Although the lawn mower was not a new invention, its technology was revolutionised in 1952 by Mervyn Victor Richardson. He invented and eventually patented the rotary action blades designed to cut long thick grass in his lightweight, petrol-powered version. Victa Mowers Pty Ltd opened for business in 1953. By 2011, more than eight million mowers had been sold. This backyard inventor transformed the concept of the Aussie backyard, by making a tidy lawn achievable for a mass market.
A true icon of Australian suburbia, but one that should rightly be called the Toyne's Hoist! Committed to his invention throughout war and personal tragedy, Gilbert Toyne patented the enduing design, manufactured and marketed it decades before Lawrence Hill's hoist arrived. Toyne's legacy was to invent one of the most practical, labour-saving devices to grace Australian backyards in 20th century - his galvanised-metal, rotary clothes hoist.
The toilet really came into its own in the 20th century, making it the most important fixture in our homes. Now, the dual flush toilet saves up to 67 percent water per flush. It's the handy work of Bruce Thompson and colleague Steve Cummings, who invented the system, with the help of a government grant, while working for bathroom product company Caroma.
Graeme Clark's bionic ear (or cochlear implant) is a neural prosthesis designed to produce hearing sensations by electrically stimulating nerves inside the inner ear of profoundly deaf patients. It consists of a receiver-stimulator that is surgically placed under the patient's skin behind the ear, and an external sound processor that sits behind the ear, similar to a hearing aid.
John O'Sullivan and his CSIRO team developed wi-fi in 1992. Wi-fi is a way of getting broadband internet to a device using wireless transmitters and radio signals. Once a transmitter receives data from the internet, it converts that data into a radio signal that can be received and read by wi-fi enabled devices. Information is then exchanged between the transmitter and the device.
Since 1680 in Britain, and adopted in Australia just over a century later, the postal system was post-paid. That meant, the recipient paid for the letter. The system was expensive and vulnerable to fraud. James Raymond, colonial postmaster-general of NewSouth Wales, introduced the world's first pre-paid postal system selling envelopes marked with the post office's stamp for use throughout Sydney.
With the increasing threat of Nazi invasion in World War II, Adelaide-born scientist, Howard Florey, and his team of medical researchers at the University of Oxford, invented a way to extract penicillin from mould and transform it into medical penicillin, which could treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. Florey and his team were awarded a Nobel Prize for creating a "miracle drug", which treated military personnel during the war and which was later manufactured on a large scale for civili
William Scurry, a Melbourne-born architectural modeller, invented the drip rifle to aid the Gallipoli evacuation. The invention created the illusion of manned trenches by popping shots out from the trenches during the critical final stage of the Anzac's evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsular. The drip rifle is an impressive example of Anzac ingenuity and resourcefulness.
While thousands of service men and women have been killed in action, many more have been wounded in war, requiring treatment for months or years after the end of the conflict. A stretcher on a sledge, on wheels, Alexander Worsfold's versatile invention, the Transporter, is reported to have been the only invention developed on the Australian home front that was adopted on the battlefront of World War I.
After Lewis Brandt at Ford Australia in Melbourne received a letter from a farmer's wife that she wanted a vehicle to, "take her to church on Sundays and pigs to market on Monday", Lew took on the challenge. He designed a vehicle that could serve these two purposes. After the Great Depression when funds for the average Australian were scarce, a two-in-one vehicle was incredibly useful.
When clearing mallee stump for agricultural crop land was proving to be a challenge, Richard Smith came up with the solution to the formidable problem of how to plough such impenetrable land. The stump-jump plough is one of the inventions that enabled the development of Australia's wheat belt, from WA, across to Victoria and into NSW.
From the harsh outback to warzone frontlines and Olympic champion podiums, the Akubra hat has adorned Australian heads for over a century both here at home and around the world. The Akubra success lies in the efforts of hat maker Benjamin Dunkerley and his ingenious fur dressing invention. Dunkerley's partnership with Stephen Keir built the Akubra empire that continues today.
