Concepts of Technology

Concepts of Technology

Research from the following sources:

Introduction to Technology McGraw-Hill Companies c2010

Used only in classroom to Supplement Text

Section 1

Technology Past and Present

What would you need to create technology?

Technology requires knowledge, skill, raw materials, tools, and energy to create products and services. People today use the same resources used in ancient days to develop new technology. Our ancestors knew very little about technology* . However, they were able to use their limited*  knowledge and their hands to form raw materials like stones into useful tools. Their tools were simple by our standards. Our technology will probably seem simple to people of the 23rd century

In ancient times technology allowed humans to survive. Early weapons made people the hunters instead of the hunted. By the 1600's, telescopes and microscopes allowed people to see what was once invisible. Today communication technology allows us to hear over great distances by using telephones and satellites. Computers give us the ability to recall details and solve problems in seconds.

To create new technology today, people use the same resources that they used long ago. A resource is something that gives help to or aids a system. The seven technological resources include:

People and Technology

Why must technology be created by people?

All past and present technology was developed by people who used their creativity and imaginations to find new solutions to existing problems. Machines in the future might design and create new technology without human intervention. Until then people will remain necessary for the development of new technology. However, robots can perform repetitive jobs.

Can you define the term skill? Skill is an ability you develop when you combine knowledge and practice in order to perform an activity well. Our ancient ancestors developed the necessary skills to convert their ideas into real products, systems, or processes. The skills that they developed in the past continue to be the foundation for the skills that you will develop in the future.

People have learned to create new tools and pass their inventions on to future generations. Each generation can benefit from the accomplishments of the past.


Old News The first generation cell phones are already out of date. What two features found on new cell phones [like the one above], were not available when the first cell phones were sold?

People are also the users of the products that their technology has built. Between the designer and the user, there are many jobs performed by people. People built the tools and machines, set up the factories, run the machines, and package and ship the products. Other people work in the service area of technology. They sell, install, and repair these products.


Why do we need information to create technology?

Information can lead to the knowledge, learning, scholarship, understanding, and wisdom needed to create technology. We use information, skill, and natural resources to meet our needs and wants. If a chimpanzee takes a branch [natural resource] and moves an object into its reach [skill], it is using technology to get food [need].

When our early ancestors used a stick to gather food, they used elementary technology similar to that used by a chimp. This basic tool was refined by each generation and passed down to us. People learned [gained knowledge] that a stone attached to the stick improved its performance. Others learned that the reaching stick  could also be used as a weapon.


Tech Savy The technological world needs skilled people to create components for technology, such as these computer chips. Can skilled workers who perform a repetitive job be replaced by robots?

Tools and Machines

Why are tools and machines needed to develop technology?

People consider all  devices that help them perform their jobs as 'tools of the trade'. A tool  is a device that increases our ability to do work. If learning is your work, then pens, pencils, and books are your tools.

Primary Tools

The first tools [probably] were handheld tools and muscle-powered tools. These primary tools are basic handheld tools that increase a person's ability to hold, cut, drill, bend, and hammer materials. People used these early mechanical tools to construct things that met human wants and needs at that time. These primary tools were also used to make other tools. Without these tools, more complex technology would never have developed.


Machines are often referred to as tools. A machine is a tool with a power system that takes advantage of certain scientific laws that make the tool work better. All mechanical power systems use one or more of the six simple machines to change direction, speed, or force. Complex machines can use a combination of the simple machines.

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1. Wheel and Axle The best known simple machine is the wheel. It is round and connected to an axle, which is the center shaft. Gears and cams are related to the wheel and axle. The gear is a wheel with teeth around its circumference, or outer rim. The teeth allow gears to mesh [fit together] without any chance of slipping. Your bicycle has a gear that you turn by pushing your feet on the pedals. This gear meshes with the chain that meshes with the gear that drives your rear wheel. The cam uses the principle of the wheel with the principle of the inclined plane. Most cams look like wheels that are not perfectly round.


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2. Pulley The pulley uses the principle of the wheel in combination with a rope or chain to lift heavy objects. In a one-pulley system, the full weight of the object can be lifted by pulling the rope. In a two-pulley system, the object feels as if it weighs one-half its actual weight.

