List of British inventions and discoveries

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British inventions and discoveries are objects, processes or techniques either partially or entirely invented or discovered in Britain or by a British person. Often, things that are discovered for the first time are also called "inventions" and in many cases there is no clear line between the two. Britain, where the Industrial Revolution began in the late 1700s, has a long history of invention and discovery by pioneering scientists, engineers and manufacturers.[1]

The following is a list of inventions or discoveries related to Britain or British people.

Top 10[edit]

A survey organised by EEF and conducted by YouGov in April 2014 found the top 10 British inventions are the following:[2][3]

  1. Telephone
  2. Television
  3. Jet engine
  4. Steam engine
  5. Light bulb
  6. Electric motor
  7. Cats eyes
  8. Bicycle
  9. ATM/cashpoint machine
  10. Hypodermic syringe

The Radio Times magazine produced a list of "The 50 greatest British inventions" in January 2013.[4][5]

Many of these inventions can not be claimed simply by British inventors, as is the case in many modern inventions. Alexander Graham Bell was working in America and later renounced his British Citizenship, while working on the telephone, thus Americans equally claim the invention. Similarly, the television has a complicated history, the first "widely regarded" demonstration of modern electronic television was by an American, Philo Farnsworth.[6] Others, such as German Paul Gottlieb Nipkow can lay claim to inventing parts of the mechanical television, one of the claim's that John Logie Baird makes, along with the first demonstration of a fully electronic colour television. The ATM was first patented in the USA five years prior to the British version, which was the first to be put into use.[7] The jet engine was first demonstrated by Norwegian Ægidius Elling.[8] The steam engine was first used by a Spanish man, Jerónimo de Ayanz y Beaumont.[9] The incandescent light bulb was worked on by scores of people, French, British and American, including Thomas Edison who is regarded by many (somewhat incorrectly) as being the inventor of the lightbulb. Hungarian Ányos Jedlik made the first electric motor with commutator brushes, i.e. modern direct current motors which allowed for the motor to turn more than once, without the entire motor being submerged in liquid. The list of bicycle inventors is long disputed,[10] with German Baron Karl von Drais usually being credited for the first practicable bicycle, the dandy horse.[11] Irishman Francis Rynd is also credited with inventing the first Hypodermic needle.[12]

Agriculture[edit]

Clock making[edit]

Clothing manufacturing[edit]

Communications[edit]

Computing[edit]

Criminology[edit]

Cryptography[edit]

Engineering[edit]

Household appliances[edit]

Ideas, Religion and Ethics[edit]

Industrial processes[edit]

Medicine[edit]

Military[edit]

Mining[edit]

Musical instruments[edit]

Photography[edit]

Publishing firsts[edit]

Science[edit]

Astronomy[edit]

Chemistry[edit]

Sport[edit]

Transport[edit]

Aviation[edit]

Railways[edit]

Locomotives[edit]

Other railway developments[edit]

Roads[edit]

Sea[edit]

Scientific innovations[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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