Norway’s smallness as a country does not mean it purely has a role as sometimes global “preferred peace partner”. Several inventions exceed its borders and change the lives of millions.
Downhill but not
The list is long. For the sports-oriented, perhaps slalom is the first that comes to mind. The sport originates from Telemark County, southern Norway, in the 1860s. It developed from the 1920s in mid-Europe to attain its present form.
Slalom (“slalåm” in Norwegian), is a two-word mixture of “sla” – meaning “sloping” – and låm – meaning “track” made behind the skis.
Famous Norwegian sports champions of this discipline include Kjetil André Aamodt (downhill and Super G), and Lasse Kjus and Aksel Lund Svindal, (downhill, slalom, super G).
In the slalom-only races, Stein Eriksen and Guttorm Berge won the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics (silver and bronze, respectively).
Finn Christian Jagge and Hans Petter Buraas were gold medallists at the Winter Olympics in Albertville and Nagano in 1992 and 1998, respectively.
For the women, Laila Schou Nilsen won bronze in the combined at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Lillehammer furniture-maker Thor Bjørklund (1889-1975) invented the cheese slicer. Some Swiss may disagree about this, but the implement is extremely useful for slicing Jarlsberg – another famous Norwegian invention. ‘Further development’ could breed others uses.
Environment and engineering
The Aerosol spray can was first patented to Norwegian chemical engineer Erik Rotheim in 1926 in Oslo.
The rights were sold for NOK 100,000 to a US company five years later, and American Julian S. Kahn received a patent for the disposable spray can in 1939.
Aerosol propellant chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) has ceased to be used following the 1989 Montreal Protocol, having detrimental effects on the Earth’s ozone layer.
Trampe bicycle lift
Alan Ford/Wikimedia CommonsMore environmentally friendly “Sykkelheisen Trampe” is the Norwegian name for a bicycle lift. The prototype was constructed in the city of Trondheim, Sør-Trondelag County, in 1993.
Reputedly the only one of its kind in the world, the cyclist kept his/her foot on the left pedal – placing the other on the lift’s starting-point – and inserting a NOK 100 key card in a reader and pushing the starting button. A footplate then emerged.
The number of trips were unlimited but ceased earlier this year, when the equipment was removed.
“Trampe” in Norwegian means “stamp”, “tramp”, “stomp”, or “pedal” is also used to raise or lower the shanks on a loom.
For Norway’s hydrocarbon industry, researchers at Trondheim’s SINTEF developed multiphase technology. This has allowed for increased oil extraction from smaller fields for less investment.
Multiphase technology enables oil and gas to be transported from wells up to a surface platform or land-based installation using the same pipelines.
The transport process is also safer thanks to the help of “Olga”, a calculation tool for among other things production rate, pressure, and fluid content developed by Kjell Bendiksen and Dag Malnes at IFE (Institute for Energy Technology).
Moreover, oil companies’ costs are reduced, as they avoid the need to build an oil platform near each discovery.
Communications and computing
Mobile mast (illustration photo)
Les Chatfield/FlickrAnother SINTEF-originated project is the radio technology behind GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). Digital GSM (or 2G), replaced the old 1G analogue networks.
Researchers Torleiv Maseng, Odd Trandem, and Tor Skjøtskift found a way of positively exploiting mobile signal-generated reflections in hilly terrain with many high buildings. Instead of interference, the method improves GSM network quality.
“Bits are sent back-to-back via radio signals and reflections from the first bit sometimes mix into the second because of a delay,” Mr Trandem tells The Foreigner. “This creates interference. The old technology suppressed these reflections, but ours actually utilises them, adding reflections into the right bit.”
For computers, Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristin Nygaard at the Norwegian Computing Centre in Oslo invented the simulation programming languages known as Simula 1 and Simula 67 in the 1960s.
Simula, considered the first object oriented programming language, is the most widely used paradigm for software development.
Still in the computing world, Norwegians Håkon Wium Lee and Geir Ivarsøy developed the Opera web browser.
Started in 1994 at Telenor and branching out one year later, becoming company Opera Software, personnel developed an application for the iPad which upgraded the browser’s so-called “pinch-to-zoom” function, and improved users’ “smoothness of surfing flow” experience.
Tripp Trapp chair, baby set, cushion
Nsaa/Wikimedia CommonsNorwegians have also contributed to many other areas. Other Norwegian inventions include Black Metal and Dale sweater patterns.
Designer Peter Opsvik came up with the Tripp Trapp high chair. The Stokke-made item can be used by everyone, from babies to adults, due to its adjustable seat and foot levels.
Norwegian company Ekornes’ “Stressless” comfort recliners and sofas are for those wishing more comfort.
A list of more Norwegians and their feats can be found here (external link).
Furthermore, “Made in Norway”, a book by Nana Segelcke – published by Grøndahl and Dreyer (1990) in English – features some of Norway’s other products, placing Norwegians on the famous and national identity map.
The Foreigner hopes you have enjoyed this brief overview, and would like to thank readers for their contributions to this article.