It is certainly tough to select the countries that have invented the most things in all human history because “things” is a very vague word and “all human history” is a long time span to cover. These conditions englobe virtually anything that society has found a use for, ever, so it can go from something as material and scary as the guillotine (France) to something as intangible (and unpatentable) as a democracy (Greece). Some inventions have been rendered obsolete with time, but in most cases, they have set the basis for many other inventions to come, so it’s my duty to evaluate these factors, in order to compile this super-interesting ranking for you.
One thing that can’t be overlooked is the fact that being an “innovative country” in the present does not exactly imply that they’ve always been so, that is why many of the most advanced countries in science today are not featured on this list. The older and wealthier the nations are, the more advantage they’ve got to make the ranking.
Often, when we think “invention”, we think “technology”, which is sometimes –but not always- the case. It is true that many real world problems can be solved with technology, but let’s not limit our language to that, and try to think further: what is an invention?
Since most dictionaries go for “something that was invented” (no sh*t, Einstein), I went through several definitions until I found one that pleased me, and here it is: “An invention is an outcome of any idea, device, method or composition of a process. It may be a new development or further improvement of the existing design.”
I find this to be a good definition because it talks about the process; not all inventions are what they were meant to be, things change in the process. It also implies that the evolution of an invention also counts as one, which is why you will see that some items are featured in several countries’ lists. It’s so silly, they’re all fighting over who invented TV, when they actually did it together. This says a lot about how the world works. The one thing this definition is missing, in my view, is “findings”, which I consider to (sometimes) constitute inventions as well, because not all of those are intentional. What makes an invention out of a finding is awarding it a purpose. If you need an example, think of penicillin.
As for the list of countries that have invented the most things in all human history, there’s are many-a-country (especially the most innovative today), who claim to be in the top 10, so making the selection was hard. To arrive at our definitive list, first I had to research forums, such as CanadianContent and Quora, and got some support from Worldknowing and Eupedia, which was very useful. For the last, I searched for each country on my list individually (link are found on each item), and I think I got a pretty satisfying result, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
So, has your country brought any good (or evil) into this world? Find out next!
Apart from being the world leaders in body odor for centuries, the French also constitute one of the 10 countries that have invented the most things in all human history –including, of course, perfume. Here are some other inventions the French are proud of:
The Braille System, Canning, Pasteurization, Aqua Lung, Hot Air Balloon, Mayonnaise, Metric System, Sewing Machine, The Refrigerator, Electric plane, Tobacco-free hookah, Humanoid robots, Foldable helmets, Pollution measurement, Robotic toy for autistic children, Automatic tattoos, Office gardening, Interactive table football, Exoskeleton, Cameras for firefighters, Synthesizer, The Hair Dryer, Triathlon, Pencil Sharpeners, Etch-a-Sketch, The Stethoscope, Gothic art, Oboe, Gambling games and card games, and cinema.
We are continuing our list of countries that have invented the most things in all human history with USA’s good-hearted, non-violent, non-dim-witted half-brother is responsible for some of the greatest inventions of our times. Even though they are guilty for Justin Bieber-ing the world, they shall be forgiven, for they have also brought us Leonard Cohen and Jim Carrey in return. Still, these are people, not inventions, so here’s a little taste of what they did come up with:
Insulin as Diabetes treatment, Superman, Basketball, Standard time, Canola, AM radio, snowmobile, poutine, walkie-talkies, prosthetic hand, snow blower, foghorn, sonar, goalie mask, Imax, instant replay, trivial pursuit, lacrosse, ice hockey, electron microscope, cardiac pacemaker, Wonderbra, alkaline battery, caulking gun, jolly jumper, garbage bags, paint roller, Robertson screw, bloody Caesar, Plexiglas, pager, peanut butter, java, blackberry.
Just as you’ll see later on, when you get to England, attributing a place to the Soviet Union on this list of countries that have invented the most things in all human history would be a cheater’s move, especially since Russia’s gotten enough on her own to make it here. From what is listed below –and history- I think it’s safe to say their main interests relied on transportation and warfare, but you be the judge of that.
