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50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

BBC World Service

445
Followers
2.0K
Plays
50 Things That Made the Modern Economy
50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

BBC World Service

445
Followers
2.0K
Plays
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About Us

Tim Harford tells the fascinating stories of inventions, ideas and innovations which have helped create the economic world.

Latest Episodes

GPS

How dependent is the world on GPS - and what would happen if it stopped working? Tim Harford explains why it's not just our ability to navigate that would be affected.

9 MIN6 d ago
Comments
GPS

Bonsack machine

In 1881, James Bonsack developed a machine that made it far easier to mass-produce cigarettes. But at the time, other tobacco products were much more popular – so manufacturers had to find new ways of getting people’s attention. Tim Harford explains why the methods they devised are still working on consumers today.

9 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Bonsack machine

Prohibition

When the US outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, it inadvertently created one of the most successful black markets in the world. Tim Harford considers how much it costs to make something illegal, and what a failed law reveals about the way criminals make their money.

10 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Prohibition

Interface Message Processor

Arpanet was a computer network developed in the 1960s that paved the way for today's internet. At its heart was the Interface Message Processor: a massive, heavily armoured box containing the technology that made it possible. Tim Harford takes a look inside.

10 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Interface Message Processor

Canned food

Developed for the military, dodging bureaucracy and fuelled by venture capital: canned food blazed a trail many of today's biggest tech innovations have followed. Tim Harford reveals the surprising lessons and cautionary tales lurking under the lid.

9 MINSEP 16
Comments
Canned food

Interchangeable parts

Tim Harford tells the story of how Honoré Blanc, a gun-maker in 18th-century France, transformed the way the world manufactures things - but couldn't benefit from his own innovations.

10 MINSEP 9
Comments
Interchangeable parts

Oil

The price of oil is arguably the most important in the world economy. How did we become so dependent - and are we ever likely to wean ourselves off it?

8 MINSEP 2
Comments
Oil

Chatbot

It's claimed that some computers can now pass the Turing test: convincing people that they are human. Tim Harford asks how important that distinction is, and what it means for the future of human interaction.

10 MINAUG 26
Comments
Chatbot

Solar PV

Solar power has been harnessed by civilisations since the days of the ancient Greeks, but it's now on the verge of being more important than ever. Tim Harford examines how much of a challenge it poses to the energy establishment, and what that could mean for the planet's future.

9 MINAUG 19
Comments
Solar PV

Cassava

Despite being highly toxic, the roots of the cassava plant are a vital source of nutrition in many countries. They also shed light on the hidden social forces that support a modern economy.

9 MINAUG 12
Comments
Cassava

Latest Episodes

GPS

How dependent is the world on GPS - and what would happen if it stopped working? Tim Harford explains why it's not just our ability to navigate that would be affected.

9 MIN6 d ago
Comments
GPS

Bonsack machine

In 1881, James Bonsack developed a machine that made it far easier to mass-produce cigarettes. But at the time, other tobacco products were much more popular – so manufacturers had to find new ways of getting people’s attention. Tim Harford explains why the methods they devised are still working on consumers today.

9 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Bonsack machine

Prohibition

When the US outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, it inadvertently created one of the most successful black markets in the world. Tim Harford considers how much it costs to make something illegal, and what a failed law reveals about the way criminals make their money.

10 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Prohibition

Interface Message Processor

Arpanet was a computer network developed in the 1960s that paved the way for today's internet. At its heart was the Interface Message Processor: a massive, heavily armoured box containing the technology that made it possible. Tim Harford takes a look inside.

10 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Interface Message Processor

Canned food

Developed for the military, dodging bureaucracy and fuelled by venture capital: canned food blazed a trail many of today's biggest tech innovations have followed. Tim Harford reveals the surprising lessons and cautionary tales lurking under the lid.

9 MINSEP 16
Comments
Canned food

Interchangeable parts

Tim Harford tells the story of how Honoré Blanc, a gun-maker in 18th-century France, transformed the way the world manufactures things - but couldn't benefit from his own innovations.

10 MINSEP 9
Comments
Interchangeable parts

Oil

The price of oil is arguably the most important in the world economy. How did we become so dependent - and are we ever likely to wean ourselves off it?

8 MINSEP 2
Comments
Oil

Chatbot

It's claimed that some computers can now pass the Turing test: convincing people that they are human. Tim Harford asks how important that distinction is, and what it means for the future of human interaction.

10 MINAUG 26
Comments
Chatbot

Solar PV

Solar power has been harnessed by civilisations since the days of the ancient Greeks, but it's now on the verge of being more important than ever. Tim Harford examines how much of a challenge it poses to the energy establishment, and what that could mean for the planet's future.

9 MINAUG 19
Comments
Solar PV

Cassava

Despite being highly toxic, the roots of the cassava plant are a vital source of nutrition in many countries. They also shed light on the hidden social forces that support a modern economy.

9 MINAUG 12
Comments
Cassava