Psychiatrist John Cade's use of lithium to treat patients with bipolar disorder has had an enormous impact on the lives of millions of people worldwide. A former prisoner of war, Dr Cade was uniquely equipped to empathise with the lives of those he was treating. His discovery ranks as one of the great turning points in the history of medicine.
Fiona Wood changed the lives of burn victims across the world by developing a spray-on skin using the patient's own skin cells. The invention reduced scarring and recovery time, as well as the amount of healthy skin needed for a donor site. This means those with burns across a large part of their body can be treated much faster and safer. The invention came to prominence following its use by Western Australian medical teams following the 2002 Bali Bombings.
Early in the 19th Century, before equipment and practices to prevent the spread of bacteria in hospitals, approximately 50 percent of patients died from surgery and many women died during childbirth from infection. In 1946, Eric Ansell invented the first automated glove-dipping machine. His son, Harvey, later developed the process further to make perfectly sterile and disposable gloves for the medical industry.
After coming to Australia as a newspaper printer, journalist and later founding editor of the Geelong Advertiser, Scottish-born James Harrison invented one of the most significant inventions of the 19th century: mechanical refrigeration by way of the commercial ice-maker. The impact of his invention on extending the life of food eventually opened up global food industries, while changing global diets and food cultures. This is not even factoring in the impact keeping things chilled has had on ot
Following the success of James Harrison’s commercial ice-maker in Victoria during the 1850s, engineer Eugene Nicolle and wealthy businessman Thomas Stucliffe Mort teamed up in Sydney to make further progress in refrigeration. Their feat: building the world’s first freezer works. In doing so, the duo invented the first process for preserving food by artificially freezing it. However, despite their achievement, they would still need to allay public fears by proving the food remained delicious once
This simple invention takes its name from the Western Australian gold-mining town where it was invented in the 1890s by clever miner Arthur McCormick. He designed a simple cool box that worked on the principle of evaporative cooling. With a light breeze, hessian covering and a little water, food could be kept a few degrees cooler than the outside temperature. These safes were often found on verandahs before the widespread introduction of domestic refrigerators in the mid-20th century.
Immediately after an air disaster, the first thing investigators search for is the black box. With his father, a reverend, dying in an air crash over the Bass Strait in 1934, it is easy to see why Dr David Warren invented the first black box to combine a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder in 1957. Now widely accepted and used worldwide, it helps solve the mystery of what happened during a plane crash. However, more importantly, it helps to prevent similar
Lawrence Hargrave became the first-ever person to be lifted off the ground by a heavier than air device in a vertical take-off. Using a strong gust of air to propel him into the sky, Hargrave made aeronautical history by lifting himself four metres above the ground - providing aviation with an essential element for powered flight: a stable wing surface that provided lift. Consequently, all early aeroplanes adopted Hargrave’s design, making him one of the most influential pioneers in aviation his
The boomerang is one of Australia's unique emblems and humanity's first heavier-than-air flying machine. Its aerofoil design wings prove that Indigenous Australians understood the physics of aerodynamics at least 20,000 - possibly even 60,000 - years before the field of aeronautical engineering was established. Its returning spin is achieved by one wing moving faster than the other, known now as gyroscopic precession.
William Henry Bragg and his son, William Lawrence Bragg, were the pioneering scientists who invented X-ray crystallography. It was William Lawrence who developed Bragg's Law, which - when combined with his father's newly-invented spectrometer - enabled scientists for the first time to observe the atomic structure of our physical world. The Nobel Prize-winning father and son team radically changed the world, with their invention paving the way for new discoveries in chemistry, space exploration a
Inspired to make a movie about bushranger Ned Kelly, Charles Tait, his brothers and collaborators set out to produce a fictional narrative film comprising five reels - unheard of in 1906. They released 'The Story of the Kelly Gang', which at about 60 minutes in duration was the first example of what we now understand to be a feature film.
