Mia Shulman, Acting Managing Editor
Friday, August 3, 2012 9:00 AM EDT
There’s a lot to thank the British for (and it goes beyond a couple of cute princes and soccer stars). Some of the most commonly used items in our homes were invented across the pond; products that help us cook, clean and relax.
And though they may not seem like the most exciting inventions, read through the list and try to imagine what life would be like without them. It's sure to invoke some serious loyalty to the Queen.
The Brits may not have a huge stake in the current wine industry (the United Kingdom contributes only one percent to the domestic market) but they made their mark years ago with the invention of the corkscrew. In 1795 the first corkscrew patent was granted to Reverend Samuel Henshell in England, but there's evidence of its existence as early as 1676. It was used to open bottles of cider and beer, but over the years it's been redesigned and adapted for wine.
The Lawn Mower
What did people do before the lawn mower? In 1827 Edwin Budding invented the very first lawn mower and by 1830, the first two had been sold to Regent's Park Zoological Gardens in London and the Oxford Colleges. (No wonder the Brits set the standard for perfectly manicured lawns.)
The Light Bulb
Edison gets a ton of credit for inventing the light bulb, and rightfully so, but Sir Joseph Wilson Swan was a chemist and physicist in Newcastle who simultaneously created the first incandescent light bulb. He demonstrated his invention in 1878, but didn't patent it until 1880, several months after Edison. Swan was knighted by King Edward VII and celebrated in Europe for his inventions, but Edison still gets all the glory for his "light bulb" moment.
The Vacuum Cleaner
Though many claim to have invented the vacuum cleaner, Hubert Cecil Booth of Britain invented the first motorized vacuum in the style that we commonly use today. After seeing an invention that blew dust away, he created a machine that sucked dust up and soon was running a business of cleaners, even vacuuming the carpets of Westminster Abbey prior to Edward VII's coronation!
Though a Scot by birth, John Logie Baird invented the first television and tested it in 1925 in Selfridges on Oxford Street in London for shoppers. By 1927 he'd created the first colour television and "Phonovision," more commonly known as video recording. No wonder the Brits went on to create some of our favourite shows --Coronation Street, anyone?
Prior to the invention of toilet paper, people used everything from coconut shells to their own hands when using the loo (guessing these societies weren't big on handshakes...). Many civilizations created versions of toilet paper, but it was The British Perforated Paper Company that created the perforated squares in 1880 that we use today.