Famous Scottish Inventors & Discoverers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Scottish Inventors & Discoverers

 1 
Alexander Graham Bell
(Inventor of Telephone)

Alexander Graham Bell
11
Birthdate: March 3, 1847
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 2, 1922

Alexander Graham Bell was a scientist, inventor, and engineer. He is credited with inventing the first functional telephone. He is also credited with co-founding America's major telephone company AT&T, which has been going strong since 1885. Bell's later life was marked by his groundbreaking work in aeronautics, hydrofoils, and optical telecommunications. He was also an ardent supporter of compulsory sterilization.

 2 

John Logie Baird
7
Birthdate: August 13, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Helensburgh
Died: June 14, 1946

Scottish inventor, electrical engineer, and innovator, John Logie Baird, is best known for demonstrating a working TV system in 1926. He then went on to invent the first viable purely electronic color TV picture tube and founded the Baird Television Development Company. He was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015.

 3 
James Watt
(Inventor of Steam Engine)

James Watt
9
Birthdate: January 19, 1736
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Died: August 25, 1819
Eighteenth-century Scottish inventor James Watt developed the Newcomen steam engine, by inventing the Watt steam engine, which brough about the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the world. He also co-owned the firm Boulton and Watt and laid down concepts such as horsepower and the watt, the SI unit of power.
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 4 
William Murdoch
(Engineer)

William Murdoch
4
Birthdate: August 21, 1754
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lugar, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1839

Scottish engineer William Murdoch initially worked for the firm of Matthew Boulton and James Watt. He later made a host of inventions and was the first to use coal gas for illumination. He was also known for his work on steam energy and invented the oscillating engine and the D slide valve.

 5 

Sandford Fleming
4
Birthdate: January 7, 1827
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Died: July 22, 1915
Hailed as the Father of Standard Time, Canadian engineer ,Sandford Fleming, promoted worldwide standard time zones, a prime meridian, and the use of the 24-hour clock. He also designed Canada's first postage stamp and founded the Royal Canadian Institute in 1849. Fleming gained the reputation as one of the primary railway engineers and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897.

 6 

Robert Watson-Watt
3
Birthdate: April 13, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brechin, Scotland
Died: December 5, 1973

Robert Watson-Watt, often called the father of radar was a British physicist who did pioneering work in radio direction finding (RDF) and radar technology. He developed high-frequency direction finding (huff-duff) as a system for locating lightning. It was later introduced during the Second World War and played an instrumental role in intelligence, mainly in catching enemy radios while they transmitted.

 7 
David Brewster
(Scientist)

David Brewster
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1781
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jedburgh, Scotland
Died: February 10, 1868

David Brewster was a British scientist, inventor, and author. He conducted many experiments in physical optics, especially concerned with the study of the polarization of light. Fellow scientist William Whewell dubbed him the "father of modern experimental optics." He was also a pioneer in photography and invented an improved stereoscope. He wrote numerous works of popular science as well. 

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 8 
James Dewar
(Chemist)

James Dewar
3
Birthdate: September 20, 1842
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kincardine, Scotland
Died: March 27, 1923

James Dewar was a British chemist and physicist best known for his invention of the vacuum flask. He conducted considerable research into the liquefaction of gases and atomic and molecular spectroscopy. He also wrote papers on the qualities of hydrogen and organic chemistry. He was awarded the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts and the Rumford Medal. 

 9 

David Dunbar Buick
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1854
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Arbroath, Scotland
Died: March 5, 1929

David Dunbar Buick was a Scottish-born American inventor best remembered for establishing the popular Buick Motor Company, which went on to become the basis of the General Motors empire. In 1974, Buick was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame for his immense contribution to the automobile industry in the United States of America.

 10 
John Loudon McAdam
(Civil engineer, Engineer)

John Loudon McAdam
3
Birthdate: September 21, 1756
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ayr, Scotland
Died: November 26, 1836

Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam introduced the world to the macadam road surface, which was more economical and effective than all previous road-construction methods. He suggested that roads should be constructed at an elevated level for better drainage. He also became Britain’s Surveyor-General of Metropolitan Roads.

