1949 - De Havilland Comet
The de Havilland Comet, the world's first jet airliner, makes its maiden flight.
1947 - Institution of Automobile Engineers
Institution of Mechanical Engineers merges with the Institution of Automobile Engineers, creating the Automobile Division.
1947 - GLEEP
Graphite Low Energy Experimental Atomic Pile was a long-lived experimental nuclear reactor, run for the first time on 15 Aug: it was the first reactor to operate in Western Europe. Designed and built at Harwell, England.
1947 - Breaking the sound barrier
Chuck Yeager is the first person to break the sound barrier in level flight, flying the X-1.
1945 - Turing-Welchman Bombe
Alan Turing develops the Turing-Welchman Bombe, an electromechanical machine capable of deciphering the German enigma codes, at Bletchley Park.
1945 - James Clayton lecture
First James Clayton lecture (Institution of Mechanical Engineers premier award of its type) is authorised by Council. Frank Whittle presents ‘The early history of the Whittle gas turbine’ to a packed house.
1944 - Calculator
American Howard Aiken develops the first fully automatic, large scale calculator, known as the Harvard Mark I. It has over 750,000 parts.
1944 - PLUTO
The Pipeline Under the Ocean (PLUTO) was designed to supply petrol from storage tanks in southern England to the advancing Allied armies in France in the months following D-Day. It was fully operational by June 14 1944.
1943 - Dialysis machine
The artificial kidney (dialysis machine) is tested for the first time.
1942 - Nuclear chain reaction
Enrico Fermi demonstrates the first self supporting nuclear chain reaction in a laboratory at the University of Chicago.
1941 - Gloster E28/39
The Gloster E28/39 is the first aircraft to fly using Whittle's jet engine.
1939 - First working helicopter
The first working helicopter is constructed by Sikorsky.
1939 - First rocket powered flight
Flight Captain Erich Warsitz pilots the first rocket powered aircraft, the He176.
1939 - First jet powered flight
The first jet aircraft to fly is the Heinkel He 178, powered by an He S3B engine designed by Hans von Ohain. The plane is piloted by Flight Captain Erich Warsitz, who also piloted the first jet powered aircraft.
1938 - Tumble dryer
Hamilton's Manufacturing Company produces the first commercial tumble dryer, invented by J Ross Moore.
1938 - Steam locomotive speed record broken
The Mallard locomotive gains the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 mph (203 kph). It was designed by the renowned locomotive engineer Sir Nigel Gresley.
1937-1959 - Photocopier
Chester F Carlson invents the photocopier. It is not patented until 1942, and it is not until 1959 that the first commercial machine goes on sale by the Haloid Company, later renamed the Xerox Corporation.
1937 - Jet engine
The jet engine is invented by Frank Whittle.
1936-1938 - Spitfire
The Spitfire fighter plane, designed by Reginald Mitchell, has its maiden flight. It enters RAF service in 1938.
1935; 1952 - Biro
Laszlo Biro produces the ballpoint pen commercially. It is not until 1952 that the most popular ballpoint pen in the UK, the Bic, is first produced by French manufacturer Marcel Bich.
1932-1939 - BBC broadcasting, television and radio
The BBC makes the first televised broadcast, from Alexandra Palace, London on 22nd August. From December radio broadcasting widens: on the 19th The Empire Service (precursor of the World Service) launches; and on the 25th King George V becomes the first monarch to deliver a Christmas Day message by radio, on the Empire Service.
Four years later, the BBC opens the world's first regular high-definition television service:
- 12 May – First use of TV outside broadcast van, for the coronation procession of King George VI.
- 21 June – The BBC broadcasts television coverage of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships for the first time.
- 16 September – The BBC makes the world's first live television broadcast of a football match, a specially arranged local mirror match derby fixture between Arsenal and Arsenal reserves.
- 3 January – The BBC begins broadcasting its first foreign-language radio service, in Arabic.
- 30 April – The BBC broadcasts television coverage of the FA Cup for the first time.
- 27 September – Start of the European Service on radio, broadcasting in French, German and Italian. Portuguese and Spanish are added before the start of the Second World War.
- 1 September – The BBC Television Service is suspended, about 20 minutes after the conclusion of a Mickey Mouse cartoon (Mickey's Gala Premiere), due to the imminent outbreak of the Second World War, amid fears that the VHF transmissions would act as perfect guidance beams for enemy bombers attempting to locate central London – also, the technicians and engineers of the service will be needed for war efforts such as the RADAR programme. On radio, the Home Service replaces the National and Regional Programmes.
1932 - Piccadilly Circus electrified
In London, Piccadilly Circus lights are lit by electricity for the first time.
1931 - Wind generator
The 100kW Balaclava wind generator, the first utility scale wind turbine, opened in Russia. It operated for two years along the Caspian Sea. Also, in 1931 the Darrieus wind turbine was developed as a vertical axis turbine used to generate electricity. By the 1930's farms across the U. S. were using small wind turbines.
1930 - Quick freeze machine
Clarence Birdseye patents the 'Quick Freeze Machine', reducing the time needed to freeze food from three days to a few minutes.