Swedish Innovations


Invention Inventor Year
ABBA 1972-1982
Adjustable Spanner Johan Petter Johansson 1892
Bearing Carl Winqvist 1907
Blowtorch Carl Richard Nyberg 1882
Bluetooth Ericsson 1997
Celcius Scale Anders Celcius 1741
Cellphonesystem Ericsson 1958
Coca-Cola design Alexander Samuelsson 1915
Computer mouse, color comp.color Graphics Håkan Lans
Dynamite Alfred Nobel 1865
Gamma Knife Prof.Leskell and Prof.Larsson
Hydraulic Rock Drill Viggo Romell/Atlas Copco
Hasselblad Camara Victor Hasselblad 1941
HMS Visby/High Tech Stealth Technology Cruiser SAAB Aerosystem 2000
IKEA Ingvar Kamprad
Jas 39 Gripen SAAB Aerosystem 1988
Kazaa Niclas Zennström
Lighthouses/Automatic Gustav Dalen 1912
Mechanical Alpahbet Christopher Polhem 1661-1751
Milking Maching Gustav De Laval
Pacemaker Rune Elmqvist 1958
Pipe Wrench Johan Petter Johansson 1888
Pippi Longstocking Astrid Lindgren 1940
Position Indicating System Hakan Lans
Propeller John Ericsson 1836
Refrigerator Carl George Munters 1920
SAAB 1937
Safety Matches Gustav Eric Pasch                  Gustav von Platen 1844
Scania 1891
Seatbealts/Rolling Hans Karlsson 1962
Seatbealts/3-point Nils Bohlin 1957
Skype Niclas Zennström 2000
Steam Turbine Gustav De Laval 1883
Table Hockey Stiga Games/Tranås 1957
Telephone Ericsson 1848
Tetra Pak Eric Wallenberg 1944
Turbo Engine Bengt Gadefelt/SAAB SCANIA 1975
Turning Torso 190 mtrs high, 54 stories
Volvo 1927
Volvo Penta 1907
Zipper Gideon Sundbäck 1927

See below for more detailed info about the innovations:

Anders Celsius (1701-1744)

Anders Celsius devoted himself entirely to mathematics and astronomy and was appointed professor of astronomy at Uppsala University at the age of 29. Celsius was instrumental in the building of Sweden’s first observatory in Uppsala in 1741. Celsius contributed through his countless observations to world knowledge of solar and lunar eclipses, the orbits of the planets, comets, the aberrations of the stars and the breakdown of light in the atmosphere. Celsius is most famous for his invention of new type of thermometer with one hundred degrees between the freezing point (0oC or 32o F) of water and the boiling point (100o C or 212o F) of water. Today his thermometer is used throughout the world.
Note: To calculate Celsius to Fahrenheit: Double the Celsius degrees, deduct 10%, add 32.
To calculate Fahrenheit to Celsius: Decuct 32, add 10%, divide by 2

Carolus Linnaeus ( 1707-1778) and The System of Nature (Systema Naturae)

Linnaeus (also known as Carl von Linné) classified all the plants, animal and minerals of the world into different species and families, giving them uniquely individual names, written in Latin. He sent his students to the far corners of the world to collect specimens and report on their findings. His book was published in 1735 and laid the foundation for the classification of plants and animals that is still used by botanists and zoologists throughout the world. As an indication of his importance, it is worth mentioning that Linnaeus’ scientific works are some of the most often cited in the Science Citation Index.

Read more in this section about Carl Linnaeus - click on Famous Swedes

Eva Ekeblad (1724-1786)

Eva Ekeblad experimented with potatoes for both the and the production of powder and distillation of vodka. Her attempts to produce potato vodka succeeded in 1748 and the Swedes began to grow more potatoes for alcohol production. With time, the Swedes found the courage to try eating potatoes too.

The Pre-Industrial Sweden in the 1870’s experienced an unprecedented period of expansion. Compulsory elementary education, introduced in 1842, increased greatly the population’s reading and writing skills and transformed Sweden from an agricultural nation to an industrial one.

Some of the corporations established during this period include Atlas Copco, Ericsson, ASEA (ABB), Alfa Laval, Stal Laval, AGA, SKF, ESAB, Electrolux and Sandvik.

Alfred Nobel

By mixing nitroglycerine with black powder and using fuse cord Alfred Nobel got his first patent in 1863. The black powder consisted of porous, absorbent sand, which could be kneaded and easily formed. He named it dynamite, from the Greek word dynamis, meaning power. One year later, he obtained a patent for his invention, the Nobel Igniter which is the greatest discovery made both in principle and practice of explosives. Alfred Nobel became the first person to bring his innovations from science into industry. At the time of his death, he held 355 patents. He built a multinational corporate empire with manufacturing and sales offices in more than 20 countries.
The final will of Alfred Nobel was signed in 1895. The first Nobel Prizes were distributed in 1901. The Nobel Prize is an award given yearly for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.

