Monday, February 16, 2009

The 30 top innovations of the last 30 years

PBS’s Nightly Business Report teamed up with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, to select the 30 most important innovations from the last 30 years. The list was made public today. No prizes for guessing the top four (see below).

I think this list is useful in a couple of ways. First of all, it’s always good to remember how new so much of the technology we use today really is. Secondly, I’m a big believer that business opportunities arise at the intersection of different trends. (The iPod combined data-storage advances with Internet communication, just as the Blackberry combined cellphones and computers). So as you ponder this list, think about how each of these individual innovations could be mixed and matched to create tomorrow’s next big opportunity.

30. Anti retroviral treatment for AIDS
29. SRAM flash memory
28. Stents
27. ATMs
26. Bar codes and scanners
25. Bio fuels
24. Genetically modified plants
23. RFID and applications (e.g. EZpass)
22. Digital photography/videography
21. Graphic user interface (GUI)
20. Social networking via internet
19. Large scale wind turbines
18. Photovoltaic Solar Energy
17. Microfinance
16. Media file compression (e.g., jpeg, mpeg, mp3)
15. Online shopping/ecommerce/auctions (e.g., eBay)
14. GPS Systems
13. Liquid Crystal Displays
12. Light emitting diodes (first real devices in 1960s; in products in mid-70s)
11. Open source software and services (e.g., Linux, Wikipedia)
10. Non-invasive laser/robotic surgery (laparoscopy)
9. Office software (Spreadsheets, word processors)
8. Fiber optics
7. Microprocessors
6. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
5. DNA testing and sequencing/Human genome mapping
4. E-mail
3. Mobile phones
2. PC/laptop computers
1. Internet/broadband/WWW

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