London is globally recognised as a ‘tech hub’ and in honour of our great city and this week’s events, we’ve put together a list of the best bits of tech to come out of London.
John Shepherd-Barron, who claims that his inspiration came to him in the bath, refers to his 1967 inventions as “clever scoundrels”. The first cash machine was installed in Enfield and originally used cheques instead of the bank cards that we use today. In the 1960s, the machines only gave out a maximum of £10!
Before the days of Apple and Microsoft Word, there was the typewriter. Invented in 1714, this invention was patented by Henry Mill, a resident of The Strand. Although it now seems slightly odd to even brand the typewriter as technology in 2017, it was absolutely revolutionary in its time (and for over 150 years after!), as it meant that for the first time it was possible to artificially transcribe bits of writing. The invention of the typewriter was to pave the way for the PCs, laptops and smartphones of today.
The first bikes were sold as early as 1819! ‘Hobby Horses’ were designed and sold in Central London and revolutionised mobility across the city (and further!). Whilst today cycling is more of a sport or fitness pursuit, in the early 1800s the bicycle was a key method of transport. It was the cheapest way to get around and was particularly effective for those who previously had no means of travelling other than walking. These wooden-framed “vehicles” became an absolute craze in 19th Century London.
The microphone was invented in 1878 by David Edward Hughes. Amazingly, the technology behind the original microphone is still the principle way that they operate today. Hughes first demonstrated his invention using insects scratching inside a box and successfully amplified the noises that they made. He never patented his invention, as he claimed to be giving it as a gift to the world.
Traffic lights officially got the green light in 1868 and were initially installed in Parliament Square, Westminster. As with all these examples, traffic lights have proven themselves to be absolutely timeless technology. Ironically, they serve a far greater purpose now than they did when they were first invented — the streets are far busier and more chaotic now than they were in 1868!