20th Century Invention Timeline 1900 to 1949

20th Century Invention Timeline 1900 to 1949

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Technology, science, inventions, and re-inventions have progressed at an accelerated rate during the hundred years of the 20th century, more so than any other century.

We began the 20th century with the infancy of airplanes, automobiles, and radio, when those inventions dazzled us with their novelty and wonder.

We end the 20th century with spaceships, computers, cell phones, and the wireless Internet all being technologies we can take for granted.


  • The zeppelin invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin.
  • Charles Seeberger redesigned Jesse Reno's escalator and invented the modern escalator.


  • King Camp Gillette invents the double-edged safety razor.
  • The first radio receiver successfully received a radio transmission.
  • Hubert Booth invents a compact and modern vacuum cleaner.


  • Willis Carrier invents the air conditioner.
  • The lie detector or polygraph machine is invented by James Mackenzie.
  • The birth of the Teddy Bear.
  • George Claude invented neon light.


  • Edward Binney and Harold Smith co-invent crayons.
  • Bottle-making machinery invented by Michael J. Owens.
  • The Wright brothers invent the first gas motored and manned airplane.
  • William Coolidge invents ductile tungsten used in lightbulbs.


  • Teabags invented by Thomas Suillivan.
  • Benjamin Holt invents a tractor.
  • John A Fleming invents a vacuum diode or Fleming valve.


  • Albert Einstein published the Theory of Relativity and made famous the equation, E = mc2.
  • Mary Anderson receives a patent for windshield wipers.


  • William Kellogg invents Cornflakes.
  • Lewis Nixon invents the first sonar like device.
  • Lee Deforest invents electronic amplifying tube (triode).


  • Leo Baekeland invents the first synthetic plastic called Bakelite.
  • Color photography invented by Auguste and Louis Lumiere.
  • The very first piloted helicopter was invented by Paul Cornu.


  • The gyrocompass invented by Elmer A. Sperry.
  • Cellophane invented by Jacques E. Brandenberger.
  • Model T first sold.
  • J W Geiger and W Müller invent the geiger counter.
  • Fritz Haber invents the Haber Process for making artificial nitrates.
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images


  • Instant coffee invented by G. Washington.


  • Thomas Edison demonstrated the first talking motion picture.
  • Georges Claude displayed the first neon lamp to the public on December 11, 1910, in Paris.


  • Charles Franklin Kettering invents the first automobile electrical ignition system.


  • Motorized movie cameras invented, replaced hand-cranked cameras.
  • The first military tank patented by Australian inventor De La Mole.
  • Clarence Crane created Life Savers candy in 1912.


  • The crossword puzzle invented by Arthur Wynne.
  • The Merck Chemical Company patented, what is now know as, ecstasy.
  • Mary Phelps Jacob invents the bra.


  • Garrett A. Morgan invents the Morgan gas mask.


  • Eugene Sullivan and William Taylor co-invented Pyrex in New York City.


  • Radio tuners invented, that received different stations.
  • Stainless steel invented by Henry Brearly.


  • Gideon Sundback patented the modern zipper (not the first zipper).


  • The superheterodyne radio circuit invented by Edwin Howard Armstrong. Today, every radio or television set uses this invention.
  • Charles Jung invented fortune cookies.


  • The pop-up toaster invented by Charles Strite.
  • Short-wave radio invented.
  • The flip-flop circuit invented.
  • The arc welder invented.


  • The tommy gun patented by John T Thompson.
  • The Band-Aid (pronounced 'ban-'dade) invented by Earle Dickson.


  • Artificial life begins -- the first robot built.


  • Insulin invented by Sir Frederick Grant Banting.
  • The first 3-D movie (spectacles with one red and one green lens) is released.


  • Garrett A. Morgan invents a traffic signal.
  • The television or iconoscope (cathode-ray tube) invented by Vladimir Kosma Zworykin.
  • John Harwood invented the self-winding watch.
  • Clarence Birdseye invents frozen food.


  • The dynamic loudspeaker invented by Rice and Kellogg.
  • Notebooks with spiral bindings invented.


