Updated: January 23, 2023Published: December 19, 2022
Spain has created some of the best inventions that changed the world!
Since their discovery, Spanish inventions have been a breakthrough and a change in society. All of them have been, and are, key to the development of humanity. Whether to save lives, explore unknown places such as the seabed or space, and even improve daily welfare.
The human mind has no limits! We are constantly discovering, improving, and creating new things that will leave a mark forever. And it is more than demonstrated that Spaniards have extraordinary talent. You just have to see their inventions!
Do you want to discover what they are? Let’s travel back in time and see the most creative inventions developed by Spaniards that caused a great revolution!
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1. The Submarine
Inventor: Isaac Peral
The first submarine was built in 1859 and was made of wood. This fabulous creation was the work of the Catalan Narciso Monturiol, although many things had to improve.
But, it was the Murcian engineer Isaac Peral who designed a stainless steel submersible vessel powered by electric energy. This invention was created for military purposes and undoubtedly evolved underwater navigation. It is also considered one of the military inventions that marked the history of the Spanish army.
The “submarine Peral” had 77 tons, two electric motors, and a torpedo launcher. It could reach a speed of 11km/h (6 knots underwater). A real madness!
Isaac Peral’s submarine is currently on display in the port of Cartagena.
2. The Space Suit
Inventor: Emilio Herrera
In 1935 the military engineer and scientist Emilio Herrera from Granada invented the stratospheric space suit.
With this suit, one could fly at an altitude of 22,000 meters in an open-basket balloon. The suit included a microphone, a breathing system, and a visor to keep out ultraviolet light.
A trip to test the suit was planned, but the Civil War broke out and could not be made. Herrera, as a supporter of the Republican side, fled to France in 1939, and it was there that he died in exile in 1967.
The suit designed by Herrera would have been the first fully pressurized functional suit in history. However, it was never used in real-world conditions.
Even so, the U.S. NASA relied on Herrera’s technology to design the astronauts’ spacesuits, which later inspired the one used by astronauts today.
3. The Cable Car
Inventor: Leonardo Torres Quevedo
The Cantabrian engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo was an inventor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Among his inventions is the famous cable car. But where did this idea come from?
This idea came to Torres Quevedo in 1887, intending to overcome a 40-meter drop in his house. To do so, he created the first 200-meter-long shuttle, which consisted of a chair as a nacelle and was powered by two cows. Then, he patented the multi-wire aerial cableway, which was an incredible success!
After his great revolution, the cable car was exported beyond the Spanish borders and reached many countries. Above all, it triumphed in countries like Switzerland, where the orography is quite complex.
In 1907 Torres Quevedo built the first cable car suitable for the public transport of people on Mount Ulia in San Sebastian.
The Niagara Falls aerial tramway is inspired by the one created by Torres Quevedo.
4. The Gyroplane
Inventor: Juan de la Cierva
This spectacular invention, created by the Murcian engineer Juan de la Cierva in 1920, was built in Madrid. He named this first gyroplane “Cierva C1.”
However, de la Cierva did not get this model to fly, and it was not until his fourth model, the C4, when he fled the device. This aircraft was considered the precursor of modern helicopters.
Juan de la Cierva always showed interest in the world of aviation and became a pioneer in the field. In fact, at the age of 16, he built and flew a biplane! Can you believe it?
He flew his own gyroplanes and presented them to the crowds, who were impressed with his devices.
The advantage of the gyroplane over the conventional airplane (at that time) was that the gyroplane could take off and land in tiny spaces.
De la Cierva became world famous for being the first to cross the English Channel with one of his aircraft.
5. The Mop
Inventor: Manuel Jalón
This simple but effective invention was created by the aeronautical engineer Manuel Jalón.
The mop was one of the significant advances in the domestic panorama since, previously, the floor was mopped on the knees with a rag. This position was very uncomfortable and generated pain in the legs and back. It was really exhausting!
So Jalón had the great idea to put a long handle on the mop, and that’s how the mop was born!
Jalón founded a company called Rodex to market his invention and designed and patented the mop in 1964. By 1989, he had sold more than 60 million mops worldwide.
It is a super simple invention, but it has made things so much easier for everyone and has helped millions of people.
6. The Digital Calculator
Inventor: Leonardo Torres Quevedo
Although the success of the first mechanical calculator that worked using wheels and gears is due to Blaise Pascal, it was the Cantabrian Leonardo Torres Quevedo (the same who invented the Cable Car) who, in 1914, improved the version, thus introducing the digital calculator.
This prestigious Spanish invention could perform large mathematical operations with incredible speed. It was one of the most revolutionary and marked a before and after in scientific calculations.
In 1893, the digital calculator was presented at the Royal Academy of Exact Sciences. In fact, in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Caminos, at the Complutense University of Madrid, the original 1914 calculator is still preserved.
7. The Disposable Syringe
Inventor: Manuel Jalón
Manuel Jalón had previously revolutionized the domestic market with the invention of the mop. However, he managed to create another even more revolutionary invention, the disposable syringe.
This invention, made of plastic, was a great revolution at the sanitary level since it prevented many germ infections among patients. It was also used to inject liquids and extract blood for analysis. But it was not until the 80’s that it began to be successful and commercialized.
Until that time, the syringes that had been manufactured were made of glass and metal and were sterilized to prevent infection. But Jalón’s invention was undoubtedly one of the most famous, which significantly impacted worldwide.
At present, it is estimated that about twenty billion disposable syringes are manufactured daily around the world.
8. The Classical Guitar
Inventor: Antonio Torres
Antonio Torres, born in Almeria, invented this incredible instrument that revolutionized the music world. You should know that the classical guitar is also known as the Spanish guitar.
The classical guitar emerged as a modification of the ancient “vihuela.” It was developed in Spain between the 13th and 18th centuries.
But, if you want to know more about the classical guitar:
Alejandro Campos Ramírez, a restless and creative Galician poet, was the creator of this amusing invention.
In 1936 he was wounded during the Spanish Civil War in Madrid. He was transferred to Montserrat Hospital in Catalonia, where it all started.
During his stay in the hospital, Campos met a lot of children, most of them mutilated. His concern and seeing their sadness because they would not be able to play soccer ever again, led him to the great idea of creating the foosball table. He commissioned a carpenter to manufacture his invention, and in 1937 he formalized his idea.
Before reading this post, did you know that the Spaniards created these inventions? Which one impressed you the most?
The truth is that Spain can be proud to have had great inventors whose devices had incredible success and even went around the world!
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!