Being a small country has never stopped the Netherlands from setting out as adventurers and discovering new places. They’ve also been pretty busy inventing things. I’m not talking about useless stuff here – these Dutch inventions are pretty ground-breaking. Apart from an awesome little drink called Gin (nope, it was not invented by the Brits) there are a number of other important inventions that are the brainchild of Dutch scientists, opticians, architects and more!


The submarine

submarine - Dutch inventions
The submarine was invented by a Dutchman employed by the English Royal Navy

No, the Beatles didn’t invent the (yellow) submarine and it certainly wasn’t Englishman William Bourne, however he was the first one to develop the concept around it. Dutch inventor Cornelis Drebbel constructed a vessel in the 1620’s that could be navigated underwater. He was employed by the English Royal Navy, which used the river Thames as testing ground for the submarine. The submersible consisted of a wooden frame with leather stretched over it and oars were used to propel it. It is actually a pretty scary thought that there was only a piece of greased leather protecting you from the freezing ocean. Brrr.


The Olympic flame

Olympic flame - Dutch inventions
Architect Jan Wils invented it “by accident” – the Olympic flame


Now you’re impressed, right? Although it was invented “by accident” when architect Jan Wils designed the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. He created a tall tower with a smoke effect to attract attention. Hence it became a tradition at the Olympics to use the now world-famous flame.





Telescope & microscope

telescope - Dutch inventions
Two gentlemen from Middelburg are responsible for the invention of the telescope

Yep, both of them are Dutch inventions! In 1608 (One year before Galileo, say what?!) spectacle-craftsmen Zacharias Janssen and Hans Lipperhey from Middelburg had developed the telescope. The first stellar spyglass consisted of a simple tube as well as one biconvex and biconcave lens.

As far as the microscope is concerned, Dutchmen like Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Sacharias or Hans Jansen are mentioned as inventors. Van Leeuwenhoek used a magnifying glass with one lens that could magnify up to 237 times!


The eye-test

Snellen chart - Dutch inventions
We’ve all seen this chart before



You know when you go to the eye specialist and you have to read letters ranging from large to small off a board? Yes? Well that’s because the Dutch care about our eyesight! Herman Snellen invented this chart (called the Snellen-chart) in 1862.







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The speed camera

speed camera - Dutch inventions
Did we really need this invention? The speed camera


Hmm, not sure this is something we should thank the Dutch for. Rally driver Gatsonides is responsible for the invention of the first automatic speedometer, which he started to produce and sell in 1958. He used two rubber tubes, which as soon as the car tires hit them, would activate the chronometer to measure the speed.




CD, DVD and Blu-Ray

CD - Dutch inventions
The Dutch are also the masterminds behind the CD and DVD


Joop Sinjou and Kees Schouhamer Immink are the masterminds behind the compact disc that was produced by Sony and Philips. They based the size of the CDs hole on a Dutch 10-cent coin. Next to the CD, Philips also invented the cassette tape, the DVD, and Blu-Ray – seriously impressive!




Dutch inventions: Bluetooth

Bluetooth - Dutch inventions
Bluetooth was invented by Dr. Jaap Haartsen

Alright, I’ve got one more of these Dutch inventions! Dutchman Dr. Jaap Haartsen came up with the idea for Bluetooth while he was working for the Swedish company Ericsson. And if that doesn’t convince you that the Dutch are quite the inventors, then guess what? Wi-Fi has Dutch roots too with Cees Links playing a vital role in its creation in 1997 and paving the way for Wi-Fi technology as we know and use today (it was actually developed by an Australian organisation called CSIRO).



And the list doesn’t end there. Are there more Dutch inventions you want to add?


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