Do you know what was invented first?
With each new invention, technology advances humans even further. Without the wheel, there would be no Model T and no Tesla; planes couldn't land on runways. Before smartphones, people had to use their hands to get a taxi. Not only did the creation of Uber and Lyft lead to new jobs, but it also keeps everyone's arms a little less tired. Without human innovation, there would be no language, let alone space travel or the internet. In the last two decades alone, humans landed a rover on Mars, learned to edit DNA, and created the iPhone.
Invention drives humanity forward. There's evidence that our ape cousins are also creators; Chimpanzees have used spears to hunt down and kill prey. Stone tools—one of the first inventions—even helped scientists discover the age of our human ancestors. Around 300,000 years ago, ancient humans gathered around fire with their tools, baking them. These singed tools helped paleoanthropologists determine that these Jebel Irhoud—the precursor to Homo sapiens—were twice as old as researchers had previously thought.
Some inventions came out of necessity while others were serendipitous. Historians believe China created the first magnetic compass in the 11th or 12th century to help with navigation as stars aren't always visible. Alexander Fleming, on the other hand, accidentally discovered penicillin, one of humankind's greatest medical breakthroughs. Antibiotics changed the course of medicine.
While it's easy to know that email couldn't exist without the internet, some other inventions aren't so easy to place on a timeline. Did wind or solar energy come first? What about the telephone or the light bulb? Which computer giant is older: Apple or Microsoft?
Stacker compiled a list of inventions made throughout history. Click through to see if you can identify which came first.
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Which came first? Solar power or wind energy
Answer: Wind energy
In 5000 B.C, Egyptians harnessed wind power to get boats down the Nile River. In 200 B.C., China used wind to pump water and people in the Middle East were using windmills to grind grain. Modern wind turbines—which look like airplane propellers—work by producing an electric current when the wind blows. Most shut down if winds get above 55 mph to prevent mechanical damage.
While ancient ancestors started fires by intensifying the sun's rays with magnifying glasses and mirrors, the first solar cell didn't exist until the late 1800s.
Which came first? Light bulb or telephone
Alexander Graham Bell gets credit for inventing the modern telephone in 1876, three years before Thomas Edison filed his patent for the first long-lasting incandescent light bulb. Both inventions modernized human society and are still used today. In 2016, cell phones officially overtook landlines in U.S. homes.
Which came first? Steam train or bicycle
Answer: Steam train
Modern railroad history goes back to the 1500s, but the first steam locomotive carried men, wagons, and iron on a trip through Wales in 1804. High-speed trains now use electric engines or magnets to travel at speeds upwards of 200 mph. German inventor Karl von Drais didn't create the modern two-wheeled bicycle until 1817. While the train came first, bicycles are actually the world's favorite mode of transportation.
What came first? Airplane or gas-powered automobile
Answer: Gas-powered automobile
German inventor Karl Benz gets credit for creating the first gas-powered automobile in 1885. Benz's car came after steam and electric versions had already taken to the road. It wasn't until Dec. 17, 1903, that the Wright brothers made their first successful flight. Cars didn't become common until 1908, when Henry Ford unveiled the first Model T.
Which came first? Internet of personal computer
The U.S. Department of Defense's ARPANET, the precursor to the modern internet, sent its first communication in 1969. The first personal computer kit—the ALTAIR 8800—didn't hit the market until 1975. Apple released its first home computer a year later, with IBM following suit in 1981. More than half of the world now uses the internet.2018 All rights reserved.