Caterpillar tracks, Electrically-powered railway wagons, Videotape recorder, Radio, Helicopter, Solar cell, Transformers, Yoghurt, Television, Petrol cracking, Synthetic rubber, Grain harvester, backpack parachute, carbon filter mask, mortar, torpedo, rifle, narcosis, heart-lung machine, electric bulb, first plane, electric tram, passenger jet.
Just as Greece is featured here on the list of countries that have invented the most things in all human history as a courtesy of their many ancient inventions that helped found our entire western civilization, China has worked miracles for Eastern development. Most of these creations eventually spread across the globe, modifying the rest of the world in the most incredible ways. Tell me if any of these sound familiar:
Paper, Movable Type Printing, Gunpowder, Compass, Alcohol, Mechanical Clock, Tea Production, Silk, Umbrella, Acupuncture, Iron smelting, Porcelain, Earthquake Detector, Rocket, Bronze, The Kite, The Seed Drill, Row Crop Farming, Toothbrush, Paper Money, Animal Zodiac, Dominoes, ephedrine, exploding cannonballs, fireworks, incense, magic mirrors, nail polish, natural gas fuel, restaurant menus, tofu, toilet paper.
So, as Monty Python taught us in the “Life of Brian”, when asking ourselves: “What have the Romans ever done for us?” The answer is: A lot.
Along with Greece, Italy, the number 6 on our list of countries that have invented the most things in all human history has been the foundation of western society, and the proof is right there, in the city of Rome. Let me present you with a fun fact: the reason why Rome has only two metro lines, which took over a 100 years to build, is that every time they dug a hole, they found a god-damn ruin. See, when I say foundation, I mean it literally. Now, even though they are not the subway kings, Italians have been the founders of much else. Here’s a small list:
Jeans, Newspapers, Jacuzzi, original telephone, Battery, piano, banks, espresso machine, liposuction, ballet, ballistics, botanical gardens, carbon paper, dentures, cologne, eyeglasses, film festival, galleon, herbarium, Latin alphabet, mafia, microscopic anatomy, nitroglycerin, Nutella, opera, ocarina, paddle boat, parachute, pistol, pizzeria, Polypropylene, radio, stiletto, typewriter, Vespa, violin, roman law, watermark.
In the attempt to not offend too much, but also sustain my right as a Jew and a cynic to make holocaust jokes, I will allow myself three Nazi witticisms, no more, no less.
How thankful should we be for German inventions? I hear they were really big on camps, but I don’t think they were known for being particularly fun (that’s one). Come on, you can’t tell me you did nat-zee that coming! (That’s two)
Nevertheless, Germans are responsible for an astounding number of discoveries and creations that have benefited the world for hundreds of years, and this should be acknowledged. Here are some examples of great German inventions:
Airbag, Aspirin, Automobile, Bacteriology, Beer, Chipcard, C-Leg, Ecoflex Plastic, Glider, Gummi Bear, Helicopter, Jet Engine, MP3 Format, Nuclear Fission, Nylon Plug, Radio-controlled Watch, Record Player, Scanner, Small Format Camera, Social Legislation, Tape recorder, Theory of Relativity, The Pill, Toothpaste, “Wiener” sausage, X-ray technology.
In view of all this, these guys certainly belong among the countries that have invented the most things in all human history. And however much a mess they made of my ancestors, they did bring BEER into the world, so… call it even? (That’s three)
We are continuing our list of countries that have invented the most things in all human history with Greece -that’s also known as the “Cradle of the Western Civilization”- is, logically, have to be close to the top. Even though they’re not the kings of household appliances, they’ve been around way, waaay before those, so they basically had the first shot at inventing EVERYTHING. From the most physically tangible to the most abstract, they are the cement (which they invented, btw) of modern western society. To name but a few of their inventions:
Alphabet, Anchor, Alarm Clock, Automatic Doors, Cartography, Catapult, Central Heating, Clock Tower, Coin Money, Crane, Crossbow, Democracy, Geometry, Historiography, Lighthouse, Mathematics, Medicine, Odometer, Olympics, Philosophy, Physics, Plumbing, Poetry, Sinks, Showers, Spiral Staircase, Steam Engine, Surveying tools, Thermometer, Umbrella, Urban Planning, Vending Machine, Water Mill, Wheelbarrow.
