11 Inventions from the 1940s That Still Shape Our World Today

This decade brought war, and with that war came rapid innovation.

11 Inventions from the 1940s That Still Shape Our World Today
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The 1940s is arguably one of the most important decades of the past century. War and the technology that would follow changed people’s lives on a grand scale, creating everything from new industries to countries. The events in the 1940s rippled across history, and without looking too hard, you can still feel the events of this decade. 

RELATED: A LOOK AT THE 13 MOST INFLUENTIAL INVENTIONS FROM THE EARLY 1900s 

From the microwave over to the atomic bomb, the innovation that was birthed out of this decade was equally amazing and terrifying. Continuing with our exploration of the decade, we took a look at this monumental decade, examined some of our favorite innovations, ideas, and philosophy that emerged from this time period. Here are some of the most influential inventions from the 1940s. 

The Color Television 

Before you spent hours watching countless cat videos and reading Area 51 memes on your phone, you probably spent hours in front of your television. The idea of the color television was already in the back of the minds of a few engineers in the 1920s The first color system was developed in 1928 by John Logie Baird using mechanical techniques.

However, it was CBS and Peter Goldmark in the early 1940s who pioneered a system which transmitted an image in each of the three primary colors. Their TV was based on Baird's designs. Nevertheless, by the 50’s the color television already made its way to the homes of families in the West.  

Aerosol Spray Can

11 Inventions from the 1940s That Still Shape Our World Today
Source: PiccoloNamek/Wikipedia

Where would we be without the aerosol can?  No more hair spray. The emergence of graffiti culture in the coming decades may not have come into fruition at all. Think about all the products you had at home that used aerosol spray technology. 

Interestingly, the aerosol was created by the Department of Agriculture researchers Lyle Goodhue and William Sullivan. In fact, it was a product of WWII, created to find a means to kill malaria-carrying bugs for soldiers.  

The Jeep

11 Inventions from the 1940s That Still Shape Our World Today
Source: Military Vehicle Photos/Wikipedia

There is a good chance that at some point in your life, you lusted after the Jeep. However, do you know where the Jeep originated? Only designed in 18 hours, by Karl Probst, the first prototype for the military Jeep was beloved by the military in 1940.  

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The Z3

11 Inventions from the 1940s That Still Shape Our World Today
Source: Venusianer/Wikipedia

Konrad Zuse did it again. As part of a government project, the Z3 became the natural evolution of his original and rather limited Z1. The Z3 was the world’s first working programmable, fully automatic digital computer. It was also the first computer-controlled by software. 

The computer itself was built with 2,600 relays implementing a 22-bit word length that operated at an impressive clock frequency of approximately 4-5 Hz.   

Atomic Bomb

"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” These were the words that theoretical physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, uttered after seeing the test of his atomic bomb. This line actually comes from a Hindu famous scripture, later to be proven to be a mistranslation. Nevertheless, the atomic bomb and its destructive power were unprecedented, changing the course of WWII, the coming Cold War, and the course of history. 

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The Kidney Dialysis Machine 

Willem Johan Pim Kolff accomplished a lot in his lifetime becoming both a pioneer in the field of hemodialysis and the interesting field of artificial organs. During the Second World War, he made major discoveries in the field of dialysis for kidney; the technology and research that would go on to save countless lives. 

The Aqualung 

Jacques Cousteau is probably one of history's bravest inventors and thinkers. Alongside the Emile Gagnan, Jacques Cousteau invented the modern demand regulator and an improved diving suit. Dubbed the Aqua-Lung, in 1943, the duo created a demand regulator that would automatically create fresh air when the diver breathed. This invention would help lay the framework for modern scuba gear. 

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Mobile Phones 

That’s right mobile phones came into existence in 1947. Now people were not walking around with flip phones in secret. The first commercially viable phone did not come into existence until 1983. However, in 1947, T&T proposed that the FCC allocate a large number of radio-spectrum frequencies so that widespread mobile telephone service would become feasible. 

It was Bell Laboratories that had introduced the idea of cellular communications in 1947 with police car technology. 

Velcro 

Another great example of biomimicry, velcro had a profound impact on how we create clothing as well as some of our most standard daily items. Created by mountaineer and inventor George de Mestral, his inspiration came from the burrs that attached to his dog when he went out for a walk. 

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Microwave Oven 

Percy Spence is the man that brought the microwave over into existence in 1947. The invention was actually based off of radar technology that was created during the war. However, it was still far from the microwave that you love today. The countertop friendly microwave did not make its way to the market until 1967. 

The Jukebox 

Though the first coin-operated jukebox was already around in the 1890s, the jukebox you know today did not appear until the 1940s. The jukebox was so popular that at some point nearly ⅔ of all American-produced records were being played in jukeboxes across the country. 

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