History of Australian Innovation


1800-1900


1838

 

Pre paid postal system

Colonial Postmaster-General of New South Wales, James Raymond introduced the world's first pre-paid postal system.


1851

 

Refrigeration

James Harrison invented a practical refrigeration system for the brewing and meat-packing industry.


1858

 

Australian Rules Football

Tom Will and Henry Harrison wrote the first ten rules of Australian Rules Football and became the first people in the world to codify a kicking-ball game. These rules predate those of Rugby, Soccer and Gridiron.


1874

 

Technology

Louis Brennan invented the torpedo.


1875

 

Stump jump plough

Robert and Clarence Bowyer Smith developed the stump jump plough that jumped over stumps and stones, enabling newly-cleared land to be cultivated.


1882

 

The Combine Harvester was developed by Hugh Victor McKay that both stripped and collected the grain.

1889

 

Arthur James Arnot patented the world's first electric drill.


1894

 

The box kite

The Box Kite was invented by William Hargrave during his investigation into the lifting properties of curved surfaces. Hargraves himself flew 16 feet on 12 November 1894 by linking a group of such kites together and adding a seat.


1900-1920


1904

 

Federal patent office

Federal Patent Office established in Melbourne.


1904

 

First patent application

First patent application received under Commonwealth Patents Act 1903 – locomotive brake system. Since the invention of the locomotive, slowing and stopping these large, fast moving machines had always been a difficult and dangerous exercise. Brakes were applied by ‘brakemen’ who would run along the roof of the carriages to brake each car manually. Exposed to the elements and ducking tunnels, it was a risky and dangerous job that often led to severe injury or death. Westinghouse Air Brakes allowed the engineer to apply the brakes automatically – saving the need for men to risk their lives to apply the brakes manually.


1905

 

Dengue fever transmission by mosquitoes identified by Thomas Bancroft.

1905

 

Commonwealth Trade Marks Act 1903 passed.

1906

 

Commonwealth Designs Act 1906 passed; registration of trade marks joins federal Patent Office.

1906

 

Kiwi boot polish manufactured by William Ramsay and Hamilton McKellan.


1906

 

The story of the Kelly gang

The first feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang, produced by Dan Barry and Charles Tait, premiered at the Athenaeum, Melbourne. Audiences of the time loved this film's boldness and, with its live sound effects and narration, to them it didn't seem silent.


1906

 

Surf life saving reel

The first surf life saving reel in the world was demonstrated at Bondi Beach by its designer Lester Ormsby. Surf life-saving reel and surf lifesavers are now icons of Australian surf. Surf lifesaving by volunteers as begun in Bondi has saved many lives and is now an integral part of Australia's beaches.


1907

 

Intellectual property

Registration of copyright and designs joins federal Patent and Trade Mark Office.

1908

 

Personal care

Rexona personal care range devised by Alice Sheffer.

1911

 

Voting

Preferential voting instituted in Western Australia and Victoria.

1912

 

Tank

The tank was invented by Lance de Mole.


1915

 

Periscope rifle

Periscope rifle invented by Lance-Corporal W C Beech at Gallipoli. This device allowed a soldier standing in a trench to take accurate aim and fire without exposing himself to the enemy.


1916

 

Agriculture

Spring tine drill cultivator that sowed, fertilised and harrowed simultaneously was built by Raimond Squire.

1918

 

Vaccination

Anthrax vaccine revealed by John McGarvie Smith, Sydney.

1919

 

Personal care

Aspro trade mark registered by George Nicholas, for the substitute aspirin he had invented.


1920-1940


1922

 

Vegemite

For nearly 90 years, Vegemite has been fuelling our unique Australian spirit. Four generations of Australians have been 'raised on' this unique and humble dark spread. It is an icon of the nation and an integral part of Australia's culture, identity and personality. Invented in 1922 by Cyril Callister, VEGEMITE sells over 23 million jars every year.


1925

 

Food

Transceiver was invented by Alf Traeger for the Flying Doctor Service.

1925

 

International

Australia accedes to the Paris convention allowing Australian inventors to file overseas using their Australian patent application dates as priority.


1926

 

Electronic pacemaker

In 1926, Dr Mark C Lidwell of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital of Sydney, supported by physicist Edgar H Booth of the University of Sydney, invented the world's first electronic pacemaker.


1928

 

Flying Doctor Service

Flying Doctor Service established by William Flynn, Cloncurry, Qld. Working as a minister in the bush, Flynn dreamed of making the outback a safe place to live. He thought that instead of a patient travelling in tough conditions to get to a doctor, the doctor could go to the patient. World War I then prompted the idea of using planes to take doctors to where they were needed.


 

1930

 

Poison

Improved tiger snake antivenim produced by Doctors Kellaway and Morgan.

1933

 

Ute

Ute designed for Ford Company by Lewis Bandt.

1933

 

Health

Sister Elizabeth Kenny's first clinics opened in Queensland to treat polio patients with her new method.

