The top ten greatest inventions are debatable. What one man finds great another may consider only sub-par. That said there are a few items which should, by all rights, be on virtually every list - inventions that have steered the course of mankind since our earliest days.
Here's a list of ten of those essential inventions (by my estimation) which we simply would not have gotten by without, in no particular order.
1.) The wheel. One of our earliest innovations and still one of the greatest. The wheel can be found in more things than you can ever imagine (yes, they're in more places than just your car). So many other, more complicated devices wouldn't operate without some form of wheel in them, and we wouldn't be able to move quickly without wheels taking us places.
2.) The axle. What good is a wheel without something to rotate upon? Exceedingly simple yet just as necessary as its cousin, we owe a great debt to axles in helping us keep society rolling.
3.) The clock. We had a perception of time before clocks, but exactitude just didn't exist unless we were strict adherents to watching the sun cruise by and cast its shadow. Clocks gave us time, and, even better, they gave us deadlines. (Okay, so maybe they weren't that great after all.)
4.) The toilet. Not something we necessarily think of, but without toilets we'd still be doing our business in the streets. No thanks.
5.) The car. I hate the things, but I have to give them their due. Cars, and wheeled vehicles in general, revolutionized everyday travel and connected the world in a giant network of movement. We really can't get by without cars.
6.) The power generator. Some people might put the light bulb on here, but what good is a light bulb without electricity? You need something to get it running in the first place, whether it's a simple motor or an enormous nuclear plant, and regardless of the form of the electricity we wouldn't get very far each day without it. Society would screech to a halt without generators to keep our lights on and our computers working.
7.) The pen and pencil. The printing press may have got us moving with the written word, but we needed to start somewhere, and quill pens were generally the place. Coupled with paper or other writing materials pens and pencils have taken us far in not only communicating ideas to one another, but also in creating great works of art to admire.
8.) Modern medicine. This is something of a blanket term, but regardless, we'd still be dying of plagues en masse if it weren't for advances in immunization. We probably take these immunities for granted now, but a hundred or two hundred years ago they would have been seen as absolute miracle workers.
9.) The computer. These wonderful devices have brought the world into the digital age and made life much, much easier in general. We can do and create so much more thanks to computers, and though they may have some down sides they're overall indispensable.
10.) The television. Though losing ground to computers today, televisions connected the world. Suddenly you could be sitting in Toronto yet know exactly what was going on in Bombay. More, televisions introduced us to the wonderful innovation that is mass advertising, and we're still thanking it years after the fact.