1960s Inventions

by Michael Rich2 Comments — Updated September 6, 2023

The Sixties have been described by historians as the ten years having the most significant changes in history. The 1960s were a decade marked by significant discoveries and inventions across various fields. By the end of the 60’s humanity had entered the spaceage by putting a man on the moon. The 1960’s were influenced by the youth of the post-war baby boom – a generation with a fondness for change and far-out gadgets.

1960s inventions

Here are some of the most important ones:

  1. Laser (1960): The first working laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) was developed by physicist Theodore Maiman in 1960. This invention has had a profound impact on fields such as medicine, telecommunications, and manufacturing.
  2. Birth Control Pill (1960): The contraceptive pill, often simply referred to as “the pill,” was approved for use in the United States in 1960. It revolutionized women’s reproductive rights and family planning. They had no idea that it would someday be used to remove tattoos.
  3. Computer Mouse (1964): Douglas Engelbart invented the computer mouse in 1964, which has become an essential input device for personal computers. It would not be used with personal computers until 1980
  4. Liquid Crystal Display (LCD, 1968): George H. Heilmeier and his team developed the first liquid crystal display in 1968, paving the way for flat-panel televisions, computer monitors, and portable devices.
  5. The Internet’s Precursor (ARPANET, late 1960s): The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), created by the U.S. Department of Defense in the late 1960s, laid the foundation for the internet we know today.
  6. Transistor Radio (1960s): The 1960s saw the widespread adoption of portable transistor radios, making music and news more accessible to people on the go.
  7. Space Exploration (1960s): The 1960s marked a significant era in space exploration, with the United States achieving the moon landing in 1969 during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission.
  8. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 1969): Raymond Damadian developed the concept of MRI in 1969, which later revolutionized medical imaging.
  9. Video Games (1960s): The foundations for modern video games were laid in the 1960s, with the development of games like Spacewar! and the creation of the first video game console, the Brown Box, by Ralph Baer.
  10. Holography (1962): Physicist Dennis Gabor developed the theory of holography in 1962, leading to the creation of holograms, which have applications in art, security, and more.

These discoveries and inventions from the 1960s had a profound and lasting impact on technology, science, medicine, and everyday life – even technology from the 50s!. They continue to shape the world we live in today. Here are some more.

  • Halogen Lamp
  • Implantable Heart Pacemaker. The actual Pacemaker was invented in 1950 it was however an external device.
  • Weather Satellite. USA Tiros I.
  • Etch A Sketch Not an artist, just shake it and start over..
  • Valium Anti-Anxiety Drug. Mothers Little Helper!!
  • Non dairy Creamer. News flash – Cows revolt all over the world
  • Cochlear Implants. What did you say?
  • Human Spaceflight. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth one time aboard Vostok 1.
  • Audio Cassette. The Philips Company named it “Compact Cassette”
  • Fiber-Tip Pen Otherwise known as a felt tipped pen or “Flair”
  • Spacewar – the first Computer Video Game.
  • Silicone Breast Implants. by Dow Corp, – was Pamala Anderson the first to try them?
  • The LED – Light Emitting DiodeSpace Observatories, by Ball Brothers Aerospace Corp.- they were looking for the crew of “Lost in Space”
  • Touch-tone Telephone. It had 10 buttons, * and # were added later
  • Zip Codes. Ever wonder what “ZIP” stands for – Zoning Improvement Plan – now you know!
  • Pull Tab for soda cans. Actually Patented in ’63 but invented in ’62 by Ermal Cleon Fraze
  • Easy-Bake Oven. A learning toy, molding young Martha Stewarts.
  • Astro Lamp (Later called the Lava Lamp)
  • BASIC, computer programming language. I know that you’re dying to know – Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
  • Wonderbra. It didn’t gain any popularity until the 1990’s. Why Not!!
  • Smiley Face. Originally drawn to put a good spin on the merger between two Insurance Companies.
  • Picturephone Introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair in NY, it allowed you to see the caller and them to see you.
  • The Ford Mustang. No it wasn’t really an invention but I liked them so it’s listed here!
  • Astroturf. Originally called “Chemgrass” the name was changed in ’66 when it was used in the Houston Astrodome.
  • Smoke detector for home use. First invented in the ’40’s but those were quite large and quite expensive.
  • Aspartame, the chemical compound found in NutraSweet. It took the FDA 15 years to approve this for human consumption.
  • Compact Disc. Invented and patented in ’65 it wouldn’t be used commercially until ’81 (why change, we had eight-tracks right.)
  • Super Ball. By Wham-O Manufacturing Co the fine folks who brought us the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee.
  • Kevlar. Best known for its use in bullet proof vests.
  • Fiber Optics. A new way of fusing glass strands together paved the way for long distance fiber communications.
  • Video Game. Video games wouldn’t be commercially available until ’72 and wouldn’t be popular until ’75.
  • Star Trek the original series. I know this wasn’t an invention either but it sure was important!
  • Hand held Calculator. Developed by Texas Instruments it was made possible by their invention of the integrated circuit in 1958.
  • Countertop microwave oven. Named “Radarange” it was made by Amana and later became my best friend!
  • ATM (Automated Teller Machine) First used in the UK this machine changed banking forever.
  • Heart Transplant. The first successful human donor heart transplant by Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town South Africa the patient lived for eighteen days.
  • DRAM Computer Memory. (Dynamic Random Access Memory) on a single circuit chip
  • The First 911 call. the system implemented in Haleyville, AL. beating AT&T to the punch by six months
  • First Supersonic Airliner. Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 achieves supersonic speed
  • The First Manned Lunar Orbit. Apollo 8 successfully orbits the moon with three astronauts on board
  • Pizza Rolls. by Jeno Paulucci owner of Jeno’s Pizza Rolls Inc.
  • ARPA Net. (Advanced Research Projects Agency). This is the precursor to the Internet
  • Honda CB750. more horsepower than the biggest Harley-Davidson (thanks to Dave Bramsen)
  • UNIX. a computer operating system developed by Bell Labs
  • The Single-Chip Microprocessor. The Intel 4004 was as powerful as any complete computer available at that time
  • Man Lands on the Moon. Not so much an invention but for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin it was certainly “One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap For Mankind”

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