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Did you know, today is National Inventors Day?

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A day to recognise the brilliant of innovators, National Inventors Day was started in 1983, in the USA and the 11th February was chosen by then President Ronald Reagan. He chose this date as it is the birthday of Thomas Edison, arguably one of the more prolific of inventors.

In the UK we do not have a set day to highlight the amazing contributions, British inventors have made to society.

So, I thought I’d hijack the date and talk about some of them.

Frank Whittle

Frank whittle jet engine thesis writing

[Image above is of Frank Whittle]

Frank Whittle was a Royal Air Force officer who made a major contribution to the invention of the Jet Engine.

Starting as an apprentice in 1923, before qualifying as a pilot officer in 1928, Whittle wrote a thesis arguing that planes needed to fly at higher altitudes. But Piston engines and propellors were unsuitable for this.

Between 1929 and 1940, Whittle had precured some finances to test and patent his theory that rocket propulsion or gas turbines driving propellors would be the way forward. With Royal Air Force approval, Power Jets LTD was formed.

By 1941, the Air Ministry secured the project, and the engine was ready for tests. America had heard about this project and asked for details and an engine. A Power Jets team and engine were flown to Washington where they enthusiastically embraced the technology.

By 1944, the jet engine proved to be a winner, with the XP-59A Airacomet operational.

Whittle retired from the Royal Air Force in 1948 with the rank of Air Commodore. He was knighted for his work and continued to work in the US as a research professor at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Whittle passed away in 1996.

Ada Lovelace

Restart Radio Republished Ada Lovelace Day and the stories of women in
[Image above is of Ada Lovelace]

Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was an English Mathematician and associate of Charles Babbage, another British inventor.

As early as 1833, Lovelace became interested in Babbage’s machines and she was introduced to him by a mutual friend, at just 17 years old. He soon became her mentor.

In 1843, Babbage was developing the Analytical Machine and Lovelace was asked to translate French text from his engineer into English. Not only fluent in French but being a mathematician, Lovelace translated the notes but added her own, signing them “A.A.L”. These notes were from Ada’s imagination that the Analytical Machine could work like a weaving machine. The engine could follow patterns or codes to calculate numbers and form letters.

In 1953, Ada’s notes were republished in a book about digital computing.

It turns out, long before the first computer was invented, Ada had beaten everyone to it, coming up with the idea for a computer language. This is a very basic way we explain computer programming.

Because of her work, Ada Lovelace is known as the first Computer Programmer.

Ada Lovelace passed away in 1852. Over 100 years before her notes were rediscovered.

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee launches start-up to disrupt the web

[Image above is of Tim-Berners Lee]

Tim Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist and the inventor of the World Wide Web.

After graduating University in 1976, Berners-Lee went on to design computer software at Plessey Telecommunications LTD and work as a software engineer consultant at CERN.

It was whilst at CERN that Berners-Lee started the development of what we now know as the World Wide Web (WWW). Starting with hypertext links, he used this to launch a proposal for creating a global hypertext document that would make use of the internet. It was the creation of webpages. People could log online and share results, techniques and practices without having to exchange multiple emails.

From 1989 to 1993, Berners-Lee developed the first website, explaining the World Wide Web concept and gave users an introduction and guide on starting their own websites.

Berners-Lee went on to be the founder of the World Wide Web Consortium and the Laboratory of Computer Science in Boston.

He now has numerous honours including a knighthood in 2004 and being awarded the Millennium Technology Price by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation.

Is there a British Inventor you didn't know about before today? Is there an inventor that has inspired you? 
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