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out 26, 2016
Innovation and technology

Inventions that you didn’t know came from Brazil

Brazilians are known worldwide for their creative minds, but that is typically associated with the domains of music and culture. Well, think again. Many ingenious inventions were created – or at least conceptualized – by Brazilian minds. Unfortunately, most of the following inventors haven’t received the praise they deserved.

We’ve selected seven inventions – ones that have most certainly impacted your life – that were developed by Brazilians. On behalf of their inventors, you’re welcome!
1. Airplane
The first entry on our list will probably make our American readers cringe. The Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos Dumont, is credited as the father of air travel. In 1906, he flew his 14-bis aircraft in the outskirts of Paris and is considered the first man to have flown. That is, except in the United States, where the title belongs instead to the Wright Brothers.

The international aviation experts on Team Santos Dumont, however, argue that the Wright Brothers’ invention used a launching rail to propel their aircraft. The 14-bis, meanwhile, flew 200 feet on its own.

During the Rio 2016 Olympics Opening Ceremony, the controversy was revived after Santos Dumont was celebrated. Americans didn’t buy it, but hey, we’ve got the France-based Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on our side.

2. Wristwatch
This is another invention credited – at least partially – to Santos Dumont. Two years prior to flying his 14-bis, the Brazilian aviator complained to his friend, Louis Cartier, that checking his pocket watch made flying more difficult. He then asked Cartier to come up with a solution that would allow him to check the time while keeping his hands on the controls. This is the story behind the first men’s wristwatch, made by Cartier with a leather band.

3. Instagram

The photograph is by no means a Brazilian invention, but the current most popular way of sharing it is. São Paulo-born Michel Krieger co-founded Instagram with Kevin Systrom back in 2010. The duo met while attending Stanford University. In 2012, Facebook took over the app for not less than $1 billion. According to British newspaper The Telegraph, Krieger’s net worth is roughly $300 million. Not bad for a guy who recently turned 30.

4. Electronic Voting Machine

Brazil is considered to be the ultimate success case with an electronic voting system. With more than 144 million voters, the country relies almost entirely on electronic devices. The first Direct-Recording Electronic Voting Machine was implemented in Brazil by Judge Carlos Prudêncio in the Southern City of Brusque, back in 1989. The information regarding its conception is confusing, as many parties claim to have developed it.

The technology was implement countrywide in 2000. To help prevent fraud, Brazil recently implemented a biometric system that allows voters to cast ballots only after identifying their fingerprints.

5. Personal stereo (the father of the Walkman)
In 1972, Andreas Pavel developed his stereobelt, a portable device that played music from cassette tapes. The idea was patented in Italy in 1977, followed by patents in the U.S., Germany, UK, and Japan.

If the stereobelt idea sounds familiar, it’s because you have probably heard it under the name Walkman, which was commercialized by Sony after 1979. Following a legal battle between both sides, Sony agreed to pay limited royalties to Pavel – but only for sales in Germany – although the company refused to acknowledge him as the device’s inventor.

Both parties reached a confidential financial settlement during the 1980s. However, the European press reported that the deal was worth roughly $10 million. A bargain for Sony, considering that more than 400 million Walkmans were sold across the globe.

6. Anti-ophidic serum
Brazilian physician Vital Brazil is internationally renowned for discovering the polyvalent anti-ophidic serum, which is used to treat bites from poisonous snakes, back in 1903. He is also credited as the first to develop anti-scorpion and anti-spider serums, in 1908 and 1925, respectively. Vital Brazil founded the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, a research center dedicated to toxicology, the science of venomous animals.

In 2000, another Brazilian, veterinarian Rosalvo Guidolin, developed a version of the serum in powder form; it increases its durability, and makes storage considerably easier.

7. Automatic transmission using hydraulic fluid
The automatic transmission was invented in 1921 by Alfred Munro, in Canada. Munro’s invention, however, used compressed air and lacked power, and therefore never found commercial application. Eleven years later, José Braz Araripe and Fernando Lehly Lemos developed the first automatic transmission with hydraulic fluid.

The duo sold the prototype to General Motors, who introduced it in the 1940 Oldsmobile, calling it the “hydra-matic” transmission. In World War II, GM incorporated the technology into tanks and afterwards labeled the technology as “battle tested.”