10 Incredible Military Inventions
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10 Incredible Military Inventions


The military invents a lot of things, and
not all of them are new types of guns. They’re all about making things as efficient
as possible, and every once in a while they come up with a product so good, it ends up
bleeding into civilian life and becomes entwined with our daily lives. As a result, there’s a good chance that
you’ve used many brilliant inventions that you had no idea started out in some top secret
military facility or another. Inventions such as… 10. GPS Remember the awful days of yesteryear when
everyone had to rely on mere maps to find their way from point A to point B? Back then, the process often involved accidental
detours via points C, D and somehow W before you finally grew desperate enough to ask for
directions. GPS changed all of that, and as long as your
equipment holds up, an array of satellites can now guide you from Kansas to Guatemala
without a hitch. Truly, we live in The Future. The US Military recognized the need for easy
global navigation that didn’t involve asking directions from old men leaning on fences
every other mile in 1964. The Cold War was at full swing, and Naval
Research Laboratory scientist Roger Easton started tinkering with a system to figure
out just what kinds of satellites the Soviet Union was flying up there. He initially tinkered with ground-based tracking
stations, but a breakthrough came when he realized putting highly accurate clocks to
multiple tracking satellites would allow them to sync their tracking with each other with
much better accuracy. Over the next decade, he fashioned a system
called “Navigation System Using Satellites and Passive Ranging Techniques,” which already
incorporated all the main features of the Global Positioning System. The Department of Defense approved funding
for Easton’s invention — now called the Navstar Global Positioning System — in 1973,
and it was built bit by bit over the next twenty years. Eventually, the government realized that the
public would benefit from the system as well, and after a trickledown period where watered-down
“selective availability” versions of GPS were available to the public, the Clinton
administration opened the floodgates. Today, the system is freely available, though
it’s still maintained by the military — the annual operating costs of $900 million or
so, paid for by the US Department of Defense and the US Transportation Department. 9. Superglue Superglue is a WWII invention that got its
start with Eastman Kodak scientists as part of their attempts to design gun sights to
the military. Don’t worry, they weren’t trying to panickedly
glue gun parts together. Instead, they found that some of the things
they’d come up with during the project had some pretty interesting properties, and revisited
said substances to create the adhesive. The man who finally put together the recipe
for superglue was named Harry Coover, but he didn’t see his invention make its breakthrough
until the Vietnam War, when undersupplied, desperate field medics got hold of the substance
and used a sprayable version to stop bleeding in chest wounds and other serious injuries. While this was effective, the early versions
of superglue were decidedly not FDA-approved, and could lead to skin irritation and assorted
serious issues when in contact with open wounds. Later versions of the compound were created
to specifically deal with the human body, though as we’re sure you’d agree, they’re
pretty handy fixing other broken stuff as well. 8. Canned food Canned food is a surprisingly old military
invention that dates back to 1795. Napoleon Bonaparte offered a hefty prize for
whoever could figure out how to preserve food efficiently, because it turns out invading
foreign countries was not the greatest way to have said country readily feed the invaders. The prize went unclaimed for fifteen years,
until a confectioner called Nicolas Francois Appert claimed it with his newfangled method
of heating, boiling and sealing food in glass jars. This innovative approach was soon improved
by an Englishman named Peter Durand, who came up with a thick iron food storage can lined
with tin. Ironically, it would take almost 50 more years
before Ezra J. Warner would invent the can opener. The final touches to the canned food technology
we all know and … well, know once again came from the military — this time, the
Natick Soldier Systems Center, a US Army facility that investigates ways to make rations last
long and taste good. Incidentally, the same facility is also behind
the processed cheese that’s used to make Cheetos. 7. Blood transfusions To be perfectly honest, blood transfusions
weren’t technically invented by the military, which has historically been more interested
in removing blood from people than figuring out how to put it back. However, WWI military medicine was definitely
the contributing factor in figuring out how to do it in relatively safe, moderately non-horrifying
ways. Before 1913, the most advanced version of
blood transfusion was to surgically dig up the donor’s and recipient’s veins and
suture them together. It didn’t help that no one had really figured
out how to deal with blood clotting, and the ABO blood grouping was still a fairly new
invention that many in the medical community treated as newfangled nonsense. Between 1913-1915, people started to figure
out anticoagulants, blood bottles and donors, and WWI gave doctors ample opportunities to
try out these new methods and hone them to perfection … after Canada and the US joined
the war. The thing is, most of these advancements had
come from North American researchers, so before they joined the fray with new blood transfusion
tech, the British and French doctors from other countries largely ignored the procedure,
and when they actually tried it with their old methods … well, let’s just say they
were soon ready to adapt the new ones. 6. Ambulances Like canned food, ambulances are a direct
product of Napoleon’s penchant for waging war. French surgeon Baron Dominique Jean Larrey
fought in the majority of campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars, and became convinced
that the rapid treatment of wounded soldiers was best for everyone involved. He sat on his drawing board and developed
what became known as the “flying ambulance”: A nimble, horse-drawn cart that was specially
designed to move quickly and efficiently across the battlefield, picking up the wounded and
rushing them to field hospitals outside the battle area. Baron Larrey’s dedication to the wounded
was especially admirable because many military higher-ups of the era thought that injured
men were an unnecessary waste of supplies. As you can probably expect, he made a lot
of powerful enemies thanks to his pesky humanitarian attitude. Fortunately, Napoleon himself had nothing
but respect for Larrey, and the Emperor’s armies absolutely adored the Baron who fought
so hard to treat them. In fact, Larrey’s strong principles and
insistence that the medics would treat wounded enemies as well once saved his own life: When