1933

 

Intellectual property

Federal Patents, Trade Marks and Designs Office moves to Canberra.

1939

 

Health

Birth defects linked to Rubella by Dr Norman Gregg, Sydney.

 

1940-1960


1941

 

Owen gun

Owen gun, a simple submachine gun effective in wet conditions, invented by Evelyn Owen. It was used by the Australian Army from 1943 until the mid 1960's. The Owen was the only Australian-designed service firearm of World War II and was the main submachine gun used by the Australian Army during the war.


1945

 

Hills hoist

Before World War II several clever people had designed and promoted rotary clothes hoists but they never caught on. That was until Lance Hill came along and started manufacturing the Hills Hoist. With quality design and manufacture, as well as an innovative approach to marketing, the Hills Hoist quickly became a popular backyard feature. Today this Aussie icon is found in millions of backyards around Australia.


1949

 

Health

Lithium identified as treatment for psychiatric conditions by John Cade.

1951

 

Education

School of the Air launched in outback areas.

1951

 

Health

Cause of retrolental fibroplasia discovered by Dr Kate Campbell.


1952

 
 
 

Victa Mowers Pty Ltd

Although the lawn mower was not a new invention, it's technology was revolutionised in 1952 by Mervyn Victor Richardson. He invented and patented the rotary action blades which enabled his mower to cut long thick grass. Victa Mowers Pty Ltd opened for business in 1953 producing 60 Victas a week and has grown to become a household name across Australia.


1953

 

Mortein

Aerosol Mortein released by Samuel Taylor Company. The name 'Mortein' is said to derive from the French word 'mort' (dead) and the German word 'ein' (one). Mortein has been the leading brand of household insecticide in Australian homes for over 100 years.


1953

 

Science

Mills cross radio telescope, designed by B Y Mills.

1958

 

Agriculture

Cane chopper harvester invented by Ken Gaunt to mechanise harvesting of the Queensland sugar crop.


1958

 

The black box

The Black Box flight recorder built by Dr David Warren to record the flight crew's conversation along with a few instrument readings. The first such recorder (called the 'ARL Flight Memory Unit') was made in 1958, but were not made compulsory in Australian aeroplanes until 1967.


 

1959

 

Patent and manufacture

Landmark NRDC decision handed down by High Court, regarding manner of manufacture' definition of patents.


1959

 
 
 

Qantas

Round-the-world air route opened by Qantas. Qantas became the second round-the-world airline, flying Super Constellations westward from Australia to London through Asia and the Middle East.


1960-1980


1960

 

Health

Frozen embryos first successfully transferred (in sheep) by Neil Moore of the University of Sydney.

1961

 

Health

Thalidomide denounced as a cause of birth defects by Dr William McBride.


1961

 

Ultrasound

Ultrasound scanner built by David Robinson and George Kossoff at the Commonwealth Ultrasonics Institute, Sydney.


1963

 

Space

The first detection of a quasar 3C273 located by Parkes radio telescope NSW.


1965

 

Inflatable escape slide

Inflatable escape slide for aeroplanes, which doubles as a raft, invented by Jack Grant of Qantas.


1965

 
 

Wine cask

Wine cask invented by Tom Angoves of Angove's winemakers and distillers. The title of the invention was 'improved container and pack for liquids'. Up until then the bulk of wine in Australia was sold in bottles and glass flagons.


1965

 

Ironman

The first Ironman contest staged by Australian Surf Lifesaving Association.


 

1972

 

Health

Australia joins the World Intellectual Property Organisation..

1973

 

Health

Rotavirus discovered by Ruth Townsend and the Gastroenterology Research Unit, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.

1973

 

Work

Triton workbench designed and built by George Lewin, Melbourne.

1976

 

Communication

Solar powered telephones and digital radio concentrator system, for extending clear phone calls to the outback, developed by Telecom.

1977

 

Hot Water

Double glazed solar water heater developed by Roger Morse..

 

1978

 

Cochlear implant

Cochlear implant developed at Melbourne University by Professor Graeme Clark. Inspired by his close relationship with his deaf father, Professor Graeme Clark began researching the possibilities of an electronic implantable hearing device in the 1960s. The Cochlear 'bionic ear' is an implant to assist hearing-impaired and profoundly deaf people who are unable to benefit from traditional hearing aids.


1978

 

Science

Stabilised zirconia ceramics resistant to cracking were developed by CSIRO.

1979

 

Sport

Race-cam camera installed in a car competing in the Bathurst 1000 for live broadcast by Channel 7 engineer Geoff Healy.

1979

 

Clothing

Computer socks with modulated elasticity to keep them up were released by Holeproof.


1980

 

Duoset dual flush cistern

Duoset dual flush cistern released by Caroma, Adelaide. Bruce Thompson of Caroma in Adelaide developed the dual flush system as part of the company's commitment to offer water-saving systems. Researchers found that Australian toilets already used much less water than the very wasteful systems still favoured in North America, where a flush could be around 30 litres. However, with better design there was scope to reduce Australian flushing volumes further.


