Mothers of All Inventions

The Mirror (London, England), September 22, 2001 | Go to article overview

Mothers of All Inventions


Byline: James Moore

Ever since some bright Stone Age spark had the idea for the wheel, fantastic inventions have transformed the way we live. And as the human brain can store more than a million ideas at any one time, there's never been any shortage of wild and wonderful new creations.

This week, viewers have the chance to decide the fate of three inventors in a BBC1 show called Best Inventions, presented by Katy Hill and Trevor Baylis, the man behind the clockwork radio. To coincide with this, JAMES MOORE has rounded-up ten facts about some of the world's greatest - and wackiest - inventions.

1Recent research suggests that more than 40 per cent of ideas taken up for manufacture originate in the UK. We Brits are responsible for inventions as varied as the hovercraft, invented by Sir Christopher Cockerell in 1956, to television, dreamt up by John Logie Baird. And our scientists also pioneered Viagra.

2Britain is also famed for having eccentric inventors. The bizarre creations of John Ward from Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, include a bra-warmer and a musical frying-pan. The many inventions Arthur Pedrick registered in the 1960s, included a plan to pipe snow and ice from Antarctica to Australia. Other oddities registered at the UK Patent Office include a ladder to help spiders climb out of the bath, a fart-collecting machine, and an umbrella that you can attach to your head.

3Fortunately, not all crazy ideas originate here in the UK. American Paxton Quigley came up with a combined bra and gun holster.

4Some inventions have made the masterminds behind them billionaires. In 1951, Sweden's Dr Ruben Rausing invented the Tetra Pak, which was the basis for modern milk cartons. His sons Hans and Gad then developed it. Their families are now worth pounds 6.5 billion each.

James Dyson is one of Britain's richest men, with a pounds 700million fortune, thanks to hisc bagless vacuum cleaner. He'd failed to get company backing for it, so developed it himself with just pounds 10,000. …

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