The only thing invented in the 20th century was speed, is that true?

Yesterday a theologian told me she read “the only thing invented in the 20 th century was speed”.

That seemed a bit harsh, and worth a reality check.

A little research revealed the  top 10 inventions of the 20th century were as follows: radio, the internet, television, antibiotics, the submarine, the rocket, the automobile, the airplane, the personal computer and nuclear power.

These are about speed of information and speed of movement, so with the exception of antibiotics (though some would argue that in some cases, this one is about speed) and nuclear power (to fuel those things that deliver speed..yikes), it seems she was on the money.

My theologian colleague was referring to the fact that we as people are in a big hurry just to keep up and in the process we were missing the most important thing of all to our quality of life, relationships.

And so, does this speed obsession still consume us and do we revere it enough to drive up the value of companies on the stock exchange?

Do the reality check with me now on the world’s most valuable brands!

Here we have the top brands in the world according to the Interbrand Report for 2011

1. Cocoa Cola Beverages at $71,861 million ( Fast food and convenience for those in a hurry)

2. IBM Business Services at $ 69,905 million (Bringing speed to business transactions)

3. Microsoft Computer Software at $59,087 million (Bringing speed of transactions to individuals and business)

and so it goes on:

4. Google Internet Service $55,317 million (finding things quickly on the internet),

5. GE $ 42,808 million, a diversified business, but into things like aviation, appliances (in home time saving devices) and money, (to buy the time saving devices) and energy (to fuel our speed obsessed world),

6. McDonalds (fast food) $35,593 million,

7. Intel $35,217 million (faster computers),

8. Apple $33,492 million (faster computing and easier to use, one could say more intuitive and therefore time saving),

9. Disney $29,081 million entertainment (A tenuous link to speed. Is this a fun on demand, and the skeptic in me says ‘electronic baby sitting’, for the time poor?)

10. Hewlett Packard $28,470 million (business services, bringing faster transactions to business).

Further down the list, car companies, more technology companies and financial services, broken by fast moving consumer good company, Gillette.

Need I say anymore?

And before you rush off, take a moment to savour this thought.. for whom and for what are you rushing? Where is all this speed taking you?

Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds


See the inventions at, according to Jeff Danelek, a writer on history and politics.

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