Larrey was wounded and captured in the aftermath of the battle of Waterloo, the enemy soldiers
were about to shoot him when the medic who was blindfolding him realized who he was. Larrey was immediately sent to the General
of the Prussian forces, where he found out he had actually saved the General’s son’s
life after an earlier battle. Instead of a swift execution, Baron Larrey
received a dinner and was released back to his own people with some money and an escort. 5. Wrist watches The first wrist watches were initially treated
as a laughable joke item of their day. In 1916, the New York Times led the charge
of sensible, pocket watch-using Americans scoffing at the wacky European dandies who
had started wearing bracelets with clocks on them. Vaudeville artists and early movie actors
utilized wrist watches as comedy props, and the whole thing was treated as a fad. However, when the great war rolled around,
wrist watches soon stopped being a laughing matter. Telephones and signal devices required users
who knew what time it is, and the only practical way a soldier could wear a timepiece that
they could check at a quick glance was … on the wrist. The joke item was suddenly deathly serious,
and European troops were fitting their watches with unbreakable glass and radium displays
for night-time use. The practical benefits of the wrist watch
were now too obvious to ignore, and civilians started to use them as well. 4. The (electric) computer While it’s true that the computer was technically
invented by Charles Babbage, a 19th century mathematician who built a crude mechanical
calculator called the “Difference Engine,” the era of the electric computer didn’t
kick off until 1944, when Great Britain’s codebreakers unleashed the Colossus to crack
Nazi messages during World War II. Instead of the famous Enigma code, the Colossus
focused on the less known but even more important “Fish” transmissions that were based on
electric teleprinter technology. Fish messages were largely reliant on a cipher
machine called “Tunny,” which used binary code in its encryption. Although Alan Turing figured out a method
to crack Tunny’s cipher in 1942, British codebreakers found it too slow to keep up
with the constant tsunami of encrypted messages. All of this changed in 1944, when a Post Office
truck delivered Colossus I to their Bletchley Park headquarters. The giant machine and its eight subsequent
Mark II siblings were the first true electric computers that used a clock pulse to synchronize
processing steps, and proceeded to crack Tunny codes so swiftly and efficiently that they
were able to help provide crucial information for the Allies’ D-Day preparations and subsequent
push toward Berlin. After the war, parts of the Colossus computers
were transferred to the University of Manchester, where they served as a basis for their successor:
“Baby,” the ancestor of modern all-purpose computers. 3. The microwave oven Really? Microwave ovens? What use do the military have for those? Do soldiers carry tiny ones in their backpacks? Wouldn’t they need a pretty long extension
cord? Not quite. Still, the microwave oven definitely wouldn’t
exist if it wasn’t for the military. In 1946, an engineer named Percy Spencer was
developing a new way to mass-produce radar magnetrons. He was busy testing a military-grade magnetron,
when suddenly, he noticed that a peanut cluster bar he had in his pocket had turned unexpectedly
melty because of the microwaves the device emitted. Fascinated by this unexpected development,
Spencer tested the magnetron on an egg, which promptly exploded on his face. After that, he moved on to popcorn kernels,
and ended up inventing microwave popcorn. While Spencer himself wasn’t particularly
concerned about the potential danger microwaves posed on him during his tests, and the very
first commercial microwave oven debuted just one year after the initial discovery, microwaves
were still enough of an unknown commodity for the device to catch on (it didn’t help
that it weighed around 750 pounds and cost $2,000). In the end, it took until 1967 and the emergence
of the compact Radarange oven for the technology to make its commercial breakthrough. 2. The Internet (ARPANET was a military project) Yes, even the wild world wide web you’re
browsing this list on right now is a military invention — or rather, its predecessor ARPANET
is. ARPANET is largely the product of the US defense
department’s well-financed research agency called the Advanced Research Projects Agency
(As in, ARPA — get it?). The ARPANET network was built in 1969 to connect
the mainframes of various universities, defense contractors and government institutions throughout
the country, and its ultimate aim was to “bring computing to front lines.” ARPANET never quite achieved this, because
while it was quite effective, its locations were completely fixed, and the computers required
to operate it were massive. However, the existence of the system left
ARPA scientists plenty of room to tinker, and in 1974 two researchers named Robert Kahn
and Vint Cerf sowed the seeds of internet proper by creating the blueprint of the first
internet protocol. Only two years later, the seemingly impossible
internet started working. Fun fact: ARPA later changed its name to Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Yes, the same DARPA that has been in the focus
of assorted conspiracy theories for, among other things, its involvement in the supposed
weather control program HAARP. 1. Duct tape Duct tape, if anything, seems like a military
invention. It can fix pretty much anything you can name,
and seems custom made for use in the field. However, military scientists had absolutely
nothing to do with its original concept. The idea came in 1943 from an ammunition packer
named Vesta Stoudt, whose two sons were serving in the US Navy and who was quite keen on keeping
them alive. When she noticed that the ammo packages were
sealed with thin paper tape and opened with a tab that frequently tore off, which left
soldiers scrambling to open the packages, potentially at the cost of their lives. Stoudt brought her concerns to her superiors
and offered a solution — a strong, cloth-based waterproof tape that would efficiently seal
the boxes shut — but they weren’t listening to her. So she took matters into her own hands, and
wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself. In her letter, she described the issue and
offered her tape idea as the solution, complete with diagrams. Roosevelt was so impressed with Stoudt that
he immediately passed the letter on to the War Production Board, and soon, Stoudt was
showered with letters from political and military big shots who kept her in the loop about the
developments and asked her to send them any other ideas she might have in the future. The tape was approved for production with
“exceptional merit,” and the military immediately fell in love with it. They dubbed the new invention “the 100-mile-per-hour
tape,” and use it to this day to fix everything from boots to Jeeps. It’s probably fair to say that the public
quite likes the tape, as well.

