The ‘70s was a decade where dramatic steps forward were taken in the field of science and technology. Different discoveries in biology, physics, and especially technology gave birth to a new generation of scientists. Technologies such as the integrated circuit, the supercomputer, lasers, and cellphone find their common ancestors in the ‘70s. That’s why in this article, we are going to look back at the top science discoveries in the ‘70s that completely changed the world.
The Voyager Program
The Voyager program was two unmanned space launches namely Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 during the summer of 1977. These voyager spacecraft both performed close flybys of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Jupiter. Voyagers 1 and 2 still continue to explore the outer boundary of the heliosphere in interstellar space until today. Their missions have been extended three times because they still transmit useful scientific data. This is one of the most significant space explorations that was ever attempted and their discoveries continue to shape our understanding of our solar system.
The Floppy Disk
The floppy disk may be an obsolete technology today but it has proven its legacy. In fact, some of you may not recognize that cute little button at the top left corner of the Microsoft Word. Yes, it is a floppy disk. And this very article was written in Microsoft Word and has been saved by clicking that cute little button on the top left corner. It just goes to show that we haven’t forgotten them even if we’re not physically using them anymore. They are the grandfather of the now famous USB flash drives. But believe it or not, these little square piece of plastic can only hold 90 to 360KB of data. But still, the floppy disks were able to transport data from one computer to another in the easiest way back in the ‘70s.
There’s several controversies on who the creator of email is. But one story says that in 1971, a computer programmer at Bolt Beranek and Newman named Ray Tomlinson, created a text-based messaging within the company’s computers through the network Arpanet and used the “@” symbol to send and route messages. But nevertheless, the email was born during the ‘70s and we are still thankful for it until today.
Even if it did not look mobile at all, the first cellular phone was created by Motorola in 1973. And the company marked that day by having their senior engineer call their rival company, Bell Laboratories, and told them that they were calling through a mobile phone. The phone they used was a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x and believe is it is nothing like your Android or Apple phones you own today. The first mobile phone was over a foot in length and it weighs almost two and a half pounds. Not only that, it will take you ten hours to charge it and you will only get to use it for 30 minutes of talk-time. What a bummer, right? But it still paved the way to the innovations of the smartphones we use today.
The Universal Product Code
The idea for the Universal Product Code or otherwise known as the barcode started on a beach in Miami in 1949 when Norman Joseph Woodland drew the outline in the sand. It was inspired by Morse Code that Woodland learned in the Boy Scouts. In 1952, he had his idea patented. But it took several years and designs later before Woodland’s idea came to fruition. In June 1974, a group of people from the National Cash Register installed computers and scanners at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. And then the first item that has a barcode or UPC was scanned it was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. That gum was so historical it is now preserved at the Smithsonian Museum.
The Digital Camera
In 1975, the first digital camera was invented by a Kodak engineer named Steven Sasson. Although, the first digital camera wasn’t the type of camera that you might want to bring on your family vacation because it weighed a total of eight pounds and it only took 0.01 megapixel black and white pictures that were saved on a cassette tape. Plus, it will take you 23 seconds to take a photo and you can only view your pictures if you connect your camera to your television set. Nevertheless, it still sparked the whole idea of the digital camera.
The MRI machine is often called as one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the 20th century and it was invented by Dr. Raymond Damadian. He was a professor at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center when he founded his own company to manufacture MRI scanners in 1977. He had the idea of the MRI machine back in the early ‘70s while he was using a nuclear magnetic resonance. In 1977, he performed the first MRI scan on a human which he did on his assistant’s chest.
The Sony Walkman
Before we had our iPods and smartphone, there was the Sony Walkman. It was the most popular music device on the market back in the ‘70s. The first portable cassette player that weighed 14-ounce and ran off two AA batteries was introduced in July 1979. It was first released in Japan and Sony thought that they would only sell 5,000 units of the Walkman but it sales skyrocketed within the first two months of its release and they sold over 50,000 units of Walkmans.
That was the top inventions in the ‘70s. They surely paved the way for the gadgets, gizmos, and knowledge we know today. The ‘70s was indeed a great decade for innovations.