Read about the amazing Nobel family in this section:
 click on  "Famous Swedes "


Gustaf Erik Pash (1788-1862), Johan Edvard Lundstrom (1815-1888) and Alexander Lagerman (1836-1904).

In 1844 Pash received a patent for the Safety Match, where the deadly yellow phosphorus used in earlier matches was replaced with red phosphorus, which he placed on the matchbox rather than in the head of the match. Lagerman constructed the first automatic match-making machine in 1892, making possible the mass production of matches. The manufacture of matches became the basis for a huge corporate empire led by the infamous industrialist Ivar Kreuger (1880-1932). At one point the Swedish corporation had a monopoly on world match production, accounting for 75% of all matches manufactured worldwide.

John Ericsson 1803-1889

Ericsson developed hot-air and steam engines and solar heater, and became famous for his practical construction of rotary marine propellers. (Propellers have barely changed in appearance since Ericsson presented his design). Ericsson gained his greatest fame for building the Monitor, an armored Union Navy warship which conquered the Confederate Navy’s Merrimac during the American Civil War in 1862.

Gustaf de Laval (1845-1913)

The first model of Laval’s cream separator, a device used for separating cream from milk and making the manufacturing of butter muche easier, was patented in 1878 and 1883. His original company AB Separator is presently known as Alfa-Laval AB. De Laval also invented the modern farming and dairy industry with the invention of the Milking Machine in 1896. De Laval’s most remarkable invention was a steam turbine equipped with specially shaped steam jets. , which gave the steam a speed greater than the speed of sound when it hit the turbine blades. During he 19000’s , it was the most-widely used steam power source in the world.

Lars Magnus Ericsson (1846-1926)

Ericsson began manufacturing telephones in 1881 in his company L.M. Ericsson & Co.
In 1885 he invented the telephone handset.

Mobile Telephones

The basis for mobile telephones was established in the 1950’s. The equipment was clumsy and the range was short. In 1976, Osten Makitalo, head of a research group at Ericsson, created a wireless telephone system for everyone. (NMT Network Management Technologies) . In the beginning of the 1980”s NMT made its breakthrough in modern mobile telephones. Ericsson took advantage of their head start and during the 1990’s became the world’s leading seller of mobile telephone systems

Johan Petter Johansson (1853-1943)

Over one hundred years ago, Johan Peter Johansson invented the adjustable wrench. Sandvik Bahco has manufactured over 100 million adjustable wrenches and production continues. Each year, about 40 million adjustable wrenches are manufactured around the world using the design developed by John Petter Johansson.

Gideon Sundbäck (1880-1954) and Peter Aronsson

Although the first zipper was patented by Elias Howe in 1851, the zipper was developed in 1900 by Gideon Sundbäck, an electrical engineer, and Peter Aronsson.. Patent was granted in 1914 in the USA to where Sundbäck and Aronsson emigrated and opened a factory for the production of the zipper. The appearance of the zipper has not changed since Sundbäck’s and Aronsson’s days.

Gustaf Dalén (1869-1937)

During 1905-1909 Dalén developed four famous inventions which became the cornerstones of the AGA system:

  1. Aga, a gas storage medium which reduced the risk of acetylene explosions during transport.
  2. Intermittent lamp for lighthouses which gave rapid flashes of light from acetylene gas.
  3. Solar valve, which automatically lit the gas lamp of a lighthouse when darkness fell and extinguished it at daybreak.
  4. Mixer, an apparatus which blended acetylene gas with air.
AGA lighthouses became maintenance-free when Dalén added a device which automatically changed burned-out gas mantles. These lighthouses has been used around the world increasing the safety of ocean transport and bringing huge savings in personel and material costs. His system is also used in lighted buoys, aircraft landing lights, windindicators and railroad signals. Gustaf Dalén was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1912.

Viktor Hasselblad (1906-1978)

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as the first men to set foot on the moon, took photos of the moon’s surface, they used a Swedish camera, made by Hasselblad company in Gothenburg. The Hasselblad company was formed in 1941 and manufactured aerial cameras for the Swedish air force. Victor Hasselblad built a precision camera for civilian use and presented his invention: a camera based on a single-lens reflex system.
Hasselblad Prize is one of the most prestigious photographic prizes in the world.

Baltzar von Platen (1898-1984) and Carl Munters (1897-1989) 

The invention of a refrigerator without moving parts was a revolution. Production and sales began in 1925, paving the way for the corporation that would become Electrolux

Sven Wingquist (1876-1953)

The Swedish engineer, Sven Wingquist, furthered the ball-bearing technology and invented the self-aligning spherical roller bearing. Sweden’s famous ball-bearing specialist, SKF (Svenska Kullager Fabriken) was founded in 1907 to exploit the invention.

