Croatia can lay claim to some of the brightest minds and most fantastic inventions of our time! The list of creative Croatian minds is a long one. You are sure to be surprised by how many everyday objects were invented by Croatians! Join us on a journey to the land of inventors!
- Oh, là, là – The tie as a 17th century fashion sensation
- How a little light changed the world – The light bulb
- Soft landing from dizzying heights – The first parachute
- Explosive invention from the 19th century – The torpedo
- A light for the world – Maglite Flashlights
- Detective know-how from the 19th century – The fingerprint
- Summa summarum: Croats invent THE antibiotic
- The secret ingredient of Croatian cuisine – Vegeta spice mix
Croatia, the land of inventors – could you have guessed?
Creative treasure troves such as Italy, Germany, and the USA are well known as being countries of innovation. But did you know that Croatia, besides being a holiday paradise on the Adriatic Sea, a land of delicious cuisine and almost endless sunshine, can lay claim to some of the brightest minds and most fantastic inventions of our time! If not, then you are sure to be surprised by how many everyday objects were invented by Croatians. The list of creative Croatian minds is a long one. See for yourself: could you have guessed that these inventions come from Croatia? Join us on a journey to the land of inventors!
Oh, là, là – The tie as a 17th century fashion sensation
The tie is certainly the most famous Croatian invention. In the 17th century, Croatian mercenaries joined the French army during the Thirty Years War. Their trademark was a scarf worn around the neck, which was knotted in a particular way. The French were quick to copy the style, finding it to be of the utmost elegance, and the trend spread like wildfire to other countries. The cravat (from which the slimmer, simpler tie evolved) comes from the French word cravate, which at the time meant Croatian. This invention is celebrated in Croatia every year on the Day of the Tie, on October 18th.
How a little light changed the world – The light bulb
It was Croats who helped bring light into our lives: Croatian chemist and metallurgist Franjo Hanaman, together with Aleksander Just, developed the production of tungsten filaments from which they invented the tungsten light bulb. They patented the idea in 1903.
Soft landing from dizzying heights – The first parachute
Less fashionable, but extremely inspiring! Though Leonardo da Vinci was the first to come up with the idea for a parachute, Šibenik-born Faust Vrančić was, in 1617, the first to actually build one using a wooden frame and fabric. Vrančić was an inventor, philosopher, and lexicographer, who describes the construction of his parachute as well as 56 other inventions in detail in his book Machinae Novae (New Machines). Besides the description of his parachute, there is also a picture of the so-called Homo Volans, the flying man. Faust Vrančić tested his invention himself, and even at the age of 65 he jumped with his parachute from a bell tower in Venice – what an extraordinary inventive spirit! A museum was founded in his hometown of Šibenik, where you can admire the development of the parachute as well as many more of Vrančić’s inventions: http://mc-faustvrancic.com/
Explosive invention from the 19th century – The torpedo
Let us now turn to the most explosive Croatian invention: the torpedo. The first prototype of the torpedo was developed in 1861 by naval officer and inventor Ivan Blaž Lupis. A factory in Rijeka then developed the idea further and was the first to start mass production. Since 1880, the torpedo has been part of the basic arsenal of all developed navies. Nowadays the principles of this invention are also used for more peaceful purposes. If you visit the city of Rijeka you can learn more about the torpedo in the Maritime Museum: http://ppmhp.hr/en/
A light for the world – Maglite Flashlights
Croatia’s most illuminating invention has got to be the Maglite flashlight. The Croatian mechanic Ante Maglica invented the robust rod-shaped torch in his garage in 1979. The torch is characterized by its bright and precise beam and is available in many different sizes, colours, and these days also with different levels of brightness. The Maglite has become an integral piece of equipment not only for police officers, but also for firefighters and other rescue services worldwide.
Detective know-how from the 19th century – The fingerprint
The Croatian Sherlock Holmes: Ivan Vučetić came to a realization that would prove to be a milestone in criminology. Born on the island of Hvar, the Croatian emigrated to Argentina and started working as a policeman in 1888. His task was to convict criminals by anthropometry, the measurement of body parts. However, as the methods of conviction used at the end of the 19th century were not accurate, Ivan began to compare numerous fingerprints and noticed that none of them resembled each other. In 1891, the method was approved by a court in Buenos Aires. His method was proven a year later when fingerprints were used to solve a double murder. Since then, this method has been indispensable for solving crimes.
Summa summarum: Croats invent THE antibiotic
A team from the Croatian pharmaceutical company Pliva discovered the organic chemical compound azithromycin in 1980 and patented it in 1981. This is an antibiotic and is one of the most important agents in healing bacterial respiratory and skin diseases. In Croatia, this medication is sold under the name Summand, which is composed of the Latin words summa summarum medicinae, which means “total medicine”. At the time, this chemical compound was a completely new type of antibiotic and therefore a sensational novelty.
The secret ingredient of Croatian cuisine – Vegeta spice mix
We owe the most delicious Croatian invention to a woman! The now world-famous spice mix Vegeta from the company Podravka was developed in 1958 by a team led by Prof. Zlata Bartl. The first product was named Vegeta 40 and eight years later, the spice mixture was exported to Russia and Hungary. Today Vegeta is sold in over 40 countries on five continents. The ingredient has become an essential part in most (Balkan) households.