Aussie Inventions

24th of January, 2020

Aussies are an inventive lot – known for ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Some of the stuff that we have invented is truly astonishing. Here is a list of just a few ridgy didge Aussie inventions that have drastically impacted our productivity, the economy and way we live our lives…

A couple of knockabout mates

Bunnings is known for the sausage sizzle that has captivated a nation. But hidden inside in the tool section, a couple of knockabout blokes, can lay claim to have invented the weekend warriors third arm.

Photo by Bidvine from Pexels

Enter William Brian & Arthur James, the Aussies who in 1889 invented the first electric drill. Originally designed for mining applications such as drilling rock and shafts which makes perfect sense given their location and timing of their invention.

See William and Arthur were living through the era of Marvellous Melbourne and its “Gold Rush”. Victoria’s MASSIVE mining boom that of course culminated in a massive bust and the incredibly severe 1890’s depression.

William & Arthur’s original drill was large, not the sort you can pick up at Bunnings. That came later C1910 when Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker i.e. Black & Decker, developed the first electric hand-drill.  However, William & Arthur’s invention was perfect for the commercial application and revolutionised mining techniques in Australia and throughout the world.

Qantas, the flying Kangaroo

It’s only fitting that Qantas, the Australian aviation icon have been involved in some ground-breaking (pardon the pun) aviation inventions.

Jack Grant, the Operations Safety Superintendent for Qantas invented the Slide Raft. Yes, that inflatable escape slide that as a kid you always wanted to slide down (minus the crash!) was developed right here in the land of Oz.

The Slide Raft was accepted by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and British Air Registration Board and are now standard safety equipment on all major world airlines.

Not content with revolutionising the aviation industry, Jack the safety nut, went on to forever change the air-sea rescue practices worldwide with his invention of the duel-frequency beacon…

Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash

CSIRO, the invention factory

CSIRO has been involved in many revolutionary breakthroughs, but none have had as much universal impact as John O’ Sullivan’s mid 1970’s invention.

While most of the population were going to “Roller Disco Parties” and cheering on Lillee and Chappell, John and his colleagues were looking for the faint echoes of black holes.

Radio Astronomy – it was all the rage in the 70’s…. or so John thought.

As a result of John’s ground-breaking work, CSIRO has held key patents for Wi-Fi technology (WLAN) since the mid-1990s

Since there are more than five billion products incorporating this invention – including laptop computers, smartphones, games devices and consumer media products, CSIRO earned more than $450m in royalties before its patents expired in 2013.

Now CSIRO has to be content with the fact that they are hugely responsible for the time wasted watching Netflix and stupid cat videos on YouTube!

Mechanical Ice

Ben Lexcen shot to notoriety for his winged keel invention – upsetting the Yanks but I have to ask you, was it worth all the fuss?

James Harrison, is a name I almost guarantee you have never heard of but I can guarantee he has had more of an impact on your life than Ben Lexcen.

In 1854, just 3 years after the first America’s Cup (then known as the Hundred Guinea Cup) James built the first mechanical ice-making machine in Geelong, Victoria.

Being a pioneer of commercial meat exports, he wanted to prove that meat could be frozen for a long time and still remain edible.

So next time you reach into your esky for a handful of ice, think of Aussie James Harrison and the impact he’s had on the way you live your life.

Photo by Sandrene Zhang on Unsplash

Gilbert Toyne and his hard luck story

The quintessential ¼ acre Aussie block incorporates a massive back yard with a cricket pitch mowed into the lawn with a Victa Mower and that iconic Australian Totem Pole – the Hills Hoist.

The majestic Hills Hoist is thought by many to be one of the greatest inventions our country has produced. Lance Hill, a clever businessman and marketer, has made sure we all believe this.

But like many stories, its only part of the truth.

See the rotary clothesline was actually invented by a 14year old blacksmith in 1902 named Gilbert Toyne.

Gilbert started the “Aeroplane Clothes Hoist Company” and things got off to a flying start – that was until he enlisted for the first world war. After being gassed, shot at and buried alive, in 1919 he finally returned to Australia with PTS.

On his return he soon realised that he had more problems than his health. His wife had left him and his business partner had all but sent the business bankrupt.

Things never got going again for Gilbert and the opportunistic Lance Hill started building the “Hills Hoist” based upon Gilbert’s expired patient.

I first came across this sad story when we purchased a house with an original Toyne clothesline in the back yard. When it had to be removed, we donated it to the Unley Council Museum to ensure Gilbert is not completely forgotten.

Image fom Pixabay

On your Marks. Set. GO!

Australian’s have invented all sorts of stuff. Some inventors have made buckets of cash, while other not a brass razoo.

Some inventions are just so Australian they are a way of life. We have much to thank our inventive indigenous community for – men like Bobby McDonald, from Cummeragunga Mission in northern Victoria.

See long before Carl Lewis, Cathy Freeman or even Jesse Owens had taken to the track, the talented young indigenous runner in 1887 revolutionised the athletics world forever.

For it was Australian Bobby McDonald who was the first runner to ever officially begin a running race using a crouch-start. This starting position has become standard for sprint athletes with all Olympic runners now starting off blocks in the crouched position.

Like many inventions Bobby found the position by accident when he was bending over to avoid the cold wind while waiting at the starting line before the gun went off.

By using this revolutionary starting position, he immediately noticed the advantage it gave him and the sprint world was never the same again.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Lights. Camera. And Action!

Ballarat in the 1880’s was hardly the time or place that you would expect to credit an invention that would pave the way for the Kardashian culture to permeate into our lives.

Ingenious Australian inventor Henry Sutton is considered by many an equal to the inventing greats like Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

Henry was a prolific inventor who constantly dreamt up, then created all sorts of stuff including “the first battery in the world that not only stored electricity but could be recharged” says his great-granddaughter Lorayne Branch.

Another crazy invention he created was a long, tube-shaped appliance that was designed to transmit images over telegraph and telephone wires. The proud inventor called it the ‘telephane’.

Sutton was so far ahead of his time that although he used this device to transmit images from the Melbourne Cup along telegraph wires to Ballarat in 1885, the pictures were faint and scratchy due to the primitive infrastructure, but the concept did in fact work.

This futuristic gadget would go on to form the basis of the first TV.

Sutton’s paper on the telephane was published widely in 1887 and again in 1910 but he never patented the device allowing Scotsman, John Logie Bard in the 1920’s to invent the first TV.

We are currently living through a technological boom. Where the speed of development is occurring at a prodigious pace. Sometimes the inventions and commercialisation of them happens so rapidly and our adoption of them so lightning fast that we forget the impact they have on the economy and our productivity.

These technological improvements WILL be reflected in the price of land. Further they will impact on the Cycle and how and where credit is created.

Australia has been the home of many a world first invention. The note pad, stainless steel braces, plastic wine casks, the baby capsule, black box flight recorder, spray-on skin, the pacemaker, the first military tank, Aerogard, the first feature film and of course Ugg Boots!

ALL of these and many, many other inventions have impacted on our Productivity, Profitability and hence influenced the price of land.

Each cycle is Same, Same – it is just that we are inventing different stuff now. Think of the future 5G and the IoT but it is clear how the inventions influence our investment decision making due to the impact they have on our productivity and hence profitability that all must end up flowing through to the land price.

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