I was watching Corrie tonight and in one scene there was a typically arcane discussion about what is man’s (and women’s) greatest invention. Cab driver, Steve, unsurprisingly thought that it was the windscreen wiper, although that rather entails the invention of the affordable motor car as a precursor which could be considered a downside under the present environmental circs.
The QI thing to say about the wiper (windshield) is that its inventor was a woman, Mary Anderson, in the US in 1905, the same year Henry Ford got round to his Quadricycle, proving, yet again that the distaff can anticipate the problems while the menfolk are still blinking in the non-existant headlights.
Dippy bottleman, whose name I can’t remember, said it was the paperclip. He has a point. The best inventions are the simplest and the paperclip is a piece of wire bent in three places. The really clever bit is that the last bend is raised to make it easy to hold pieces of paper to hold together.
And unlike the stapler, treasury tag and bulldog clip, the former is irreversible, the middle clumsy and the latter downright finger-pinchable and a complete drawer clutter. And there are similarly downsides to the paperclip connection.
So what is the greatest invention? Religion? I don’t think so. As Peter Ustinov said, “Beliefs are what divide us, doubts are what bring us together.”
My personal thoughts about the “greatest invention” are:
- Free Speech
- The Printed word, though not the tax in the 1850s that made newspapers unnaffordable.
- Football agents (bloody hell)
- Smartass Books (which I quite like) And anything you, dear reader, can add.