Recently we did a piece on weird Aussie inventions looking at a few of the lesser known innovations Aussies have brought into the world.

Well, Australians are certainly a crafty bunch so let’s take a look at some of the most mainstream and world-changing inventions we have ever concocted.

The feature film

Hang your head in shame Hollywood. We were here first!

Up until 1906 films were short – 10 minutes were the maximum and were not designed to tell full narrative driven stories.

That all changed in Victoria, Australia with the filming and creation of The Story of the Kelly Gang. Melbourne’s John and Nevin Tait, Millard Johnson and William Gibson wrote, produced and directed the breakthrough film and went on to tour it through New Zealand, Ireland and Britain.

This was the world’s very first full length feature film in the format we recognise today and clocked in at 80-minutes.


Can you imagine 2019 without WiFi? It has become so ubiquitous you can find in in planes, homes, taxis, buses, offices and public spaces the world over.

The advancements in communication technology made available through WiFi is hard to calculate, with virtually every mobile device on the planet making use of either personal or public WiFi networks.

The core technology of WiFi was actually patented in 1994 by Australian CSIRO employee and electrical engineer John O’sullivan.

He wasn’t out to create it either – it was a happy accident actually. Originally John was chasing ‘exploding black holes the size of an atomic particle’ using a related technique for reducing interference of radio signals transmitted for computer networking. This technology is now a part of all recent WiFi implementations.

The electric drill

Carpentry as we know it would not exist without the good old electric drill. Tradies and DIY enthusiasts the world over would be performing in a rather poor fashion without this indispensable tool.

When was it invented and why? In 1889, Australian electrical engineer Arthur James Arnot designed, built and patented the globe’s very first electric drill alongside his colleague William Brain.

While the tool they came up with was a much heftier affair designed as a mining tool for drilling through rock and digging coal. With the technology essentially the same, it was only a matter of time before it shrunk down and became the modern tool we all know and love.

Black box recorder

Modern aviation would be rather unfathomable without the black box. After years of forensic teams becoming baffled by the causes behind aviation incidents and crashes, there came a solution – the black box in flight voice recorder, capable of being reused and also capable of surviving the incredible forces of a crash, fire or water pressure.

Back in the 50’s in Melbourne, David Warren was a research scientist at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory. During his time here, David found himself involved in the mysterious crash investigation of the word’s first commercial jet – the comet.

It occurred to David that if only somebody had been recording the conversation and sounds within the cockpit, the mystery of what happened could be solved. Spurred by his personal interest in recording music, David created a prototype in his own time and went about demonstrating it – to little fanfare.

It was only in 1958 after a visit by Sir Robert Hardingham, that the former British air Vice-Marshal finally saw the potential and whisked him away to England to demonstrate the device.

Fast forward to today and we see black box flight recorders are now a mandatory installation in all commercial aircraft – allowing a massive improvement in flight safety as lessons are learned from crashes around the world.