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What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?

Updated October 8, 2019 33.1k votes 3.5k voters 82.0k views169 items

List RulesMost innovative and groundbreaking inventions and discoveries in history

What is mankind's greatest invention? This list includes some of the most innovative, ground breaking inventions ever. Each invention listed here in some way changed history, altering the way we live our lives. Some inventions, like medicine, help to extend our lives and others, like the wheel, changed the way we get around, transport goods and just generally do anything. Which of mankind's inventions do you believe is the most important? Time to vote, and be sure to rerank this list in any order you like.

The most famous inventors in history have made contributions that stand the test of time. From electricity to fire to telephones, mankind's greatest inventions and discoveries help define who we are today. Can any of you argue that the computer is not one of the most notable inventions ever? Certainly not, given that the computer is how many of you are reading this list right now. Of course, everyone at one time or another has an idea for a new invention.

Sometimes inventors with the best of intentions wind up foiled by their own creations. And, in case you think all great inventions were created by men, think again: This list of history's most under-appreciated female inventors will set you straight.
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  • 1
    Written Language is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    1,023
    110

    Written Language

  • 2
    Agriculture is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    894
    134
  • 3
    Tools is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    561
    64

    Tools

  • 4
    Medicine is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    1,267
    269
  • 5
    Clean Water is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    690
    130
  • 6
    Wheel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    459
    46
  • 7
    Electric Lights is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    933
    227

    Electric Lights

  • 8
    Books is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    422
    60

    Books

  • 9
    Mathematics is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    733
    221
  • 10
    Food Preservation is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    445
    103

    Food Preservation

  • 11
    Antibiotics is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    429
    85

    Antibiotics

  • 12
    Toilet is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    448
    104

    Toilet

  • 13
    Computer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    839
    306
  • 14
    Music is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    679
    240
  • 15
    Telephone is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    465
    156
  • 16
    The Printing Press is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    498
    195

    The Printing Press

  • 17
    Lens (Optics) is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    268
    60

    Lens (Optics)

  • 18
    Engine is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    397
    141

    Engine

  • 19
    The Compass is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    317
    102

    The Compass

  • 20
    Radio is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    239
    66

    Radio

  • 21
    Steel is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    210
    63

    Steel

  • 22
    The Battery is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    286
    95

    The Battery

  • 23
    Trade is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    189
    69

    Trade

  • 24
    Control of Fire is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    152
    33

    Control of Fire

  • 25
    The Interwebs is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list What Is Mankind's Greatest Invention?
    383
    187
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