically, with the goal of making virtual reality the future of “personal and shared reality,” according to Oculus.
- Lab-grown Meat (2013) – This meat was created from animal stem cells, and while the technology is still developing, plant-based meat alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have made a huge impact on the modern food industry. The experiment was conducted at an institute in the Netherlands, as scientists reportedly took cells from a cow and turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a patty.
- DJI Phantom 1 (2014) – The release of DJI’s Phantom 1 marked the beginning of the consumer drone market. Drones have since become an integral part of modern technology, replacing helicopters in movies, allowing the public to capture incredible video, and offering growing applications in consumer delivery services. Drones, of course, have also had significant military applications.
- Modular Prosthetic Limb (2015) – The modular prosthetic limb, developed by the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, is a device that, when paired with a surgical technique known as “targeted sensory reinnervation,” allows for the sending of signals to the brain that can simulate the feeling of touch for someone missing a limb.
- Artificial Pancreas (2016) – The FDA approved the wearable medical device that acts as an artificial pancreas, monitoring blood sugar levels of people with Type 1 diabetes. The device automatically gives the individual an insulin dose when their blood glucose level is low. The FDA has since been working together with diabetes patient groups, diabetes care providers, medical device manufacturers, and researchers to advance the development of an artificial pancreas.
- Glasses for the Blind (2017) – A pair of smart glasses was released in 2017 known as the eSight 3, using a high-definition camera to record whatever the viewer is looking at and enhance detail and colors. The glasses can help people who are considered legally blind to see the world around them, but perhaps most importantly, can allow the wearer to identify faces and read expressions.
- Metal 3D Printing (2018) – Metal 3D printing was a revolutionary part of 3D printing, making production significantly easier for business manufacturing and consumer purposes alike.
- Talking Hearing Aid (2019) – A talking hearing aid hit the market in 2019, developed by Starkey Hearing Technologies, that does more than amplify sound and tone down background noise. The Livio AI uses sensors and artificial intelligence to allow it to stream music, verbally answer questions, translate conversations into your language, detect falls, measure physical activity, and track how often you talk to other people during the day (for elderly users who may become isolated).
- Exposure Notifications (2020) – Exposure notifications is a tool developed as a pandemic response, mapping the local spread of a virus through movements and interactions of people who are infected. Although there were initial privacy tradeoffs, Google and Apple determined they would directly alert anyone at risk of infection via Bluetooth signal of nearby individuals who had a report of a positive COVID test.
- Malaria Vaccine (2021) – Malaria kills approximately half a million people each year. GlaxoSmithKline’s Mosquirix is a new vaccine that creates an immune response to one of the most deadly parasites that cause malaria, and is the most common strain in Africa. The vaccine was endorsed by the World Health Organization and is one of the best ways to prevent the deadly disease.
- Coral Reef Printing (2022) – With coral reefs suffering from human activity and climate change, scientists have come up with a possible solution. Conservationists are now using 3D printers to construct artificial reefs using reef scans to model new reefs after, using terracotta clay. The clay is a porous material favored by coralline algae, leading researchers to believe that vast portions of coral reef could be rebuilt. Coral reefs are an extremely important part of ocean ecosystems, and although they only account for a small portion of Earth’s surface, they have the greatest marine diversity in the world.