What has Finland ever done? Well if it wasn’t for Finland, you wouldn’t be texting your friends and you’d still be watching silent movies!
Not long ago, someone made a comment that really annoyed me. “What has Finland ever done?” he asked with that belittling tone of voice. I can accept ignorance or lack of knowledge, but it’s when someone automatically presumes that the answer is “nothing”, that I still get defensive, after more than 20 years in the UK.
So I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you about Finnish inventions such as Nokia, Angry Birds and saunas, but rather talk about the things that you might not have realised had a Finnish connection!
Ok, you might have guessed it; mobile phones were originally a Finnish invention! In 1917, a Finnish inventor called Eric Tigerstedt filed a patent for what he described as a “pocket-size folding telephone with a very thin carbon microphone”! But did you know that Finland also played a part in bringing synchronised sound to films? Yep, in 1914, that same man again, Finnish inventor Eric Tigerstedt was granted a German patent for his sound-on-film work and that same year, he apparently demonstrated a film to an audience of scientists in Berlin!
Not many people are aware of the fact that SMS messaging, or texting, is a Finnish invention as well. Sadly, the gentleman who invented texting, Matti Makkonen, died only last month aged 63, without having made any money out of his invention. (See BBC article here)
But it’s not just the big Finnish inventions that I’m proud of; I’m also delighted that many Finnish items have found their ways into UK homes. One of them is the ABLOY lock, one of the most difficult locks to pick, invented by Emil Henriksson about a century ago!! Another item is the famous orange handled Fiskars scissors! And those bubble chairs, they were designed by Eero Aarnio in the 1960’s and very much doing a comeback!
Last but not least, the Molotov cocktail. Known in Finnish as Polttopullo or in some circles, as “the poor man’s grenade” -, this bottle full of flammable liquid, has been one of the Finnish contributions to warfare. It was specifically developed during the Winter War against the Russians, during World War II.
Now, normally I would not be proud of a weapon, but in my humble opinion, the Molotov cocktail played its’ part in helping us Finns resist the aggressions of a much greater force and ensuring that Finland was never occupied and stayed independent. But then again, I am biased, as the proud daughter of a Finnish World War II Veteran.
So there you go, a snapshot of some Finnish inventions that you might not have realised were Finnish! Next time you ask, I might even tell you about the other ones, such as the wind turbine, heart rate monitor, Xylitol and Benecol!
And you have been warned – never assume that a proud Finn would go away quietly when irritated, whether it is in war or when being asked the wrong question!
Love and peace to everyone- once again!