10 things you didn’t know were invented by South Africans


10 things you didn’t know were invented by South Africans

10 things you didn’t know were invented by South Africans

South Africa has some of the sharpest minds in the world so it’s no surprise that some inventions used across the globe were invented by South Africans, forever changing the face of medicine, technology, and…pool cleaning?

Alright, you probably know that the first heart transplant was performed in South Africa and that Mxit, the most popular Instant Message (IM) platform in South Africa, was started by Herman Heunis from Stellenbosch.

But what other inventions do you know of which are  South African original? Take a look at the following 10 inventions you didn’t know where invented by South Africans…

1. Kreepy Krauly

The Kreepy Krauly is an automated swimming pool cleaner which collects dirt from swimming pools and hence keeps your pool clean with minimal work. South Africa’s Ferdinand Chauvier is credited with the invention of the Kreepy Krauly swimming pool vacuum cleaner in 1974.

2. Peppermint Crisp Chocolate

Peppermint Crisp is a milk chocolate bar filled with a multitude of thin cylinders of mint-flavoured toffee.  Invented in South Africa by Wilson-Rowntree, it is now produced by Nestlé. The Peppermint Crisp is sold within Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as a 35 gram bar.

3. Computerized Ticketing

Thankful that you don’t have to worry about losing those paper tickets to the next Arcade Fire concert? Give props to Percy Tucker of Benoni. His Computicket is the world’s first complex computerized reservation system for ticket holders. He wanted to find a way to make theater-going easier for fellow South Africans but had never seen a computer in his life. Minor problem. Tucker’s vision went national in 1971, then soon after international. Who knew?

4. Dolosse

South African Eric Merrifield created dolosse as a way to protect harbor walls from the erosive crash of the ocean. Thanks to him, almost any waterfront you visit will have these large concrete blocks, each weighing up to 20 tons, lining the shoreline. Their complex geometric shapes help break up wave action and slow erosion.

5. Oil from Coal (Sasol)

When the South African government realised that South Africa had minimal oil reserves, this led to the South African Coal Oil and Gas Corporation (Sasol). Sasol is the world’s first – and largest – oil-from-coal refinery and it provides 40% of the country’s fuel.

6. Pratley’s Putty

George Pratley invented Pratley’s Putty while trying to create a glue that would hold components in an electrical box. Pratley’s Glue had a part in the success of the Moon Landing. In 1969 the substance was used to hold bits of the Apollo XI mission’s Eagle landing craft together.

7. Tellurometer

Known as a microwave distance-measuring device, the Tellurometer was invented by Durban’s own Dr. Trevor Lloyd Wadley in 1959. Here’s how it works: the Tellurometer spits out an electronic wave, a remote station absorbs and re-sends the wave back in a more complex form, and the distance the waves traveled is measured. It is mostly used to survey rough terrain, especially between mountain tops.

8. Thin solar cells

Solar power used to be attainable only for those with resources, but that changed when Prof. Vivian Alberts created a micro-thin metallic film at the University of Johannesburg. This technology has made solar electricity five times cheaper than the previously used solar photovoltaic cells, making solar power a more affordable and infinitely more environmentally-friendly option than coal.

9. Q20

This special lubricant apparently has 20 answers to 20 problems. The old model Volkswagen Beetles had chronic stalling issues in wet weather, and Mr. Robertson (he apparently has no first name) of KwaZulu-Natal, came to save the day with his magical water-repelling liquid. It also prevents rust, lubricates squeaky door hinges, and makes removing stubborn nuts and bolts easier. It’s a South African WD40, if you will.

10. Pratley Putty

The self-named Pratley Putty was invented by South African engineer George Pratley while looking for a type of glue that could hold together the parts in an electrical box. His special putty technology has been used all over the world, even playing important roles in space travel and the first moon landing.

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