If you’re compiling a list of the most important technologies of our age, you may start with the personal computer, phones, maybe a nod towards the highway system. But, hey, how about a needle and thread? Should that be in there, too? Yes, it should. Here’s why.
I don’t consider fire a technology so much as a natural resource. Shaping rocks to hit and scrape stuff with is the oldest, but boring, and also how often do humans use rocks as hand tools nowadays? But long before the wheel, came the needle and thread. For tens of thousands of years (possibly up to 60,000), humans have been sewing up people and things, not to mention using them for tattooing and other decoration. Later on, they were used for weaving, knitting and acupuncture. Yesterday, I hand-sewed a bag I’m working on and fixed a hole in my jacket, and the only difference is I’m working with steel and cotton, not bone and deer sinew.
Give it enough time, and any technological advance starts to seem like just the building blocks of other technologies, instead of an advance in and of itself. But, while the technique has remained essentially unchanged through history, new applications — whether for sewing clothes, stitches, book-bindings, and more — just keep coming.
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