Sweden is the home country of unusually many inventions considering its small population. Swedish companies based on unique developments or inventions gave jobs to hundreds of thousands, and still do. Here we have tried to list the most important and/or famous inventions made in Sweden.
Tetra PakTetra Pak, a paper package system for non-carbonated liquids, was invented in 1944 by Erik Wallenberg and Ruben Rausing. It is particularly useful for dairy products and has become a great export success.
The Separator and the Milking MachineThe inventor Gustaf de Laval has made two important contributions to the dairy industry. His Milking Machine (1896) rationalized a time-consuming everyday chore on the farms and reduced the demand for farm laborers. The further handling of the milk was simplified by the separator, a device used for separating cream from milk. Like many useful inventions, it is of a rather simple construction. It basically consists of a drum, which can be rotated by means of a crank. When fresh milk is poured into the rotating drum, the cream fraction, which is of lower density than the milk, tends to stay in the middle, while the heavier milk fraction is pressed towards the edges.
The Ball BearingThe modern ball bearing was constructed by the Swede Sven Wingquist in 1907. Similar constructions had been used in mechanical devices since the Middle Ages but Wingquist's construction represented a true improvement, which has been of great use to the car and shipbuilding industries, among others. The company that started producing the new ball bearing, SKF, still holds a strong international position.
The PropellerThe first attempts at designing a new device for propelling vessels took place in 1802. But the device commonly used for ships and aircrafts was patented in 1836 by John Ericsson of Sweden. The propeller is only one of many things invented or improved by Ericsson. In U.S.A he is probably most remembered for constructing the battleship Monitor, used with great success in the American Civil War by the North.
The ZipperIt should be admitted that the first person obtaining a patent for a zipper was an American. The first construction that could be used for practical purposes, however, was made by the Swedes Peter A. Aronsson and Gideon Sundbäck. In 1913, Sundbäck took out a patent for the new construction, and this model has been used ever since (the only change being that zippers today are sometimes made of plastics).
The Safety MatchThe match as such is not a Swedish invention, but since the obsolete type could set fire to their owners just as often as to candles and cigars, they needed improvement. In 1844, Gustaf Erik Pasch removed the flammable phosphorus component from the match-head and added it to the striking surface of the match-box. The result was a safer product, which was further improved by the Lundström brothers, owners of a match factory in Jönkping. In 1855, one of them, obtained a patent for the phosphorus-free match and that marked the beginning of a very successful era for the Swedish match industry. At times it accounted for 75 percent of the world production.
DynamiteDuring one of his experiments with the explosive nitroglycerin, the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel made an important discovery. As he accidentally broke a bottle containing this chemical, the substance happened to mix with the material protecting the bottles. The result was a product with the same blast effect as pure nitroglycerin but much less dangerous to handle. Nobel called it dynamite, and the money he made through it enabled him to create the Nobel Foundation with its familiar Nobel Prize.
The Turbo Engine for CarsIn 1976, Bengt Gadefelt at the SAAB car company constructed a new type of turbo-powered engine for cars. It had the advantage over other constructions that it would start working automatically when extra power was required, for example at high speed. A few years later, SAAB presented the world's first commercially available turbo-powered car to the market.
Innovations in TelecommunicationsThe modern telephone was constructed by a Swede with the name Lars Magnus Ericsson. At that time, telephones had the mouthpiece built in, while the speaker was connected to the telephone by a flex. Ericsson's new idea was to combine the two into a single receiver. In 1876 he founded the Ericsson company in Stockholm.
The automatic exchange was invented in the 1940's by a man called Axel Hultman, together with a team of engineers from the Ericsson company. Since then, over one million exchanges of the 500 type have been manufactured and sold.
The computerized AXE exchange is also a Swedish invention. It was introduced in the mid 70's as the result of a cooperation between Ericsson and Telia, the major Swedish telecom operator. The AXE technology offers several new services, such as three-part communication and automatic wake-up calls. It is now installed in most parts of Sweden and has also been introduced on foreign markets.
The Adjustable SpannerOne of our most common and usable tools, the adjustable spanner, was invented by J. P Johansson in 1892. It is implied from its name that this tool could be adjusted for screw nuts of different sizes. It has since become an export success. >
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