The History of Technology


Technology is the process of transforming natural resources into useful tools. From prehistoric fire to the invention of the wheel, humans have been harnessing technology to improve their lives. Further, the printing press, telephone and Internet have reduced the physical barriers that separate people. However, not all technology has been used for good, with weapons of increasing destructive power appearing throughout history. To understand the history of technology, it is necessary to consider some fundamental facts. Listed below are the major aspects of technology.

Technology is the application of scientific knowledge towards practical aims. The term technology is often used to describe the methods, skills and materials used in different fields of human activity. Its influence on people’s lives is increasing, ranging from the personal to the professional arena. It is therefore essential to understand how technology shapes and is shaped by society, as well as the individuals who use, develop, and study it.

The process of technological development usually consists of a series of stages, each of which validates the underlying ideas and improves the process. The later stages of technological development are much more complicated, with each step requiring more expertise. In early stages, many promising technologies fail to make it past the ‘death valley’, which requires sustained efforts to overcome.

Technology discovery is also governed by severe constraints on money and time. This means that it is essential to analyze the best process for technology discovery. Unfortunately, there has not been a lot of philosophical work on this topic, but Kroes, Franssen, and Bucciarelli (2009) give a good overview of the issues.