100 Comments

  • john st. baptiste

    If one has ever worked in a kitchen, I'll bet pounds to pennies that they have used superglue for a cut during a dinner rush. I know that when I did so, it would happen at least once a month. Take a look at a cook's hands sometime.

  • Saitaina Malfoy

    Now I know the name of the woman who saved me from getting a ticket after my side mirror decided it didn't want to be part of my car anymore (just the mirror, the housing was fine).

  • Richard Y

    That's funny! I've heard that a politician (I can't recall his name) invented the internet. Strange. Being a politician, he would never, ever lie us or even embellish the truth.

  • Jason Somers

    I thought Al Gore invented the internet? Anyway, Duct tape did start out as Duck tape because of its texture and waterproof quality. It wasn’t called DucT tape until it became widely used by the HVAC industry.

  • Wolfe911

    I want to know why my MREs, when I was in, tasted better the worst it smelt? Seriously weird when your platoon argues over who gets the ones that smell like dog food when nobody wants the one that smelt like a real meal…

  • TheWolfHowling

    I was not expecting duct tape to beat the Internet as #1. I thought that if the internet wasn't first it would have been transitors or something like that

  • loxxxton poxxxton

    Is this military theme a hint that the real the Simon who has been missing for months is being kept prisoner in a secret army base. Did the Simon get too close to a secret in one of his videos? Ask yourself, why do we never see the simons legs? Is it because it's not the Simon? Is it because his likeness is just an anematronic puppet? We the people demand answers

  • stone1andonly

    The stories told within the military of the extreme uses of 100 MPH tape would often border on the absurd. It has achieved its own legendary status.

