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List of Swedish inventors

Swedish inventors are Swedish people who invented novel ideas, machines or tools.

In the 18th century Sweden's scientific revolution took off. Previously, technical progress had mainly come from professionals who had immigrated from mainland Europe. In 1739, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was founded, with people such as Carolus Linnaeus and Anders Celsius as early members.

Sweden has a total of 33523 patents as of 2007 according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and only ten other countries have more patents than Sweden. Although a lot of patents cannot count as inventions. Therefore the number of patents per country is a relatively bad scale for measuring inventions that has been of progress to mankind.[1]

The traditional engineering industry is still a major source of Swedish inventions, but pharmaceuticals, electronics and other high-tech industries are gaining ground. A large portion of the Swedish economy is to this day based on the export of technical inventions, and many large multinational corporations from Sweden have their origins in the ingenuity of Swedish inventors.[2]


  • 1600s 1
  • 1700s 2
  • 1800s 3
  • 1900s 4
  • 2000s 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


  • Christopher Polhem (1661–1751) was a Swedish scientist, inventor and industrialist. He made significant contributions to the economic and industrial development of Sweden, particularly mining. He reinvented the Cardan joint under the name of "Polhem knot" (Polhemknut) independently of Gerolamo Cardano, an Italian mathematician who invented the knot in 1545. His greatest achievement was an automated factory powered entirely by water; automation was very unusual at the time.


  • lawyer, translator, and inventor, who is best known for his pioneering work in computer technology. The best known of his inventions is the Scheutzian calculation engine, invented in 1837 and finalized in 1843.
  • Jonas Lidströmer (1755–1808), was a Swedish inventor and officer in the Royal Swedish navy. He is behind a large number of mechanical devices and innovations, such as steel grinderies, chip docks, compasses etc.[4]
  • Martin von Wahrendorff (1789–1861) was a Swedish diplomat and inventor. In 1837 Wahrendorff applied for patent on a new breech calculating, later known as the Wahrendorff breech. The first breech loaded Wahrendorff gun was manufactured at Åker in 1840.


From the 1870s, engineering companies were created at an unmatched rate and engineers became heroes of the age. Many of the companies founded by early pioneers are still internationally familiar.

  • Lars Magnus Ericsson (1846–1926) started the company bearing his name, Ericsson, still one of the largest telecom companies in the world.
  • Carl Rickard Nyberg (1858–1939), inventor of the blowtorch. After Primus started producing blowtorches he also decided to make paraffin oil/kerosene cookers. The first model, called Viktoria, wasn't very successful, but the later Svea did better. Nyberg also worked on many other inventions, for instance steam engines, aeroplanes, boat propellers and various other machines. He was most famous as an aviation pioneer and he became known as "Flyg-Nyberg". From 1897 and onward, outside his home in Lidingö he built and tested his Flugan (The Fly).
  • Birger Ljungström (1872–1948) invented and designed a bicycle that had a free wheel and a rear-wheel brake (still the most common type in Sweden). His first prototype, completed in 1892, was later mass-produced under the name Svea. He and his brother Fredrik Ljungström (1875–1964) invented high-pressure steam boilers and a new type of steam turbine, the Ljungström turbine (patented in 1894). Other important inventions were the turbine-powered locomotive and the air preheater.
  • Theodor Svedberg (1884–1971) invented the ultracentrifugation method for determination of molecular weights in 1924.
  • Carl Munters (1897–1989), Swedish inventor, best known for inventing the gas absorption refrigerator. After inventing the foam plastic he started his own company and developed, among other things, new insulation materials, air conditioners and dehumidification devices. At his death, Munters had over a thousand patents.


