Centenary icons

Read the stories behind the Centenary Icons

We've chosen ten objects from our incredible collection that changed the future...

Add your own Icon

We want to know what invention or discovery has changed your life... Could it be the iPod, IVF or the internet? What would you choose?

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  • Steam Engine

    The Steam Engine changed the future in 1712

    What links this massive machine with today's changing climate?

  • Stephenson's Rocket

    Stephenson's Rocket changed the future in 1829

    It's the most famous steam locomotive in the world... but what makes it so special?

  • Electric Telegraph

    The Electric Telegraph changed the future in 1837

    Using only 20 letters, how did this odd-looking machine make the world a smaller place?

  • X-ray Machine

    The X-ray Machine changed the future in 1895

    Looking inside the body was tricky before the discovery of X-rays. What did it mean for medicine?

  • Model T Ford

    The Model T changed the future in 1908

    Motoring for the masses begins. Imagine swapping your horse for this handsome creature...

  • Penicillin

    Penicillin changed the world in 1928

    A life-saving medicine made from mould? Would you have believed it?

  • V2 Rocket Engine

    The V2 Rocket Engine changed the future in 1944

    The Nazis built it to fire missiles at London. So why have we chosen a weapon of war to celebrate our centenary?

  • Pilot ACE Computer

    The Pilot ACE Computer changed the future in 1950

    In a world where computers could only do one thing, how slow could you bear to go?

  • DNA Double Helix

    The DNA Double Helix changed the future in 1953

    Imagine how you'd feel if you thought you had discovered the secret of life...

  • Apollo 10 Capsule

    The Apollo 10 Capsule changed the future in 1969

    How far? How fast? How on Earth? Forty years later we ask: would I have been as brave?