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Technology inventions which changed the world – but nearly didn’t!

8 technology innovations which changed the world but nearly didn’t

The path of technology innovation is rarely a straightforward one. The following 8 technology inventions all changed the world in radical ways… but very nearly didn’t!

Fleet management technology as we now know it is one crucial development that almost didn’t take off due to early barriers, and a number of other household inventions have similar stories.

Whether it is through a dubious reaction to their early introduction or because they were discovered by accident, there are many surprising examples of inventions we take for granted almost fading into obscurity.

Scroll through the picture slider below to find out these quirky fleet technology innovations

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They were all either discovered by accident or initial reactions to them were so hostile or lukewarm that their progress was nearly hampered altogether.

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1) The electric mouse

The computer mouse was conceived by US computer scientist Douglas Engelbart and developed by Xerox PARC, but it was only famously made marketable by Apple. In comparison to the Xerox model which cost $300 to make and only lasted 2 weeks, Steve Jobs reputedly asked for a mouse which could be manufactured for less than $15, not fail for a couple of years and work on both Formica and blue jeans.

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2) The airplane black box

In the 1950s, Australian chemist David Warren was asked to calculate why the new British Comet aircraft was crashing. His suggestion to record flight data and voice recordings to assist in post crash investigations was initially completely dismissed on the basis that the recorder would just record pilots panicking and yield “more expletives than explanations”.

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4) The x-ray

When physicist Wilhem Roentgen was projecting light through cathodic ray tubes, he noticed fluorescent papers in his laboratory were illuminated – even though his machine had an opaque cover.

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5) The microwave oven

An engineer at the Raytheon Corporation first discovered microwave technology by accident in 1945 while conducting a radar-related research project with a new vacuum tube. When the chocolate bar in his pocket began to melt during the experiments, he used the technology to pop popcorn and went on to build the first microwave oven in 1947.

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3) The touchscreen

In the 1970s, Dr. G. Samuel Hurst and his research team were using a Van de Graff accelerator that was only available at night to research atomic physics at the University of Kentucky. Tired by the slow progress, Hurst used electrically conductive paper to read a pair of x- and y- coordinates, allowing his students to compute in a few hours what had taken days. The idea led to the first touch screen for computers.

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6) The ink-jet printer

An engineer from Canon accidentally discovered the technology behind inkjet printers after placing a hot iron on a pen by mistake. The heat caused the pen to eject ink from its tip, triggering the idea of using an electric-powered heating coil on ink-filled cartridges.

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7) The pacemaker

While building a heart rhythm recording device, US researcher Wilson Greatbatch accidently plugged a resistor of the wrong size into the circuitry, triggering an on-off electrical pulse which simulates the heart’s natural beat.

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8) Telematics

Although today’s sophisticated systems have their roots way back in1960s GPS technology developed by the US military, when the first vehicle tracking systems emerged in the 1990s, they initially met with hostile accusations of ‘big brother’ style spying from drivers.

However, the obvious link between driving more efficiently and driving more safely means that the technology has now been widely accepted as a key tenet of an employer’s duty of care responsibilities for mobile workforces.

The latest open API integration platforms also mean that the original tracking and navigation technology can now be combined with a host of other useful functions such as conducting vehicle safety checks, capturing a customer signature, avoiding traffic and confirming ETAs to customers, making mobile workers’ lives considerably easier.

Find out more about how to match the right fleet telematics system to your needs with our buyer’s guide to selecting the right fleet management solution

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