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UK Inventors

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MNK Blog

My Top UK inventors

List Of Top Inventors From The United Kingdom And Their Inventions

Hello Tech Lovers!

Over the extended weekend just past, we partied to celebrate Queen Elizabeth 11 Platinum Jubilee. This marked the 70th anniversary of her accession as, The Queen Of England and the Commonwealth Of Nations.

This got me thinking about everything British, so I proceeded to do some research on my favourite British inventors and their innovative projects. In this post I thought I would show appreciation to past (and some still present) inventors and entrepreneurs. Below you will discover my Top British Inventors, what they invented, how they effected the world and why I think they should be in the list.

When I decided to write this blog post I thought I would mention my top three. However, I soon discovered some facts that I never knew before and some amazing inventions. Concepts, that inventors and entrepreneurs before me had achieved – many of which are still being used today. Ideas and inventions that have either stayed the same or developed further and adapted with time. I may do a part two, so keep an eye open 😉

If you think someone should have been added to the list or if you have complied a different list, let me know in the the comments below. Maybe you live in a different part of the World and your list looks totally different, would love to see it – add it to the comments.

Let’s dive into it and check out the inventors and their ideas.

My Top UK inventors – In No Particular Order

1. James Dyson. 1947 – Present

If you reside in the UK, then you have probably heard of James Dyson – or at least the Dyson brand – especially the Dyson Vacuum cleaner range. However, as with lots of inventors their story started long before their most known inventions. Projects that preceded and sparked ideas for their most familiar products.

Have you heard of the, Sea Truck – the tail gate, flat bed truck that could span water? Or maybe the green wheel barrow with a ball instead of a wheel? The Ballbarrow had a bright orange ball in place of a standard wheel, allowing you to turn sharper corners without tipping the contents of the barrow.

Take a look at the list below of some James Dyson’s inventions. Note, from the image of the Ballbarrow you can see where the idea for the multi-directional Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner come from.

James Dyson’s Inventions

  • Sea Truck
  • Ballbarrow
  • Wheel Boat
  • DC01 – The first bag less Vacuum Cleaner
  • AB01 – Hand Dryer
  • Contrarotator – A Washing Machine with counter rotating drums
  • AM01 – Desk Fan
  • AM10 – Humidifier
  • Super Sonic
  • Pure Cool Link – Tower Purifying Fan
  • Airwrap – Hair stler that doesn’t use extreme heat
  • Corrale – Hair straighteners that don’t use extreme heat

Lady walks holding a ballbarrow

Photo courtesy of Dyson

Why James Dyson is in the list

  • Core Technologies From fans to the use of heat elements across a vast range of products.
  • High QualityWhen you buy a Dyson product, you know it has been built to a high standard – it will last.
  • 3.AestheticsDyson products are not just functional and ergonomically great, they have been designed very well – they are aesthetically pleasing.
  • BraveryJames Dyson and his team are not afraid to flip an industry on its head. Products and the way they have been used for decades, are now being reinvented through a new set of eyes and new technology. For example, vacuum cleaners without bags, hair straighteners that use less heat – thus causing less damage to the follicles, and non bladed desk fans that don’t collect dust.
  • Future learningThe Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology. Dismayed by the lack of bright young engineer’s in the UK James Dyson has set up his own Institute. Learn more about The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology here
  • James Dyson Award. An annual global award, set up to inspire the next generation of engineers to solve the worlds problems. Find out more on the James Dyson Award here

2. Clive Sinclair. 1940 – 2021

Tech enthusiasts, computer nerds and gadget lovers will have heard of Clive Sinclair’s inventions. Slimline Pocket Calculators, Calculator Watches, and who can forget the Sinclair C5 or ZX Spectrum! The latter of which helped give birth to the UK’s Video gaming industry, hoards of bedroom coders would program games for it, selling them via mail order.

Check the list of Sinclair computers and gadgets below and remind yourself of his achievements. Maybe you owned some of them, do you still have it? Let me know in the comments.

Clive Sinclair’s Inventions

  • ZX Spectrum – Computer
  • Sinclair Executive – Pocket Calculator
  • Digital Black Watch
  • Miniature Tvs
  • Sinclair ZX 80
  • Sinclair C5 – Was this the thinking behind Elon Musk’s Tesla cars?
  • Zike – Electric bike

A ZX Spectrum Computer sits on a rainbow coloured backdrop

Photo courtesy of Beyond Games

Why Clive Sinclair is in the list

  • Hope and DeterminationDespite many failed projects, lack of funds, little support from others who couldn’t see his vision, Clive Sinclair kept going, he kept pushing, believed in himself and his ideas even when the chips were down he kept going. A valuable lesson, not for inventors or entrepreneurs but for life in general.
  • Forward ThinkingA lot of Sinclair’s downs were due to lack of support for his visions. His concepts were ahead of his time, not a lot of people felt the same. Fast forward 20, 30, years and we see a lot of his influence in modern day technology. Ipads and smartphones could very well have come from Sinclair’s idea of minture TVs. Electric cars are every where now – a concept Clive Sinclair had in early 1980, and cycling to work is a lot quicker now with electric bikes, but would they have ever existed without Sinclair’s Zike Electric Bike from 1990?
  • MemoriesGrowing up as a kid in the ’80s I remember a lot of Sinclair’s gadgets, and being a boy who loves his toys, loved them all. Futuristic look and science fiction like future tech coming to life was appealing to a kid growing up. I even liked the Sinclair C5, of course I was too young to own one, but I really wanted one!

3. Tim Berners-Lee. 1955 – Present

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He is director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which oversees the continued development of the Web, co-founded the World Wide Web Foundation, and is director, advisor and researcher of numerous other foundations and institutions.

Berners-Lee proposed an information management system in March of 1989, then implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet in November of the same year. He devised and implemented the first Web browser and Web server and Time Magazine, named him in their list of 100 Most Important People Of The 20th Century.

Tim Berners-Lee’s Inventions

  • World Wide Web

A screen shot of MNK website homepage

Why Tim Berners-Lee is in the list

  • I probably wouldn’t be here Where would we be without the World Wide Web? Back in 2005 I had another business, an online record store. It was one of the first in the UK specialising in Rap and Urban music. It went on to winning an enterprising award from the Prince’s Trust – who I received the funding from to start it. My first online sale was to a guy in New Zealand! Without the World Wide I wouldn’t have been able to sell records and merchandise and make new friends from all over the world.

    It has become second nature to go online for the vast majority of the planet’s population. You can chat to people from all four corners of the globe, do your weekly shop, watch your favourite music video, transfer money in an instant, play games, read the MNK Blog, and so much more – all from your computer or smart device. The use of the World Wide Web has grown exponentially since its creation in the late ’80s

    However, would have Tim Berners-Lee being able to invent the World Wide Web without inventor number four?

4. Charles Babbage. 1791 – 1871

Charles Babbage was a mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer. Babbage is considered to be the, father of the computer and is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer.

It is said, his principle was openly borrowed from the method of weaving used in the Jacquard Loom.

If you want to see some of Charles Babbage’s work, the Science Museum in London have some incomplete mechanisms on display. Click the link below to find out more.

Science Museum

Charles Babbage’s Inventions

  • The concept of a digital programmable computer

An image of Charles Babbage mechanical computer

Photo courtesy of Computer History

Why Charles Babbage is in the list

  • The Amazing Ability To Think Like No Other Can you imagine that way back in the 1800’s someone envisioned a programmable computer! Ok, the term “computer” didn’t exist back then and it was more of a mechanical device, but to have thought of the concept I think is quite astonishing.

All of these innovators have an advanced way of thinking, the ability to see things differently to the average human. Inventors see the end in mind. Before etching any drawings or crafting prototype models – they have the ability to mold their inventions in their heads before externalising them for the world to see. Added with the hunger for problem solving and the discipline to stay focussed, these inventors work out solutions and don’t quit until an issue has been solved.

Everything begins in the mind, everything that man has created started as a thought in someone’s head. That chair you are sitting on, the desk your computer sits, and your commute into work this morning was only possible because of someone’s thought.

All of the above mentioned have one thing in common, the ability to think up solutions, vision ideas that others can’t imagine and have faith in themselves to keep trying.

As a relatively new entrepreneur and inventor, it is sometimes frustrating, it feels like no one else can picture your vision. However, there is one thing I have learnt from doing my research for this post. I am not alone in my frustrations, James Dyson wasn’t always a Billionaire and one of the richest people in Britain, Clive Sinclair had multiple gadgets that not everyone bought and I’m sure Tim Berners-Lee didn’t get it right the first time around, and I’m confident that everyone thought Charles Babbage was a little cuckoo. However, despite their set backs, lack of funds, and funny looks from their peers, they kept going.

Learning from the successes before me gives me hope and the momentum to keep pushing forward.

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Laptop sitting in a prohood under shadow from the dark hood

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I Hope you enjoyed, ‘My Top UK Inventors’ article and learned something from it.

Do you have a favourite invention from the above list?

Who would be in your list?

Do you live outside of the UK, what would your list look like?

Let me know in the comments below

References Include:

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Adam – MNK Founder #ProtectYourTech