To avoid incurring the wrath of some scholars, I wanted to add this parenthetical note (see asterisk below) to my statement about language. Hopefully, it clarifies my point a little; or, at least, focuses it.
My first candidate is "language"; specifically, our initial realization* of its creative potential, building on the intuitions of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Language is the life-force and body of communica- tion. It comprises all forms of symbolic creations, expressions and systems which we use to communicate: from the mathematical to the vernacular. Without language, every other invention and innovation may never have existed -- including humor!
My close-second candidate is E = mc2. When we learn to tap the full meaning of that piece of symbolic language, we'll create more than a Nuclear Age. "Matter is frozen energy," Einstein said, relating the essence of his insight into the mass-energy relationship. Similarly, language is frozen meaning. When we discover how to unleash the enormous energy in meaning by continually transforming information (data, ideas, knowledge, experience) in new contexts, we'll make a quantum leap in applying the power of language to achieve our boldest dreams.
* Note: Some people may choose to date our first deep realization of language's potential around the late 1700's. That's when the first scientific study of the nature and origins of language began to unfold through the systematic, comparative studies of the German scholars Friedrich Schlegel, Jakob Grimm, and Franz Bopp. Others may focus on the work of Ferdinand de Saussure whose general, descriptive method led to some basic laws that relate to all languages (about 3,000 or more now). My broad statement is meant to embrace the "makeup" of language: its symbolic nature, structures, semantics, and boundless usages. I'm not simply referring to the inventive act of classifying spoken and written languages into families, or categorizing the growth patterns of language, or charting the evolution of grammar.