Today we take it all for granted, but had it not been for some innovative minds, our smartphones would be pretty dumb right now. Here are six of the most important inventions that made the devices we use today possible:

Digital Audio Player

Not to be confused with Personal Stereo devices like the Sony Walkman or Portable CD Players, the Digital Audio Player was one of the first portable digital devices. First created by British scientist Kane Kramer as the IXI, the Digital Audio Player paved the way for a lot of different compact audio devices including the iconic Apple iPods. The first device never entered production and its battery could only handle approximately one hour of playback.

Digital Camera

Today they flood the market, but had it not been for Steven Sasson, an engineer at Kodak, we wouldn’t have been blessed (or punished, referring to some Facebook users) with the digital camera we take for granted everyday. Sasson invented the digital camera in 1975 in one of Kodak’s research and development laboratories. Today we have digital cameras the size of pin heads and then there’s the Nokia PureView 808.

Lithium Ion Batteries

Although the idea being around since the mid 1970s, it wasn’t until 1983 that Akira Yoshino assembled the first useful prototype to use lithium ions and litium cobalt oxide to create a proper charge. Thanks to Yoshino’s work lithium based batteries could be manufactured on an industrial scale.

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In 1989, IBM researcher, Don Eigler, was the first person to manipulate atoms by using a scanning tunnelling microscope. He used 35 Xenon atoms to create the IBM logo. Eigler set the benchmark that would later ensure the large scale use of nanotechnology, used to create loads of different hardware components.


The first microprocessors were used in calculators in the early 1970s, but quickly began to expand in capabilities. As prices lowered, microprocessors advanced, initial processors were 4-bit, but 8-bit and 16-bit quickly caught on, leading to the invention of Moore’s law.

Memory Chip

Robert Dennard invented DRAM in 1968, allowing memory to be stored more efficiently. Integrated circuits started taking off in the early 1970s, ceasing the use of CRT based memory as well as magnetic core memory. If it weren’t for Dennard, saving a lot of data on a tiny chip would have been nearly impossible.

There are plenty more inventions and innovations that were at play, but if it weren’t for these six, our lives would have been a lot less connected.