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7 Ingenious French Inventions

France is best known for its art and its cuisine, both of which are well worth shouting about. But what you may not know is that the French have also come up with some brilliant inventions. Here are, in our opinion, the most ingenious of them all:

Reading braille
Reading braille

1. Braille

In 1824, a 15 year old Louis Braille first presented his system of written communication, today known simply as braille. Blinded in both eyes as a child, he worked tirelessly on the system of raised dots, which enables the blind and visually impaired to read and write.


2. The stethoscope

French physician Rene Laennec created the stethoscope in 19th century Paris. The invention changed how doctors diagnosed diseases and enabled them to listen to the heart and lungs without having to place their ears to patients’ chests. 

3. The Aqua-Lung

Invented by engineer Émile Gagnan and Naval Lieutenant Jacques Cousteau, the Aqua-Lung was the very first commercially successful SCUBA unit, allowing divers to breath underwater for over an hour.

Movie film
Movie film

4. The film camera

The first patented film camera was invented in the late 19th century by Louis Le Prince. On it, he shot the first moving picture in the world using celluloid. Less than 10 years after his invention, the Lumière bothers created the first film, Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, which was 46 seconds long. The dawn of cinema had arrived.

5. Blood transfusion

Although not an invention as such, physician Dr Jean-Baptiste Denys performed the first blood transfusion from animal to human in 1667. A 15 year old boy was the recipient of a small amount of sheep’s blood and survived to tell the tale. 

6. The hot air balloon

Brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier from the Ardèche region invented the hot air balloon, executing the first unmanned flight in September 1783. The first untethered, manned flight came two months later, and we’ve been enjoying balloon flights ever since.

Vintage sewing machine
Vintage sewing machine

7. The sewing machine

Barthélemy Thimonnier, a tailor, created the first patented sewing machine in 1829, and in the following year set up the first machine-based clothing manufacturer. Although the factory burned down shortly after opening, Thimonnier paved the way for larger scale clothing operations.

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