Three great Australian inventors we probably haven't heard about. Story from the ABC.
"What did Henry Sutton do in Ballarat in 1885?"
I have asked this question all around Australia, and rarely get an answer.
One man who did know when I asked him on Channel 9 a few years ago was Barry Jones, Labor's former minister for science.
Dr Jones told the story of Sutton's work on telephones in the family store, and how he set up a system that sent primitive pictures of the Melbourne Cup to Ballarat in 1885.
Sutton was well known for his inventions in the 19th century and was even visited by Alexander Graham Bell.
Sutton spoke to Bell about his invention of the phone box on the wall, with its speaker poking out and an earpiece on a cord, and asked Bell whether he had thought of combining the two. Thus the handset was invented.
Sutton was experimenting with innumerable devices from an early age, even ones for automobiles.
So why is his name unknown? Did he influence John Logie Baird, the Scot famously linked to TV?
Sutton's grand-daughter Lorayne Branch, who is writing his biography, is investigating.
It is a story even more perplexing than that of Lawrence Hargrave, whose work on box kites inspired the Wright Brothers and the invention of planes — but at least Hargrave made it to our banknotes.
A Henry Sutton car, built in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, in 1900, believed to be the first front wheel drive vehicle in the world.
In 1876: At age 20 Henry Sutton read a brief account of Alexander Graham Bell's telephone in 'Scientific American'. Bell's telephone patent was issued on 7 March 1876 and within 6 months Henry Sutton had designed and built at least 20 different types of telephones. Henry wired up Sutton's Music Store and the Warehouse with telephone lines. This was at least 2 years before Australia's first official telephone system was installed in Melbourne (c1878). The first telephone exchange was in 1880 shortly before Ned Kelly was hanged and by 1884 7,757 calls had been made. Henry did not patent his telephones as he believed the fruits of science should be available to all. Later 16 of his designs were patented by others less noble.
Ruby Payne-Scott: Radio astronomer
Ruby Payne-Scott was a pioneer of radio astronomy and of interferometry — using more than one observational position to locate something in space.
In the 1940s, working in Sydney, she tracked various bursts from the sun.
During World War II she was part of the Allied team developing radar.
This immensely able woman had married, secretly, while working for CSIRO.
At that time no wife could hold a senior position in the public service.
When, eventually, her baby bump made her situation obvious, she was effectively sacked and left astronomy in 1951.
When telling her tragic story at an Australian Academy of Science meeting in 2014, Professor Brian Schmidt, now the vice chancellor of ANU, burst into tears and was given an ovation.
How times have changed. But recognition of this brilliant woman's work has not.
Dr John Cade: Medical scientist
John Cade discovered what became the first really effective drug to treat a mental affliction: lithium, which is used as a cure for bipolar disorder.
Cade grew up in Melbourne, was a superb student and followed his father into medicine.
A spell in a Changi prisoner-of-war camp in Singapore during the war reinforced the young man's self-reliance and prudence.
His discovery of the effects of lithium was accidental — he used it in the preparation of some other ingredients to test guinea pigs and found that they became passive and almost seemed to lie about with smiles on their faces.
The recognition of lithium was delayed because of resistance to the substance in America, where it had been used instead of table salt with unfortunate results.
The first experiments on people, though successful at first, led to harmful side effects.
Only when Cade, with help from colleagues at the Florey Institute in Melbourne, was able to monitor his patients' blood levels of the element, was treatment smooth.
Cade's influence on civilising mental hospitals included being a pioneer of dietary standards.
Some institutions fed their charges so badly that Cade found there were even outbreaks of scurvy. Now, because of him, we have dieticians attached to the wards.
His legend may at last be spread by a terrific new book by Greg de Moore and Ann Westmore, called Finding Sanity: John Cade, lithium and the taming of bipolar disorder.