The Most Important Developments in Human History

The infographic below highlights some of the events that made history and helped shape the 21st century.

infographic - the most important developments in human history

Text: Important Developments in Human History

The Most Important Developments in Human History


Discovery and Harnessing of Fire

Researchers have speculated that controlled fires and cooked meats, first occuring 700,000 to 1 million years ago, influenced the evolution of the human brain.


It is believed that there was a single original language called monogenesis. Today we speak more than 5,000 languages across the globe.

Development of Tools and Metallurgy

The earliest stone tools have been found, and are believed to have been created, in East Africa 2.6 million years ago. Copper was developed between 3,000 and 4,000 B.C.E. Bronze was developed between 3,000 and 1,000 B.C.E. Iron was developed around 1,000 B.C.E.

Transition from Hunter/Gatherer to Agricultural Communities

Ancient farming began 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. Crops and animals of the neolithic period include barley, wheat, flax, goats, sheep, pigs, and cattle.

Development of Mathematics

The first evidence of counting occured around 50,000 B.C.E. among Neanderthals. Between 25,000 and 518 B.C.E. humans created geometric designs, hieroglyphic numerals, arithmetic, geometry, and Pythagorean arithmetic and geometry.

Development of Astronomy and the Calendar

The sun, moon, and planets were used as the basis for clocks, calendars, and navigation in early civilizations. The first solar-lunar calendar was put into use in Egypt in 2,000 B.C.E.

Scientific Revolution

Occured in Europe between 1500 and 1700 C.E. This revolution was kicked off by Nicolaus Copernicus and his assertion of the sun-centered cosmos. This revolution ended with Isaac Newton, who proposed universal laws and a mechanical universe.

Causes of Scientific Revolution

  • Exploration and expansion of trade
  • Continuing study of ancient authorities
  • Development of scientific method

Effects of Scientific Revolution

  • Beginning of modern science
  • Belief in progress and the power of reason
  • New view of the universe as a well-ordered system

Steam Engine and the Industrial Revolution

The key developments of this revolution came between the 17th and 18th century C.E. They included the development of coal furnaces, the power loom, the Bessemer converter, the water wheel, power machinery, and the steam engine.

Digital Revolution

This revolution involved the change from analog mechanical and electric technology to digital technology. Innovations during this period, from 1980 - present, include digital electronics, computers, communication networks, the internet, and digitization. This revolution can be broken down into three distinct categories:

  • Communication: the invention of cellphones
  • Computation: development of personal computers and the internet
  • Fabrication: the invention of 3-D printers

Learn More

Norwich University is an important part of American history. Established in 1819, Norwich is a nationally recognized institution of higher education, the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and the first private military college in the United States.

With Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History, you can enhance your awareness of differing historical viewpoints while developing and refining your research, writing, analysis and presentation skills. The program offers two tracks—American history and world history—allowing you to tailor your studies to your interests and goals.