To celebrate Australia Day this week, we’re looking at some of the best inventions to ever come out of our sunburnt country. Today, we pay homage to Arthur James Arnot, who used his knowledge of electricity to create the world’s first electric drill.
Back in 1889, Arthur James Arnot travelled from his home country Scotland to Melbourne, to help build a power plant for the Union Electric company. That same year, he was awarded the patent for the electric drill. He’d spent time working part time at an electrical company in Glasgow while studying, so he had the skills and knowledge of electricity needed to create his invention with colleague William Blanch Brain.
The drill designed by Arnot wasn’t the same as the electric drill you find in your toolbox these days – his was specifically designed to drill rock and coal, and as such needed to be relatively large to be effective. But it paved the way for other inventors to follow suit and just six years later, Arnot’s invention had been miniaturised and made portable by Wilhelm Fein in Germany.
Although drills in their most basic form had been around for centuries, Arnot’s contribution to an electric version has completely changed the way we look at tools, giving us the ability to build bigger and better creations than would ever have been possible without them. The next time you go to drill a hole in the wall to hang up a photo, remember that you’d have to do it manually if not for Arnot’s ingenuity.