All the Inventions We Can Thank Denmark For

<a href = ""> Hansen Writing Ball | © Eremeev/Wikimedia Commons
<a href = ""> Hansen Writing Ball | © Eremeev/Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Aliki Seferou
10 August 2017

With these nine inventions, it can certainly be said that Denmark has done its bit to improve people’s lives, their ability to connect to others, and make the world a better place. Scroll down to discover some of the things most people probably didn’t know they should thank Denmark for.

Google Maps

Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen and his brother Lars are two of the co-founders of the Sydney-based digital mapping startup Where 2 Technologies. In 2003, the company designed Expedition, a mapping application that could be downloaded and installed. After a year of hard work and discussions with Larry Page and Google, Where 2’s founders and employees managed to make their idea work on a web browser, and it was then that Google acquired the company and started working along with the talented software developers on what would become Google Maps in 2005.

Buzz in Google Maps | ©Johan Larsson/Flickr

The loud speaker

Even though Edward W. Kellogg and Chester W. Rice are considered the inventors of the type of speakers widely used nowadays (the dynamic speaker), there were many engineers whose pre-1925 contribution was quite significant. Peter L. Jensen is one of them, and he was the first to manufacture moving-coil loudspeakers in 1915 along with Edwin Pridham. Four years later, they were used to amplify U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s speech in San Diego. Jensen’s loudspeakers are known as Magnavox speakers after his company’s name.

Magnavox PX-4 loudspeaker | ©Badseed/Wikimedia Commons


The first magnetic wire recorder called telegraphone was invented in 1899 by Valdemar Poulsen, a Danish engineer whose contribution to early radio technology is still considered very significant. Along with his partner Peder O. Pedersen, Poulsen developed magnetic recorders that recorded on steel wire, tape, or disks. A year after his invention, the renowned Danish engineer used his recorder at the World’s Fair in Paris to record Emperor Franz Josef of Austria; this is probably the oldest surviving magnetic audio recording. Moreover, in 1903 Poulsen developed the continuous wave radio transmitter known as the Poulsen Arc Transmitter. Until the early 1920s, it was used in some of the first broadcasting stations.

Telegraphone | ©Bitman/Wikimedia Commons


August Krogh along with his wife, Marie and another doctor, Hans Christian Hagedorn, became famous for founding the Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium. There, they made major contributions to establishing a Danish production of insulin by ethanol extraction of the hormone from the pancreatic glands of pigs. The Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium is known today as Novo Nordisk, the internationally renowned pharmaceutical company. Being a pioneer in comparative physiology, Krogh is known for a number of significant discoveries in this field as well as developing the Krogh Principle that states, ‘for such a large number of problems there will be some animal of choice, or a few such animals, on which it can be most conveniently studied’. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1920 after discovering the mechanism of regulation of the capillaries in skeletal muscle.

Insulin | ©Alan Levine/Flickr

Christiania bike

In 1984, Lars Engstrøm made a cargo bike as a present for his girlfriend. Since it was practical and stylish at the same time, it didn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the community. Shortly after, dozens of orders started coming for Engstrøm, Christiania’s blacksmith. Nowadays, the tricycle, known as the Christiania bike, is not only one of the Danes’ favorite, but it is also found in many countries around the world. Due to its great construction, it is used for transporting heavy things and it’s ideal for families and friends who want to share a bike ride.

Christiania Bike | ©Mikael Colville-Andersen/Flickr

LEGO bricks

Well, this invention didn’t actually make the world better from a scientific perspective, but it certainly is the one in this list kids will appreciate the most. LEGO, the colorful interlocking bricks that are now sold in 140 countries and used by millions of children, was launched for the first time in 1958 by LEGO Group. The Danish company was initially founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, a carpenter from Billund. Over the years, it passed from father to son. When Kristiansen opened his toy company in the 1930s, he couldn’t have imagined that by 2015, 600 billions LEGO bricks would have been produced and sold all over the world.

<a href = ""> LEGOs | © Windell Oskay/Flickr

Hansen Writing Ball

The Hansen Writing Ball was the first commercially produced typewriter. Some say that the inventor, Rasmus Malling Hansen, made several prototypes before ending up to the typewriter’s final form. He placed the letters that are more frequently used in a way that could be touched from the fastest writing fingers and decided that most of vowels should be at the left and the consonants to the right. It turned out he was right because the way he placed the letters in combination with the short pistons that went directly through the ball made the writing speed of the ball very fast.

<a href = ""> Hansen Writing Ball | © Eremeev/Wikimedia Commons

Carlsberg yeast

Raise a glass of beer for Emil Christian Hansen, the Danish mycologist who managed to isolate a pure cell of yeast and show to the world that beer can be made from every brew while working at Carlsberg laboratory. That invention may not sound important nowadays but for brewers, it was a fundamental discovery because until 1883, they often had to deal with ‘beer sickness’, a phenomenon that made beer undrinkable.

Beer | ©Dorte/pexels

Dry-cell battery

Frederik Louis Wilhelm Hellesen is known for designing one of the first dry-cell batteries in 1887. His invention made batteries easier to transport. After founding his own factory, he started selling his batteries to the Danish Telephone Company. Today, Duracell owns Hellesen’s brand name.

Vintage_Transistor Radio 9 Volt Batteries | © Joe Haupt/Wikimedia Commons

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