Inventions from the 1950s-1960s

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Coming off a period of high and accelerated innovation and invention during the Second World War and with continued political and financial impetus from the Cold War, the 1950s and 1960s were highly inventive decades. Many things we take for granted today first emerged or had their genesis in this period. It was the dawning of the space age, the computer age and the nuclear age -- three technologically significant developments that would have many spin-offs and spark other significant creations.


Major developments and breakthroughs occurred in the field of transportation in the 1950s and 1960s. In the automotive industry, the invention of fuel injection did away with the less-efficient carburettor within a few years. The hovercraft emerged on the scene as a completely new and innovative form of transportation. And the black box flight recorder changed the face of aviation forever, leading to major advancements and improvements in safety. In 1961 space flight became a reality when the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth.


The development of oral contraceptives in 1954 was a major breakthrough in the area of birth control sparking a social revolution and changing attitudes to sexuality. The artificial heart or pacemaker was successfully developed and new drugs such as valium made their debuts. Contact lenses gave people with eyesight problems a new alternative to framed glasses. A medical breakthrough occurred in 1955 with the release of a highly effective polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk.

Household & Leisure

Many inventions of the '50s and '60s made household chores easier and added new dimensions to people’s choice of leisure activities. The VCR emerged to revolutionise how people watched television, the transistor radio made radios cheaper, more portable and more accessible to millions, and the Teflon pan brought a new ease to cooking duties. And a new way of consuming food -- the fast-food takeaway -- was invented in the form of the first McDonalds restaurant in 1954.


The development of computers and associated technology gathered pace in these decades. The modem was developed to enable computers to be linked in networks, and the microchip was about to change the face of computing and technology forever. The floppy disk was developed in this period as was computer memory and the development of several pioneering computer languages, such as Basic and Fortran. The world's first video game, "Space Wars," was also released in 1961.

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