Technology is the study of man’s use and application of tools, in order to improve the overall quality of living. It is derived from Greek "tekhnologia" which literally means "systematic treatment" or the "science of crafting".
The term may be used to refer to the tools used to simplify work, or to the techniques of using these tools, or to technology as a cultural activity (such as manufacturing technology, etc).
Early history and development
Early humans (more than 2 million years ago) used very simple tools such as crudely shaped stones for performing activities like carving, scraping and chipping. By about 40000 BCE, humans learnt how to control fire and use it as a source of energy in order to provide heat and light, cook food and make more advanced tools by shaping and moulding. This provided an incredible breakthrough in technology through the invention of materials such as clay pots, bricks, cement and weaponry. It should be noted that the use of tools is not exclusive to humans; however, the ability of human beings to use tools for the manufacturing of other objects is what differentiates them from other animals.
The most important single invention in history, the wheel, took place - according to most archaeologists - circa 4000 BCE. The oldest wheels existing today date from about 3500 BCE. They were used in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) in wheeled carts and for pottery. Other early developments included the discovery of alloys (like bronze and steel) between 4000 BCE and 1000 BCE and the harnessing of energy sources such as wind and water.
A very significant development in technology was the growth of urbanisation right from ancient times. Right through the middle ages, a great amount of skill has been focussed on the improvement of man’s living environment. Good examples of strides in urbanisation include the introduction of drainage systems, especially in the Indus Valley civilization, the extensive use of slavery to solve the problems of large-scale work and the development of transportation to enable easier movement of people and goods.
Closer to modern times, the invention of the steam engine and the subsequent rise of the Industrial Revolution in England was a turning point in the history of technology. A good number of factories, especially those involved in weaving, flourished.
Military technology too saw great strides, with old techniques giving way to new ones. However, this has been seeing dangerous turns, with superior technology being created to spread destruction and death. This has played an important role in modifying the environment in which man has been living, just as other forms of technology have changed the face of the world.