I is for Inventions

Posted April 10, 2014 in A-Z Challenge / 1 Comment

Today I’m continuing with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. The aim is to write a post for every day of the month except for Sundays, with each post representing a different letter of the alphabet. This year I’m doing an A-Z of Great Britain, covering as much as I can about British music, literature, TV and film, food, wildlife and culture.

For the letter ‘I’ I have chosen Inventions, so I’m going to talk about some of the things that were believed to  have been invented in Britain. There are too many inventions to write a comprehensive list, for that see Wikipedia.

Science, Medicine and Engineering

Edward Jenner, reported to have
invented the Smallpox vaccine.
[Public domain image]

British scientists were responsible for inventing modern atomic theory (John Dalton), cell biology and the compound microscope (Robert Hooke). They pioneered many modern medical operations (blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants, stem cell transplants and hip replacements). They also invented the Smallpox vaccine (Edward Jenner) and general anaesthetic (James Young Simpson and John Snow). Penicillin, the base of many medicines, was also invented in Britain by Sir Alexander Fleming.

Transport developments such as the turbojet engine, the glider, the first steam locomotive and the first commericial airliner are also British inventions. They were also responsible for commercial developments such as the first working steam pump (Thomas Saint in 1790) and the steam turbine (Charles Algernon Parsons).
Modern technology such as DNA fingerprinting (Sir Alex Jeffreys) and iris recognition (John Daugman) were also invented in Britain. And you can blame Sir Isaac Newton for inventing Calculus! 

Household Goods and Appliances

Many of the things I can’t live without today (flushing toilets, light switches and the chocolate bar) were invented in Britain. Appliances like the bagless vacuum cleaner (James Dyson), the refrigerator (William Cullen) and electric toaster (Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton) were also invented here. Not to mention household goods like postage stamps, Christmas and Valentines’ Cards, pencils, sandwiches, gravy, baby prams, tin cans, rubber bands, Thermos flasks, the typewriter, magnifying glasses, corkscrews and lawn mowers!

Electronics and Communications

Alexander Graham Bell, believed to  
have invented the telephone
[public domain image].

British inventors are responsible for some of the most important developments in communications-the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell), radio (David E.. Hughes) and television (John Logie Baird,1926). Sir Charles Babbage and Alan Turing are also reported to have invented the first computers and programming languages, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. 

The SMS message (Neil Papworth, 1992), ATM machines and PIN numbers (James Goodfellow), the first laptop computer (Bill Moggridge, 1979) and the microchip (Geoffrey W. A Drummer) are also British inventions.


Britain was responsible for inventing the tank, the fighter aircraft, the shrapnel shell (Henry Shrapnel), the Drednought battleship, the bouncing bomb (Barnes Wallis), stun grenades, radar (Robert Watson Watt), the torpedo (Robert Whitehead) and the first sniper rifle (Sir Joseph Whitworth). 
Whether these inventions are to be celebrated or deplored is debatable! We’ve certainly got our fair share of blood on our hands.

Cultural Inventions

Football (known as Soccer in the US)
and postage stamps were both invented
in Great Britain.

Britain invented musical instruments such as the concertina (Charles Wheatstone) and the theatre organ (Robert Hope-Jones). Cinematography (William Friese-Greene), the motion picture camera (William Kennedy Laurie Dickson), the first colour photograph (James Clerk Maxwell) and the first movie projector (Eadweard Muybridge) also originated in Britain.

Britain was also responsible for inventing many sports that are now played worldwide such as: Football/Soccer, Rugby (William Webb Ellis), Cricket, Tennis, Boxing, Golf, Baseball, Billiards, Badminton, Darts, Table-tennis, Snooker, Ping-pong, Bowls, Hockey, Netball, Rounders, Thoroughbred horse-racing, Polo and rock climbing!
Religions and organisations such as the Anglican church (King Henry VIII), the Methodist church (John and Charles Wesley), the Salvation Army and the Quakers (George Fox) were also founded by British citizens, as were groups like the Scouts and Girl Guides.
I was surprised by the huge quantity of British inventions that have greatly effected our modern lives. We haven’t done badly for a small island.
What British invention could you not live without? What are the best inventions from your own country?

Tags: , ,


One response to “I is for Inventions

  1. I think that the flushing toilet gets my vote. When I was growing up my Nanna still had one of the outside toilets..thunder boxes we call them in Australia..and I hated having to use it.
    Interesting post. Thank you for sharing.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.