Top 30 innovations that changed the world

The verdict is in: the Internet and PCs are the most transformative innovations seen in the last 30 years

Earlier this year, a panel of academicians from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School collectively came up with a list of what they felt were the top 30 innovations of the last 30 years.

The Wharton judges first had to define what innovation means in an age dominated by digital technology, medical advancements and mobile communications. Another qualification was the problem-solving value of the innovations. The innovations were selected based on how they impact quality of life, fulfill a compelling need, solve a problem, exhibit a "wow" factor, change the way business is conducted, increase efficiency, spark new innovations and create a new industry.

  1. Internet, broadband, WWW (browser and html)
  2. PC/laptop computers
  3. Mobile phones
  4. E-mail
  5. DNA testing and sequencing/Human genome mapping
  6. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  7. Microprocessors
  8. Fiber optics
  9. Office software (spreadsheets, word processors)
  10. Non-invasive laser/robotic surgery (laparoscopy)
  11. Open source software and services (e.g., Linux, Wikipedia)
  12. Light emitting diodes
  13. Liquid crystal display (LCD)
  14. GPS systems
  15. Online shopping/ecommerce/auctions (e.g., eBay)
  16. Media file compression (jpeg, mpeg, mp3)
  17. Microfinance
  18. Photovoltaic Solar Energy
  19. Large scale wind turbines
  20. Social networking via the Internet
  21. Graphic user interface (GUI)
  22. Digital photography/videography
  23. RFID and applications (e.g., EZ Pass)
  24. Genetically modified plants
  25. Bio fuels
  26. Bar codes and scanners
  27. ATMs
  28. Stents
  29. SRAM flash memory
  30. Anti retroviral treatment for AIDS

The list is heavy with innovations related to digital or computer technology. Should email rank in fourth place as a world-changing technology? Are there any innovations that have come along since 1979 that are missing from this list? How about smart cards? Bluetooth or wireless? Predictive analytics software? Virtual reality?  Any others?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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