It's difficult to pick one invention to stand out as the greatest of all time. There are so many man-made wonders that enrich our lives every day and make us question how we ever lived without them. For example: the wheel, the flushable toilet, the bikini, beer, Velcro, eyeglasses, the atomic bomb and plastic storage containers.
The printing press and the Internet are certainly great inventions, but they make it just as easy to spread lies as the truth, so I can't rate them high on my list. They certainly don't rate above plastic storage containers, which have brought society nothing but positive outcomes.
It wasn't long ago that people had to go to grocery stores and beg for flimsy cardboard boxes whenever they needed to package their belongings. It was difficult to get a good grip on those boxes and you never knew when the bottom would fall out and all your Smurf glasses would smash at your feet. But plastic storage containers are lightweight, sturdy and stackable, with easy-to-grip handles on the sides. They are one of the greatest inventions of all time.
I think there are only maybe a dozen inventions I would list ahead of plastic storage containers, and all of them are forms of contraception. I'd even put the withdrawal method near the top of the list. I know it's not very effective, but it was a good start.
Computers might rank high on many people's list, but not mine. I know computers often make our lives easier, but they also drive us nuts.
There is a computer-related invention, however, that I think has potential to become the greatest of all time. It's the keyboard command "Control + Z." That is the magic key combination which allows you to undo your previous action. Say, for example, you are composing your master's thesis and accidentally delete the entire text. All you have to do is simultaneously press the Control key and the letter Z to restore it.
The most impressive thing about Control + Z is that it is still in its infancy. There are countless other real-life uses for this technology that haven't been perfected yet. We're only a few years away from being able to take back the stupid things we say out loud with Control + Z.
When that spurned ex-lover of yours cries out, "I thought you said you loved me," you'll soon be able to reply, "Sorry baby, Control Z" and wipe the slate clean. You could undo a whole relationship -- so it never existed.
It's along those lines that Control Z will one day become the greatest invention of all time. It will put any other form of contraception to shame.
Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His book "The Spowl Ribbon" is available online at paullundgren.com.