Technology Breakthroughs and How They Change Our Lives

Since the Industrial Revolution more than two centuries ago, our ways of life have been altered by a stream of technology breakthroughs and subsequent commercial applications. This course will cover how these breakthroughs originated and then changed our lives and world. From revolutions in steam that were first applied to mines, metal and textiles to the silicon based digital world of today and genetically engineered life sciences of the future, technology breakthroughs have transformed the way we live, move and interact.


The fascinating tales of individuals behind the breakthroughs and others who turned them into products and services are central. Patterns of how these breakthroughs were adapted and incorporated into daily life will be analyzed, along with the effects of their worldwide spread. Before moving to next breakthrough, highlights of what was gained and lost and how lives and world changed will be assessed.

Approach and Objective of Technology Breakthrough Course

As with all great transformations, each new technology begins with individuals, ideas and needs. Consequently, each breakthrough will be presented, along with the wisdom and limitations of remarkable inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs. Their lives and work turned ideas into new technologies, which evolved to products and services that met demands and changed lives.

The overall objective of Breakthrough course is to:

  • Understand how new technologies are discovered and developed
  • Appreciate how they change our way of life
  • See how they spread through the world
  • Learn how they build on past advances and lead to further advances.

Short video extracts will be presented before and after class, on optional basis, to those who appreciate dramatic portrayal of breakthroughs. Color images will be projected to illustrate technology development and commercial applications, together with the inventors and entrepreneurs responsible. The initial course outline of Breakthroughs, as indicated below, will be expanded to include website links, illustrative images and bibliography with web and other resource components.

This is similar to approach for recent Builders, California Wealth and Globalization courses and will use technology resources available in Fromm classrooms. Online availability of what is covered in each class, together with supplemental and background information and bibliographic resources, will be available both at and on Fromm Handouts at The advantage of this approach focuses class time on presentation, interpretation and discussion of why and how technology breakthroughs become part of our lives, as well as how we view and understand these changes.



Technology Breakthrough Image Summary

Breakthroughs Course Outline and Syllabus

Bibliographical Resources to Reference Books

Links to Images for Course Topics

Website Links for Background Information on Course Topics

Breakthrough Industry Timelines

Other Industry Timelines

Technology Timelines

Inventors Hall of Fame Summary

Inventors Hall of Fame Detail

US Business Innovators

US Innovators, Builders, Business Hall of Fame

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