From Site Selection magazine, January 2000
ASSESSING     T H E     2 0 T H     C E N T U R Y

The Great Idea Harvest:
The 20th Century's Most
Significant Developments

From the viewpoint of enhancing quality of life - providing jobs, building an economic base, supporting social benefits - what were the most important developments of the 20th century?
Here are some that we believe deserve special attention:

1. Extension of electric power service: This involved building new power plants, using fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear power; creating a nationwide system of distribution facilities improving efficiency, increasing reliability and reducing costs. Most important, the system gave us lights!

2. Motor transport: Mass production of automobiles and trucks, building a highway system. Spin-offs included motels and drive-in facilities.

3. Telecommunications: Creating systems ranging from the telephone and radio to television and satellite communications. A byproduct was navigation aids for ships and airplanes.

4. Health care: Developing a system of research centers, hospitals, clinics, and special diagnostic and emergency services for virtually the entire population. This extended our life span by many years.

5. Food: Providing an abundant and stable supply of food via improved agriculture, new processing plants, refrigeration and other innovations in packaging and distribution. We have virtually no starvation.

6. Materials: Inventing and producing synthetic fabrics, plastics and better materials for home and industrial applications -- benefits too numerous to mention.

7. Aviation: Inventing and producing aircraft for moving people, cargo and mail around the world more quickly and more safely than ever before.

8. Computers: Inventing and producing machines that opened vast new opportunities in science, business and many other areas.

9. Space exploration: Venturing into the greatest frontier known to man and spinning off many specific benefits, most importantly the communications and weather observation satellites.

10. Motion pictures: Developing systems for the creation, recording and distribution of sounds and images, offering entertainment and education for millions.

11. Comfort and convenience appliances: Air-conditioners, icemakers, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, microwave ovens and a host of other useful items.

What a fabulous group of developments! Think of all the people who have benefited! The yield of the 20th century has been fantastic! -- McKinley Conway    

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