  • Paul Roberts

    Baron Larrey 'released back to his own people with some money and an escort' Lucky bloke. I usually have to pay for my own hookers.

  • William M.

    I like how the libertarian stance always states that the free market drives the economy. This vid named off basically all the things that drive the economy – tech from military….hmmm

  • 1O1ZERO

    duct tape: its the most usefull tool in my house!
    it holds my bumper as well as my relationchip together
    also: WD40 is great to lube things up …

  • BFDT

    I was there so soon after the ARPANET was finally established.

    Now, it's hard to believe not being around the 'Net — anywhere.

  • los tit

    Under 'computers' he should have mentioned Tommy Flowers, the Post Office engineer, who built the first electronic computer funding some of it from his own pocket. He then went on to built Collossus. A true WWII hero but not much of a film plot if you're not also a tortured gay.

  • los tit

    Under 'computers' he should have mentioned Tommy Flowers, the Post Office engineer, who built the first electronic computer funding some of it from his own pocket. He then went on to built Collossus. A true WWII hero but not much of a film plot if you're not also a tortured gay.

  • Bryan Hensley

    I like your channel but I was surprised at the amount of things you got wrong on this episode.
    Ok, duct tape was invented for use on HVAC ductwork. Doesn't take much to figure that out.
    Scientist already knew certain radio waves would create friction in water molecules long before the radar. And GPS technology was already being used in the Apollo program to test the new navigation system. It wasn't for anyone else's use though. The military was a different system, but the same technology . You should have labeled this as the top ten myths. It would have been a more accurate title

  • The Michael

    I work in a print shop and get a paper cut nearly everyday. I use superglue to close that little wound quick. And it works.

  • Shahruz Pakzad

    First hand technology: you'll find it in labs.
    Second hand: in army.
    Third hand: in modern factories. Like making cpus etc.
    Forth hand: might find it in Tokyo electronic market n such.
    Fifth hand: in stores like apple store.

  • Stephen Brackin

    GPS was developed as a strategic weapon: For a nuclear missile, missing the center of a city by a mile or two doesn't make much difference, but if your target is a hardened missile silo, then you have to hit the target, even with a nuclear blast. Because of GPS, the United States had a much greater first-strike capacity than the Soviet Union ever had. 🙂 So GPS helped win the Cold War before it started helping us all find our way around. 🙂

  • James Karaganis

    Actually the military is very interested in putting people back together, and in fact much of modern emergency medicine is based entirely upon military efforts in that regard. Yes, killing or disabling an enemy is what soldiers do, however military personnel represent a substantial expense in training, maintenance and in actual combat. The development of medical techniques to preserve their lives and utility has proven to be a very wise investment, one that has (ahem!) bled through to society as a whole.

  • Sold to be Diers

    Couple a comical things come to mind…
    We are living in the future
    I'll tell you how I know
    Read it in the papers
    Fifteen years ago
    Were all flying driving rocket ships
    And talking with our minds
    Wearing turquoise jewelry
    And standing in soup lines
    We are standing in soup lines
    -John Prine :album ''Storm Windows'' 1980
    ''You can't say civilization don't advance,
    for in every war they kill you in a new way.'' -Will Rogers

  • Susse Kind

    Duck tape got the name 100 mph tape from paratroopers that used it to patch up torn parachute canopies. Yes, paratroopers jumped parachutes held together by duct tape.
    I've done it before myself, it works.

  • CerBoris

    Wasn't the first wrist watches made during the Elizabethan era? I learned that the very first wrist watch was made in Switzerland and given to Queen Elizabeth by a courier.

  • Sebastian Contreras

    1:51 A Korean 747 had to be shot down when it strayed into the USSR for the americans to alllow GPS use for civilian aircraft. They didn't do it out of their kindness of their hearts

  • Scott Whatever

    Yeah, but Aper had a problem. He used wine bottles, but when they switched to cans, the food spoiled because they didn't boil the sealed can long enough.

  • Scott Whatever

    DAMN STRAIGHT! Medics are the best thing that ever happened to war. You RESPECT these guys with your life. If any one of them needs ANYTHING, you give it to them. Period.

  • Constitutionalist Libertarian

    The Arpanet technically didn't lead to the Internet. It lead to the NSF Net. The National Science Foundation created their own network that eventually became the early foundation for the Internet and it borrowed technologies from the Arpanet.

