Monday, January 28, 2013

Australian Firsts and Inventions, Part 1

On this Australia Day celebration, it is apt to look at the list of Australian firsts and inventions.

Part 1 today, other parts will follow.

  • The cochlear implant, aka the bionic ear, a device that enables some deaf children to hear, was developed in Australia. The Australian Bionic Ear is the result of pioneering research commenced by Professor Graeme Clark in the late 1960s at the University of Melbourne Department of Otolaryngology. 
Cochlear implant, 2011 

The original prototype multi-channel cochlear implant, or bionic ear, front left. Signals from inside the ear were transmitted to the receiver, attached to the cable at right, which was plugged into the portable speech processor, back left. 
  • The wine cask, the plastic bag inside a box, was developed by Tom Angove in 1965. 

  • The boomerang, ancient weapon of the aborigines. Although other cultures have throwing sticks, none came back to the thrower if it missed the target. 
  • Jack Brabham, Formula 1 World Champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966, was the first to win a World Championship in a car of his own design (1966) 

  • Telephane, the forerunner of television, was invented in 1885 by Henry Sutton in Ballarat, 3 years before the 'birth' of Scotsman John Logie Baird, who made use of Sutton's patent. Sutton devised the telephane to transmit the running of the Melbourne Cup horse-race in Melbourne to the town of Ballarat. It did not have a screen, and the viewer had to look into a hole at the end of a long tube with a signal transferred by telegraph line. 
  • In 1902 Tasmanian stationery company, Birchall's of Launceston, started selling the world's first notepads called Silver City Writing Tablets. Proprietor J A Birchall decided that it would be a good idea to cut the loose sheets of paper that he sold into half, back them with cardboard and glue them together at the top. Hence the invention of the notepad. 
  • World’s first secret ballot in elections (1856). The principle had been adopted by the miners at the Eureka Stockade rebellion in 1854 and was officially first used in Tasmania 2 years later. In the US the system was referred to and known as the “Australian ballot”. 
  • First place in the world to grant women the right to stand for election to parliament. (Australia was the second country to give women the vote, in 1894, the first having been New Zealand in 1893). 
Edith Cowan (1861-1932) 
Australia’s first female Parliamentarian, Member of the Parliament of Western Australia 1921-1924 as the Member for Perth.

Also one of the faces on the $50 note 

  • The electric drill was the invention of Arthur James Arnot, who patented it in 1889. He designed it primarily to drill rock and to dig coal. 
  • Froth flotation process: The process of separating minerals from rock by flotation was developed by Charles Potter and Guillaume Delprat of New South Wales. 
  • In 1905 Anthony Mitchell invented the tilt-pad thrust bearing which revolutionised thrust technology, whatever any of that means. 
  • The world's first prepaid postage system was introduced in Sydney in 1838 using embossed letter sheets and envelopes. Customers could buy letter sheets and envelopes already done or have their own paper embossed. 
Embossed paid envelope, printed to private order, sent 1849 
  • The world's first refrigeration plant, 1858. Using the principal of vapour compression, James Harrison had produced the world's first practical refrigerator. He was commissioned by a brewery to build a machine that cooled beer (how more Australian could that be?) He also produced the world’s first ice making machine. 
  • The first disposable latex medical gloves were manufactured in 1964 by Australian company Ansell. They based the production on the technique for making condoms, for which the name Ansell was already well known. 

  • First country in the world to beat America in the America's Cup. In 1983 Australia 11 won the America's Cup, the first country to defeat the Americans in 132 years.  The trophy remains the oldest in international sport.  Down 3-0 in the best of 7 series, Australia 11 with its boxing kangaroo flag and controversial winged keel came back to win 4-3.  Alan Bond had brought with him a golden spanner to unbolt the trophy from its plinth in the New York Yacht Club; designer of the winged keel, Ben Lexcen, had commented before the racing began that when they won the Cup they would put a steamroller over it and turn it into the America's Plate.

Australia 11 wins the final race to make it 4-3

Prime Minister Bob Hawke declared in the immediate aftermath that "Any boss who sacks a worker for not turning up today is a bum."

Skipper John Bertrand, Ben Lexcen and Alan Bond celebrate receiving the Cup which, by the way, is named after the boat that won the first race.  The trophy was for an 1851 race around the Isle of Wight, England in 1851 which was won by the schooner America. 

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