Some fingerprints are visible to the eye and easy to detect. But latent fingerprints are invisible to the naked eye. In the 1980s, the Australian Federal Police and Australian National University engaged Milutin Stoilovic, a physicist specialising in fluorescence, to solve the problem. Dr Stoilovic invented the Polilight: a ground-breaking technology that brought a whole new dimension to forensic crime scene investigation through the collection of fingerprints.
The surprising stories behind four helpful household inventions to improve home life: Gilbert Toyne created an Aussie backyard icon - the rotary clothes hoist - only to have it made famous by someone else. Myra Taylor improved women's lives with her boneless corset leaving a legacy of freedom we still enjoy today. Mervyn Richardson forever changed the suburban landscape with his Victa lawnmower, while Dr Steve Cummings and Bruce Thompson achieved huge water savings around the world with the dual-flush toilet.
Australian inventors have boldly re-imagined communication across the spectrum of technologies: Graeme Clark's extraordinary bionic ear delivered deaf patients the sound of speech; John O'Sullivan and his CSIRO team created the world's first high-speed wi-fi that dramatically changed the communication landscape worldwide; Henry Sutton's visionary Telephane was designed in Ballarat decades before the television; and post-master James Raymond established the world's first pre-paid postage system in Sydney in 1838 with his delightfully simple pre-paid envelope.
The fires of war become the forges of Australian invention. William Scurry invented a decoy drip rifle to help Anzacs safely evacuate from Gallipoli. Alexander Worsfold built his all-terrain transporter to hurry injured soldiers to field hospitals on the Western Front. Adelaide-born Howard Florey and his team developed the wonder drug penicillin that was first deployed amongst infected allied soldiers during World War II. And from Wollongong, Evelyn Owen's submachine gun out-performed its competitors and become known as 'the diggers' darling'.
The push for smarter farming is at the core of Australia's tough agricultural history. Richard and Clarence Smith quarrelled over who was the true inventor, but their stump-jump plough improved the economic prospects of farmers working difficult terrain. Frederic Wolseley's mechanical shears eventually won over the shearers and transformed the wool industry. Lew Bandt designed the ute for farmers needing a comfortable working vehicle, and Benjamin Dunkerley invented a fur-cutting machine that led to the iconic Akubra.
Four great medicos and mavericks risked their careers testing these ground-breaking medical inventions. Psychiatrist Dr Joh Cade discovered the psychological effects of Lithium on his bipolar patients after first testing its toxicity on himself. Dr Mark Lidwill worked in secrecy on the world's first pacemaker following his experiments on the hearts of recently deceased patients. Professor Fiona Wood developed a process to help severe burns victims recover quickly with spray-on skin, and the Ansells helped fight infection with their disposable medical gloves.
Food preservation has been a major challenge throughout Australia's history. In Victoria James Harrison invented a process of refrigeration that could make artificial ice on a commercial scale. In New South Wales, Thomas Mort and Eugene Nicolle, adapted and improved on Harrison's technology to build the world's first freezer works to produce artificially frozen food. In Western Australian Arthur McCormick came up with the Coolgardie food safe that ran on evaporative cooling, and in South Australia Tom Angove invented the wine cask.
The Inventors who got us airborne typify tenacity and perseverance. Lawrence Hargrave, who was ridiculed for his box kites, laid the foundation for all modern aviation. David Warren's black box helped make flying the safest form of transport, but he faced staunch resistance getting it off the ground. Jack Grant persisted for 10 years to get his lifesaving slide-raft into planes. While it took 60,000 years for the inventors of the returnable boomerang to receive recognition for their aeronautical achievements.
Four Australian inventions that transformed how we see the world around us, and what we know about it. William and Lawrence Bragg invented X-ray crystallography to reveal the atomic structure of crystals. Milutin Stoilovic and colleagues at the Australian National University worked with Federal Police to create a forensic lamp, the Polilight, which could detect latent finger prints. Charles Tait created the world's first feature film with the help of his family, and William Beech invented the periscope rifle in the trenches of Gallipoli.
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