Brits in the dark about key UK inventors of some of the world’s most important creations, finds poll

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21st May 2019 13:08 - Engineering

Brits in the dark about key UK inventors of some of the world’s most important creations: A recent survey by the Royal Academy of Engineering has found that many Brits do not know who was responsible for game-changing inventions such as the World Wide Web and the world's first programmable computer - despite the celebrated creators being British.  However, six in 10 said they do expect that it will be the UK who is responsible for the next major technological breakthrough.


The poll of 2,000 British adults ahead of the 50th anniversary of the MacRobert Award for UK engineering innovation, found that half of the people questioned did not know that Londoner,  Sir Tim Berners-Lee was the brains behind the invention most of us now use everyday, the World Wide Web, in 1989.

The majority of the people asked (55%) also did not know who was responsible for demonstrating a working colour television to the world in 1928. This was the work of inventor John Logie Baird, from Dunbartonshire in Scotland.

Similarly, 51% were unfamilar with Sir Frank Whittle, the Coventry-born British Royal Air Force officer who is credited with inventing the jet engine, after he patented the invention in 1928.  

Ada Lovelace, who invented the computer algorithm, could only be identified by a third of respondents, while just 12% knew who Tommy Flowers MBE  (the inventor of the world’s first programmable computer) was. Both were from London.

Almost eight out of ten (79%) people surveyed did not realise that the world’s first ever commercially available  bionic hand was created here in the UK, by Touch Bionics of Livingston.

However, despite not always being in the know about key UK inventors of the last century, 88% of Brits polled said they are filled with pride at the technological achievements made by the UK and 90% agreed that engineering is important to the UK economy.

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