To picture what life was like a mere one hundred and fifty years ago, strip away many of the creature comforts that are now a major part of the average American lifestyle—electric lightbulbs, automobiles, cornflakes, refrigerators, even indoor plumbing.

That's the thought experiment we posed to Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn, inspired by a new piece by Neil Irwin in the New York Times. Her response? Electricity, public sanitation, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, modern communication, and the internal combustion engine. 

"They had spill-over effects, all of these did," she said. 

Then, we opened up the lines and got your take. What innovations have been the most important to American history? Comment below, and to hear more from Nancy Koehn, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.