Ruben Rausing(1895-1983) and Erik Wallenberg (1915-1999)

In 1951, Tetra Pak presented the revolutionizing idea for the storage of non-carbonated drinks such as milk and juice in plastic-coated paper containers. The combination of a tetrahedron shape of plastic-coated paper. By the end of the 1960’s, Tetra Pak products were in use throughout the world. The company made new advances in packaging technology and introduced “Tetra Brik” carton in 1963.

Alexander Samuelson

Alexander Samuelson left Sweden at the end of the 19th century by boat to America. In 1915 he created the original Coca-Cola bottle.

Nils Svensson

Nils Svensson revolutionized shipbuilding. Starting with a model built in his cellar, he created an entirely new way to build large ocean craft. His method laid the groundwork for the revolutionary Arendal Shipyard in Gothenburg which was founded in 1850 by Christian Backman. Now Götaverken Arendal.

Hydraulic Rock Drill

The first hydraulic rock drill was sold in 1973. These drills offer greater power and depth capacity than pneumatic rock drills. The most important components of these drills is a recoil damping system, invented in 1975 by Viggo Romell, chef engineer and project manager for Atlas Copco. Atlas Copco has also developed handheld pneumatic and gasoline-driven rock drills (the “Cobra”) which operate at low vibration levels. Atlas Copco has been awarded prizes for the design of its handheld rock drills.

SAAB Turbo Engine

Turbo engines had been used for many years in motor racing, but were not available to everyday drivers as they were difficult to maintain, were unreliable and had poor fuel economy. In 1976, Bengt Gadefelt, project manager at Saab-Scania, developed a turbo engine for passenger cars. In 1984 SAAB became one of the first car manufacturers in the world to market a mass-produced car, equipped with a four-cylinder engine with 16 valves and turbo charging.

Håkan Lans.

Håkan Lans, civil engineer, is one of Sweden’s most famous living inventors. He is known for three major inventions: the computer mouse, color computer graphics (today his color graphics are used by almost all computer manufacturers) and GP&P (Global Positioning & Communication). With the GP&P, pilots navigators and automobile drives can se exactly where they are and also see where other aircrafts, ships and cars are. Håkan Lans
Hakan Lans and his team worked on further development and applications of satellite navigation systems. In 980 and eventually came up with an ingenious system known as STDMA (Self-organizing Time Division Multiple Access) It uses highly accurate global timing, offered by Navstar satellites. For positioning down to a few meters accuracy and can provide collision avoidance information and warning for aircraft or ships. STDMA was accepted as a world standard for sea traffic by the International Maritime Organization in 1999 and for air traffic control by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2001. Hakan Lans is today holding over 50 patents and a range of non-patent innovations and has received several invention and innovation awards.


Professor Lars Leskell and Professor Borge Larsson and the Gamma Knife
In 1968, Professor Lars Leskell of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and Professor Borge Larsson of the Gustaf Werner Institute at the University of Uppsala, Sweden developed the Gamma Knife. As far back as the 1940's, Leskell recognized the need for an instrument to target deep-seated intracranial structures without the risks of invasive open skull surgery. The Gamma Knife is a revolutionary instrument used to treat arteriovenous malfunctions (AVM) and certain brain tumors without a single incision. The risk of surgical complications is greatly reduced because the procedure is performed without an incision. Therefore, Gamma Knife radio surgery is virtually painless. Patients routinely use only a local anesthesia with a mild sedative, thereby eliminating the side effects and dangers of general anesthesia.
Conventional neurosurgery means a lengthy hospital stay, expensive medication and sometimes months of rehabilitation. The Gamma Knife reduces these costs greatly. Patients are usually` able to leave the hospital the same day and resume their normal activities immediately. Post-surgical disability and convalescent costs are nonexistent.
Today, based on more than two decades of in-depth research and clinical study, the Gamma Knife emerges as the most technologically advanced stereotactic radio surgery of our time.


Swedish physician Rune Elmqvist (1906-1996) developed the first pacemaker to be inserted by operation and surgeon Åke Senning carried out the first surgery in 1958 at Karolinksa sjukhuset in Solna. Later in 1975, Finn Seppo Säynäjäkangas and his company Polar Electro started producing small and low-cost heart rate monitors, a major international success in the sports markets.Rune Elmqvist was a medical doctor but worked later as an engineer and inventor.

1931 Rune Elmqvist developed the first EKG
Sources:. Karolinska Institutet and Wikipedia
Sources: Swedish Institute. (SI), www.si.se

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien) was founded in 1739 and regarded as the birth date for natural sciences in Sweden.