20 Australian inventions that changed the world

  • Electric drill

    DIY-enthusiasts can thank an Aussie for this indispensible piece of equipment. The invention was originally designed to drill rock and dig coal.
  • Electronic pacemaker

    Edgar Booth developed the first artificial pacemaker in the 1920s. Now, more than three million people worldwide rely on pacemakers to keep their hearts beating properly.
  • Medical application of penicillin

    Australian scientist Howard Florey purified penicillin from a special strain of mould. Penicillin has been used around the world saving many lives through the combating of infection by common bacteria.
  • Black box flight recorder

    The black box flight recorder has helped make commercial air travel the world’s safest form of travel.
  • Permanent-crease clothing

    The technique uses chemicals to permanently alter the structure of wool fibres so they can be set with heat. This technology allowed for fashion innovations such as permanently pleated skirts.
  • Plastic spectacle lenses

    In 1960 Sola Optical released the first scratch-resistant plastic lens for glasses.
  • Inflatable escape slide and raft

    In 1965 Jack Grant, an employee of Qantas, invented the inflatable aircraft escape slide, which is now mandatory safety equipment on all major airlines.
  • Permaculture

    It is an alternative to chemical-based agriculture which can be harmful to humans and the environment
  • Ultrasound scanner

    This discovery forever changed pre-natal care as it gave expecting parents a window to the foetus without x-ray exposure.
  • Triton Workcentre

    It is a multi-purpose workbench which stabilises and improves the accuracy of portable power tools had more than 1000 orders.
  • Cochlear implant (bionic ear)

    Cochlear implants are devices that are implanted into the head to electronically stimulate the auditory nerve.
  • Racecam

    In 1979, Channel 7 introduced live television broadcasting from racing cars, allowing viewers to watch the race from the driver’s perspective.
  • Polymer bank notes

    The first plastic bank note to be put into circulation was the $10 note, released in 1988 to celebrate the bicentenary. In 1996, we became the first country to have a complete set of plastic currency.
  • Winged keel

    Ben Lexcen, an Australian yachtsman and marine architect, invented the winged keel – a nearly horizontal foil, or wing, at the base of a sailing boat keel.
  • Wi-Fi technology

    The core parts of the technology came out of research in the mid-1970s in the field of radio astronomy, when John and his colleagues at the CSIRO were originally looking for the faint echoes of black holes.
  • Frazier lens

    His innovative lens allowed for both the subject and background to be in focus at the same time. It also has the ability to rotate without the movement of the camera.
  • Spray-on skin

    In 1999, Perth-based plastic surgeon Professor Fiona Wood patented her spray-on skin technique. The innovation involves taking a small patch of the victim’s healthy skin and using it to grow new skin cells in a laboratory. Fiona and her spray-on skin technique played a key role in treating burns victims from the 2002 Bali bombings.
  • Google Maps

    Danish brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen developed the platform for Google Maps in Sydney in the early 2000s.
  • Gardasil and Cervarix cancer vaccines

    As cervical cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, the vaccination has huge implications for the prevention of cancer. Since 2008, the vaccine has been approved for use in more than 120 countries.
  • Tank-bred tuna system

    The clean-seas system fools the tuna in a tank into thinking they are swimming out of the Australian Bight and into their breeding grounds.