How many medical gadgets changed the world?

9. That's how many medical related devices turn up on The Independent of England's arbitrary list of the "101 gadgets that changed the world."

Bayer Leverkusen shield9.

That's how many medical related devices turn up on The Independent of England's arbitrary list of the "101 gadgets that changed the world."

In some ways the list is rather silly but it does give some indication of which medical gadgets are considered most important by casual historians.

The 8 "winners" according to Simon Usborne, who listed the gadgets in alphabetical order:

  • Aspirin. Chemist. Felix Hoffman created aspirin in 1899 as a help to his father's arthritis. An aspirin tablet is the logo of the German soccer club Bayer Leverkusen.
  • Cardiac Pacemaker. The device that keeps Dick Cheney alive and growling. The first reliable model was built by American engineer Wilson Greatbatch in his garden shed in 1958.
  • Condom. The oldest we know of dates from 1640, but they were said to have been used by ancient Egyptians. They can halt the spread of disease, but some may find them no more useful than #97, the vibrator, invented in 1902.
  • Microscope. Dutchman Zacharias Janssen is given credit for the invention in 1590.
  • Spectacles. These are dated from 1451, but a pair is also depicted in a 1352 portrait of Hugh de Provence, a French nobleman. And where would Benjamin Franklin (or I) be without bifocals, which he created in 1784.
  • Stethoscope. Frenchman René Théophile Hyacinthe Laënnec is credited with the first, in 1819.
  • Syringe. Early versions have been around for 1000 yeras, but the first with a needle and a drug behind it is credited to Irishman Francis Rynd, in 1844.
  • The Pill. Birth control pills, first created by a team under Carl Djerassi in 1951, were also the first drugs designed to prevent rather than treat disease. The precursor to my enormous pharmacy bills.
  • The Thermometer. It's credited to (who else) Daniel Fahrenheit, who invented the mercury version we still use in the 1720s.

There are some honorees with medical connections. The electric shaver. The flush toilet. The safety razor. The toothbrush. And of course the abacus to tote up the bill.

What do you think are the greatest medical gadgets? Is the bill a gadget?

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All