Monday, November 28, 2011

Spanish Invention

You probably knew that the submarine is a Spanish invention. There is an early example raised on the port in Cartagena. Designed and built by a local engineer called Isaac Peral in Cadiz in 1887, it ran on electric current. The earliest Spanish submarine, however, was built by a Catalonian called Narcis Monturiol and ran manually. For (presumably) rather short distances. A later version ran on steam.
But Spain has invented many other useful gadgets (a friend of mine here in Mojácar lives comfortably off a garlic peeler he came up with a few years ago).
The Autogiro being one such (or so I read here). This was a variation on the helicopter, with stubby rear wings and a forward propeller. A large free-spinning propeller pointing upwards kept the thing (more or less) in the air. A British version called 'The Flying Bedstead' used to putter loudly over our garden when I was a child in Norfolk. The autogiro was developed by Juan de la Cierva in the nineteen twenties. Another useful invention, the arquebus, comes from Spain, although Wikipedia appears to disagree, suggesting Hungary instead. Better luck, perhaps, with the easy-to-assemble Molotov cocktail, which was first used by the Republicans during the Civil War before finding its way to the Finnish resistance to the Russian invasion of 1939.
More peaceful inventions include the famous Chupa Chup, the gob-stopper on a stick, introduced by Enric Bernat in 1958. I know that he sells a lot of them to the Chinese and Kojak used to swear by them when solving crimes. Chupa Chups are often used to wean one off another Spanish invention, The cigarette. This was manufactured originally by Seville beggars, who would roll odd bits of tobacco collected from the cigar makers into tubes made from rice paper. The first commercial cigarettes in a packet appeared in 1825 and where commercially named as 'Cigarrillos Superiores' in 1833. They didn't carry health warnings in those days.
The fregona is a fine Spanish invention. I've no idea what it's called in English, but it is a sponge on a stick used for washing floors. It comes from a airman called Manuel Jalón Corominas, introduced in 1956. Another, the pencil-sharpener, dates from 1945 from the workshop of Ignacio Urresti. Then, two partners called Juan Solozábal and Juan Olive came up with the stapler in around 1930.
Finally, according to the comments that follow the Spanish original (an article which promises more inventions in a second part), much of the above is erroneous.
Now they tell us!

1 comment:

CafeMark said...

I believe the word you're looking for is MOP. I'm sure some Brits reading this will be staggered that you didn't know the word, but I sympathise - I only worked a couple of years in Madrid and I found I started to forget English words.