Intriguing. I see a lot of developments of European work -improvements or elaborations, but no actual useful inventions.

The first patent for an incandescent electric light bulb, for instance, was given to Frederic de Moleyns — an Englishman of French extraction — in 1841. Joseph Swan (also English) perfected the idea to the extent that by the 1880s, the bulb was being used in private homes and public buildings. Edison swiped his work, tinkered with it enough to satisfy the notoriously lax US Patent Office and went on to claim the credit.

This pattern has repeated itself over the years. A Brit or European scientist or engineer, does the work, then an American entrepreneur takes their work (usually without permission), has his team make a few cosmetic changes, then patents his version in the US and takes the credit (and the money).

This happened with, among other things, the telephone, television and the programmable electronic computer. It also happened with two World Wars, but let’s not get into that.

Original American inventions? Post-it notes (we got loads of trees, so why not waste paper?). The ice-cream scoop (what’s wrong with a spoon?). A fork designed for eating pies and cakes while standing up and holding the plate (no doubt commissioned by a maker of indigestion remedies and laundry detergent). Candy floss (cotton candy -beloved of dentists the world over). Country & Western ‘music’ (I’m saying nowt).

Just one word of advice: unless it’s about or for fiction, never, ever, use Wikipedia as a source. You sell yourself short by doing so -it’s not reliable or accurate enough for valid research.

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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