It is difficult to identify specific items as many of the innovations are dependant on many smaller ones that compose the larger one. The transistor (1950s) is undoubtedly a major innovation, but predominantly in making other useful gadgets. Likewise light emitting diodes (LED) (1960s), and fibre optic cables (1920s–1960s). Some otherwise notable innovations such as incandescent light bulbs (1880s), aeroplanes (1910s), and satellites (1950s) are older than 50 years. High yield grain varieties (1950s onward), a culmination of several breeding improvements, would be in the top 3 of the last hundred years.
Top 10 innovations of the last 50 years
- Personal computer (1970s)
- Laser (1960s)
- Internet (1970s–1990)
- Retail electronic funds transfer (1980s)
- Cell phones (1980s)
- Optical memory storage (1980s)
- Polymerase chain reaction (1980s)
- DNA sequencing (late 1970s onwards)
- Global positioning system (1970s–1990s)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (1970s)
- Flash memory storage (1980s)
- Digital cameras (1990s)
- Computer assisted tomography (CT scans) (1970s)
What would you include or exclude in your list?