The list just goes on and on, not to mention that many of this inventions founded the indispensable basis for countless others to come. They are said to also have invented sodomy, so good for them.
It’s funny, whenever you look for “x country’s inventions” you get results such as “that changed the world”, “that revolutionized industry” almost every time. Except with Japan. These people, even though they are greatly responsible for where the world stands today regarding technology, are mostly acknowledged for their “odd” and “weird” creations than from their everyday ones. No one cares about household cam-recorders when ALL OF THIS CRAZY SH*T is going on.
Weirdness aside, Japan has given us all of these things:
Karaoke, Quartz Wristwatch, Pocket Calculator, Flat-Panel Display, The Digital SLR Camera, The Video Cassette, The Camcorder, The High-Speed Passenger Train, The Portable Music Player, The Floppy Disk, The Compact Disc, DVDs, Walkman, instant ramen, electric rice cooker, Flash Memory, memory card, platform video games, karate, blu-ray disc, Android, katana, fire balloon, Methamphetamine (yup), iPS Cells, Antibody (Immunoglobulin), Carbon Nanotube, Carbon Fiber (PAN), Hybrid Vehicle, Car Navigation System, Jet Ski, LED lights, Optical Fiber, Battery, Mobile Phone Camera, and an insane number of martial arts.
In case you missed it: they invented Meth.
“Like mother, like daughter” –I guess we could say.
241 years and some pennies ago, the United States, the number two on our list of countries that have invented the most things in all human history achieved emancipation from motherland England, and has not wasted any time since then. Even though they haven’t been able to catch up with dear ol’ England’s invention rate, they have done an outstanding job in trying to set themselves aside from their parents, and here’s a list of some of the most interesting stuff they’ve come up with in the last 200 years:
Modern Suspension Bridge, Potato chips, Condensed Milk, Machine Gun, Phonograph, Electric Light Bulb, Photographic Film, Skyscraper, Disc Record, Mousetrap, Cotton Candy, Airplane, the electric traffic light, Liquid-Fuel Rocket, Frozen Food, Sun glasses, Chocolate chip cookie, Ruth Wakefield, modern day digital computer, Nylon, Pantyhose, Microwave Oven, Nuclear Bomb, the microwave oven, Credit card, Disposable Diaper, Nuclear Submarine, Integrated circuit, first LASER, Magnetic stripe card, light emitting diodes for lighting and image displays, Compact Disk, Kevlar, Lunar Module, Email, Personal Computer, The first the mobile phone, Space Shuttle, Internet Protocol Suite, operational GPS, DNA computing, CMOS image, Jet Propulsion, computer mouse, Java Script, Mars Rovers, The Torino.
To the surprise of no one, the UK has been unanimously voted by the holy voices of the internet the number one among the countries that have invented the most things in all human history- which tells me one thing: the internet doesn’t know what a country is. Also, it’s cheating, unnecessarily too. Even though the whole of Great Britain –also not a country- has fathomed over 50% of the world’s inventions throughout history, England on its own as a country is still the undoubted champion.
You and I could probably spend days googling England’s greatest inventions, and still have a way to go, so I’ll just round up a few of the most interesting here:
Reflecting telescope, seed drill, marine chronometer, spinning frame, toothbrush, soda water, hydraulic press, steam engine, glider, tension-spoked wheel, tin can, modern fire extinguisher, electric motor, waterproof material, passenger railway, lawnmower, photography, electric telegraph, chocolate bar, hypodermic syringe, synthetic dye, Bessemer process, linoleum, sewage system, modern torpedo, telephone, light bulb, steam turbine, safety bicycle, pneumatic tire, thermos flask, electric vacuum cleaner, disc brakes, stainless steel, military tank, television, cats eye, jet engine, electronic programmable computer, hovercraft, automatic kettle, float glass, hip replacement, carbon fiber, collapsible baby buggy, ATM, World Wide Web (not to be confused with the internet), wind-up radio, steri-spray.
Last but not least, like I mentioned earlier England also invented the United States of America, but when it comes to clowns I think they did way-a better job with Monty Python!
(I’m high-fiving myself for that joke right now)
I hope you’ve enjoyed our journey of world discoveries, I certainly learned a lot!