4 low-tech inventions that we couldn’t imagine a future without today

The world of tech is exploding. Almost every day, new high-tech innovations promise to change the future forever and never before has technology played such an essential role in the world than it does today.

We tend to forget sometimes, though, how crucial some of the inventions of the past were to the development of the technology we have to choose from today.

Here are four technologies from the past that completely changed the world, and which we wouldn’t be able to leave out of our imaginings of the future.


Artificial refrigeration was first dreamt up by Scottish professor William Cullen in 1755, but the first working vapour-compression refrigeration system would be built much later in 1834, with commercial domestic refrigerators only put up for sale in 1918.

How it is essential in the tech world today: The role of refrigeration goes far beyond just keeping our food fresh for longer. Computer systems, just like any other systems that use electricity to work, need to be kept cool to function optimally. When quantum computing – the next revolution in computing technology – comes into play, quantum computers will need to be artificially kept at very low temperatures in order to perform the complex calculations that they will be required to do. Says NewScientist, the cooling systems currently in use with quantum computers function very similar to a refrigerator.

The compass

The magnetic compass was developed by the Han Chinese Dynasty as early as between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. Initially used for divination and fortune-telling purposes, compasses started being used for navigation by the Song Dynasty during the 11th century AD.

How it is essential in the tech world today: Traditional compasses began giving way to their more technologically advanced siblings in the 21st century, but the workings of the magnetic compass are still a crucial element in navigation technology today.


Electrical telegraphy changed the way we communicate forever when it was introduced in the early 18th century, and telecoms started becoming mainstream when Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call on 10 March 1876.

How it is essential in the tech world today: It’s difficult to imagine that smartphones were the natural evolution of the telephone (which, on its part, followed and improved upon the communications technology established by the telegraph) and later the mobile phone. Today, smartphones are used for everything from making bookings and paying bills, to checking the weather and navigating our drives. Without the strong foundations of telecoms technology, it is doubtful we would have developed this far.


It goes without saying that electricity revolutionised the world. Of course, it has always been around, but when Michael Faraday created the electric dynamo in 1831, electricity first became viable for use in technology.

How it is essential in the tech world today: The first industrial revolution laid the groundwork for making electricity as widely available as possible. Today, the challenge the world faces is how to make green electricity the new normal. As tech develops, so do the ways in which it responsibly forms a part of our everyday lives.

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