Rudolf Diesel died in strange circumstances after changing the world with his engine. Read more
Rudolf Diesel died in strange circumstances after changing the world with his engine.
Saving lives with thin air - by taking nitrogen from it to make fertiliser.
How a simple steel box changed the face of global trade.
It's improved health, school attendance, agricultural productivity and farm worker wages.
How Uncle Sam played an essential role in the creation and development of the iPhone.
How vast mega-stores emerged with the help of a design originally drawn in the sand.
Warrior monks, crusaders and the mysterious origins of modern banking.
Once too precious to use, light is now too cheap to notice.
Transferring money by text message is far safer and more convenient than cash.
Installing Windows might take 5,000 years without the compiler.
The Billy bookcase epitomises the pursuit of lower costs and acceptable functionality.
The tale of antibiotics is a cautionary one, and economic incentives are often to blame.
The Gutenberg press changed the world - but it could not have done so without paper.
Insurance is as old as gambling, but it's fundamental to the way the modern economy works.
The words 'clever' and 'death' crop up less often than 'Google' in conversation.
The clock was invented in 1656 and has become an essential part of the modern economy.
King Camp Gillette created the disposable razor. But his influence extends beyond shaving.
Robots threaten the human workforce, but they are crucial to the modern economy.
Public Key Cryptography
Geeks versus government - the story of public key cryptography.
The story of the battery begins inside a dead murderer. It's a tale that's far from over.
'Superstar' economics - how the gramophone transformed the performing industry.
The TV dinner, and other inventions from the same era, made a lasting economic impression.
The pill wasn't just socially revolutionary, it also sparked an economic revolution.
Part 24: Elevator
The safety elevator is a mass transit system that has changed the shape of our cities.
Invented for the printing industry, air conditioning now influences where and how we live.
Cuneiform, the earliest known script, was used to create the world's first accounts.
From Spacewar to Pokemon Go, video games have shaped the modern economy in surprising ways
Intellectual property reflects an economic trade off when it comes to innovation.
If anyone could work anywhere, some economists think global economic output would double.
The tally stick shows us what money really is: a kind of debt that can be traded freely.
Warren Buffett is one of the world's great investors. His advice? Invest in an index fund.
For many new mothers who want, or need, to get back to work, infant formula is a godsend.
Gabriel Zucman invented an ingenious way to estimate how much wealth is hidden offshore.
'Lighter than air, stronger than whiskey' - barbed wire wreaked huge changes in America.
Harry Selfridge pioneered a whole new retail experience with his London department store.
When lead was added to petrol, it made cars more powerful - but it also poisoned people.
The big story behind the way dynamos made electricity useful.
Limited Liability Company
How some legal creativity has created vast wealth down the centuries.
Currency derives value from trust in the government which issues it.
Without seller feedback, companies like eBay might not have grown as they have.
We make so much plastic these days that it takes about eight percent of oil production.
Market research marked a shift from a producer-led to a consumer-led approach to business.
A high-tech 'death ray' capable of zapping sheep led to the invention of radar.
The S-bend was a pipe with a curve in it, an invention that led to public sanitation.
Renaissance man Luca Pacioli wrote the definitive book on double-entry bookkeeping.
If managers often have a bad reputation, what about those who tell them how to manage?
Property rights for the world's poor could unlock trillions in 'dead capital'.
Do welfare states boost economic growth, or stunt it? It's not an easy question to answer.
Refrigeration revolutionised the food industry, and other industries too.
The plough kick-started civilisation - and ultimately made our modern economy possible.
Series 2: 50 More Things...
The Langstroth Hive: a wooden box that made the industrialisation of the bee possible.
Cellophane transformed how consumers purchased food, as well as how producers sold it.
The gyroscope: a remarkable device used to guide everything from submarines to satellites.
From the early typewriters, the QWERTY keyboard layout has stood the test of time.
Mail Order Catalogue
Montgomery Ward’s catalogue: once ranked among the most influential books in US history.
Bricks: used for tens of thousands of years and still such a vital building technology.
The digital spreadsheet: a technology which took the world of accountancy by storm.
The idea recycling is a moral obligation, as well as an economic one, is relatively new.
The pencil claims to be a miracle product of the free market, but is that true?
Has the bicycle had its day? Or is it a technology whose best years lie ahead?
Norman Borlaug averted famine predictions by tinkering with the genetic design of wheat.
Facebook’s ubiquitous 'like' button can reveal a treasure trove of potential insights.
Blockchain: a digital technology that some say could become as disruptive as the internet.
Have factories been a force for improving the conditions of ordinary workers?
Satellites were once the length of a bus. Now they are roughly the size of a Beanie Baby.
Natural rubber still goes mostly into tyres, and its production still causes controversy.
How Rowland Hill went from disgruntled user to reformer of Britain's postal system.
Is RFID introducing an 'internet of things'? Or are its glory days behind it?
Has fire created not only the economy, but also modern humans?
What does cassava teach us about the hidden social forces that support a modern economy?
Solar power: an old technology now more advanced and disruptive to the oil energy order.
Have computers finally passed the Turing test, convincing us they themselves are human?
The price of oil is arguably the most important price in the world economy.
Interchangeable parts revolutionised the world of engineering.
What does canned food have in common with Silicon Valley? More than you might think.
Interface Message Processor
The Interface Message Processor: the most important hunk of silicon you’ve never heard of.
The idea of the “rational criminal” helps explain why Prohibition was so widely flouted.
One historian of the cigarette industry reckons it invented much of modern marketing.
GPS is sometimes called the “invisible utility”. What would happen if it stopped working?
Consumerism and Christmas have gone hand in hand for a surprisingly long time