Monday, February 27, 2012

Who Knew? A Wee List of Scottish Inventions

By TL Sumner
A few days ago, while listening to BBC Radio Scotland, one of the hosts mentioned that the ATM machine was invented in Scotland. Really?

I quickly Googled John Shepherd-Barron, the man who thought, "If a machine could dispense chocolate, why not money?" A London branch of Barclays Bank installed this predecessor of our modern day ATM in 1967. Shepherd-Barron's machine would dispense £10 when special checks were matched with a four-digit personal identification number. In the late sixties, that was quite a sum for a night out.

In my quest for knowledge about all-things Scotland, I wondered what other inventions, besides golf and uhhh well, golf are Scots credited with. There is quite a long list, but here are some noteworthy mentions many of us use every day:

  • Television: In 1926, Scotsman John Logie Baird was the first to transmit images using a television system. He later started the first television station and broadcasted for the BBC.

  • Telephone: Do you remember learning in elementary school that Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone was from Scotland? Did I hear you say “No”? Me either. Or maybe I just forgot. But yes – he was born in Edinburgh.
  • Tires: Two Scots are credited with inventing the pneumatic (inflatable) rubber tire. The first, in 1846 by Robert William Thomson. John Boyd Dunlop improved the tire in 1887 and subsequently formed Dunlop Tires, a tire manufacturer still in existence today.
  • Buick: Scottish inventor David Dunbar Buick founded the Buick Motor Company, which later became the cornerstone of General Motors. Buick is the oldest American auto manufacturer still in existence.
  • Penicillin: In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming, a Scottish biologist, accidentally discovered penicillin - the life saving drug for treating bacterial infections.
  • Decimal Point: John Napier, a Scottish mathematician born in 1550 invented logarithms and the decimal point. Logarithms are used every day to calculate the number of payments on a loan or the time to reach an investment goal, not to mention other important applications in chemistry, space travel and seismology.

Who knew all these important discoveries hailed from Scotland. Check out this video for a quick run-down from 5min Knowledge of the Top Ten things invented in Scotland. Gotta love the bagpipe soundtrack.


Renee Vincent said...

Wow, TL, I had no idea! Very interesting post!!!
Thanks for guest blogging with us!

Lizzie Walker said...

Tosha! I love this post. I knew all the inventors but never knew they were Scottish Born. How fascinating.

It's so funny how these everyday things we start to take for granted that someone invented this for our comfort, enjoyment and safety.

Kudos to you for bringing it to the forefront!

Clancy said...

Awesome and more awesome. I love learning thigs like this. THANKS

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

It makes you proud, doesn't it? I love it - a Kirkpatrick invented the bicycle. :)

Thanks for the lists. I had seen some of these before and know there are a lot more. A great bunch of folks in Scotland. :)

Cathy Stewart said...

How interesting! I knew some of these, but not all. Thanks!

Alexa said...

Awesome information! I knew the inventions and knew some of the names, but I didn't know they were all Scottish!

Tosha (aka TL Sumner) said...

@Renee - Thanks for having me. I really love being a part of this RWA Chapter.

@Lizzie - I agree with you about taking inventions and innovation for granted. I'm glad you liked the post.

@Clancy - I love learning about this kind of thing too, but I love researching it even more.

@Paisley - You should be proud!! I want in the worst way to claim some Scottish heritage. I know I have Irish...

@Cathy - You're so welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

@Alexa - I think I was the most shocked with Buick.

Sarah Hoss said...

I had done a blog post on this same topic. So much fun researching it, but I didn;t know about the ATM. That's neat.

Thanks for sharing with us!!

Pat McDermott said...

Really informative post, Tosha. Very cool. Thanks!