India has nurtured some of the greatest minds of all time, whose inventions and discoveries shaped the world we live in today. The great Indian mathematician, Aryabhatta invented the numbering system and gave the world the gift of “zero”, without which mankind would not be able to reach the moon or build supercomputers. Possibly one of the greatest inventions of all time is Ayurveda, the ancient “science of life” which dates back to more than 5000 years, was developed in India by maharishis, the great sages. Ayurveda is gaining popularity across the world as the science of well-being and way of life.
These inventions might be thousands of years old, but they have certainly shaped our modern world. As a nation, we have come a long way in the fields of science, mathematics and technology. Indians have been the forerunners in innovations for the past century and in accordance with National Science Day on February 28, here are some recent inventions by Indians that have been revolutionary:
USB — Universal Serial Bus
The past two decades saw a major technological revolution, and data storage and transfer has played a significant role in making this revolution a success. Without the space utility of portable storage devices or the time utility of USB cables, major technological innovations wouldn’t become a reality. The USB transformed the way we exchanged information: It became an industry standard when it came to connecting to any variant of a computer device, right from transferring files, USB storage, charging devices and connecting external devices, the invention of USB has changed our lives. The man behind this innovation is Ajay V. Bhatt, an Indian-born American who is a computer architect. Born and raised in Vadodara, Gujrat, Bhatt moved to America to pursue further education. He began his career at Intel Corporation and is the recipient of the European Inventor Award among Non-European countries.
Transferring data using the fastest thing in the universe? Absolutely! Fibre optics are quite literally an ingenious innovation. Signals are created using light rays to transfer data and information at a lightning speed. This invention has increased the volume of information and significantly cut down the time taken to transfer data between two centres. At the forefront of this innovation is Narinder Singh Kapany, an Indian American physicist who is also known as the 'Father of Fibre Optics'. Kapany has also been named as one of the seven 'Unsung Heroes of the 20th century' by Fortune Magazine for his invention that unquestionably deserved a Nobel prize.
KalamSat — The world’s lightest satellite
In January 2019, a group of students from India created history by successfully building and launching the world’s lightest satellite, the KalamSat V2, to space. Weighing 1.62 kgs and built at a cost of only Rs 16 lakhs, the satellite is named after former Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a pioneer of space and aeronautics in India. Launched by ISRO through the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the KalamSat V2 will help radio operators in hamming. Created by students who are a part of Space Kidz India, a Chennai-based space education firm, the KalamSat is one of nine satellites launched by ISRO in space. The first KalamSat which weighed only 64 grams was developed in 2017 by an 18-year-old from Tamil Nadu. The satellite was part of a sub-orbital flight by NASA.
The email, or electronic mail, is part of our daily lives and frankly, we can't imagine official or even personal communications without emails. Few of us must be aware that the email, as we know it today, with its interface of inbox, outbox, reply and forwards was invented by Shiva Ayyadurai, an Indian, in 1978 at the age of 14. Ayyadurai developed the EMAIL system for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for their internal communications.
The Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, created history in September 2014 when the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also known as Mangalyaan, successfully entered Marian orbit. The project was a amalgamation of many firsts: ISRO became the first Asian space organisation and fourth in the world to successfully launch a mission to Mars, the project was built at a cost of $60 million, making it the cheapest project (it's about 1/10th of the cost of NASA’s MAVEN project) and India became the first nation in the world to successfully launch a Martian mission in its maiden attempt.
India’s first lunar orbital mission, Chandrayaan-1, paved the way for a new generation of space missions and proved to be a major boost for New India's space programmes. Chandrayaan-1 was launched in October 2008 and operated until August 2009, achieving most of its scientific objectives. One of the major achievements of the mission was the discovery of a huge concentration of water molecules in lunar soil. Due to technical failures and poor heating insulation, Chandrayaan-1 stopped receiving or sending communication in August 2008, cutting short the planned two-year mission, however not without collecting valuable information and lessons for future missions.
The Intel Pentium chip
Vinod Dham led a team, with some of the world’s best minds, to successfully create Intel’s first Pentium chip in 1993. Known as the “Father of Pentium”, Dham had worked extensively on semiconductors when we developed the Pentium chip. After completing his engineering, Dham pursued a master’s in Physics (Solid States) and formed a keen interest in semiconductors, which eventually led to the development of one of the fastest chips in the world at its time. Dham was the Vice President of the Microprocessors Group at Intel when he left the company to join a startup NexGen. Within 15 years of his joining Intel Co, the company’s annual revenue went from $1 million in 1979 to over $16.2 billion in 1995.