The history of transportation goes back to the pre-historic ages when man learned to live in groups and traveled extensively in search of food and shelter. The pre-historic transportation mostly consisted of walking and swimming (when required). Gradually, man learned to use animals to carry himself, as well as his belongings. Use of animals as a means of conveyance was revolutionized by the invention of the wheel, which can be given the credit for changing the whole concept of it.
With time, man wanted speed as well as capacity in his transit. This need, as well as man's curious nature, subsequently led to the invention of various machines, like steam engines and aircrafts. The evolution of transportation can be broadly divided into 4 categories based on their medium.
Transportation by road is probably the oldest mode of travel. As early as the prehistoric times, man knew how to walk, both on twos and fours. After the invention of wheels, road transport revolutionized in a big way. Roads were first constructed by Romans in order to enable the armies to travel faster. They made the use of wheels very comfortable, which was otherwise inconvenient and uncomfortable on rugged surfaces. When it came to ice, land transport has always consisted of only and only sledges. Initially, sledges were pulled by animals, but with the advent of machines, animals were relieved of this burden. Still, animals are widely used in many places.
Coming back to roads, man kept inventing means that would speed up the process, giving birth to machines like bicycles, buggies, and cars and various machinery using engines. Road conveyance was very slow and costly till the industrial revolution. The invention of engines in this time period (steam and fuel) subsequently led to inventions of vehicles of different capacities and speeds. So today, we have cars, trucks, buses, bikes, and many more machines that help us travel and transport faster and more efficiently.
Historically, water transportation became very important because of man's tendency to settle down around water bodies. Important cities were established along the banks of rivers and shores of oceans in order to make sure that the civilization never ran out of both, food and water. Transportation actually came into picture when man discovered his business skills, and when his greed to conquer and rule grew. Some people traveled to learn, while some traveled to fight. Both ways, human beings had to find means of conveyance on water.
Initially, boats were constructed by tying bamboo shafts together. But this was a very basic invention and came handy when traveling for short distances. With the passing time and rising need, man learned to create bigger boats that used manpower or winds for propagation. Man is known to have traveled far and wide using boats and ships. Wars on seas have been reported as old as 30 BCE. The invention of engines revolutionized this mode as greatly as any other mode of transport.
These days, huge ships travel the lengths of oceans in the form of either the naval forces of a country or the luxurious cruise ships, a style statement for the rich and famous. They are unsinkable cities that are propelled by huge engines on the water surface. This is, however, a slow mode of conveyance these days as compared to many others that have come into picture. But who wants to hurry up when you are inside a five star cruise which is as good as a complete city with no flaws at all?
The usage of rails for the purpose of transportation started around 500 years ago. Initially, it consisted of man or horse power, and sometimes also of rails made of wood. The modern railway system finds its origin in England in the early 1800s. Historically, it was known as a wagon way, and its traces have been found as early as 600 BCE in Greece. The Greek system also used wagons that were pulled by either men or animals on the grooves made in limestone. Making of grooves on flat surfaces made the wagons follow a particular path, without being manually directed to do so. In their initial days, they were only 6-9 km long. There are discoveries that indicate their use in the Roman empire also.
As the centuries passed, man invented various machines that helped the growth of railways indirectly. For example, the invention of steam engine gave rail travel a new meaning, and remained an astounding invention of the century that was upgraded only in late 1900s by the fuel engine. Railways these days form the backbone of the economy of any country. They are a very fast and economic way of travel, as well as transport, over huge distances.
Air Transport and Space Travel
Man has always been a very curious and revolting child of God. He has always wanted to possess things he doesn't have. This characteristic invariably gave way to many inventions that have made (and will continue making) our lives easier and luxurious every day. One of the most revolutionizing invention of the history of mankind is the airplane. It was invented by the Wright brothers of Ohio in 1903. Since its invention, it has been modified and glorified into the fastest known mode of conveyance and travel.
A man can now think of traveling thousands of miles in just a few hours. This would have sounded like a wild dream a few centuries ago, but man's curiosity and willingness have made it a reality. Inventions and discoveries of fuels, that are efficient both in terms of money and usage, have given man easy accessibility to this mode of transport. Nowadays, even a common man can dream of getting aboard an airplane.
These days, air transport is not only being used to connect two places on Earth, but it is also being used in connecting two random places in the Universe. The inventions and discoveries have led man to travel to the moon and learn about it. Hence, the most speculated phenomenon since ages is no longer a mystery, thanks to the Jet Age, or shall we say the Space Age.
Transportation is one of the very initial processes that man started, and its history cannot be dated back to an exact time period. But, we can easily assume that it has existed since man wanted to move around and explore. So, one can guess how old this process is and one can also be sure how long this process will go on. It can be easily concluded that the process of transportation is as old as man himself and will remain till he exists on the face of the Earth.