Who invented the First Technology? (Invention Timeline Explained)

It’s understandable to be curious about the many different inventions throughout history that led to the advancement of technology. Learning about technology in general can be quite a lot of fun, which is why so many people tend to search Google about the origins of various inventions.

However, what if we were to head to the source? Instead of thinking about the many inventions that led to the progress of modern tech, what about technology itself? The first technology? It seems almost crazy that the first technology had to be invented as the catalyst for just about everything we know. Interested? Let’s take a deep dive into the first technology!

Who invented the first technology?

The first technology emerged alongside the beginnings of the human species. The first technology was invented by the Homo habilis, which is one of the first members of the human family. 

The first technology’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Homo habilis
    The first time the human species gets its start with technology

    The Homo habilis, one of the first members of the human family, started to use stone tools. They accomplished this by splitting pebbles — starting the Oldowan tradition of creating primitive tools.

  • Homo erectus 
    Potentially the first sporadic use of fire as the progenitor of modern technology

    The Homo erectus is known as the species associated with the discovery of fire. Fire is often seen as the progenitor of modern tech, as very little would be possible without it.

  • Homo sapiens
    The modern species

    As far as the first technology goes, the rise of the Homo sapiens led to many firsts in technology. For example, without speech, it wouldn’t be possible to develop much further. Complex speech and symbolism are theorized to be used by the early Homo sapiens based on archaeological records.

When was the first technology invented?

Ready to read about when the first technology was invented? When you think about the development of stone tools by the Homo habilis, it was dated to potentially be over 2 million years old! 2.2 million years, to be exact.

A brief history of the first technology

There are few things more fascinating than ancient history. Keep in mind that there was a time before the smartphone in your pocket, or the laptop in your computer bag. From every gadget in your home — smart or otherwise — to the very society you live in, technology can be an amazing thing. It’s crazy to think there was a time before the concept of technology even existed.

The first technology got its start millions of years ago. The Homo habilis, which is considered one of the first human ancestors, started to make regular use of stone tools over 2 million years ago. When some people look at the artifacts of stone tools today, it can look extremely crude. However, the evidence of deliberate shaping showed that even early humanity had the spark of creativity and innovation.

It would take another million years, but considering the brain power of the first humans, the level of progress isn’t to be underestimated. With the discovery of the Homo erectus comes evidence of the first fire being used as a tool. The discovery of fire is often considered the origin of modern technology, and for good reason. Aside from the discovery of stone tools being used early on, the discovery of fire is considered one of the most important discoveries of mankind.

After the Homo habilis thrived came the Homo sapiens, which is where the next building block of the first technology was discovered. With shell jewelry dated to be over 100,000 years old, it shows archaeologists that the Homo sapiens at the time were potentially capable of complex speech as well as the use of symbols. With the introduction of speech and symbols, it completes the puzzle of the first technology.

With the use of stone tools and power comes the ability to manipulate nature to get what you want — from tools to structures. With the discovery of fire, you harness the main ingredient of modern society. With the invention of complex speech, the first technology is finally complete.

The first technology timeline

  1. 2.2 million BC
    Appearance of the first technology

    The use of stone tools was popularized by the Homo habilis around 2.2 million BC. Thanks to the development of stone tools, it became possible to not only build tools, but structures as well.

  2. 1.5 million BC
    The discovery of fire

    The Home erectus discovered fire based on archaeological evidence. At the very least, the Homo erectus were the very first of the human ancestors to harness fire.

  3. 100-150,000 BC
    Discovery of shell-jewelry

    The interesting thing isn’t necessarily the shell-jewelry, but what it means for humanity as a whole. Considering the design of the jewelry and the overall intricacy, it denotes the potential use of complex speech and symbols. The first technology that created the modern world is a combination of stone, fire, and speech.

Where was the first technology invented?

The first technology (stone tools) was found in an ancient campsite in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.

The importance of the first technology

  • The birthplace of progress

    Nothing that exists today would be possible without the rise of modern technology. With the combination of stone, fire, and speech, it helped pave the way for everything else modern technology has to offer.

  • An eye-opening, enlightening peek into the development of technology

    The development of technology isn’t just about how humans learned to harness technology. It’s also about the growth of humanity, and the evolution of our human ancestry into the Homo sapiens.

  • A never-ending path forward

    In the time it’s taken you to read through this little deep dive in technology, modern tech continues to grow. Whether it’s the improvement of convenience and accessibility or the development of innovative new tech, modern technology will never stop taking strides.

  • A potential path for your life moving forward

    If there’s one thing humanity loves, it’s forward progress. It doesn’t matter how mundane, so long as people are constantly inventing. We’re all gifted with curiosity, and there’s a career path for you in any industry focused on invention and innovation.

The first technology by the numbers

  • 500,000The very first purpose-built shelters were made of wood, and found in Chichibu, Japan. The shelters were dated to be around 500,000 BC. 
  • 400,000While the exact date is unknown (much like most archaeological finds about ancient history), the ancestors to humans were known to start using spears around 400,000 BC.
  • 40004000 BC is often considered the timeline when the ancient Sumerians created the world’s first civilization.
  • 1931The year when ancient chopping tools and flakes were discovered in Olduvai by Louis Leakey.

Five facts about the first technology

  • The 3 prehistoric stages

    There are 3 known prehistoric stages, known as the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), Neolithic (Middle Stone Age), and Neolithic (New Stone Age). You’ll find that most stages in history are named after the most popular materials, such as with the copper and bronze age.

  • Tools before Oldowan

    The Oldowan tools were the ones found to be used by ancestors still part of the human family. That said, there are incredibly primitive stone tools that predate the Oldowan. Such tools would have been used by a pre-human species. 

  • The earliest surviving footprints

    The oldest footprints were found down the slopes of a volcano in Italy. Surprisingly enough, the footprints were dated to be 325,000 years old!

  • The beginning of complexity

    There’s no denying that the forward progress of early technology was quite slow, but you can’t blame primitive man for such a thing. If you want to know about the period when humanity went from a technological crawl to a sprint, it can be dated back to 50,000 years ago. Humans quickly developed new habits, such as using animal hides as clothing, and the ritual burying of the dead.

  • The Homo floresiensis

    The amazing thing about the Homo floresiensis is despite their size (1 meter in length) and the size of their brains (similar to a chimpanzee), the Hobbit people of ancient Indonesia still made use of advanced tools for the time.

FAQ about the first technology

  • What were the earliest tools like?

    The earliest tools were basic stone implements utilized by the Homo habilis. They’d create it by splitting pebbles, and they would attempt to shape the stone. The tools include stone cores, hammerstones, and stone flakes.  

  • When was the earliest known writing?

    With the invention of stone tools, the discovery of fire, and the development of speech, it was only a matter of time for writing to get into the picture. The earliest known writing was created over 5,000 years ago, known as cuneiform.

  • When was the first cheeseburger invented?

    Considering the amazing rise of ancient technology to what it is today, it was only a matter of time until someone asked about the cheeseburger. The first cheeseburger was invented in 1924. It needed the combination of tools, fire, and speech to create. Without a doubt, an invention of the first technology!

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