Posted by Michelle Rochford
Here at Fuji Xerox Printers, we love Australian small businesses, especially those with big ideas. And it’s our job to support them and help make their business goals a reality.
From simple business solutions like our range of black and white and colour printers and scanners right through to working one-on-one with business owners like McCarrolls or Davies Chocolates, Fuji Xerox can support the most ambitious of businesses.
In celebration of Australia Day 2017, we take a look at some of the Aussie inventions and innovations that disrupted entire industries and helped change the world.
This staple of aviation safety was invented in 1961 by Australian research scientist Dave Warren. While employed at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Melbourne, Warren was tasked with investigating the mysterious crash of the world’s first jet-powered commercial aircraft, the Comet. During his investigation it occurred to him that it would be extremely useful if there had been a recording of what had happened in the airplane immediately prior to the crash.
Warren worked on a prototype in his spare time. When the product was finished it gained little traction with aviation authorities until Warren presented to Sir Robert Hardingham, the former British air Vice-Marshal who immediately saw its potential. From slow beginnings the black box recorder was universally adopted and has become a compulsory feature of international airline safety.
‘What’s your Wi-fi password?’ — it’s become one of the world’s most commonly asked questions as Wi-Fi established itself as an indispensable technology essential to everyday life. What’s less known about Wi-Fi however was that the technology was developed right here in Australia by John O-Sullivan and the CSIRO in 1992.
O’Sullivan and his team were looking for black holes when they developed the technology using a wireless local area network (LAN) with a team of radio astronomers. Years later the technology was applied to the Internet and Wi-Fi was born.
In 2003 Sydney-based company Where 2 Technologies was acquired by Google. The software — developed by siblings Lars and Jens Rasmussen — became Google Maps. The siblings continued working with Google and in 2010 were named New South Wales’ Entrepreneurs of the Year.
Men around Australia owe a great debt to Mervyn Victor Richardson who in 1952 built the first petrol-powered lawn mower in his backyard in Concord. Using rotary blades, a two-stroke engine and a peach tin to store fuel, his contraption became a worldwide phenomenon that transformed lawn mowing from backbreaking labour to a leisurely stroll. By 2011 more than 8 million Victa lawn mowers had been sold worldwide.
In 2002, two students from the University of New South Wales registered a business name with ASIC and had one goal in mind: to start a company that sold software.
Using a $10,000 credit card to bootstrap their idea they developed a program that allowed workplaces to track projects, tasks and identify product bugs. They called it JIRA, and today it’s used by companies including NASA, eBay and Twitter.
The company name those students registered was Atlassian, and last year it was valued at US$3.5 billion. In the same year founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar topped Australia’s Young Rich List with a net worth of $2.1 billion.
When Lance Hill built the first rotary clothesline in South Australia in 1945 he couldn’t have known that he was embarking on a project that would become a national icon. The Hills Hoist has become synonymous with suburban Australia while managing to become an essential part of domestic life for more than 70 years. So simple yet resilient is the design that a Darwin family even reported that the only thing left standing after Cyclone Tracy was their Hills Hoist.
So iconic has this invention become it is now listed as a National Treasure by the National Library of Australia and featured in the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.