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Every once in a while someone invents something that transforms the world almost over night. Anyone older than a teenager today has witnessed the advent of two such epiphanies in recent memory: the PC and the cell phone.

Think how these technologies have changed the world. Each caused the stock market to surge and each lead to the proliferation of countless spin-offs that we all use today. Perhaps the next great leap that will transform the world will be A.I. – artificial intelligence. When we can speak to a computer and it can sense implicitly what it is that we mean from analyzing our words, as well as our tone, our nuance, and our mood, then A.I. will have come of age at last. If artificial intelligence is to be our next great breakthrough, what were some of the previous inventions that had the same effect?

Duh, fire? Well, yes, but let’s skip to the 19th century for brevity’s sake or we’ll overload the servers. There are probably enough such inventions even in the 19th century to overload our systems, too, so only a handful will be identified in this posting.

One is photography. In 1839 Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (French: 1787-1851) invented the first commercially viable photographic process, the daguerreotype. In a little more than a year it swept the globe and was used widely on every inhabited continent because it was relatively simple and inexpensive. Prior to the “dag”, the only images were drawings and paintings which were typically too expensive ($300+) for the average consumer ($1 a day).

The 19th century saw a great number of globe-sweeping technologies which included steam engines, railroads, the McComick reaper, the telegraph, the internal combustion engine, and one invention that we seldom think of – barbed wire.

No way, you say. Actually, yes way. Barbed wire was one of those globe-sweeping inventions that transformed the landscape – literally – and was accepted worldwide in short order. Learn all there is to know about this prickly stuff now – click.