A Look at the 13 Most Influential Inventions from the Early 1900s

Inventions and ideas that came from this era still impact our daily lives to this day.
Donovan Alexander
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A lot happened between the first 10 years of the 20th century, events that would eventually ripple across history. Everything from the Wright Brothers first sustained flight to the awarding of the first Nobel Peace Prizes took place in the time period as well as equally important natural disasters and epidemics. 


Even more so this decade churned out a host of ideas, inventions, and even philosophies that would go on to change the world, laying the framework for our modern world and beyond. Today we decided to take a small deep dive into some of the most influential inventions from the early 1900s. Who knows maybe one of your inventions will make it on our list in the distant future. 

The Escalator 

Where would malls be without the escalator? Better yet, what about our underground metro systems across the world.

Appearing at the turn of the century in 1900, inventor Charles Seeberger took the already existing escalator designs from Jesse Reno and created the escalator, something that would eventually evolve into the cleated moving steps that we love and dogs fear across the world. 

The Gas- Powered Mercedes Car 

A Look at the 13 Most Influential Inventions from the Early 1900s
Source: Mercedes

The turn of the century started the era of the “horseless carriage.” Powerful for its time, lightweight, and very advanced the first gasoline-powered Mercedes came into existence in 1901.

This vehicle may not have been as popular as some of its electric cousins at the time, but its design made it a competent racer among the first hill clubs in Europe.  


The process of shaving was far more dangerous than one might think before the actual invention of the razor.

Invented by King Camp Gillette, the American businessman invented the best selling version of the safety razor. His razor was thin, inexpensive, disposable stamped steel. Gillette legacy continues to this day at the Procter & Gamble company as the Gillette Brand. 

Nintendo Goes Global

A Look at the 13 Most Influential Inventions from the Early 1900s
Source: Eckhard Pecher/Wikipedia

Think where your childhood would be without those character-building moments on Super Smash Brothers or how much more bearable your adult has become with the hours you have spent playing Zelda on Nintendo Switch. Though Nintendo was founded in 1889, 1902 is when the Japanese company went global with its western-style card games. 

After gaining success the company moved on to producing other types of games, electronic toys, and eventually video games. 

The Vacuum

Reading this right now, how badly does your floor need a good clean? Thankfully if a partner or family member decided to come over in the next hour, your vacuum could do most of the heavy lifting.

You can thank Hubert Booth for this. In 1901, Booth invented a compact modern vacuum cleaner that sucked up dirt and dust off floors and other surfaces. 

Air Conditioner 

A Look at the 13 Most Influential Inventions from the Early 1900s
Source: Ildar Sagdejev/Wikipedia

No better invention probably speaks to you at the moment. During this summer’s record high temperatures, A/C is a huge lifesaver.

Created in 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier is known for his invention of the first electrical air conditioning unit. His A/C system served the purpose of controlling the temperature, controlling humidity, controlling air circulation and ventilation, and cleansing the air. 

A Trip to the Moon 

Science fiction has come a long way. You probably have a few favorites, classics that are decades old that still pull at your heartstrings and your love of science. Yet, was one film before them all.

In 1902, French Director George Méliés debuted what is considered the first science fiction film ever. The short film was inspired by the science fiction father himself, H.G. Wells. 

The Airplane 

The first airplane was a massive moment in history as it would go on to change the way people travel and fight wars. Even more so, it made the world much smaller allowing for the sharing of cultures and ideas. As you are well aware, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible in 1903. 

The Theory of Relativity 

From t-shirts to actual classroomsE = mc² is just about everywhere.

Published by Mr. Einstein himself, this equation will go down in physics as one of the most famous equations in history. Einstein’s theories on the nature of the universe, including the theory of relativity are still being proven to this day. 

Color Photography

A Look at the 13 Most Influential Inventions from the Early 1900s
Source: Public Domain/Wikipedia 

Before the creation of social media, people actually took photos of objects and printed them out. Before even that, taking pictures in color was a far off dream until Auguste and Louis Lumiere came along. Using electronic sensors or light-sensitive chemicals on a camera, color information was recorded at the time of exposure to create the first color photos.


A Look at the 13 Most Influential Inventions from the Early 1900s
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Bell 206 Jetranger helicopter. Source: Matthew Field/Wikimedia Commons

Invented by Paul Cornu in 1907, the helicopter would go on to be a major means of transportation for both the military and for the general public. Cornu’s original invention included an open-framework structure built around a curved steel tube that carried a rotor at either end. It only needed one pilot. 

Instant Coffee

Coffee itself has become a staple of our work-obsessed culture. Yet instant coffee was a huge game-changer. Invented by G. Washington, his instant coffee recipe was created in 1909 taking off for him, allowing him to eventually found Maxwell House. 

The Motion Picture 

Thomas Edison was the first to showcase the first motion picture in 1910. The idea was revolutionary featuring synchronized sound technology coupled with moving images. Hollywood would then follow as the motion picture became the focal point of modern culture. 

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