List of Swedish inventors

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Swedish inventors are Swedish people who invented novel ideas, machines or tools.

In the 18th century Sweden's scientific revolution took off. Previously, technical progress had mainly come from professionals who had immigrated from mainland Europe. In 1739, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was founded, with people such as Carl Linnaeus and Anders Celsius as early members.

Sweden has a total of 33523 patents as of 2007 according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and only ten other countries have more patents than Sweden. Although a lot of patents cannot count as inventions. Therefore, the number of patents per country is a relatively bad scale for measuring inventions that has been of progress to mankind.[1]

The traditional engineering industry is still a major source of Swedish inventions, but pharmaceuticals, electronics and other high-tech industries are gaining ground. A large portion of the Swedish economy is to this day based on the export of technical inventions, and many large multinational corporations from Sweden have their origins in the ingenuity of Swedish inventors.[2]

17th century[edit]

  • Christopher Polhem (1661–1751) was a Swedish scientist, inventor and industrialist. He made significant contributions to the economic and industrial development of Sweden, particularly mining. He reinvented the Cardan joint under the name of "Polhem knot" (Polhemknut) independently of Gerolamo Cardano, an Italian mathematician who invented the knot in 1545. His greatest achievement was an automated factory powered entirely by water; automation was very unusual at the time.[citation needed]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

From the 1870s, engineering companies were created at an unmatched rate and engineers became considered heroes of the age. Many of the companies founded by early pioneers are still internationally familiar.

20th century[edit]

  • Arne Asplund (1903–1993) was inventor of the Defibrator pulping refiner and the defibrator-method (also called Asplund-method) for pulping wooden chips.
  • Oscar Kjellberg was a Swedish inventor and industrialist. Founder of ESAB, in 1904, and Kjellberg Finsterwalde, in 1922. He invented the coated electrode used in manual metal arc welding (Swedish Patent: 27152, 29 June 1907), by dipping a bare iron wire in a thick mixture of carbonates and silicates. His pioneering of covered electrode development paved the road during the next twenty years in the research of reliable flux coated electrodes.
  • Nils Alwall (1904–1986), a Swedish professor was a pioneer in hemodialysis and the inventor of one of the first practical dialysis machines. Alwall pioneered the technique of ultrafiltration and introduced the principle of hemofiltration.[6][7][8] Alwall is referred to as the "father of extracorporeal blood treatment."[9]
  • Austria's Carl Hellmuth Hertz (1915—80) began research on ultrasound in medical examinations in the early 1950, thereby becoming known throughout the world. A Swedish physician, Inge Edler (b. 1911) told Hertz that he wanted to devise a non-invasive method for examining the heart. Echocardiography has revolutionized cardiovascular diagnostics. In 1977 Hertz and Edler received the American equivalent of the Nobel Prize in medicine, the Lasker Prize. The use of ultrasound in medical diagnostics is increasing sharply in a number of different fields.
  • Harry Roberts is the co-inventor of julmust and founder of Roberts AB in Örebro, Sweden. After studying chemistry in Germany during the late 19th century he invented the soft drink together with his father Robert Roberts.
  • Johan Richter (1901–1997) invented during the 1930s the continuous bleaching process for paper. Then during the WW2 he took on the more challenging continuous cooking process for pulp. Virtually all paper in the world is today produced with processes developed by Richter. He holds more than 750 patents.
  • Nils Bohlin (1920–2002) was a Swedish inventor who invented the three-point safety belt while working at Volvo.
  • Arvid Gerhard Damm (died 1927) was a Swedish engineer and inventor. He designed a number of cipher machines, and was one of the early inventors of the wired rotor principle for machine encipherment. His company, AB Cryptograph, was a predecessor of Crypto AG.
  • René Malaise (1892–1978) was a Swedish entomologist, explorer and art collector who is mostly known for his invention of the Malaise trap and his systematic collection of thousands of insects.
  • Although not initially invented by a Swede the design of the zipper was improved upon and patented by two Swedish-Americans, Peter Aronsson and Gideon Sundbäck.
  • Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters in 1922, invented the absorption Refrigerator while they were still students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. It became a worldwide success and was commercialized by Electrolux.
  • Sven Wingquist (1876–1953) invented the self-aligning ball bearing in 1907. He founded a global company, SKF (AB Svenska Kullagerfabriken), still the world's leading producer of industrial bearings.
  • Arvid Palmgren (1890–1971) invented the spherical roller bearing in 1919 when working for SKF. This bearing could take considerably heavier loads than the self-aligning ball bearings, and was quickly adopted by heavy industries.
  • Tetra Pak (1951) is an invention for storing, packaging and distributing liquid foodstuffs, for example, milk and juice. Erik Wallenberg (1915–99) was the main inventor, while businessman Ruben Rausing (1895–1983) developed and produced it. (See box). Several new package types have been added. The most ubiquitous is the Tetra Brik (1969).
  • In the late 1950s, the first working Bottle Return Machine (or Reverse vending machine) was invented and manufactured by "Wicanders" from Sweden.[10]
  • Håkan Lans (born 1947) is recognised as one of Sweden's most outstanding inventors. Among his inventions is the digitizer, the predecessor of the computer mouse. He is also credited with the further development of the satellite-guided Global Positioning System (GPS) into the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Lans's system has become world standard for shipping and civil aviation. He is also famous for a patent regarding computer graphics.
  • Magnus Kellström (1941–) is an engineer graduated from Chalmers University of Technology that invented the toroidal roller bearing (also known as SKF CARB bearing). The bearing was introduced in 1995,[11] and forms together with a spherical roller bearing a "self-aligning system".
  • The energy saving light bulb was invented by a consortium at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm in 1973.
  • In the 1990s, an ABB team under Mats Leijon developed a new generator, the Power Former, producing high-tension current directly to the network without transformer links.
  • Arne Tiselius (1902–71) used electrophoresis in the 1940s to analyse various proteins. Tiselius's work has been followed by other similar methods. All are important for medical and biological research. Tiselius received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1948.
  • In 1958, Rune Elmqvist developed a small battery-powered pacemaker that can be inserted under the skin of a heart patient.[citation needed] It produces electrical impulses that help the heart muscle work normally. In the same year, Åke Senning at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm carried out the world's first pacemaker operation.
  • Peter Nordin (born 1965) is a Swedish computer scientist who has contributed to artificial intelligence, automatically generated computer programming, machine learning, and evolutionary robotics. He is currently (as of 2007) VP of Research at Institute of Robotics in Scandinavia AB (iRobis).[relevant? ]
  • In 1968, Lars Leksell (1907–86) invented the gamma knife for brain surgery. The ‘knife’ uses concentrated gamma radiation on the tumour or malformation. The method is bloodless and patients can often leave hospital on the day of the operation.
  • The transmission of high voltage direct current, HVDC, is a method developed at ASEA (now ABB) under Uno Lamm(1904–89). ABB remains one of the leading makers of HVDC technology, now also used for terrain cable.[1]
  • Losec, an ulcer medicine, was the world's best-selling drug in the 1990s and was developed by Ivan Östholm and Sven Erik Sjöstrand of Astra.
  • In 1973 Bengt Ilon invented the Mecanum wheel, a wheel which is capable of moving in any direction.
  • In 1993, Dr. Vladimir Ronin invents the process to produce Energetically Modified Cement ("EMC Cement"), whilst at Luleå University of Technology.

