The evolution of aviation in the world has been a long story which started probably from legends that was made into reality until the 17th century.
The early known aviation was the story of Icarus in Greece that uses bird wings to fly and the winged-horse Pegasus. The earliest recorded bird-like flying attempt was on 825 A.D. where a man attached two vulture wings in his hands and jumped in a tower.
Balloon - The use of balloon historically started on the 3rd century. However the first successful man-carrying balloon started on the 18th century where the hot-air balloons were discovered.
In 1485, Leonardo da Vinci proposed several proposed drawing on how human can fly. Unfortunately none of his drawings were made into reality. It was believed that the creation of modern helicopters was paralleled to one of da Vinci's drawing, The Ornithopter.
Kite - the discovery of kite and its aviation process was approximately noted during the 5th-7th century. it was believed that the early Chinese have developed the man-carrying kite that they used for military works and punishment.
George Clayley proposed the machinery of gliders.
In 1891, Otto Lilienthal proposed how the glider can actually fly. Some of his experiments actually made him fly however it was not successful when there are stronger winds. On the same year, Samuel P. Langley made a fuel-powered aerodrome that was successful to lift him. However, he failed to make another design that is bigger.
Approximately 10 years later, the Wright brothers developed the first sustained flight with a aircraft. It was believed that they were inspired from the designs of Lilienthal. They revolutionized the transformation of aircraft science until the later generations was able to perfect the science of aerodynamics.
The beginings of any concept are hard to trace back to a single origin. If you would like to define the begining of aviation as man's desire to fly, it goes back to the beginings of our species. But if we were to be a little more specific and approach the begining as man's first designs and attempts at flying machines then Leonardo Davinci must be mentioned. His plans for helicopters and other flying machines were some the earliest of the kind. The above answers provide a nice overview of what came after aviation's early conceptions.
The history of aviation is quite extensive, but I'll try my best to make a brief summary.
The Wright Brothers in 1903, made a machine that could fly with the pilot on board. It was the first form of a plane, and showed the potential of aviation.
Later on, they started to industrialize the plane, and started to equip it with artillery, and it was used in World War I for the first time.
Planes started to be commercialized, and used to help people as a means of transportation. Much more quicker than a boat, and started to become more reliable.
Today, planes are very advanced compared to the first aircraft. Many people of died in order to be able to advance in technology. Our commercial planes are bigger and better, and our military aircraft are much more suited for warfare than before. It is amazing how only a little over than 100 years ago, the first plane was made, and now, planes are so advanced.