1980-2000


1980

 

International

Australia accedes to the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

1981

 

Health

Funnel web spider antivenin was developed by Struan Sutherland.

1981

 

Health

Twins fertilised in vitro by Dr Alan Trounson's Monash University team were born in Melbourne.

1982

 

Sport

Winged keel developed for use on Australia II by Ben Lexcen helped end the New York Yacht Club's 132 year winning streak in the America's Cup.


1984

 

Baby capsule

Invented in the early 1980's by Colin Michael Nagel and Robert Boyson Heath, the baby capsule consists of a basinet inside a base, which is kept in place by a car seat belt. During a collision the capsule has a release mechanism that activate and allows the bassinette to rotate, keeping an even distribution of force over the baby's body. When properly fitted, the Baby Safety Capsule is still the safest method of transporting an infant in a vehicle.


 

1985

 

Energy

Solar cell with recessed current tracks developed by Stuart Wenham and Martin Green, University of NSW, Sydney.

1985

 

Art

Ken Done first registered his designs.

1987

 

Science

Synthetic sunscreen compounds imitating those in Pacific staghorn coral were patented.

1989

 

Health

CPAP method of treating sleep apnoea - invented at the University of Sydney by Professor Colin Sullivan - developed commercially by ResMed.

1990

 

Hot Water

New Commonwealth Patents Act passed.

 

1991

 

Human papillomavirus

Dr Frazer and Dr Zhou patented the vaccine (GARDASIL) targeting human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many strains of HPV and some can cause cancer. HPV strains 16 and 18 cause around 70 per cent of all cervical cancers. The GARDASIL vaccine prevents infection from HPV strains 16 and 18 if individuals are vaccinated before they are infected with them.


1991

 

Recycling

'ReVinyl' bottles made from recycled PVC by Peteron Plastics, Melbourne.

1992

 

Health

Spray on skin developed by Dr Fiona Wood at the Royal Perth Hospital.

1993

 

Technology

Wireless LAN (Local Area Network) technology (WiFi) was invented by the CSIRO.


1994

 

Health

Results published of clinical trials of Polartechnics's cervical cancer detector built by Victor Skladnev, Sydney.

1995

 

Communication

ADSL developed by Telstra for high-volume connections.

1995

 

Intellectual property

New Commonwealth Trade Marks Act passed.


1995

 

Pink iceberg rose

Pink Iceberg rose created by Prophyl Pty Ltd was granted a Plant Breeder's Right. It has soft pink flowers which fade to white with age. The clusters of flowers are open in shape with gold stamens. It is disease resistant and vigorous. The flower has a soft, light apple-rose perfume.


2000-Present


2000

 

Health

Digital Medical Imaging System developed by Polartechnics, Sydney.

2000

 

Sport

Fastskin competition swimsuit launched by Speedo.

2001

 

 

Optim wool fibre processor introduced to produce enhanced fibres developed by the CSIRO and Woolmark.

2001

 

Business

Boost juice bars trade marked.


2001

 

Intellectual property

Innovation Patent system introduced; replacing Petty Patent system.

2002

 

Health

Scalpel with retractable guard launched by OMI Ltd.

2002

 

Health

SolarScan skin cancer detection device launched by Polartechnics, Sydney.

2002

 

Sport

Bamboo surfboards launched by Bamboo Surfboards Australia.


2002

 

Albion

Albion lightweight cricket helmet released.


2003

 

Science

Jindalee Over-the-Horizon radar system switched on across northern Australia.

2003

 

Technology

Llama-cheetah battle simulation system - developed by ADI software division, Perth - used in war against Iraq.

2003

 

Intellectual property

New Commonwealth Designs Act 2003 passed.

2004

 
 
 
 

100 years

Centenary of IP Australia - 100 years since the federal Patent Office began operation in 1904.


2004

 

Traditional knowledge

Jarlmadangah Burru Community and Griffith University patented the use of the bark from the Marjala plant as a novel analgesic compound.

2005

 

Health

Portable retinal camera invented by Greg Koennecke for public health in the developing world.

2006

 

Health

Programmable turning bed invented by Hanne Piazza was designed to assist carers and hospital staff turn patients safely.

2007

 

Safety

'Cone-head' shock absorbing liner for motorcycle helmets invented by Don Morgan.


2009

 

Bionic eye

Bionic Vision Australia commenced development of the bionic eye and the first patient tests are scheduled to be completed by 2013. Bionic Vision Australia is a national consortium of researchers that have come together to develop technology to help restore some sight to people with particular forms of vision impairment. The Australian team working on this breakthrough technology are some of the world's leading experts in ophthalmology, biomedical engineering, neuroscience and circuit design.


2009

 

Safety propeller

Safety Propeller invented by Colin Chamberlain was launched.

2010

 

Health

'EVestG', a diagnostic technique that uses patterns of electrical activity in the brain to detect mental and neurological illnesses, was invented by Brian Lithgow and Jayashri Kulkarni.