I first saw this list at Business Insider , but I feel like most relevant news sources would have come up with roughly the same (though there are likely a few health and aerospace tech innovators that are worthy of the list). The most interesting (almost unbelievable) characteristic of this group of 20 is that every company is American. In a way, it’s an ode to capitalism, and for a moment we can forget about the working conditions of Apple plants in China or the Fukushima power plant (built by GE…over an earthquake fault line), and consider how these technologies have improved humanity.
1. Ford – The car is easily the most revolutionary technological advancement in history; just think how different the global economy (and thus consumption, politics, war and tech) would be without it.
2. General Electric – Light bulb, Steam Engine, Electric fan, Radio, TV, Wind turbine. Edison.
3. Apple – PC, MacBook, iPod, iPad. Don’t necessarily believe they should be up this high, but it’s difficult to argue against it.
4. AT&T/Bell – Irreversibly changed the way we connect and communicate. Alexander Graham Bell.
5. Microsoft – 90% of computers world wide user their interface.
6. Intel – Microprocessors. Made it so a computer once bigger than a car could fit in your backpack.
7. IBM – King of computer hardware.
8. Amazon – Tablet, e-reader, e-commerce. Serial killer of novels (Yea I know).
9. Google – Revolutionized the search engine and dumped millions in YouTube. This will likely be higher in 10 years or so.
10. Sony – Made it possible for kids to bring their music with them (for better of for worse).
11. HP – They make shitty computers now, but HP basically started Silicon Valley.
12. Facebook – Reinvented our social lives (for better or worse).
13. Polaroid – Reinvented and modernized photograph.
14. Nintendo – The gaming industry owes their existence to them.
15. Motorola – Invented the cell phone, and they’re not done yet.
16. Xerox – Before being known for making copies, Xerox developed the mouse and user interface that was eventually jacked by Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
17. AOL – Domesticated the web.
18. Palm – Man did the Palm Pilot have its fucking day.
19. Cisco – Probably the least flashy of all the names on this list, but they continue to advance the speed and innovation of web routers.
20. Netscape – Yea, the web browser was eventually crushed by Explorer (now getting crushed by Chrome and Firefox), but it introduced the internet to hundreds of millions of users.