Celebrate St Andrew's Day With the Best of Scottish Technology

By Gary Cutlack on at

Google still thinks lying to tourists about dinosaurs still being real is Scotland's greatest contribution to the world. But it's not. And no, it's not deep-frying Mars bars, either.

They are, in order of importance:


Only the most important thing in the entire world of chemistry, medicine and human health was discovered by a Scot, with Sir Alexander Fleming sort of accidentally inventing the entire field of antibiotics. Sadly you crying to the doctor about having a cold and being tired all the time is about to render them all useless, but still. It made life bearable for humanity for a time.

Colour Photography

Only the most important historical records and memorable images of the life and universe were made possible by a Scot, with multi-disciplined scientist James Clerk Maxwell taking the world's first colour photograph in 1866. He then applied the "retro" filter in 1868 and a Polaroid frame effect in 1869, before tagging several of his colleagues in 1872.

The Steam Engine

Only the power units that would transform the entire British population from sack-wearing cave-dwellers to ocean-ruling kings of an empire were refined by a Scot, with James Watt's innovation in engine building making steam power... Better, If it weren't for Watt, our national rail infrastructure would be a joke. Oh, hang on...

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The Television

Only that thing you hold in front of your face for 16 hours a day to make the time until you die pass quicker was invented by a Scot, with John Logie Baird having the best (of several) claim to having invented the television. What would you be looking at tonight had it not been around? A log? A child? The wall?


Only one of the most important WWII innovations was put into practise by a Scot, with Robert Watson-Watt one of the key developers of radar. We now use radar every day for knowing when it might rain, with the system taking over from the old UK weather forecasting system of throwing the entrails of a frog over your shoulder.


Only the roads we drive upon and the post man uses to bring us all the special things from Amazon were invented by a Scot, with John McAdam coming up with the processes involved in making tarmac -- so our deliveries can get here quicker than ever. No picture for this one. Pretty sure you know what tarmac looks like. An ugly essential to modern life.


The famous Dolly the Sheep was born/created by the technicians/gods at Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, although no one ever came up with any particular use for an identical copy of a sheep, apart from playing cruel tricks on sheepdogs.

Grand Theft Auto

Only the most successful and popular videogame series of all time was created in Scotland, with Dundee-based developer DMA Design eventually morphing into the planet's foremost gang-banging urban life simulation creation team over at Rockstar. Thanks to the work of all the above, we're healthy, safe and alive, and able to spend all weekend pretending to kill people for fun.

Images: William Fallows, Isant, Dr Ghulam, Colin Mayes via Flickr

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