ARCHIVED - NRC Inventions Stand among the Top 10 Greatest Canadian Inventions, According to CBC Viewers

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January 07, 2007 — Ottawa, Ontario

NRC's George Klein and his team created the first practical motorized wheelchair at NRC in the 1950s
NRC's George Klein and his team created the first practical motorized wheelchair at NRC in the 1950s

Last fall, CBC Television invited its public to vote on the greatest Canadian inventions, asking them to choose from 50 including the BlackBerry, the electric oven, the light bulb, various medical advances, and even artery-clogging poutine. What a mind-twisting contest.

On January 3, 2007, CBC broadcast the top ten. In first place was life-saving insulin, which NRC can't take credit for, although in 1982 an NRC scientist did achieve the world's first total synthesis of the gene for proinsulin ― a precursor to human insulin. In sixth place on the top ten list was the pacemaker and in ninth was the electric wheelchair, both of which emerged from NRC research.

Dr. Hopps testing an early pacemaker prototype.
Dr. Hopps testing an early pacemaker prototype.

Even though Canadians put five-pin bowling, the WonderBra and poutine on their top ten list, NRC has a lot to be proud of. In total, NRC researchers invented, designed and collaborated on eight of CBC's Top 50 list, including:

  • Canadarm
  • Cobalt-60 cancer bomb treatment
  • Computer animation
  • Crash position indicator
  • Electric wheelchair
  • Electronic synthesizer
  • Explosives detector
  • Heart pacemaker

In addition, NRC played a strong role in developing several other celebrated Canadian inventions through our Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). Canadian inventors came up with the concepts and NRC provided R&D support, expertise or funding for:

  • The BlackBerry
  • UV-degradable plastics
  • The Weevac-6 baby evacuation stretcher
  • The Anti-gravity suit

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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