5 Life-Changing Inventions & How the World Resisted Them at First
When "horseless carriages" debuted in the early 1900s, they weren't as popular as you'd think.
"The notion that… vehicles of any… kind will be able to compete with railroad trains for long-distance traffic is visionary to the point of lunacy," a notable reporter of the time said.3
- Disruptions: Transportation industry, displacing horse carriages and bicycles.
- Benefits: Traveling farther is now possible. The auto industry emerges, with new opportunities in manufacturing, sales, maintenance, and more. So do auto industry regulations.
Airplanes were another invention met with skepticism when they were first introduced.
"It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere." That's what Thomas Edison had to say about airplanes in the late 1800s.
- Disruptions: Transportation industry, displacing railroads and ship travel.
- Benefits: Air travel emerges, with airports and regulations to follow. That sparks a surge in tourism and travel-related businesses, like hotels and rental cars. It also created countless new jobs, from pilots and flight attendants to airplane builders, airport workers, and more.
3: Renewable Energy
Like coal, renewable energy faced resistance when it first came on the scene.4
In fact, it has yet to be fully embraced, and that's partly because there's still a lot of doubt about this technology.5
- Disruptions: Traditional energy industries and businesses, especially those focused on fossil fuels and coal.
- Benefits: Solar and wind renewables emerge, with many applications. Renewable energy also reshapes the transportation, HVAC, and construction industries.
"Computerphobia" broke out in the '80s and spilled into the '90s, with folks feeling "resistances, fears, anxieties, and hostilities" towards computers when they were first introduced.6
That didn't really go away until the next big thing in the digital world came along — cyberspace.6
- Disruptions: Many "manual" jobs disappeared with computers. Certain factory jobs, switchboard operators, and elevator operators weren't needed any more. Same with bowling pin boys, data processors, travel agents, and more.7
- Benefits: Computers brought a powerful new way to access, store, process, and manage huge amounts of data — and understand it better. Computers also got rid of human error in some tasks and made it easy to automate others.
5: The Internet
The world wide web was met with a lot of confusion when it debuted in the '90s. There weren't search engines early on, and web addresses were brand new.8
"The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works." That was written by an internet skeptic in the '90s in an article entitled, "The Internet? Bah!" The subtitle may be the cherry on top of this treat — it's, "Hype alert: Why cyberspace isn't, and will never be, nirvana."9
- Disruptions: Print media, mail, travel, retail, education, and so many other industries were transformed.
- Benefits: The internet has given us instant access to information, all new ways to do business, and convenient ways to connect. It's also given rise to a digital world of apps, games, shops, social media, and more.