The 50 most amazing moments of the 20th century

8,000 voters in eight countries choose human race's finest modern achievements 

Andy Gregory
Monday 03 June 2019 16:53
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The top 50 moments in world history over the last century have been chosen by 8,000 people internationally
The top 50 moments in world history over the last century have been chosen by 8,000 people internationally

The end of the Second World War, Neil Armstrong‘s first steps on the moon and the first organ transplant have been voted as among the most incredible moments of the past 100 years in an international poll.

Researchers surveyed 8,000 adults from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, UAE and Russia to identify key historical moments, human feats, medical marvels and technological breakthroughs.

Major landmarks in the battle for equality featured heavily, such as Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963, Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in 1955, and Argentina’s Isabel Martínez de Perón becoming the world’s first female President in 1974.

The demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and UK women gaining the right to vote in 1928 also appeared in the top 50 of the Hilton-commissioned poll.

Advancements in entertainment were also rated highly, with the world’s first audio movie, 1927’s The Jazz Singer and the first colour television in 1926 achieving prime positions.

Communication and digital technology were also credited.

Respondents favoured the world’s first email in 1971, the first mobile phone conversation in 1973 and the invention of the worldwide web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, followed by the first video uploaded to YouTube on 23 April 2005.

Scientific breakthroughs, such as 1996 clone Dolly the Sheep and Louise Brown, the world’s first “test tube baby” conceived via IVF in 1978, won places in the top 50, but were sidelined by the first ever organ and heart transplants, which were voted in second and third place, respectively.

Memorable moments in travel and adventure also made the cut, such as Roald Amundsen reaching the North Pole in 1926, the first commercial flight in 1952 between London and Johannesburg and Yuri Gargaran’s virgin space mission.

Researchers delved into the personal too.

The birth of respondents’ first child were voted the most important moments in their lives, followed by purchasing first homes and getting married.

The Top 50 Moments of the Past Century

1. The end of WWII (1945)

2. The first organ transplant (1954)

3. First heart transplant (Louis Washkansky, 1967)

4. Penicillin successfully used to treat a first patient for septicaemia or blood poisoning (1942)

5. First man on the moon (Neil Armstrong, 20 July 1969)

6. The demolition of the Berlin wall (1989)

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7. First human in space (Yuri Gagarin, 1961)

8. Vaccine for tuberculosis (1927)

9. Creation of the first artificial heart (2015)

10. First chemotherapy treatment (1956)

11. Discovery of treatment for AIDS (1987)

12. Pacemaker invented (1958)

13. Women gain the right to vote in the UK (1928)

14. Colour television (1926)

15. First defibrillator (1947)

16. Programmable computer (1936)

17. Satellite sent into orbit (Sputnik 1, 1957)

18. Development of the contraceptive pill (1960)

19. Laser eye surgery for vision correction (1983)

20. First dialysis machine created (1943)

21. First “test tube baby” conceived using IVF (1978)

22. First mobile phone conversation (1973)

23. MRI scan of a human being (1977)

24. First black US President (Barack Obama, 2008)

25. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (1963)

26. The first blood bank opened (1937)

27. First email sent (1971)

28. Scientist Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web (1989)

29. Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990)

30. Photographs sent from Mars (1976)

31. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat in protest of racial inequality (1955)

32. Invention of GPS (Roger L Easton, 1974)

33. First cloned mammal (1996)

34. First text message sent (1992)

35. First racially desegregated school in the US (1957)

36. Digital camera (1975)

37. Movie with sound (The Jazz Singer, 1927)

38. Women gain the right to vote in Germany

39. The moment Alan Turing broke the Enigma code (1945)

40. First female President (Marma Estela ‘Isabel’ Martinez Cartas de Peron, Argentina, 1974)

41. Roald Amundsen reaching the North Poll (1926)

42. First supersonic Concorde flight (1969)

43. First woman to pilot a solo transatlantic flight (Amelia Earhart, 1932)

44. Invention of the Compact Disc (1980)

45. Instant-colour camera film (1963)

46. First video to be uploaded to YouTube (2005)

47. Invention of the world’s first video game (a game that inspired the 1970s classic, Pong) (1958)

48. First commercial jet flight (between London and Johannesburg) (1952)

49. Inaugural football world cup (Uruguay, 1930)

50. Live Aid concert (London, 1985)

Additional reporting by SWNS

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