I usually think of scientific advancements in simple terms. I figure that the people inventing stuff like this are of above average intelligence. If I could invent one from scratch I don't consider it a great advancement. I know how a bicycle works, but I couldn't make one if I had to. I have a basic idea of the inner workings of the camera but I could never in a million years construct one. I think the only thing on the list to the right that I am confident I could create is the traffic light. Mine would probably be like something from the Flintstones involving a number of different colored birds who say things to the camera like: "This isn't all it's cracked up to be."
1870 was obviously a pretty inspired year, but not in can technology. People where sending messages instantaneously to their relatives 5000 miles away while riding around on rubber tires and spreading artificially hydrogenated vegetable oil on their toast but still fumbling with their canned corn.
Yet another 55 agonizing years pass. Mankind's inventive nature seems to accelerate with advanced communications and the first World War mixes a little neccessity in with general curiosity. It isn't until 1925 that the can opener as we know it was invented. The patented serrated wheel that travels around the can causing the lid to fall into the can to be retrieved later.
1925, ah what a year. The Sardine can with a key was invented 36 years before the standard serated wheel can opener. There it is! end of story. Can you think of a better way to open a can? I don't believe that you can. The technology was there, why not use it to open cans that don't have sardines in them? It's okay for sardines, but not soup? They didn't see how this could be expanded to other tin areas?
So we wait a little more. Years and years pass. Empires rise and fall. World Wars begin and end. In the late 1920's the world sees the birth of the Rocket Scientist and if forever given a standard by which to measure their in-laws. Also in the late 20's sliced bread is invented and is apparently the pinnacle of mankind's time on earth. 1929: Penicillin. 1930: Baby Food. 1942: Velcro. 1945: ENIAC, world's first super computer and the Atomic Bomb.
Finally in 1959, 34 years later the pull tab is invented by a frustrated Ermal Cleon Fraze who couldn't open his beer while on a picnic. There it is again. Good enough for beer, not good enough for soup. Sometime after this the pull tab begins appearing on cans of catfood. Apparently it's a great help to open a can of Fancy Feast but just wouldn't suffice for tuna or beef stew.
What really gets me is how patient humans were. No one complained. Why? People mindlessly plopped a can of fancy feast into their cats' dishes in a matter of seconds then clumsily attempted to open their own food for five minutes whithout seeing this. Humans, the species that brought us the Riverdance and the Eggwave saw no need to create something that would actually help anyone.
So man travels into outer space. Man lands on the moon. The electric Can opener is invented. Why are they still going on with this ridiculous can opener thing at this point? Abandon the damned can opener and fix the can. Be proactive rather than reactive. It would be like instead of getting emails in our homes, emails were transmited exactly like telegrams and a courier would arrive at our house to read us our email. Actually that would be pretty cool, but only if they dressed up like it was 1910.
Some genius in the 1990's even invents a can opener that seems to be the reverse of the standard 1959 model. Instead of cutting the top of the can it cuts the side of the can. Great. What an innovation, there's nothing more relaxing than horizontal frustration as opposed to vertical frustration.
In the year 2000, 190 years after the invention of the can, we start to see pull tabs appearing on cans of soup. Well thank the lord for that! What was the delay? And why do we only see it on certain brands of soup? You won't see it on a store brand. Campbell's may be the only company even doing it. Is it the cost? Is it an extra 10 or 20 cents? I'll pay the extra money. They should make the pull tabl tax. I think the only thing George W. Bush could do to win me over would be to give us an extra tax that went into this technology. I'd pay it, hell I'd pay double.
I'm not sure what makes me more upset, the fact that it took so long to invent or that I didn't think of it either until I saw it on a can of soup myself. Perhaps it's all well and good. I talk a big game, but I don't have any money. It doesn't affect me as much as it could considering that just about the only soup related item I can afford is Ramen noodles.