When Did Modern Technology Start?

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It’s an interesting question: When did modern technology start? To answer it, we first have to define what we mean by modern technology, and then the different milestones we’ve reached with modern technology.

TLDR; The short answer is 1947, but it’s also not really a correct answer.

Related: 5 Current Challenges With Technology in Healthcare

Defining Modern Technology

Technology is the sum of any techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology

We need to first define what we mean by modern technology because humans have used technology (in the broad definition of the word) ever since we began to develop our intellect. This goes back all the way to the first man-made fire, the first use of stone or other objects as tools, and so forth.

So, most probably, when you’re asking “When did modern technology start?”, you don’t mean “When did humans first start to use anything to accomplish any goal?”. Instead, I think you mean: When did modern technology such as computers, mobile phones, the internet, and the digital inventions as we know of today start appearing?

Going with this assumption, I’m making the definition of modern technology as encompassing the things we live with today such as (but not limited to):

  • Digital technologies
  • High-tech devices such as computers, mobile phones, smartwatches, and game consoles
  • The Internet
  • Automatic lights, doors, and systems
  • Digital and social media

Today, cutting-edge modern technology encompasses things such as AI, machine learning, robotics, advanced computing, VR, AR, blockchain technologies, 5G, and more. But that’s not the focus of this article. Now when we’ve got a common sense of the term modern technology, we can return back to the original question!

When did modern technology start?

Here’s a really good infographic on the history of modern technology (By Magic Logix)>

The short answer is that modern technology started around 1947 when one of the world’s first digital computers was first turned on (ENIAC). ENIAC was the first general-purpose digital computer and was made in 1945.

In 1951, the first commercially available computer was released.

In 1975 Microsoft was founded. One year after, in 1976, Apple was founded.

In 1983, the “internet was born”. The same year, the first commercially available handheld cellular mobile phone was released (Motorola DynaTAC 8000X).

But it wasn’t until 1991 that the internet became available for unrestricted computer use. After that, more and more ordinary people got their own computers and internet access at home. I guess I can stop this timeline thing here.

Personal fun fact: I remember the first computer I used, it had a system from 1994. I used it to chat with friends, play games, and write a digital journal in Microsoft Office. I wonder if I was one of the earliest with consistently keeping a digital diary? I hope so, it would be a cool thing to boast about.

Not really correct

It’s worth noting though, that as I mentioned earlier in the article, the definition of “modern” in modern technology can mean a very different thing than I defined here.

For example, aren’t cars modern technology? The first car was patented as early as 1886. And shouldn’t indoor electrical lights count as modern technology? The electric light was invented by Humphry Davy in 1802! That’s 145 years before the first digital computer! What about radio? Engineering? Physics? I can go on forever.

What I want to say is that there isn’t really one correct answer to the question of when modern technology started, because technology is such a broad definition.

If you’re interested in the history of modern society though, then I’d really recommend you dive deep into all the inventions that you are fascinated by. You may even find some of them to have been invented during the 13th century (such as the printing press, hourglass, gunpowder, and eyeglasses). If you’re looking for inspiration, you should check out my favorite historical person to read about; Leonardo Da Vinci.

Have fun and enjoy all the awesome free knowledge we have access to through the internet!


Thanks for reading, I hope this gave some type of answer you were looking for.

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