Humans have built and operated ships since antiquity. The ancient Egyptians were the first to build ships much larger than boats — they built the first warships and cargo ships, which were powered by oars and sails. Over the centuries, innovations yielded more ship designs and builds, more precise and accurate navigation, and better travel speed and agility. In 1809, Robert Fuller obtained a patent for the first practical steam boat, setting a precedent for fuel-powered ships. Today, a wide assortment of ships exist globally, from simple cruise liners to floating whaling factories.
The practice of shipping cargo is also ancient. Seafaring peoples have explored faraway lands, traded goods with foreigners, and imported goods back home since the first ships set sail. Ocean shipping remained largely unchanged until 1956, when the advent of shipping containers drastically increased transport efficiency while reducing costs. Today, the shipping industry is a streamlined, globalized and prolific business that has greatly stimulated global trade, incorporating not just ships, but also trains, trucks, airplanes and other vehicles. (Photo: Shutterstock)