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Spanish Inventions

Spanish Inventions

Although Spaniards are known for their famous, poets, writers, painters amd actors there is also a good portion of inventors that might be less known.

Famous Spanish scientists and Hispanic inventors have made many discoveries and inventions that have greatly contributed to everyday human society.

Although Spaniards are known around the world for their famous explorers, poets, writers, painters, actors and athletes, perhaps the famous Spanish inventions that we use everyday are not so easily identifiable. Who are some of the famous Spanish inventors? What are the most famous Spanish inventions?

Spanish inventions and discoveries

Spanish inventors have created many commonly used items. You probably have one of the most famous inventions in your kitchen closet: the mop. The mop was designed by the Spanish inventor Manuel Corominas, an air force engineer who was inspired after a trip to the US in the 1950s to design a device to help with housework. He had observed Americans washing the floor with a flat rag that was subsequently wrung through rollers in a bucket. Corominas engaged the help of Emilio Bellvis, a military mechanic, and they launched the company Rodex which began producing mops. Other useful everyday Spanish inventions include the first modern version of the stapler (Juan Solozábal and Juan Olivé 1930), the first mechanical pencil sharpener (Ignacio Urresti 1945), the classical guitar which first appeared in Spain in the 8th century, packaged cigarettes which first appeared in Spain around 1825, and additionally the radio, which was actually invented by the Spanish inventor Julio Cervera, eleven years prior to Marconi.

Spanish inventions also include items with a fun flare. In the 1880s some of the earliest versions of table football (foosball) began to appear in Spain, although the current version is attributed to an Englishman. Another famous Spanish invention is a children’s favorite: the lollipop. The first lollipop was created by Enric Bernat, who introduced the first “Chups” hard candy on a stick into the Spanish market in 1958. The slogan for the new candy was “chupa chups” (suck a Chups), which is now the common name in Spain for the lollipop. In 1912 Leonardo Torres y Quevedo invented the first computer game in history known as the ajedrecista, an autonomous robotic chess game. The same Spanish inventor is attributed with having created the first digital calculator and radio remote control called Telekino.


Which Spanish discoveries have contributed to transportation?  The autogyro (gyroplane) was invented by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva and help lead to one of the first helicopters, the Libélula española (Spanish dragonfly), invented in 1924 by Federico Cantero Villamil. Spanish inventor and engineer Narcís Monturiol Estarriol designed the first combustion engine-driven submarine in 1859 that was propelled by an early form of air-independent propulsion. Later, Spanish inventor Isaac Peral launched the first fully capable military submarine and electrically powered vessel in 1888. Avid skiers can thank Leonardo Torres Quevedo for inventing aerial tramways in 1907 so that the Donostia-San Sebastian royalty could gain easy access to Mount Ulía. In the 1940s, Spanish inventor and engineer Alejandro Goicoechea and José Luis Oriol founded the TALGO Company dedicated to light rail trains which produced one of the first modern passenger trains in history. Another important Spanish scientist includes Emilio Herrera Linares who helped designed one of the earliest space suits.


Spanish scientists and inventors have also contributed to the weapons field. Spanish renaissance inventions include harquebus guns which began to appear around 1450 and greatly improved upon the previously used hand cannons. Another renaissance invention by Spaniards include the first known pocket knives which began to appear in Spain towards the end of the 16th century as a result of Charles V prohibiting non-aristocrats to carry swords.  The Spanish are also credited with inventing the first Molotov cocktails, or petrol bombs, which were used by Republicans during the Civil War.

Medical Field

What about the famous Spanish inventions in the medical field?  The first graded glasses were introduced in Spain in 1623 and proved to be an important renaissance invention by improving on the previous trial and error method. Spanish vocal pedagogue Manuel García invented a laryngoscope type device in 1854 that allowed him to view the glottis and larynx in a living human using a natural light source. Other Spanish contributions to the medical field include: famous Hispanic inventor Santiago Ramón y Cajal who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 for his work on the structure of the nervous system, Miguel Servet’s work led him to discover the mystery behind pulmonary circulation and Severo Ochoa de Albornoz won the 1959 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on RNA synthesis. Additionally the famous mop inventor, Manuel Jalón Corominas, also discovered disposable needles which greatly impacted the medical field.

These are just some of examples of how Spanish scientists and inventors contributed to human development.