An amazing discovery or a huge amount of progress can be called a breakthrough. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 was a breakthrough for modern medicine.
A personal breakthrough might be overcoming your fear of spiders once and for all. A bigger breakthrough, one that affects many people, is the invention of indoor plumbing. There's a sense of suddenness and drama associated with most breakthroughs. The word started out with a military meaning of literally "breaking through a barrier" in 1918. By the 1930s, it came to have the second meaning of "abrupt solution."