  • The mechanical television a precursor to the modern television, invented by John Logie Baird.


  • Robert H. Goddard invents liquid-fueled rockets.


  • Eduard Haas III invents PEZ candy.
  • JWA Morrison invents the first quartz crystal watch.
  • Philo Taylor Farnsworth invents a complete electronic TV system.
  • Technicolor invented, which allowed the widespread creation of color movies.
  • Erik Rotheim patents an aerosol can.
  • Warren Marrison developed the first quartz clock.
  • Philip Drinker invents the iron lung.


  • Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.
  • Bubble gum invented by Walter E. Diemer.
  • Jacob Schick patented the electric shaver.


  • American, Paul Galvin invents the car radio.
  • Yo-Yo re-invented as an American fad.
RapidEye / Getty Images


  • Scotch tape patented by 3M engineer, Richard G. Drew.
  • The frozen food process patented by Clarence Birdseye.
  • Wallace Carothers and DuPont Labs invent neoprene.
  • The "differential analyzer", or analog computer invented by Vannevar Bush at MIT in Boston.
  • Frank Whittle and Dr. Hans von Ohain both invent a jet engine.


  • Harold Edgerton invented stop-action photography.
  • Germans Max Knott and Ernst Ruska co-invent the electron microscope.


  • Polaroid photography invented by Edwin Herbert Land.
  • The zoom lens and the light meter invented.
  • Carl C. Magee invents the first parking meter.
  • Karl Jansky invents the radio telescope.


  • Frequency modulation (FM radio) invented by Edwin Howard Armstrong.
  • Stereo records invented.
  • Richard M. Hollingshead builds a prototype drive-in movie theater in his driveway.


  • Englishmen, Percy Shaw invents cat eyes or roads reflectors.
  • Charles Darrow claims he invented the game Monopoly.
  • Joseph Begun invents the first tape recorder for broadcasting - first magnetic recording.


  • Wallace Carothers and DuPont Labs invents nylon ( polymer 6.6.)
  • The first canned beer made.
  • Robert Watson-Watt patented radar.


  • Bell Labs invents the voice recognition machine.
  • Samuel Colt patents the Colt revolver.


  • Chester F. Carlson invents the photocopier.
  • The first jet engine is built.
Monty Rakusen / Getty Images


  • The ballpoint pen invented by Ladislo Biro.
  • Strobe lighting invented.
  • LSD was synthesized on November 16, 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann of Sandoz Laboratories.
  • Roy J. Plunkett invented tetrafluoroethylene polymers or Teflon.
  • Nescafe or freeze-dried coffee invented.


  • Igor Sikorsky invents the first successful helicopter.


  • Dr. William Reich invents the orgone accumulator.
  • Peter Goldmark invents modern color television system.
  • Karl Pabst invents the jeep.


  • Konrad Zuse's Z3, the first computer controlled by software.
  • Aerosol spray cans invented by American inventors, Lyle David Goodloe and W.N. Sullivan.
  • Enrico Fermi invents the neutronic reactor.


  • John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry built the first electronic digital computer.
  • Mueller designs a turboprop engine.


  • Synthetic rubber invented.
  • Richard James invents the slinky.
  • James Wright invents silly putty.
  • Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann discovered the hallucinogenic properties of LSD.
  • Emile Gagnan and Jacques Cousteau invented the aqualung.


  • The kidney dialysis machine invented by Willem Kolff.
  • Synthetic cortisone invented by Percy Lavon Julian.


  • Vannevar Bush proposes hypertext.
  • The atomic bomb invented.


  • The microwave oven invented by Percy Spencer.


  • British/Hungarian scientist, Dennis Gabor, developed the theory of holography.
  • Mobile phones first invented. Although cell phones were not sold commercially until 1983.
  • Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley invented the transistor.
  • Earl Silas Tupper patented the Tupperware seal.


  • The Frisbee ® invented by Walter Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni.
  • Velcro ® invented by George de Mestral.
  • Robert Hope-Jones invented the Wurlitzer jukebox.
Glow Images / Getty Images


  • Cake mix invented.

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