Currency has taken many forms since civilisation began; the coins we use today are unrecognisable to huge, hulking stones of many years ago. The oldest minted coins every discovered date back to around 2500 years ago, and were used in place of the exchange of gifts and food which was previously the method of commerce.
Banknotes were introduced as early as the 7th century, when the idea was first implemented in China to keep merchants from having to carry heavy bulks of coins. In Europe, banknotes were first introduced by travellers, and banknotes as we know them today were first introduced in Sweden in the 17th century.
The earliest known cheque, according to the BBC was written in 1659, and they were usually only used by merchants when tendering especially large sums of money. They continued to be handwritten in their entirety for many years.
As with anything, technology would further influence currency with the advent of the credit card. In the UK, the first credit card was issued in 1966. In 1897, debit cards followed. By 1997, the first internet banking service was established, allowed money to be transferred online.
The chip and pin service was introduced in the UK in 2003, and is now one of the preferred methods of payment in the UK and US. The embedded chip is capable of storing any information much more securely than the previous magnetic strip used for debit cards.
Real cigarettes were probably developed for the first time in the 9th century, but they weren’t to be properly introduced to Europe until around the 17th century. They were brought to France in around 1830, and 15 years later the French state started making them.
A cigarette-making machine was built in the 1880s to cope with popularity, but even though over the next century the tobacco industry would continue to grow, by the time of World War II many of the health risks associated with smoking had already been investigated.
Despite the increase in research into the damaging effects of smoking on the body, the electric cigarette was not developed until as recently as 2003.
Electronic cigarettes work by vaporising a liquid solution of nicotine into a mist, thus replicating the action of smoking. There’s more on exactly how it works on ecigarettedirect.co.uk.
Conversely, the very earliest example of an electronic cigarette can be attributed to a 1963 patent by one Herbert A. Gilbert protected a cigarette-like device which worked by ‘replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavoured air.
Adding and subtracting
Originating as a humble abacus – which are still used today in Japan - it’s hard to believe that such an everyday object as a calculator is the result of centuries of innovation.
Used by Egyptians from back in 2000BC, the abacus was used to help solve mathematical equations. It wasn’t until the 1642 that something a little closer to the calculator we know today was developed.
Pascal’s calculator was developed by Blaise Pascal, and could perform arithmetic without the need of human intelligence to work. This would set the stage for a series of advancements over the next few centuries, and in 1905 buttons were involved in the design.
The 1961Sumlock ANITA calculator was one of the first desktop calculators ever released, but it was huge and very costly. Tech giant Sharp launched the first ‘portable’ calculator in 1969. This would pave the way for the pocket calculators we use today.