A Brief History Of Technology From 4 Billion Years Ago To Today

We, humans, like to think of ourselves as master tool builders- and certainly, as we stand at the threshold of the wonders of the 21st century, we have much to be proud of. But we are really the heritors of a long tradition of life, in all its forms, fashioning tools from lifeless materials born long ago in the hearts of massive stars. So here’s a brief history of technology, from 4 billion years ago to the beginnings of the modern age.

4 Billion Years Ago

Primitive metabolic assemblages begin to use nucleic acids as biological software storage and transmission system.

history of technology

2 Billion Years Ago

Eukaryotes evolve- a new form of life in which separate organismal domains cooperate as ‘living tools.’

history of technology

570 Million Years Ago

First organisms to use mineralized shells appear.

history of technology

500 Million Years Ago

Giant sea scorpions use empty shells as ‘aerolungs’ to move onto land.

history of technology

3.3 Million Years Ago

Ancient hominins on the shores of Lake Turkana begin using Oldowan stone tools

history of technology

1.7 Million Years Ago

Later species of hominins begin experimenting with the Acheulean toolmaking technique- typically large, bifacial handaxes

1.5 Million Years Ago

Possible date of earliest fire used by East African hominins (Homo ergaster). Cooking, in turn, spurs the further growth of cognitive evolution

history of technology

500,000 Years Ago

Oldest known fabricated human structure- the ‘Chichibu Shelter’ in Japan, likely a temporary hut constructed by Homo erectus populations.

history of technology

400,000 Years Ago

The ’Schöningen Spears’ in Germany- first known wooden spears.

history of technology

100,000- 70,000 Years Ago

Use of some of the earliest abstract symbols and art, from material found in Blombos Cave in South Africa.