A list of Chinese inventions

Monkey made some half-baked comments about the Taiwanese and by inference the Chinese (I presume) not being innovative people.

Here’s a list of Chinese inventions off the top of my head with only two seconds of consideration. I’m sure you can rattle off a million and one Western inventions, but what exactly is Monkey’s point. What’s the point of you Monkey? Come on let’s hear it!:

Hot air balloon
Helicopter propeller
The Rudder (with holes and solid)
Collapsible sails
The wheel
The trigger mechanism for a gun
First earthquake detector (could detect the direction of an Earthquake over 500 miles away)
and the list could go on and on.

I think also the Chinese had the first real clock if I remember right (it was a water clock)…but a whole 'nother thread should be devoted the inventiveness or lack thereof of the Chinese/Taiwanese and perhaps it is better to look at why they had such early progresses and then seemingly stopped… but again, much better topic for a separate thread.

I’ll concede the wheelbarrow, but not the wheel. I think this deserves a thread of it own … it’s way off-topic, but interesting stuff.

You beat me to it, Monkey.

My research reveals that, “Most scientists believe that the wheel was invented 5000 years ago. The oldest wheel known was discovered in Mesopotamia and is believed to date back 55 centuries. Sumerian (Erech) pictograph, dated about 3500 BC, shows a sledge equipped with wheels.”

And flying lanterns are hardly hot air balloons. Do they sound like useful contributions to humanity? Surely the Montgolfier brothers take credit for balloon flight.

It is true that the Chinese have invented a number of things, but these were the ancient Chinese. I think that part of the point here goes: “What have you done for me lately?”
Isolated from the rest of the world for thousands of years, the Chinese did devise way of doing things (planting in rows, for example) but in modern times, Chinese have done little original thinking.
I spoke to a researcher from the United States recently who was visiting the Academia Sinica. I was told that original research in Taiwan is scarce. This was only one person’s observation, true, but probably not a lone voice.

You forgot:


Since ancient China is widely believed to have the world’s first series of connected roads, you could also say highways were a Chinese invention.

The Te of Piglet has like 6 pages of Chinese inventions. It’s quite tedious really, but the author does make his point I suppose. I never was impressed with that book. It’s like the author wrote it because he was expected to write it - like the entire time his bitter ego was in control and hammering out nothing but 120 pages of diatribe. “Waah! My crotch hurts! I don’t want to be Mr. Taoist Know It All Anymore!”

Blech. Sorry. Tangent. Anyway, the book does have a pretty comprehensive list of stuff for the curious who need to know what the Chinese invented first.


Wolfie Baby!

You read my mind. As I mentioned before, the early inventions of the Chinese were many… but recent inventions… and by recent I mean lets say within the last 200 years… anyone…anything??? I am serious, I would love to see a list.

Was it the closing of the borders and the xenophobia of the Chinese? (from those Mongol raiders) Was it that they just shot their wad early?

Why did the Chinese start off so big in terms of inventions and innovations and then seemingly stop all together? One of my dear pals, a lawyer (but don

It doesn’t matter what you invent as most inventions are discovered by accident. I mean some guy in China didn’t set out to invent gunpowder, it was discovered.
And don’t forget that the west figured out you can kill people with it, so discovering or inventing it is one thing, but applying it is something else

Helicopter propeller -
no they didn’t invent the propellor unless there were helicopters flying around china and some guy figured out and told somebody that" If you put a h-e-l-i-c-o-p-t-e-r propellor on it, your helicopter would not go straight down when you lauched it off the cliff with you family inside". They found that if you did some thing with a piece of wood if would pull itself up… some westerner applied this and put it on a helicopter

The trigger mechanism for a gun - funny I always thought the advance in guns came from Europe… or maybe they were lying last week on the KNOWLEDGE CHANNEL

Noodles - you don’t invent noodles… and what great contribution have noodles made to the world apart from getting my whote shirt coverered in sauce

The Chinese did use gunpowder in war, they just didn’t do as well with it as other countries. They had ‘riflemen’ and ‘cannoniers’ and what not, with fancy weapons that had dragon heads on the end. I can’t remember what dynasty really took advantage of it in battle, but I do remember reading it somewhere.


True, when you replace

Hot air balloon with flying lanterns
Helicopter propeller with flying children’s toys
Gunpowder with fireworks
The wheel with wheelbarrow

the list hardly sounds that impressive anymore
:unamused: [/b]

I doubt it’s worth contesting noodles, or its role in the development of civilization.

Check out this site:

History of Chinese Invention and Discovery

Listen to you guys arguing over the relative merits of centuries of inventions! Does it really matter who invented what or do some people just feel a need to be superior?

Surely many inventions spawn others and so on. So there’s no latter without the former. Chickens and eggs!

This argument is a bit like arguing one job is superior to another. Perhaps some things seem more important to others but what about the non-quantifiable synergistic whole?

I’m an engineer with my own business here in Taiwan. I have seven U.S. patents issued since '97 and one Taiwan patent issued in January. I worked for two years as an R&D manager in a Taiwan digital camera company as the only foreigner in a group of one-hundred local engineers.

On a daily basis I work with engineers from throughout Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Japan or South Korea.

I wish I could say Chinese engineers are inventive but I haven’t personally seen a drop of creativity among them. They even tell me they aren’t creative problem solvers and are only too happy to let me handle it all. All I’ve seen is antipathy to real inventiveness. I regularly hear statements like ‘the danger of innovation (costs, risks of failure)’ and ‘but it doesn’t look like an (existing product.)’

I’ve found their definition of innovation to be scouring the internet for some new, successful product and being the first to copy it.

Sorry, folks, but that’s my (sad) experience here and every other Western engineer here I’ve ever spoken with has had the same experience.

Wish it weren’t so.

Alien’s web resource is very useful if you think that holding a banana leaf over your head is equivalent to inventing an umbrella.


I don’t feel superior I can’t even replace a lightbulb without help… mostly cause I am vertically challanged. :slight_smile:

I get back to my question though, which is not the merit of the Chinese inventions… cause generally I agree with the above statement that inventions are often just accident. China however must have had a lot of them :wink: … but

What has “Greater” China invented in the last 200 years? I place very high value on the fact that Chinese culture historically was way beyond that of the west in terms of the creation of many items… but has any invention of note come out of China in the last 200 years? ACording to alien’s link, which was awesome btw… I see NO inventions after movable type printing in 1045…

What happened?

yes, how clever and cilivilized compared to Chinese!! :unamused:

…has any invention of note come out of China in the last 200 years ?[/quote]

A friend of mine, after hearing people say that China has a 5000 year history, used to reply: “Oh really? Well what have you done lately?”

A bit of a slap in the face, eh?

Hey, steady on. Don’t forget China Airlines recently invented the first 300-seater thrill ride, and nobody has yet been able to beat those stuffed teddy bear eyes that 1960s-era Taiwan manufactures successfully designed to choke small infants.