back to article Britons: iPhone eighth most important invention — ever

In the British mind, the iPhone is a more important invention than the automobile, calendar, or hot water, though not as important as its immediate forebears: the telephone, personal computer and the internet. A Tesco Mobile survey of 4,000 consumers aged between 18 and 65 placed the iPhone eighth out of 100. As might be …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Self depricating

    Yet not a mention of the home grown Psion or PDA.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Noam Chomsky says that the core thing that separates us from other animals is language.

  3. David Pickering

    the tard mass population

    has spoken

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Tards have spoken

      Yes, many of them here on this forum making themselves known with their offensive comments.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Which only goes to prove...

    .. what a load of old rubbish the survey is.

    >>Strikingly, Britons found the iPhone to be a more important invention than either the flush toilet (9) or toilet paper (22)...

    Let's change the question to: "Would you rather be without an iPhone, or access to a flushing toilet?"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    dumb & dumber

    Interesting that the ipod is significantly higher up the list than head/earphones.

    Demonstrates the intellect of the responders I assume.

  6. Blain Hamon

    Wait, what?

    You mean to tell me that the greatest invention of all time, Duck/Duct Tape, wasn't even top 10, much less 100? Do these people ever try to repair anything?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Theres only two things in my tool box, duct tape and WD-40. If whatever is broken is sticking and it shouldn't, it gets the WD-40. Or, if it should be stuck to something, but isn't, it gets the duct tape.

      Thats it, DIY lesson over.

      1. Peter Storm



      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My philosophy of DIY

        I have the same philosophy of DIY, but with two additions:

        If there isn't a hole and there should be: Hammer

        If there is a hole and there shouldn't be: Squirty foam

  7. Nanki Poo

    Repeat after me . . .

    These marketing people should hang their heads in shame, the question is nonsensical.

    I seem to remember one of the first things I was taught in Business and Marketing was (repeat after me) ...

    Innovation is not invention, Innovation is not invention, Innovation is not invention, Innovation is not . . .


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the IMDB effect

    Look at IMDB, almost all of the top 10 films are recent, like LOTR. Then if you look a little lower you find the genuine timeless classics. Ask this again in a few years and some other gadget will be in the top ten, and will still be less important than things that people take for granted (like vaccinations)

  9. Eddy Ito

    Just a bit surprised

    Space travel is 39? With iPhone at 8, I was expecting to see rock at 39.

    1. Winston Smith

      Rock at #39

      Yes, and I was expecting to see "The Sword" at #29.

  10. Steven Knox


    it beat out toilets, toilet paper, hot water, toothbrushes, nappies and towels...

    and SOAP didn't even make the top 100?

    You dirty, dirty people!

  11. jake Silver badge

    Wellies only 85?

    Bottle openers only 96?

    Today's yoof. I just don't understand 'em ...

  12. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    This is just a refelection of the way we live..

    .. and I notice that the word "clock" is nowhere on the list, or music, or mathematics, or alphabet, or navigation, or money, banking (bit contentious, that). Oh the list goes on; obviously they never played Civilisation.

    1. Thomas 4


      Research: Fanboism

      Unlocks: Apple iPhone

      Obsoletes all preceeding technologies and causes your culture to nosedive. First to discover unlocks "The Church of Steve Jobs".

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Odd that there are no weapons on this list. Not the nicest things but certainly important. I'd say the Flint Axe was arguably more important than the wheel. The pike, long bow, gunpowder, canon, flint lock, rifled musket, maxim machine gun, tank and atomic bomb have all had some impact on history. Obviously not quite the global impact of hair straighteners (34) but still you'd think one of those might have sneaked in at the bottom of the list.

    Maybe there is a bias to things they sell in Tesco? I guess a survey of Wal-Mart customers might have seen more recognition of the importance of armaments.

    1. Kamal Hashmi

      Re: Pacifists?

      I agree with you about the flint knife - but it was not mostly used for peaceful purposes as our teeth aren't sharp enough to cut hide.

      Guns and grenades definitely had an impact on history - but I wouldn't count them as important or useful inventions. I can live without them.

