Robots threaten the human workforce, but they are crucial to the modern economy Read more
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 – the story of how the gramophone led to a winner-take-all market
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
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 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?
Searching for 51
The extra “thing” – what should it be?
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
Revealed – the winning 51st Thing! Which “thing” won the vote to be added to our list?
Special Bonus: Santa Claus
Why does Father Christmas wear red and white? It is not for the reason you may think
Coming soon: Season two
Fifty more things are on their way! Tim Harford returns with season two on 25 March 2019
Bonus: 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter
Introducing our new podcast about innovation, technology and the animal kingdom
The Langstroth Hive: a wooden box that made the industrialisation of the bee possible
Bonus 2: Octopus and camouflage
Episode 2 of our new podcast, 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter
Cellophane transformed how consumers purchased food, as well as how producers sold it
Bonus 3: Mosquito and surgical needle
Episode 3 of our new podcast: the blood-sucking pest and a pain-free surgical needle
The gyroscope: a remarkable device used to guide everything from submarines to satellites
Bonus 4: Woodpecker and black box
The last bonus ep of #30Animals. For more, search for 30 Animals That Made Us Smarter
From the early typewriters, the QWERTY keyboard layout has stood the test of time
Has the bicycle had its day, or is it a technology whose best years lie ahead?
Mail order catalogue
How the Montgomery Ward shopping catalogue transformed the middle-class way of life
The humble brick has housed us for thousands of years - will it endure?
How a grid on a computer screen gives us a glimpse of the future of automation
Could recycling save cash, as well as the planet?
Did pornography help develop the internet?
Feeding a hungry world – how Norman Borlaug used genetics to tackle predicted famines
Are we addicted to getting 'likes' on social media?
Is the pencil underrated?
How powerful could the technology behind Bitcoin be?
Have factories made workers' lives better?
How a student engineering challenge has changed the way we use space
An everyday substance with a bloody past
How a disgruntled customer revolutionised the postal service
RFID: The tech you’ve never heard of – but use every day
Radio frequency identification is the foundation of many contactless technologies
Does the story of economics really begin with a spark?
A toxic plant that sheds light on hidden social forces
How important is solar power to the future of the planet?
Can a computer convince you that it's human?
How did the price of oil become so important?
The manufacturing revolution that started with a gun
The surprising lessons lurking under the lid
Interface Message Processor
The big metal box that made the internet possible
How much does it cost to outlaw something?
Why did a machine for making cigarettes transform the advertising industry?
What would happen if GPS stopped working?