Made in Belfast
Belfast is currently making a name for itself in the world of cyber security, but the city and Northern Ireland as a whole has a long history of innovation and invention. The proud history of shipbuilding means this part of the world is well known for being the birthplace of the world famous Titanic, which tragically sank on its maiden crossing to America. But some of the other inventions and creations which were developed in Northern Ireland might take you by surprise.
Here are some of our favourites at OWASP in Belfast.
1. Portable Defibrillator: Invented by Frank Pantridge, Lisburn
Professor James Francis “Frank” Pantridge was a physician and cardiologist from Hillsborough near Lisburn. A medicine graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, he introduced the modern system of CPR and invented the portable defibrillator. The first of its kind was installed in a Belfast Ambulance in 1965 and was powered by car batteries.
2. London Bus: ‘New Routemaster’ manufactured by Wrightbus in Ballymena since 2012
Ballymena manufacturers, Wrightbus, was commissioned in 2012 by Transport for London to create a new generation of iconic red London buses inspired by the traditional Routemaster. The New Routemaster bus was dubbed the ‘Borisbus’ after then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
3. Modern Tractor: Invented by Harry Ferguson
Harry Ferguson, an engineer from Dromore, County Down invented the three-point linkage system and initial tractor design that are still used on farms today. The first model, known as The Black Tractor, was built by Ferguson himself in 1933 and is credited as a key event in the history of farming.
4. Ejection Seat: Invented by James Martin, Crossgar Crossgar engineer James Martin and Captain Valentine Baker founded the Martin-Baker aircraft company in 1934 and is now a leader in ejection seat production. Martin developed the first ejection seat in 1944 after Baker’s death in a failed emergency landing.
5. Penalty Kicks: Adopted in 1891, pitched to IFA by William McCrum, County Armagh
Goalkeeper William McCrum of Milford Football Club in Armagh suggested the Penalty Kick rule it to Irish Football Association officials in 1890 after growing sick of opposing teams using foul play to stop goals being scored. The rule change was made a year later in a meeting of football’s International Board in Glasgow, revolutionising football forever.
6. Dunlop Tyres: Belfast 1880
While Scots-born Belfast-based John Boyd Dunlop didn’t invent the inflatable tyre, he did develop his air-filled tubes them without knowing a version had been created in his native Scotland years. He created his first pneumatic tyres to replace the solid rubber wheels on his son’s tricycle, using a pumped up garden hose. Dunlop started commercial production of cycle tyres in 1890 and car tyres 10 years later.
7. Milk Chocolate
You’d be forgiven for thinking it was the Swiss or the Belgians who invented milk chocolate but it was in fact the discovery is credited to Dr Hans Sloane from Killeyleagh in Co Down. In the 1680s he spent a year in Jamaica as the governor’s doctor, where he came across cocoa beans. He was the first to boil cocoa with milk and sugar, using the mixture to treat poor digestion. 60 years later Cadbury started producing Sir Hans Sloane’s Milk Chocolate.
8. The Delorean
Ok, so it might not have been a commercial success but the iconic car that took Marty McFly and Doc Brown Back to the Future has become more instantly recognisable to generations of movie fans. American entrepreneur John DeLorean set up his factory in Belfast and started production of the DMC-12 in 1981. Just over 9,000 cars were built before the company failed, with more than 6,000 estimated to still be on the road, maintained by an active enthusiast community.
9. Earthworm Jim (video game, 1994): Created by David Perry, Lisburn.
Born in Lisburn, David Perry began programming computer games in 1982 at the age of 15. In 1993 he formed Shiny Entertainment in California and created multi-million selling game, Earthworm Jim. The titular character, an average worm who is receives special powers from a mysterious space suit. Earthworm Jim was a huge hit for Sega in the 1990s, even spawning two sequels and being revamped for the Playstation in 2010.