Did you know that is a Dutch invention? 10 Famous Dutch inventions

Students who come to the summer school sometimes find themselves in a tricky situation. They want to move to the Netherlands or at least learn Dutch, but family and friends are a bit skeptical.

What are you going to do there? The what? The Netherlands? What good ever came out of that country?

 Well.. with this list I’ll give you some ammunition. This is what the Netherlands are known for!

  1.  The telescope and the microscope are both Dutch inventions

The Dutch Golden Age (the 17th century) is one the most important times in the history of the Netherlands. It’s not a coincidence that during this era important inventions were made. And two of those were the telescope and the microscope.

In the year 1609 it was either Sacharias Jansen or Hans Lipperhey (we still don’t know which) who invented the telescope. Both lived in Middelburg, at that time an important city in the Netherlands.

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek is often mentioned as the inventor of the microscope in 1595. The microscope of Van Leeuwenhoek was a fairly primitive magnifying glass with one lens, but it was the basis of one of the most important instruments in health care.

  1. The cassette, CD, DVD and Blu-Ray are all Dutch inventions

From science in the 17th century we go to science in the 20th century. The Eindhoven based company, Philips, played an important part in technological developments in the 20th century.

Before there were iTunes or Spotify there were compact cassettes and cd’s. Maybe you are too young, but in the eighties listening to music with a compact cassette was one of the coolest things. The compact cassette was developed by Philips, and was invented back in 1963. The world’s first CD was produced in 1979.

Philips was also responsible for developments in video that resulted in the DVD and Blu-Ray.

  1. Bluetooth is a Dutch invention

Inventions in technology didn’t stop with Philips. Dutch technician Jaap Haartsen, who worked for Ericsson in Emmen, introduced Bluetooth. Bluetooth provides short-range wireless connection for mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Haartsen called it bluetooth which refers to the Viking king Harald Blue Tooth.

And not all tech inventors end up on a par with Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. Haartsen only received 1000 euros for it…

  1. WI-FI is a Dutch invention

So you are reading this on your smartphone or laptop? You can only do that because of the Dutch. In the 1990s, Cees Links, together with four fellow engineers, thought about how good it would be if devices could be wirelessly connected to the internet.

  1. The electric razor is a Dutch invention

Let’s move away from new technology, but stay with Philips. In 1939 the first electric Philips shaver, the Philishave, was introduced. Since then, more than 400 million shavers have been sold.

  1. The Olympic flame is a Dutch invention

Something completely different, but certainly something you are familiar with: the Olympic flame.

The Olympic flame was invented by the Dutch architect Jan Wils. He was responsible for the construction of the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, the place where the Olympic Games were held in 1928.

  1. The submarine is a Dutch invention

Making a boat to go underwater. People in 1620 thought it was crazy, but Cornelis Drebbel designed and built a vessel that propelled underwater.

  1. The speed camera is a Dutch invention

Sorry for this one! Next time you get a ticket for speeding, blame it on the Dutch, or more specific, on Maus Gatsonides. This Dutch rally driver developed the first automatic speedometer.

  1. The national anthem is a Dutch invention

Well, maybe invention is a big word, but the Netherlands was the first country to have a national anthem, Het Wilhelmus. The text was written around 1570 to an existing melody, the current variant of that melody dates from the early 17th century.

Most Dutch people know the first two or three lines. (out of 15 verses!) But after that, most are lost. So to be a real Dutchie, get to know the first couple of lines.

Good news! You don’t need to know what it means. Dutch people tend to be unaware of the meaning of the text. So at the next football match you can join in with your fellow Holland supporters.

  1. The four-wheel drive is a Dutch invention

In 1903, the four-wheel drive was first applied to a car of a Dutch brand: Spyker. Over the years, this technology turned out to be very useful. Nowadays you can find four-wheel drive cars everywhere.

So next time people question the country whose language you are learning or that you are moving to, just point out all the good things we have thanks to that country.

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School