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Adams, Gladstone (1880–1966), motorist and inventor of a windscreen wiper, was born on 16 May 1880 at 4 St Ann's Row, Newcastle upon Tyne, son of John Adams, metal merchant, and his wife, Agnes, née M'Gregor, and was educated at Rutherford College, Newcastle...

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See Industrial spies

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Ambler, Geoffrey Hill (1904–1978), inventor and air force officer, was born at 10 Kirklands Avenue, Baildon, near Bradford, Yorkshire, on 23 June 1904, the eldest child in the family of two sons and one daughter of Frederick Ambler (1873–1932), a worsted spinner and manufacturer, and his wife, ...

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Anderson, Sir John (1814–1886), inventor of ordnance manufacture machinery and arsenal manager, was born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, on 9 December 1814, the posthumous child of a local merchant, J. Anderson, and his wife, Helen Hosie. His mother remarried and his stepfather, Irvine Kempt...

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Frederick Scott Archer (1813–1857) by Robert Cade, 1855 Royal Photographic Society

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Archer, Frederick Scott (1813–1857), inventor of the collodion process in photography, was the second son of Thomas Archer, a butcher at Hertford, where he was probably born. Orphaned as a child, he was brought up by distant relatives and friends and while still a young man was apprenticed to a silversmith and bullion dealer named ...

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Sir Richard Arkwright (1732–1792) by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1789–90 private collection; photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Arkwright, Sir Richard (1732–1792), inventor of cotton-spinning machinery and cotton manufacturer, was born on 23 December 1732 at Preston, Lancashire, the sixth of the seven children of Thomas Arkwright (1691–1753), a tailor, and his wife, Ellen Hodgkinson (1693–1778). The family was rooted in ...

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Austin, John (b. 1752, d. before 1838), music stenographer and inventor of a power-loom, was born at Craigton, near Glasgow, on 17 April 1752, the son of the gardener to John Baird, esquire. Nothing is known of Austin's early life or education. On 30 May 1777 he married ...

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Baillie, Charles William (1844–1899), inventor of the Baillie sounder and marine meteorologist, was born in Greenwich, Kent, the eldest son of Henry Robert Baillie (1808/9–1882), a master of the nautical school in Greenwich, and his wife, Isabella, née Haselar. He entered the Royal Navy...

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Alexander Bain (1810–1877) by Campbell Harper? Science & Society Picture Library

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Bain, Alexander (1810–1877), clockmaker and inventor, was born in October 1810 at Houstry, in the parish of Watten, Caithness, the fifth of eleven children of John Bain, a crofter, and his wife, Isobel Waiter. After a basic education at the local village school, ...

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Barber, John (1734–1793), coalmaster and inventor, was born at Greasley Castle Farm, Nottinghamshire, and baptized at Greasley on 22 October 1734, the eldest son of Francis Barber (d. 1782), Nottinghamshire coalmaster, and his wife, Elizabeth Fletcher (d. 1787). His mother's father, ...

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Robert Harrison

revised by Ralph Hyde

Barker, Robert (1739–1806), inventor of the panorama, was born in Kells, co. Meath. Little is known about his early life. He married Catherine Aston (1744–1842), the daughter of an eminent Dublin physician, and they had three children—a daughter, later Mrs Lightfoot, Thomas Edward...

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Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922) by John Wycliffe Lowes Forster, 1919 National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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Bell, Alexander Graham (1847–1922), teacher of deaf people and inventor of the telephone, was born on 3 March 1847 at 16 South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh, the second of three sons of Alexander Melville Bell (1819–1905), speech therapist and elocutionist, and his first wife, ...

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[Anon.]

revised by Alastair W. Massie

Bell, John (1746/7–1798), army officer and inventor, was born in the parish of St Cuthbert's, Carlisle, the eldest son of William Bell, hatter, of Botchergate, Carlisle. He was baptized at St Cuthbert's Church on 22 February 1747. After working in the family business, ...

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Patrick Bell (1799–1869) by unknown engraver, pubd 1868 (after E. Strachan) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bell, Patrick (1799–1869), Church of Scotland minister and inventor of agricultural machinery, was born in April 1799 at mid-Leoch, in the parish of Auchterhouse, a few miles north-west of Dundee. He was one of at least two sons of George Bell, a tenant farmer at ...

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Bell, Thomas (fl. 1783–1784), inventor of cylinder printing in the textile industry, was probably born in Scotland. He became a copperplate-engraver and printer, and by the 1780s he was living at Mosney, then at Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, an important region of calico printing. His move to ...