We asked each panelist to make 25 selections and to rank them, despite the impossibility of fairly comparing, say, the atomic bomb and the plow.
This enabled mass production and the Henry Ford–style assembly line (49 on The Atlantic’s list), and the profound shift from handmade to volume-produced versions of everything.
Modularity didn’t make it onto our final list; the adoption of standardized shipping containers, which extended the same logic in a different realm, just missed the cut.
30.) We also invited panelists to add explanations of their choices, and I followed up with several of them and with other experts in interviews.
One panelist ranked his choices not by importance but by date of invention, oldest (cement) to newest (GPS satellites).