  • Nicola Coppola

    ARPANET was much less powerful versatile and 'open' it is like saying that whoever invented paper and pencil have invented the computer…

  • Jerry Ericsson

    My wife came to me one day in the late 1970's and told me about this new deal called the microwave oven. I had never heard of it, but she wanted it for her birthday, and who was I not to get her what she wanted. So I was off to the local appliance dealer, who happened to be the local Firestone tire guy that sold appliances as a side line. He had two different brands, I looked at both and decided to get the heaviest looking, thinking that it would last longer. Man was I right. The one I purchased for her was the one in the film, well the one before that, when the timer quit, I took it to a repair service, they put in a new timer that had the two dials like the one in the picture. That heavy old thing lasted well over 15 years before we replaced it, never had another that lasted even half that long. Quality and durability has surely gone to hell over the years.

  • daguard411

    Just a bit off on the internet thing. At the time there were 7 Super Computers under the control of US allied countries, and the thought of "What would happen if one of them is destroyed? All the accumulated data would be lost." The soultion was to have each system transmitting its content to the others, constantly. The number of allied Super Computer systems has increased, but they are still transmitting their contents to the others.. The trouble was before the internet, the frequencies used to transmit this were used only by banks and governments. The internet is a smokescreen so the Super Computer systems can remain secret and not intercepted. Yes, every time I download pictures of women with ample bosom I am actually helping my country and our allies.

  • Nothing

    Sure, GPS can guide you from Kansas to Guatemala without a hitch. As long as you wanted to be led off a cliff because your GPS said it was te shortest route.

  • Joseph Fuller

    When mentioning Charles Babbage, some credit might also be due to Ada Lovelace; whom realized that Babbage's invention could be used for more than arithmetic. She wrote the first algorithm; her work making her the first computer programmer.

  • Little Jenny

    Now looking for a route from Kansas to Guatemala in Google Maps. Looks like it's going to take about 42 hours. I better get moving. LOL!!!

  • Ray Ceeya

    You spelled Duck Tape wrong. It has nothing to do with ducts and everything to do with the cotton "duck" fabric used int the original fabrication process.

  • vr6swp

    The first aid guy at my workplace uses superglue to fix patch up cuts. That, covered by a bandaid and a wrap of green stretch tape. I'd say it's not ideal but it works, it's cheap, and you can get back to making money instead of sitting at home because you've got stitches in your hand

  • Dr Demented

    I wonder how many people actually are capable of reading and using acompass, map or refidex in this day and age, instead of depending on gps navigators and modern technology. Let alone navigating without a map and compass, using the stars, sun, moon and landscape instead.

  • Andrew Gomes

    Ambulances may have been a product of France but paramedics are a product of the Vietnam war and then brought to civilian use in Los Angeles in the 1970s. That is the birth of modern-day paramedics

  • Mylum O'Shinn

    #1 you are a woman, stay out of the men's game. Stoudt writes to the President, "man, this sounds awesome! Get it into production" the same board, "umm…okay!"

  • ekcookvids

    "All about making things as efficient as possible…" And then making them as inefficient and hard to use/obtain as possible.

  • MAGGOT VOMIT

    Simon you left out how the Air-Force didn't account for Einstein's Relativity and caused the Clock on the Satellite and on the ground to be out of sync and needed to be adjusted twice a day.

  • MAGGOT VOMIT

    Dermabond used to be given out freely until people started sealing up wounds without properly cleaning out the wound. Many horrible infections put a halt of Dermabond being given out.

  • Patrick Grenier

    Why does it make duct tape and not ammo clip tape or ammo tape or sealing tape. Are you really sure of this fact?😏

  • rebekka Johnston

    It was an indirect invention/start of the organisation but the international community of the Red Cross, red crescent and red crystal societies and later the international federation was due to war, to this day the British Red Cross are still an auxiliary to the government so could be called upon if needed. Also as a side note whoever needs to hear this DO NOT PUT SUPER GLUE IN OPEN WOUNDS

  • Ryan Shiell

    Isn’t the name of the organization that made the first use of ARPANET the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA?

  • Martin Horowitz

    In the US we credit ENIAC as the first all electronic programmable computer. The British system still had patch boards to do rewiring for some operations.
    We also credit the Microwave Oven to an Engineer at Natick Labs.

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