50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

Introducing 13 Minutes to the Moon Season 2

Jump on-board a doomed mission to the Moon. Apollo 13: the extraordinary story, told by the people who flew it and...

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Gutenberg press

Johannes Gutenberg's printing press changed the course of human history. It created a new way of doing business,...

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Slot machines

First developed by a toy company in the 1890s, slot machines have become one of the most profitable tools of the...

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Algorithms

In 1997, Garry Kasparov, widely regarded as the world's greatest chess player, was defeated by Deep Blue, a computer....

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Auctions

Are things only worth what people are willing to pay for them? Tim Harford explains why a method of buying and...

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Dams

From reliable water supplies to large-scale electricity generation, the benefits brought by dams can be huge. But so...

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Tulips

In the 1630s, the Netherlands experienced 'tulip mania' - a surge in demand for tulips from wealthy buyers, with some...

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Sanitary towel

In the early 20th Century, makers of sanitary towels had to find a way to sell an item that some people found too...

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Wardian case

Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward's miniature greenhouses made it far easier to successfully transport plants, spreading them...

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Fast food franchise

There are more than 36,000 McDonald's restaurants around the world - but if the McDonald brothers had had their way,...

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Cctv

Surveillance cameras were invented so Nazi scientists could observe rocket launches from a safe distance. They've...

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Retirement

As populations age, pension systems around the world are coming under strain. Governments, employers and economists...

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Santa

Why does Father Christmas wear red and white? It's not for the reason you may think. In an updated version of an...

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Sewing machine

Women's lives were transformed by sewing machines, which made a "never-ending, ever-beginning task" far less arduous...

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Hollerith punch card

Data is a hugely profitable commodity - if you know how to process it. Tim Harford tells the story of Herman...

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Stock option

In theory, stock options should motivate executives to perform better by tying their pay to their company's...

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Fundraising appeal

Tim Harford goes back to the 1900s to tell the story of how charity fundraising became big business. But in the...

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Swift

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication - Swift - solved some big problems with international...

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Wedgwood

Josiah Wedgwood is arguably the best-known name in the history of pottery - but it's not just his pots that made...

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Glasses

Spectacles have been around for centuries, and have a huge impact on many people's quality of life. So why is it...

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