For thousands of years, the Chinese were isolated in Asia and came up with their own way of doing things. Now that their work has spread, modern man will use at least one Chinese invention in their lifetime. You'll be surprised to realize that you probably use one every single day!
The planet has a magnetic field that makes magnetic north very easy to find. The Chinese harnessed this principle and invented the first compass in the 11th century. It found magnetic north and showed what direction the traveler was headed.
The superstitious Chinese wanted a way to frighten evil spirits and bring good luck. They took their invention of gunpowder and made small rockets. Since then, fireworks became much more elaborate and "pyrotechnitians" or fire-works makers, got a place in Chinese society.
Paper was invented by Cai Lun in 105 AD. He created durable paper by pressing hemp, tree bark, rags and bamboo. By the time the first European paper mill was founded in 1009 AD, the Chinese had been using paper for 900 years. Bamboo paper is still a favorite for calligraphy artists today.
The Chinese were the first people to combine carbon and iron to make steel. They've been making it since the first century BC in blast furnaces powered by the Asian monsoon winds. Since steel is so durable and strong, they used their invention to craft swords and weapons.