Long before crowdsource software was available, humans were innovating. Some of them did so on their own, others did so together. But whenever something was invented or a new cultural practice was developed, innovations became more impressive. And, interestingly, those groundbreaking innovations are things we now almost take for granted! Let’s take a look at some 19th century innovators that truly changed our world.

W.A. Burt – Crowdsource Software Would not Have Been Possible without His Typographer

The next time you sit behind your company’s crowdsource software platform, give a word of thanks to W.A. Burt, who came up with the typographer in 1829, providing an alternative to the printing press or the written print. Interestingly, nothing really came of the typographer until the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, when Burt’s grandson built another model. By then, however, the typewriter existed, which was invented in 1867. But even that took a decade before it really took up. Today, we still use the QWERTY keyboard whenever we type (unless you’re in France, where they use AZERTY), which is exactly as Burt designed it.

Charles Fritts – Solar Energy

Today, many of us are using solar power to provide energy to our homes. We want to be sustainable and stay away from fossil fuels. However, few of us know that Charles Fritts was the original innovator behind solar power. In 1883, Fritts developed the first ever photoelectric module. He spread selenium on a metal plate, covering this with gold leaf. Even under lamplight, this module produced constant current. The potential, obviously, was huge. Yet it took a century before people were interested. Today, solar is really taking off, with a 33% increase in the total of the world’s energy produced by solar between 2014 and 2015. By 2021, it is expected some 360,000 Americans will work in this field. That is some crowd that Fritts sourced!

Florence Nightingale – Nursing

Most people have heard of Florence Nightingale, but few know just how innovative she was. She set the standards and developed new techniques in nursing care. As churches and monasteries closed and no longer took in the sick in the 18th century, patient care became worse and fewer people became nurses. Florence Nightingale changed all of this when she went to look after the British soldiers in the Crimean War in Turkey in 1854. She set cleanliness standards in the field hospitals, dropping the mortality rate from 42.7% to 2.2%.

These are just three examples of fantastic innovators whose ideas we now all seem to take for granted. They worked on their own or as part of a team, like Florence Nightingale, and they made life as we know it today possible. Had they had access to modern day crowdsourcing technology, who knows what they could achieve. And who knows which people today are the innovators that will be remembered 100 years from now! Next time you put forward an idea, don’t hesitate. It may just be an idea that, at some point, will change the world.