Over the last 50 years, there have been projects that have shaped or changed the landscape of their sectors so dramatically that it could essentially be considered a paradigm shift. From technology, to healthcare, to entertainment; these projects were fundamental to how we approach their respective sectors and industries today.
Recently, the Project Management Institute (PMI), a non-profit organisation based in the US that works around the world to improve organisational success and further mature the project management profession; has announced a list of the top 50 most notable and influential projects of the past 50 years.
We have summarised the list down to the top 10 projects here. If you are interested in the full list, you can find it here.
- Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Buried deep inside the snow mountains of Norway, the Svalbard Seed Vault, affectionately known as the Doomsday Vault, was built to safeguard the world’s food inventory. It is probably the world’s most important insurance policy, safely housing nearly 1 million seed samples considered essential for human civilisation.
In the early 2000s, financial institutions in Kenya were scarce and the population was largely unbanked. So people began using the prepaid airtime minutes on their mobile phones as a form of currency: They traded minutes on calling cards for cash or goods and services. These informal exchanges caught the attention of Vodafone, who saw an opportunity to build a cashless money transfer platform using mobile phones.
- Live Aid
Starting as a simple fundraising effort by musicians to donate money to the starving millions of famine-struck Ethiopia, the mega-event that came to be known as Live Aid, eventually grew to become the template for celebrity fundraising events for decades to follow.
The Prius provided a roadmap for mass-produced, eco-friendly cars for the 21st century, igniting the hybrid vehicle push of the early 2000s and sparking an industry transition to full-fledged electric vehicles. The Prius’ has a troubled development, but ingenuity and perseverance allowed the vehicle to make a spectacular trailblazing debut in 1997.
- Singles Day
Starting as a mundane alternative to Valentines Day among students at Nanjing University in 1990, Singles Day is celebrated on 11 November every year. When, e-commerce giant Alibaba jumped on the idea in 2009, the move paid-off big time. Singles Day is now the largest e-commerce day in the world, with gross merchandise volume that exceeds Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
- Human Genome Project
The Human Genome Project was an international scientific research project with the goal of finding out what made up the human DNA. It remains the world’s largest collaborative biological project. Just three years after beginning, the project team declared it had successfully sequenced the entire genome—two years ahead of schedule and roughly US$300 million under budget.
It could have easily gone downhill into fiscal chaos, but instead, the rollout of the euro on 1 January 2002 happened without so much of a hiccup. Nearly 65 years after World War II ripped apart Europe, The European Central Bank’s euro implementation marked the biggest currency changeover in history. Despite the grand scope, more than half of cash payments and 99 percent of ATMs had converted to euros within just five days.
- Intel 4004
The very first computer was large enough to fill an entire room. However, something the size of a fingernail was able to fit all that power in people’s hands. The predecessor to smaller, stronger, cheaper microchips, the 4004 showed it was possible to put all of a computer’s processing onto a tiny slice of silicon.
2. Apollo 11
It was one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. The world watched in awe and disbelief on 20 July 1969 as Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. Apollo 11 was as much an achievement in planning and coordination as it was a hallmark in human history.
- World Wide Web
It would be the project that changed life as we know it. The World Wide Web project in 1989 single-handedly revolutionised how we live, work, think and play. It democratised information (for better or worse). It unleashed unprecedented economic opportunities and reshaped entire business sectors. It rewired our brains, altered memories, formed real global communities, streamlined information, and provided us with millions of adorable cat videos.