In the press release there's no mention of what Radio Four called an "orchestrated campaign" by this site and others to coax the bicycle to victory!

Result! Patent Office hails bicycle as best invention of past 150 years

The press release from the Patent Office was sent out to a full media list so it’s likely the bicycle as best invention will be featured without Radio Four’s somewhat less than charitable spin on the results!

And the Patent Office spokesman is very complimentary about bicycles (although the release has caused a few ruffled feathers north of the border because it was a Scot who invented the bicycle as we know it, not a Frenchman! see



The nation votes the bicycle the best and the bomb the worst in poll on inventions

In a poll to celebrate 150 years of the Patent Office, listeners to Radio Four’s Today Programme voted the bicycle their favourite invention. Atomic and nuclear bombs were voted the least favourite in the web poll.

The bicycle, which was invented by the pram-making Michaux family in Paris, with their employee Pierre Lallement in the 1860s, won by a landslide victory. The atomic bomb was famous for destroying the Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

The bicycle was short-listed against nine other ‘best’ inventions which play a vital role in our society, such as the computer, light bulb, television and worldwide web. The atomic and nuclear weapons were short-listed against other ‘worst’ inventions such as land mines, plastic bags, mobile phones and speed cameras. Interestingly three of the ten short-listed worst inventions also appeared in the best inventions list! Playing such integral roles in our society, televisions, telephones and internal combustions engines are hated yet vital. Over 5,000 votes were cast for the short-listed inventions in the final stage.

Jeremy Philpott, marketing executive at The Patent Office, says: "It has been interesting to see the results of the poll. The bicycle, which was invented shortly after the opening of the Patent Office in 1852, has remained a key mode of transport and leisure equipment. Since the birth of the bicycle there have been many improvements and adjustments, with well over 50,000 bicycle related patents registered worldwide. With the bomb winning the accolade of ‘worst invention’ we are reminded how not all developments are considered beneficial to mankind."

The Patent Office was established in London in 1852 to protect and encourage the innovation of the industrial revolution. The patent system itself dates back to the fifteenth century, but the foundation of the Patent Office simplified and harmonised procedures. The modern Patent Office also houses the Trade Marks Registry, Designs Registry and Copyright Directorate, making it the sole authority for intellectual property in the UK and respected worldwide.

For more information on the history of the Patent Office, check the links embedded at…/150years.htm

To view the results from the web poll, please view the Today Programme’s website

Further information on patents, trade marks, copyright and design registration is available on this site.

Issued by Prowse & Co on behalf of The Patent Office

For more information please contact Deborah Fields / Vicki Fletcher on +44 (0)1372 363 386 or e-mail /

For BBC Press Office, please call 0208 5761865

Note to editors:

The best and worst inventions in descending order:

Best invention list

Bicycle – Pierre Lallement, 1866

Radio – William Preece and Guglielmo Marconi, 1897

Computer – Alan Turing, 1945

Penicillin1 – Alexander Fleming, 1928, Florey & Heatley, 1940

Internal Combustion Engine – Nicolaus August Otto, 1876

Worldwide Web – Tim Berners Lee, 1989

Light Bulb – Joseph Swan (UK) and Edison (US), 1879

Cat’s Eyes – Percy Shaw, 1935

Telephone – Innocenzo Manzetti, 1865, Alexander G. Bell, 1876

Television – John Logie Baird, 1923

1 Discoveries like penicillin are not patentable but methods to render them into pill form are.

Worst invention list

Atomic/Nuclear weapons


Internal combustion engine

Plastic bags

Speed cameras

Mobile phones

Car alarms


Tetrapak Cartons

Sinclair C5

For more information on the history of the bicycle, please check the following links:

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