 11 
Kirkpatrick Macmillan
(Inventor of Pedal Bicycle)

Kirkpatrick Macmillan
2
Birthdate: September 2, 1812
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Keir, Dumfries and Galloway
Died: January 23, 1878

Kirkpatrick Macmillan was a 19th-century Scottish blacksmith generally credited with inventing the pedal-driven bicycle. He allegedly completed constructing a pedal-driven bicycle of wood in 1839. The bicycle included iron-rimmed wooden wheels and a steerable wheel. However, there is no concrete evidence to prove that he was indeed the inventor of the first pedal-driven bicycle.  

 12 
Alexander Bain
(Inventor of Electric Clock)

Alexander Bain
2
Birthdate: October 1, 1811
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Watten
Died: January 2, 1877
Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain had quit school at 11 to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a weaver. He had initially been a civil servant and had also taught English literature and logic. He later deviated too psychology and launched the first journal on the subject, Mind

 13 

Robert William Thomson
2
Birthdate: June 29, 1822
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stonehaven, Scotland
Died: March 8, 1873

Apprenticed as a merchant at age 14, Robert William Thomson grew up to study civil engineering and also worked with the South Eastern Railway Company. His illustrious career saw him make quite a few inventions, such as the pneumatic tire, the fountain pen, and the road steamer.  

 14 
Robert Stirling
(Clergyman)

Robert Stirling
2
Birthdate: October 25, 1790
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Perthshire, Scotland
Died: June 6, 1878

Apart from being a clergyman, Robert Stirling was also an inventor and engineer, who created the famed Stirling engine. He was posthumously named to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame. His inventions also included optical devices. While his grandfather invented the threshing machine, his father, too, made agricultural machinery.

 15 
Dugald Clerk
(Engineer)

Dugald Clerk
2
Birthdate: March 31, 1854
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: November 12, 1932

Scottish engineer Dugald Clerk is best known for his invention of the two-stroke engine, used widely in motorcycles and other machines. He also headed engineering research of the British Admiralty as its director and was knighted, too. He also co-established the intellectual property service provider Marks & Clerk.

 16 

John Claudius Loudon
1
Birthdate: April 8, 1783
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cambuslang, Scotland
Died: December 14, 1843

Scottish gardener and landscape artist John Claudius Loudon was also an influential horticultural journalist who wrote extensively on gardens, parks, and home architecture. Known for introducing the Gardenesque style of décor and popularizing the concept of arboretum, he also penned the widely popular The Suburban Gardener and Villa Companion.

 17 

Alexander Winton
1
Birthdate: June 20, 1860
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Grangemouth, Scotland
Died: June 21, 1932

 18 
Andrew Meikle
(Engineer)

Andrew Meikle
1
Birthdate: May 5, 1719
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Scotland, United Kingdom
Died: November 27, 1811

Sir Charles Ross, 9th Baronet
1
Birthdate: April 4, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Balnagown Castle, Scotland
Died: June 29, 1942

Best remembered as the inventor of the Ross rifle, Sir Charles Ross, 9th Baronet was a talented sharpshooter and rower in his college days and had even participated in the famed Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford. The Eton-educated baron was also said to be the largest landowner in Britain.

 20 

James Beaumont Neilson
1
Birthdate: June 22, 1792
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Shettleston, Glasgow, Scotland
Died: January 18, 1865

 21 

William Symington
1
Birthdate: 1764 AD
Birthplace: Leadhills, Scotland
Died: 1831 AD

 22 
John Broadwood
(Piano maker)

John Broadwood
1
Birthdate: October 6, 1732
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cockburnspath, Scotland
Died: July 17, 1812

 23 
John Aitken
(Meteorologist)

John Aitken
0
Birthdate: September 18, 1839
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Died: November 14, 1919

British meteorologist and physicist John Aitken is best remembered for his research on the microscopic particles now known as the Aitken nuclei and their role in the condensation of water vapor. However, health issues kept him confined to his home laboratory and prevented him from taking up significant positions.

 24 
William Ged
(Goldsmith)

William Ged
0
Birthdate: 1699 AD
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: October 19, 1749