In war, those who can deploy the most force on the battlefield almost always win, but with advancements in tools and weapons, quantity can only go so far. As civilization advances and more technological innovations emerge, armies equipped with or capable of producing these high-quality mechanisms will have an advantage in rising above and dominating the rest of the world.

Nonetheless, during peacetime, these remarkable inventions have somehow weaved into the mundane of the rest of society—transforming an effective weapon in wartime into an important tool in one’s daily life.

The seven technological innovations listed below were initially developed to aid military activities and efforts but have since made their way into the hands of the general public and have significantly changed how people live forever.


You and I both know how substantial the vast world of the web has become, particularly at the beginning of the twenty-first century. What began as a hub for information sharing for government researchers in the 1960s has grown into a vast interconnected network that stretches the globe we know today.

The Internet rose to prominence at the height of the Cold War era when the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite in 1957, effectively moving past the United States in the space race. Wanting to keep itself up on its toes, as well as maintain intel awareness and stay ahead in case of a nuclear attack, the US Defense Department scrambled to form a network that could provide fast, efficient information dissemination within state agencies and military—leading to the creation of the ARPANET, or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network.

(Image source: Unsplash)

A precursor of what we’ll eventually come to know as the Internet, ARPANET, despite a promising invention, was initially used exclusively by “certain academic and research organizations who had contracts with the Defense Department,” allowing its various computer networks to communicate with each other. Public data networks began to emerge in the 1980s, and commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) were established just before the turn of the decade.

Eventually, ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990, paving business opportunities for commercial entities to capitalize and for the modern Internet traffic from private users to increase.

The integration into civilian use, however, does not mean the omission of Internet usage within the military. If anything, it has become an integral part considering that most tech now needs connectivity to operate sophisticated tools and equipment such as system software, sensors, and automation. Thus, the rise of cyber warfare.

Electronic Computers

Alongside the development of the Internet is the invention of electronic computers, with the first known as the “ENIAC,” or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. John W. Mauchly and J.Presper Eckert designed the large, modular machine in the 1940s for the United States Army primarily used to calculate artillery firing cables.

The construction began in secret, codename “Project PX,” at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering under the supervision of Maj. Gen. Gladeon M. Barnes—the same general responsible for the development of around 1,600 weapons like the M4 Sherman and the M26 Pershing tanks. It was completed in the mid-1940s.

Melba Roy heads the group of NASA mathematicians, known as “computers,” who track the Echo satellites. (Image source: NASA/DVIDS)

Another digital programmable computer, Colossus, was invented during this period to help decode Nazi-encrypted transmissions and messages. Both the ENIAC and Colossus were considered part of the first generation of digital computers, which at present, we are now enjoying the efficiency of the fifth generation.

From there, electronic computers got more powerful, smarter, faster, and smaller and into the hands of the general public, with the first portable surfacing in the 1980s and the handheld smartphones rising between the late 1990s to the early 2000s.

Digital Camera

Spies and espionage agents’ best friend, digital cameras, were originally invented in the early 1960s by NASA to capture stars and planets before eventually being integrated into satellites for aerial reconnaissance and surveillance of enemy installations. From there, its progress in the military sphere, particularly during the Cold War era as the Soviet Union and the United States tried to pry up on each other’s backyards.

A service member assigned to the Israel Defense Force Spokesperson Unit takes a photo while participating in the Spc. Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera Competition at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., May 13, 2021. (Image source: DVIDS)

The concept soon reached the masses, with the first actual digital still camera built by Eastman Kodak engineer Steven Sasson in 1975, and the rest was history.


By definition, an ambulance is a medically equipped vehicle used to transport a patient to treatment facilities like hospitals.

Wartime Innovations That Changed Our Lives Forever

Read Next: Wartime Innovations That Changed Our Lives Forever

People have used such emergency transport since ancient times by using carts. However, the Spanish first used the ambulance to rescue wounded soldiers in the mid-to-late 1480s. Since then, it has become a permanent figure on the battlefield and has even spawned civilian variations. Its form also evolved from push-pull carts to horse-drawn carriages to trucks and eventually to modern vehicles, as well as helicopters and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs).

AMEDD Museum - Model T Ambulance
Model T Ambulance (Image source: DVIDS)


Ah, yes. The wonder weapon of the 21st century—drones have impacted how wars are fought on today’s battlefield. It was like how the tank changed World War I, how nuclear weapons changed World War II, and how space satellites changed the rude bickering in the Cold War.

Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), drones can either be a blessing or a curse depending on which side you are on. They are primarily used in reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence missions; however, more superpowers have been experimenting with arming them with lethal munitions. Since the equipment does not need a human pilot to fly, it can be maneuvered remotely. This makes drones ideal for kamikaze and other high-risk missions.

The evolution of the drone has also been quite remarkable, from a balloon armed with explosives to mini-aircraft versions that can launch themselves like a large plane. Today, despite some restrictions, drones are available for wider consumers, usually used by filmmakers, content creators, and the like.

A small unmanned aircraft system in flight. (Image source: DVIDS)

Weather Radar

Many innovations emerged following the discovery of radio waves in the 1800s, including weather forecast radars—widely used in predicting or detecting storms and other weather disturbances. Moreover, radar has become integral to the military as it can track and detect enemy locations and movements.

The use of radar in defense tactics was first observed during WWI when British inventor Robert Watson-Watt pioneered the radio direction finding and radar technology that allowed Allied forces to utilize it for air defense during the epic Battle of Britain. Then, during WWII, radar operators began to notice how these machines could pick up the weather—sometimes calling out false alarms due to misinterpretation—creating weather radars that allow scientists to gather data and predict current and upcoming weather conditions. Today, this equipment can provide up to weeks of advanced weather conditions.

US Navy Weather Radar (Image source: DVIDS)

Microwave Oven

The microwave oven’s development came after a radar experiment in 1945. Since then, it has become a staple to every American kitchen and across the globe, serving as a lifeline for on-the-go people who don’t have time to cook, who don’t know how to cook, and on-a-tight-budget college students.

After the war, microwaves, like other WWII inventions, were adapted for domestic use, initially appearing to consumers as a six-foot-tall appliance before shrinking to the size we know today.

A 1971 Radarange RR-4 Model Microwave Oven (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)