Spanish Inventions

Although Spaniards are known around the world for their famous actors, singers, painters, and athletes, what most people don't know is that Spanish inventors dreamt up many of the everyday objects we use today.
Throughout history, Spain has produced important inventors and scientists whose inventions and discoveries have played a large role in shaping our modern world.

What are some of these useful Spanish inventions?

Spanish Inventions

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 to design a device to help with housework after a trip to the US in the 1950s. He had observed Americans washing the floor with a flat rag that was subsequently wrung through rollers in a bucket.

Other useful everyday Spanish inventions include the first modern version of the stapler (Juan Solozabal and Juan Olive), the first mechanical pencil sharpener (Ignacio Urresti), the classical guitar, and packaged cigarettes, among many others.

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 in 1958.  In 1912 Leonardo Torres y Quevedo invented the first computer game in history: El Ajedrista (The Chess Player), an autonomous robotic chess game. The same Spanish inventor is attributed with having created the first digital calculator and the radio remote control

Spanish Inventions - Transportation

The autogyro (gyroplane) was invented by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva and help lead to one of the first helicopters. Spanish inventor and engineer Narcís Monturiol Estarriol designed the first combustion engine-driven submarine in 1859. Later, Spanish engineer Isaac Peral launched the first electric battery powered military submarine in 1888.

If you like to travel, you should know that it was Leonardo Torres y Quevedo who invented aerial cable cars in 1907. In 1940 Alejandro Goicoechea and Jose Luis Oriol founded the Talgo Company, which continues to manufacture innovative trains today. Spanish inventions have even made it to space: Emilio Herrera Linares helped designed one of the first space suits.

Spanish Inventions – Weapons

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.

Spanish Inventions – Medicine

If you have less than perfect vision, you should thank the inventors from the 17th century for creating prescription glasses. And if you’ve ever had a cold and a doctor has looked down your throat, you should know that it was singing teacher Manuel García who invented the laryngoscope, which makes it possible to examine a person’s glottis and larynx.
Other Spanish contributions to the medical field include 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 pulmonary circulation of the blood. Severo Ochoa de Albornoz won the 1959 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on RNA synthesis.

Remember Manuel Corominas? In addition to inventing the mop, he also created the first disposable hypodermic needles, which greatly impacted the medical field.

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