21st century[edit]


  1. ^ Patents By Country, State, and Year – All Patent Types (December 2007)
  2. ^ a b "Swedish inventions and discoveries" (PDF). Fact Sheet FS 91 e. Swedish Institute. January 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  3. ^ Halltorps Gastgiveri Description, Halltorps Gasgiveri, Borgholm (2004)
  4. ^ P.O. Nyström, Åminnelse-tal öfver Chefen för Kongl. örlogsflottans Mekaniska Stat, öfverstelöjtnanten och Riddaren av Kongl. Wasa Orden, Herr Jonas Lidströmer, Carlskrona, 1820.
  5. ^ Kip Keen (22 September 2004). "Dim Sun Global dimming? Global warming? What's with the globe, anyway?". Grist Magazine.
  6. ^ Hypertension, Dialysis & Clinical Nephrology (1997). "Nordiska Njurdagar (Nordic Nephrology Days)". Hypertension, Dialysis, and Clinical Nephrology. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  7. ^ Nils Alwall (1997). "Nils Alwall Lecture". Hypertension, Dialysis, and Clinical Nephrology. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  8. ^ Arvid Carlsson (2000). "Arvid Carlsson, The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2000". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  9. ^ BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg (2006). "Nils Alwall Prize 2006 awarded to scientist at the Medical Hospital in Heidelberg". The Biotech/Life Sciences Portal. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  10. ^ "About Reverse Vending Machines". Reverse Vending. Retrieved 19 October 2014. The First working Bottle Return Machine was invented and manufactured by "Wicanders" from Sweden used in the late 1950's.
  11. ^ "Hedersdoktor". Chalmers University of Technology. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Innovation: Inventing tomorrow's world".

External links[edit]