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3. Lever The lever is a bar that turns on a fixed point and allows you to lift something that is heavy. You have probably 'played' on a 'seesaw'. This playground toy consist of a long board that is fastened securely at its middle so each end can move up and down. If a heavier person sat closer to the middle of the board, a lighter person could easily pick up that person by sitting on one end of the seesaw.

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4. Inclined Plane The inclined plane is a ramp, or angled board, that makes it easier to raise things by rolling them uphill. Cars driving into parking garages move along an inclined plane upward to the next level of the garage.


5. Wedge The wedge is a small inclined plane used to spread things apart. It's shape transforms downward movement into a force that separates things. The axe is a wedge on a stick. Scissors are two wedges joined together. The plow is one of the most important wedge-shaped tools.


6. Screw The screw is actually an inclined plane that runs around a metal rod. Notice how a ramp in a parking garage looks like a giant screw [see picture 10 above].

Not all machines have mechanical power systems. Some machines use electronic power systems. The computer is an electronic machine. Its power transfer system has no moving parts. It works by pushing electrons through a conducting material. Other machines are biological. You are a perfect example of a biological machine. Today scientists are turning cells into machines that can manufacture chemicals.

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Dr. Fujio Masuoka

Inventor of Flash Memory

Dr. Fujio Masuoka invented flash memory technology in 1984 while working at Toshiba in Japan. Flash memory uses small flash chips to store information in many types of electronics - computers, cell phones, automobiles, and MP3 players. Flash memory is considered the most important semiconductor innovation of its time.

Masuoka invented a product worth more than $76 billion. However, because he invented flash memory while working for Toshiba, he did not own the patent.

A Flash Flash Masuoka left Toshiba in 1994 and became a college professor. In 2004, he sued Toshiba and won a settlement worth more than $750,000. Masuoka is still inventing, working on a semiconductor that could increase the speed of a flash chip. Masuoka is also securing his invention with the U.S. Patent Office.


Capital and Technology

Why do inventors need capital for technology?

Capital is money, credit, or property - or accumulated wealth. At the dawn of technology, inventors probably created their tools without financial help from others. They did not need capital.

However, later inventors could not get all of the necessary tools and materials without financial assistance. To trade for or purchase tools, materials and labor, they had to use some form of capital. The importance of capital for inventing grew over time. Capital from investors and companies can buy resources. Today a team approach is used to develop most new ideas. Corporations hire experts and obtain materials, tools, information, and skilled and creative people to develop useful products.

However, spending great sums of money does not guarantee success. An independent inventor might create the next invention that will become a multibillion-dollar business.

Time and Technology

How does time affect the development of technology?

Everything takes time to develop. Also, people are paid for the time that they work. Products developed by human labor are usually more expensive than products made by machines. Most food recipes require the mixing, stirring, heating or cooling of the contents for a specific amount of time. Whether you are making a cake, building a car, or designing a new product, results will take shape over time.

Materials and Technology

Could we develop technology without materials?

Materials are needed to create the products and processes of technology. People create new materials by combining, or refining natural resources in ways not done by nature. Material resources can be classified according to how they were formed. Materials can be raw, processed, manufactured, or synthetic.

Energy and Technology

Why must we use energy to create technology?

After a hard workout playing sports, you might feel that you have run out of energy. Your muscles use a great deal of energy to perform the tasks you do daily. Even when you are at rest, you use energy to breathe, think, and pump blood through your body.

Energy is also the source of power that runs our technological systems. There are many sources of energy. These sources may be natural or synthetic.


Section Assessment

  1. Name seven resources to create new technology.
  2. Explain why people need skills and imagination to create new technology.
  3. Identify the six simple machines.
  4. Describe how we might differ from early humans.

Skill Enhancement

Build an object using either raw materials, processed materials, manufactured materials, or synthetic materials. Write a step-by-step instruction page on how you made the object. [Plumber's Pipe Cross-flute works well here]

  Critical Thinking

Danielle is moving into her new apartment. She places heavy things on a cart so she can wheel them into the building using the ramp at the entrance. The ramp is 12 feet long, 5 feet high. What distance will Danielle cover when pushing the cart on the ramp?


When you are doing geometric calculation be sure to use the correct formulas.

  1. To help determine a solution, draw a picture.
  2. Use the Pythagorean equation [see using right triangles above] to determine the unknown length of a side of a triangle.



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What is a Skill?

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