The Timeline of a Technology

Jan 23, 2023
3 min

Humans are influenced by the environments that they live in. When it comes to any invention, this means that a new creation is built upon certain fundamentals or prior progress. This results in the timeline of a technology that you can use to quickly understand new technologies.


The study of Math shows a clear example of the timeline of a technology. Mathematical operations such as addition and subtraction were built upon the invention of a number system (i.e Base 10, Binary). Multiplication and Division (Inverse Multiplication) followed not shortly after. From these four basic operations, humans have been able to invent a host of mathematics such as Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, etc. These mathematical concepts — as we know them — only exist as a human invention that have taken thousands of years to discover and perfect.

Math is still being invented today.

Putting the history of a technology in perspective allows you to remove ambiguity. The computer itself is based upon electrical circuits and mathematical concepts: It even uses a binary number system (byte code) as input. Why were computers created? To automate mathematical calculations such as addition and subtraction. Could more reasons exist? Yes. However, it’s more significant that — at some point — someone decided that they didn’t want to calculate basic operations by hand.

Computers are created by humans (for usage by humans).

The creation of a new timeline for technology starts here. Some call it laziness. Others call it being efficient. In any case, someone had a request to automate a task (in order to save time). Whether or not that task is worth spending time automating is debatable. Regardless, someone will do it. This progresses the timeline of a technology.

Software development is constantly evolving as the 74 year old concept progresses further in time. A profession which once focused on input output streams for 1s and 0s has become a host to multiple programming languages: Each with a different purpose. These languages experience a timeline in a similar manner to the words that you read on this page. Words whose meanings have evolved over thousands of years.

A technology becomes frustrating when you fail to put the timeline of said technology in perspective. How hard could it be to put pixels on a screen? How hard could it be to access text files over the internet? What will you do with yet another JavaScript framework? Questions such as these blur the lines between each entry in the timeline of a technology. The result is failure to distinguish between what’s possible and what has yet to be developed.

The timeline of a technology is predictable: A task is automated or a concept is invented. Then we must improve upon said invention. Perhaps, the invention is implemented in an unfinished state: We leave it to resource managers to determine whether it’s worth it to buy calculators now or wait for computers later. Regardless, there lies a point where the current technology becomes too complex. At this point, the timeline of a technology repeats itself: The previous technology is used as a basis for a new technology.

God forbid you must start over from square one.

You live at a specific point in the timeline of any technology. It is up to you to recognize where that point is and apply it to your work. Use the timeline of a technology as a tool that provides further insight to a given technology. Knowledge of the history of a technology is important to understanding said technology, removing ambiguity, and making further progress.

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