      Law is an important invention missed in the list.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Kamal Hashmi

        "Law is an important invention missed in the list."

        Whose law, Kemosabe?

        1. Kamal Hashmi

          Re: Pacifists?

          <quote>"Law is an important invention missed in the list."

          Whose law, Kemosabe?


          Just the concept of rules that apply to everyone.

          The details of who draws them up and who applies them - well that's where the problems occur....

  14. Phlip


    was not invented - it was discovered.

  15. dr_forrester

    So, according to this survey...

    The average Briton would rather children's, um, wastes dropped freely than be deprived of the opportunity to buy an iPhone and considers the WonderBra more important than fire - didn't even make the top 100.

    Please tell me this is a joke. Please?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      So, uh, who invented fire, and when did they do that then?

      1. dr_forrester

        OK, If you want to be pedantic

        We'll call it the ability to start a fire at will.

        1. Baskitcaise

          Yes this is a title

          I bet Will does not think that it should be in the top 100.

  16. password


    Hmmm, for my top 10 I'm going to have to go old school









    9)The internet

    10)The Steam Engine

    IMO there is only one way to carry out these surveys. get a list of all the inventions then present the survey muppets with 10 at a time. Get them to order them from most important to least important and aggregate the results. I would also question wether an Iphone is an invention as it's more a good user interface than an invention.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Depressing

      'course the iPhone is an invention, I mean, it's patented, right?

    2. jake Silver badge


      You missed one:

      0) Ability to move water from point a to point b.

    3. ColonelClaw

      You wally...

      ... you missed out the iPhone


  17. MarkOne

    The iTards have spoken.

    I can only assume there was an iPhone app to vote for your favourite invention, as clearly any sane person (i.e. not an iTard) would have picked "Mobile Phone" or "Smartphone" rather than a brand of smartphone..

    Sometimes it's embarrassing to be British, right now is one of those times.

  18. JasonW

    What is...

    ... a satellite disc (92)? Is that one that orbits your house?

    Why doesn't Ibuprofen (32) come under painkillers (15)?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what's number 92??

    Satellite Disc??? Is this some new Apple invention too??

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    Sunglasses are deemed an important invention??? Since when???

    AC's comments about Tesco could be surprisingly close to the truth.

    I weep for future generations - I'm glad I'll be outa here permanently in a few decades.

    (tomestone is for me, not the reg)

  21. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Prrof, if proof were needed, at #34...

    ...that putting hot things near your head is Not Good For The Brain.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Boils the the blood it does...

    Good grief, this list is wrong on so many levels....

    - Some are innovations, not inventions (Push-up bra -> normal bra)

    - Some rely on more fundamental inventions; eg Anything electronic -> The semi-conductor, or any moderm mode of transport -> ball bearings

    - No weapons listed..though in the right hands, anything on this list could be, if I was being philosophical. Or creative.

    - Some aren't even relevant...Space travel is an invention? Since when?

    - Some are duplicates - Mascara and make-up are the same thing, surely?

    But the killer of the lot is the British public, strolling about with their brains in neutral to come up with some of the entries...Post-it notes? Curtains? Did they interview my gran or something, and they merely picked out all the nouns in one of her typical 5 hour rambling monologues?

    Grenades...missing from the list.

  23. TomP

    Oh dear

    iPhone at 8, but "Mobile Phones" at 21!?

  24. Craigness


    The iphone's invention was far less important than its marketing. It is the marketing which has made the mobile web as popular as it is, not the capabilities of the phone, which were invented before the iphone.

  25. ahahaha you won't catch me that easy again

    without wanting to get too deep into it....

    ...who "invented" hot water?

    1. scottboy

      Hot water

      It was invented by some geyser.

      I know, I'm leaving already...

  26. paul 97

    apple marketing again

    iPhone ahead of the combustion engine - no change if the survey was even slightly accurate.

    Brits love their cars way more than any phone. (look at how we still all drive despite petrol being expensive as hell).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Agree - Apple Marketing

      Clearly the marketing and hence consumer perception/brand value is so strong that without too much thought, people asked this question quickly come up with the iPhone as their top answer. And of course it does help that the product itself lives up to the marketing

  27. Scott Mckenzie

    And these people are allowed to vote!?