  • Arne Asplund (1903–1993) was inventor of the Defibrator pulping refiner and the defibrator-method (also called Asplund-method) for pulping wooden chips.
  • Oscar Kjellberg was a Swedish inventor and industrialist. Founder of ESAB, in 1904, and Kjellberg Finsterwalde, in 1922. He invented the coated electrode used in manual metal arc welding (Swedish Patent: 27152, June 29, 1907), by dipping a bare iron wire in a thick mixture of carbonates and silicates. His pioneering of covered electrode development paved the road during the next twenty years in the research of reliable flux coated electrodes.
  • Austria's Carl Hellmuth Hertz (1915—80) began research on ultrasound in medical examinations in the early 1950, thereby becoming known throughout the world. A Swedish physician, Inge Edler (b. 1911) told Hertz that he wanted to devise a non-invasive method for examining the heart. Echocardiography has revolutionized cardiovascular diagnostics. In 1977 Hertz and Edler received the American equivalent of the Nobel Prize in medicine, the Lasker Prize. The use of ultrasound in medical diagnostics is increasing sharply in a number of different fields.
  • Johan Richter (1901–1997) invented during the 1930s the continuous bleaching process for paper. Then during the WW2 he took on the more challenging continuous cooking process for pulp. Virtually all paper in the world is today produced with processes developed by Richter. He holds more than 750 patents.
  • Arvid Gerhard Damm (died 1927) was a Swedish engineer and inventor. He designed a number of cipher machines, and was one of the early inventors of the wired rotor principle for machine encipherment. His company, AB Cryptograph, was a predecessor of Crypto AG.
  • Arvid Palmgren (1890-1971) invented the spherical roller bearing in 1919 when working for SKF. This bearing could take considerably heavier loads than the self-aligning ball bearings, and was quickly adopted by heavy industries.
  • Tetra Pak (1951) is an invention for storing, packaging and distributing liquid foodstuffs, for example, milk and juice. Erik Wallenberg (1915–99) was the main inventor, while businessman Ruben Rausing (1895–1983) developed and produced it. (See box). Several new package types have been added. The most ubiquitous is the Tetra Brik (1969).
  • In the late 1950s, the first working Bottle Return Machine (or Reverse vending machine) was invented and manufactured by "Wicanders" from Sweden. [10]
  • Håkan Lans (born 1947) is recognised as one of Sweden’s most outstanding inventors. Among his inventions is the digitizer, the predecessor of the computer mouse. He is also credited with the further development of the satellite-guided Global Positioning System (GPS) into the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Lans’s system has become world standard for shipping and civil aviation. He is also famous for a patent regarding computer graphics.
  • The energy saving light bulb was invented by a consortium at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm in 1973.
  • Arne Tiselius (1902–71) used electrophoresis in the 1940s to analyse various proteins. Tiselius’s work has been followed by other similar methods. All are important for medical and biological research. Tiselius received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1948.
  • In 1958, Rune Elmqvist developed a small battery-powered pacemaker that can be inserted under the skin of a heart patient. It produces electrical impulses that help the heart muscle work normally. In the same year, Åke Senning at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm carried out the world’s first pacemaker operation.
  • Peter Nordin (born 1965) is a Swedish computer scientist who has contributed to artificial intelligence, automatically generated computer programming, machine learning, and evolutionary robotics. He is currently (as of 2007) VP of Research at Institute of Robotics in Scandinavia AB (iRobis).
  • In 1968, Lars Leksell (1907–86) invented the gamma knife for brain surgery. The ‘knife’ uses concentrated gamma radiation on the tumour or malformation. The method is bloodless and patients can often leave hospital on the day of the operation.
  • The transmission of high voltage direct current, HVDC, is a method developed at ASEA (now ABB) under Uno Lamm(1904–89). ABB remains one of the leading makers of HVDC technology, now also used for terrain cable.[1]
  • Losec, an ulcer medicine, was the world's best-selling drug in the 1990s and was developed by AstraZeneca.
  • In 1973 Bengt Ilon invented the Mecanum wheel, a wheel which is capable of moving in any direction.



  1. ^ Patents By Country, State, and Year - All Patent Types (December 2007)
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Halltorps Gastgiveri Description, Halltorps Gasgiveri, Borgholm (2004)
  4. ^ P.O. Nyström, Åminnelse-tal öfver Chefen för Kongl. örlogsflottans Mekaniska Stat, öfverstelöjtnanten och Riddaren av Kongl. Wasa Orden, Herr Jonas Lidströmer, Carlskrona, 1820.
  5. ^
  6. ^
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External links

  • Design: the Swedish way
  • Swedish inventions and discoveries [404]
  • Innovation: Inventing tomorrow’s world
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