List of English inventions and discoveries

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English inventions and discoveries are objects, processes or techniques invented or discovered, partially or entirely, by a person from England. (That is, someone born in England - including to non-English parents - or born abroad with at least one English parent and who had the majority of their education or career in England.) Often, things discovered for the first time are also called "inventions", and in many cases, there is no clear line between the two.

Following is a list of inventions or discoveries generally believed to be English.



Clock making

Clothing manufacturing





  • Codebreaker of the Lorenz cipher, which Hitler used to communicate with his generals in WW2 - Bill Tutte
  • Playfair cipherCharles Wheatstone[28]
  • Bacon's cipher – Sir Francis Bacon
  • RSA cipherClifford Cocks developed the RSA algorithm at GCHQ, approximately three years before it was independently developed by Rivest, Shamir and Adleman at MIT. The British government were not interested in using Cocks' algorithm, so it was classified until 1998, when it was revealed that he had developed RSA before Rivest et al.[42]



Household appliances

Industrial processes




Musical instruments


Publishing firsts

  • Oldest publisher and printer in the world (having been operating continuously since 1584): Cambridge University Press
  • first book printed in English: "The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye" by Englishman William Caxton in 1475
  • First journal in the world exclusively devoted to science and world's longest-running scientific journal: The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Phil. Trans.) is a scientific journal published by the Royal Society of London. It was established in 1665,[90]
  • First journal club is found in a book of memoirs and letters by the late Sir James Paget, an English surgeon, who describes a group at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London in the mid-19th century as "a kind of club ... a small room over a baker's shop near the Hospital-gate where we could sit and read the journals."[91]


Physical Sciences

Biological Sciences

Geology and Meteorology

Mathematics and Statistics



Philosophy of Science

Scientific Instruments






Other railway developments




See also


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