A Brief History Of Australia’s Greatest Inventions

By Leslie Zeder

1. Refrigeration

The idea of refrigeration was pioneered by Geelong-based James Harrison in 1856. In 1913 the United States finally developed refrigeration suitable for use in the home.

2. Electric Drill

James Arnot can be credited with the creation of the electric drill, patented in 1889. The Germans later improved upon the design in 1895, creating the world’s first portable drill.


3. The Tank

South Australian, Lancelot de Mole was the first to devise the idea of a tank (excluding Leonardo da Vinci’s, 15th Century, original armoured vehicle design). He submitted his armoured vehicle design in 1912 to the British War Office. Despite the Office dismissing his idea, de Mole persevered with 2 further submissions in 1914 and 1916, but to no avail. The British Mark 1 design eventually won out.


4. Cardiac Pacemaker

Dr Mark Lidwill created the first predecessor to today’s artificial pacemaker back in 1926.

5. The ‘Black Box’ Recorder

Australian David Warren came up with the idea for the ‘black box’ flight recorder. In 1957 he followed up his 1954 report: ‘A Device For Assisting Investigation Into Aircraft Accidents’ with a working black box prototype. Though he never patented his stroke of genius, he is widely credited as the inventor of today’s black box.

6. Ultrasound

George Kossoff and David Robinson invented ‘grey scale imaging’ technology in 1969 while working at CSIRO. This breakthrough eventuated in ultrasound replacing x-ray on a large-scale in checking pregnancies and the health of foetuses.

7. Polymer Banknote

The Polymer Banknote is a product of collaboration between the CSIRO and the Reserve Bank Of Australia. The note entered development in 1968 to counteract increasingly effective counterfeiting methods, but was not released for another 20 years until 1988 in time to celebrate our bicentennial.


8. Wi-Fi

Dr John O’Sullivan from the CSIRO is to thank for the invention of Wi-Fi. 20 years ago O’Sullivan and his team turned their attentions to addressing the issue of how to transmit and receive a wireless data signal indoors at high-speed. His work led to the creation of wireless LAN and paved the way for the fast & reliable internet we use now.