04 Jul 2010

Swedish inventions and innovations

2 Comments Typically Swedish

Sweden has a strong culture of innovation and here is a mix of some successful Swedish inventions that you probably didn’t even know were Swedish. I’m a bit geeky and I find this stuff very interesting and that’s why I’m sharing it with you. To educate the world is my mission :P


It 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). Waboba

The name is short for water bouncing ball, deriving the two first letters in each word into what is both the company as well as the product name. The ball is about the same density as water and floats when at rest, but bounces high and true when thrown. It took inventor Jan von Heland several years to get the ball perfect  but it is now being sold around the world after first taking off on the beaches of Sweden and Australia.

 Ball bearing

The founder of the world leading bearing company SKF, Sven Wingqvist designed the self-aligning ball bearing in 1907. I don’t think he could have imagined that his design would become a permanent exhibit in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).


The American physician Paul Zoll developed the idea of an electronic heart stimulator in 1952. The Swedish physician and inventor Rune Elmqvist developed the first pacemaker, which could actually be inserted by operation.

Safety Match

The 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 Jönköping. 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.

 Celsius thermometer

Anders Celsius developed the 100-point thermometer scale in 1742, two years before he died. The scale is used widely around the world as the Celsius temperature scale. His thermometer had 0  as the boiling point  for water and 100 as the freezing point. The scale was reversed by the Swedish scientist Carl von Linnaeus in 1745.

Anders Celsius was one of the first scientists who used his extensive international network to obtain facts and to cooperate with the leading scientists of the 1800 century. Apparently one of his friends were sir Isaac Newton with whom he had an ongoing dispute whether the world was round or shaped like an egg.


Bluetooth is an open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short length radio waves) from fixed and mobile devices. Bluetooth technology was firstly introduced by Ericsson and the Bluetooth specification was developed in 1994 by Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson.

Tetra Pak

Tetra 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.


During 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.

Ship propeller

The propeller as we know it was patented by Swedish inventor Johan Ericsson in 1836. It was one of the most important innovations of its time since it revolutionised shipbuilding. Most of the modern ship engines and propellers are manufactured by Volvo Penta (Swedish).

 The adjustable wrench/spanner

The adjustable spanner was patented by Swedish inventor Johan Petter Johansson in 1892. And yet today it’s one of our most common and usable tools. He came up with the design after getting tired of having to carry around lots of different sizes of wrenches in his workshop. Clever man that Johan Petter.

World’s first telephone handset

The 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.

Coca Cola bottle

The characteristic Coca Cola bottle was designed by Swedish Alex Samuelson and glass designer Earl R Deanand was introduced in 1916.

The Nyberg blow lamp

The first known blow torch patent is from France dated 1791 but a new vapourizing technique was developed by Carl Richard Nyberg who obtained a patent in 1881. The new blow lamp technique and design developed by Nyberg was quickly adopted by a lot of other manufacturers both in Sweden and rest of Europe and later on also in other parts of the world.

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2 Responses to “Swedish inventions and innovations”

  1. Reply Mamma says:

    Thank you! Very interesting.

  2. Reply Jeff says:

    Hello, I’m not sure where you found your information about the contour Coca-Cola bottle design, but I can tell you that it was not Alexander Samuelson who designed the iconic bottle. In fact it was an American by the name of Earl R. Dean. The reason that people mistake him for the designer is because Samuelson’s name was put on the patent. Back then, it was common for a name other than the actual inventor to be placed on a patent. Here are a couple of resources you can check out:


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