Continuing Influence of WWI Technology

The growth of WWI technology had astounding implications for the evolution of the Information Age over the course of the decades following the war. Trench warfare and new weaponry literally changed the landscape of the battlefield in a way that had previously been unfathomed. Because of this, one can easily look back at some of the more innovative WWI technology for an accurate depiction of the sorts of technologies that would continue to grow over time.

Some of the things created during the First World War are things that many people today would take for granted. For instance, wristwatches arose from a need to check the time without being able to dedicate the use of one hand to manipulating a pocket-watch. This sort of WWI technology may not have required much innovation, but it was still new at the time. It was not as new, however, as the mobile phone. Mobile phones were used during the First World War to skirt the risk of losing a pigeon (or human messenger), while also making communication much more efficient.

While it may be hard for a member of today’s societies to picture a time in which cell phones could have saved lives, this is much easier to imagine when discussing the use of drones. Drones do not fully qualify as WWI technology, as they were not actually used during the war. This is, however, when their creation began. While drones may not have been used, manned flight became safer as well due to the use of radio communication rather than Morse code.

Of course, none of these technologies (except for maybe the wristwatch) could be made possible without the use of electricity. Only a few decades old at that point, the many uses of electricity became increasingly apparent through WWI technology. This is especially true in terms of radio technology, which made communication a much easier feat than it had previously been. Many of the war’s portable radios relied on electrically charged batteries just to function, the Information Week reports.

The growth of WWI technology over the course of just four years led to greater and more astounding innovations further down the line. The war helped to improve medical practices, communication, and even transport. For instance, without the radio systems devised for pilot communications, there might be no air traffic control to help power commercial flight. Today’s generation may not have been around for the First World War, but they can still thank WWI technology for making their lives much easier than they might have been without such innovations.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE