Wikipedia.org can be quoted as saying:
“The Scots take enormous pride in the history of Scottish invention and discovery.”
Personally speaking, this seems like a gross understatement. I grew up learning all about the great inventors and pioneers in Primary school — my Mum even has a heavy-bound book entitled “Inventions that changed the world”. Joking aside, here it is, my list of inventions and discoveries that changed our world, all from the great people of Scotland.
1. Do I have the chachungas to list TELEVISION as number 1? Ha-ha-ha, Yes, yes I do.
John Logie Baird (1888-1946), Helensburgh, Scotland:
“On March 25, 1925, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird gave a demonstration of televised silhouette images in motion at Selfridge’s Department Store in London. In 1927, Baird transmitted a signal over 438 miles (705 km) of telephone line between London and Glasgow. In 1928, Baird’s company (Baird Television Development Company / Cinema Television) broadcast the first transatlantic television signal, between London and New York, and the first shore-to-ship transmission. He also demonstrated an electromechanical color, infrared (dubbed “Noctovision”), and stereoscopic television, using additional lenses, disks and filters. In parallel, Baird developed a video disk recording system dubbed “Phonovision”; a number of the Phonovision recordings, dating back to 1927, still exist. In 1929, he became involved in the first experimental electromechanical television service in Germany. In November 1929, Baird and Bernard Natan of Pathe established France’s first television company, Télévision-Baird-Natan. In 1931, he made the first live transmission, of the Epsom Derby. In 1932, he demonstrated ultra-short wave television. Baird’s electromechanical system reached a peak of 240 lines of resolution on BBC television broadcasts in 1936, before being discontinued in favor of a 405-line all-electronic system developed by Marconi-EMI.” – wikipedia.org
In a banter-fuelled discussion with my FIL, I responded a little too defensively, “come on, do you really think someone from Idaho could invent the TV?!” It was then I recalled he was born in Pocatello…
2. TELEPHONE – Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), Edinburgh, Scotland.
3. IMPROVEMENTS TO THE STEAM ENGINE– James Watt (1736–1819), Greenock, Scotland.
4. PENICILLIN – Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955), Lochfield farm near Darvel in East Ayrshire, Scotland.
5. THE PEDAL BICYCLE – Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1813-1878), Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
6. FIRST WORKABLE RADAR SYSTEM – Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, a descendant of James Watt, (1892-1973) Brechin, Scotland.
7. ADHESIVE STAMPS and POSTMARK – John Chalmers (1782-1853), Arbroath, Scotland.
8. INSULIN – John James Richard MacLeod (1876–1935) of Clunie, Perth and Kinross, Scotland.
9. TARMACADAM (TARMAC) ROADS – John Loudon Macadam (1736-1856) Ayr, Scotland.
10. THE U.S. NAVY – John Paul Jones (1747-1782) Kirkcudbright (‘Kir’kood’bree‘), Scotland.
11. WHISKY – Derived from Gaelic word for “water”, and given its full title of “uisge-beatha” Water of Life. “The first written record of whisky comes from 1405 in Ireland, where it was distilled by monks. It is also mentioned in Scotland in 1496. However it is thought that whisky had already been around for at least several hundred years prior. When or where whisky was first distilled is unknown and the local, undocumented beverage production during the period makes identification of the drink’s origin difficult. Additionally, it is possible that different groups discovered processes of distillation completely independently of one another.”
Arguably the best whisky in the world is distilled in Scotland. It is unofficially the Scottish National Drink. Irn Bru is “the other national drink”.
12. THE PNEUMATIC TYRE – John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921), Dreghorn, Scotland.
13. BRIDGE DESIGN Sir William Arrol (1838-1913) Houston, Renfrewshire, Scotland; Thomas Telford (1757-1834) Westerkirk, Scotland; & John Rennie (1761-1821) East Linton, Scotland.
There are many more far too numerous to mention, but a comprehensive list can be found here. A few others, for example are:
PIONEERING THE USE OF ANTISEPTICS – Joseph Lister (1827-1912) Edinburgh, Scotland
CHLOROFORM, AN ANAESTHETIC discovered by Sir James Young Simpson of Bathgate, Scotland.
LIGHTHOUSE DESIGN – Robert Stevenson (1772-1850)
THE ULTRASOUND SCANNER – Ian Donald (1910-1987)
BANK OF ENGLAND founded by William Paterson of Dumfries, Scotland
GOLF circa. 1100
FOOTBALL The first known rules of the game were published in Scotland. Edinburgh was home to the world’s first club The Edinburgh Foot Ball Club.
BASKETBALL James A. Naismith (1861-1939) Although its origins hail from Canada, his parents were both emigrants. Guess where from?
THE FOUNTAIN PEN Robert Thomson (1822-1873)
THE MRI BODY SCANNER John Mallard in 1980
THE BREECH-LOADING RIFLE – Captain Patrick Ferguson of Pitfours, Scotland.
Honourable mention: FIRST MAN NAMED IN THE BIBLE – King James VI – KJV