    Oh my... i'd love to see the car, combustion engine, beds, roofs, fridges, freezers, microwaves, curtains etc removed from the society of some of these people and see if they still prefer having their iPhone.


  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Fits with the jokes about British personal hygiene...

    or maybe there is an app for cleaning your arses?

  29. Michael O'Malley

    Who was surveyed?

    Who was surveyed? None of the reports state clearly what the survey population was, and how they were selected. Is there a hint in the link to Tesco Mobile - who happen to supply iPhones?

    I assume the next will be the Ferrari survey, which discovers that a huge number of respondents think expensive motor cars are among the most important inventions. Or maybe the Durex survey ...

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Top Five

    1) farts

    2) bogeys

    Both much more important inventions than the iPhone.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So I should no longer say...

    ... "The greatest thing since sliced bread", as no one will understand. Sliced bread is 70th on the list! Amazing!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ibuprofen brand name?

    >>ibuprofen (32), which are merely brand names that have gone generic

    Huh? ibuprofen is the chemical name. *If* it was ever used as a brand name, the generic came first.

  33. Calmfeet

    The Geatest Invention?

    What a load of codswallop!

    It isn't even included in yr list!

    Michael Farady invented ,at the same time, both the electric generator and the electric motor.

    Without this invention we would have no elecritity in our homes or businesses, no electric motors great or small.

    In fact we would be still in the age of wood/coal heating, and oil/gaslamps, and steam powered factories.

    Faraday's invention is key to the way we live today.

  34. Stevie


    Had any of the respondents ever actually undone a wonderbra? Or even seen one in the wild?

    And WTF is a "Satellite Disc"?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want to say one word to you. Just one word.


  36. Philip 5
    Thumb Up

    Ding Ding! Here come the dawgs...

    Unsurprising to see the El Reg Lunix/Winbore Liberation Army apoplectic about this... you never fail to entertain.

  37. Randombard

    But its not an invention

    The iphone isnt anything new, like the phone was or television or the automobile.

    why was it even on the list?

  38. scottboy

    Best thing since...

    I've done some research (OK, Wikipedia) and have discovered that sliced bread was marketed as the best thing since wrapped bread. Can anyone give me a list (ideally in reverse chronological order) showing how the "best thing since" has changed over the last few centuries?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did you mean?

    : satellite dish (no. 92)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      no definitly reads

      92 satellite discs

      whatever they are?

  40. R.L.Hunter

    I can hardly believe...

    that neither the survey authors or anyone here thought of the Bessemer converter. The invention which took steel manufacture from small, time consuming, expensive batches to large scale, cheap, industrial production. Making possible every thing from tinned food to automobiles to battleships and highrise buildings.

  41. Witty username

    Beat toilet paper?

    theres a joke about moving shit in there somewhere.

  42. WotIfink

    Nope, all wrong.

    How could it be anything other than Language?

  43. Anonymous Coward


    8 iPhone

    let take all the less important "inventions" related to the iPhone away

    18 Camera

    21 Mobile Phone

    25 Google

    27 Email

    31 Compass

    41 Calculator

    46 SatNav

    47 Wi-Fi

    56 iPod

    60 eBay

    75 Head/ear Phones

    82 Facebook

    86 Spell check

    90 Post-it Notes

    92 Satellite disc

    So we have a device that doesn't take pictures, can't make/receive calls, can't search the web, or connect to a wi-fi network. I can't listed to music, update my facebook status, leave myself notes, buy stolen item off the internet, can't find my way home or even figure how much tip to leave. What can it do, then?

    Paperweight? Doorstop? Skeet?

  44. Radio Wales

    Empty minds.

    Why didn't Electricity or Radio make the list?

    Those that chose iPhones as the #8 most important invention ever, deserve having to eat them because without the above real inventions, they are useless lumps of PLASTIC that should be dumped down #9.

    And I'd love to know who invented hot water!

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