Dutch Inventions

What do you think of when you have Holland on your mind? Clogs? Friendly people? Beer? Amsterdam? What about inventions? Though Holland may be best known for tourism and beauty, there has been a lot of innovation to come out of this country over the centuries. In fact, there are numerous inventions to come out of the Netherlands that have made a global impact. Being familiar with some of them could help you impress people with your knowledge of local history and culture. The Dutch have invented many impressive things, but here is a short list of some of the more notable ones:

Artificial Kidney (Dialysis Machine)

If you or anyone you know is or has ever been on dialysis, you can thank Dutch physician Dr. Willem Kolff. He invented the artificial kidney machine, also known as a dialysis machine or simply, a dialyzer, in 1943. However, his first successful patient was not treated until 1945. Since then, the machine has been tweaked and upgraded in order to provide today’s dialysis patients with the best care possible.

CD, DVD and Blu-ray

The Dutch company Philips paired up with the Japanese company Sony for the invention of the CD in 1979, the DVD in 1995 and then the Blu-ray in 2006. All three of these inventions are still used by people across the world today.

Cocoa Powder

You have the Dutch to thank for modern chocolate products! It was during the 1820s that Dutch inventor Casparus van Houten Sr. came up with the hydraulic press, which press the fat out of roasted cocoa beans and ultimately creates cocoa powder. This powder is now the basis of all chocolate products.

The Fahrenheit Scale

Physicist and engineer Daniel Gabriel first proposed this temperature scale in 1724, and his name is still on it. But don’t expect to see temperature measured in Fahrenheit when you visit Holland. Somewhat ironically, they are one of the many countries the world over who have opted to use the Celsius scale instead. In fact, the only countries that have Fahrenheit as their official temperature system are the United States, the Cayman Islands, Palau, the Bahamas and Belize.

The Fire Hose

Until the invention of the fire hose in the early 1670s, people across the world used primarily buckets of water to try and extinguish fires. Lengths of leather about 50-feet long were sewn together in a thick hose, which could then be connected to hand pumps and put out fires more quickly. Fire hoses continue to save lives and buildings throughout the world to this day.

The Microscope

The exact inventor of the microscope is a little unclear, but its origins come from the Netherlands. An early one was built in 1590, in Middleburg. Though they did not come up with the name “microscope” (a German actually coined the term) two Dutch inventors most commonly associated with it Hans Lippershey (who also helped invent the telescope) and Zacharias Janssen.

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage could be considered an “invention” of the Dutch. In 2001, the Netherlands stood out as being the only country in the entire world to officially recognize marriage between two people of the same gender. Thirteen other countries have since joined them as of 2013, but the Netherlands will always be in the history books as the first.

The Stock Exchange

Established in 1602, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange is considered the oldest in the world. Many historians also consider capitalism to be a Dutch invention, though for a variety of other reasons besides the stock exchange.

The Submarine

Dutch builder Cornelius Drebbel invented the very first “submersible” in 1620, while he was employed in the services of England’s James I. It was propelled by oars and constructed for the purpose of exploring underwater, but it wasn’t long before militaries realized this invention’s potential in warfare and began researching and experimenting with them further.

The Traffic Enforcement Camera

These cameras have been a huge benefit to law enforcement worldwide, though of course the average driver may have mixed feelings about them. Nevertheless, it was a rally driver— not anyone involved in traffic control or law enforcement— who invented the traffic enforcement camera in 1958. Dutch rally driver and inventor Maurice Gatsonides came up with the camera originally as a means of measuring his speed and helping him improve his driving skills. For that reason, “Gatso” is one of the more notable brands of speed cameras, particularly around the UK and Australia.

The Yacht

The first yachts were light, fast sailing vessels that the Dutch navy used in their pursuit of pirates and other criminals who ventured out around their waters. The first yachts were developed in the 1580s, and it wasn’t until years later that they came to be perceived by most as luxury, or recreational vessels.