A military invention is an invention that was first created by a military. There are many inventions that were originally created by the military and subsequently found civilian uses.

Military inventions with civilian uses

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (February 2011)
Name Date invented Invented by Original purpose Civilian uses
ASDIC 1910s United Kingdom United Kingdom

France France

Submarine detection Sonar
Radar mid-1930s United Kingdom United Kingdom[1][2] Early warning radar, air defence systems Air traffic control systems, microwave oven
Walkie-talkie 1930s Canada Canada (Donald Hings)[3]

United States United States (Alfred J. Gross, Motorola SCR-300)

Portable two-way radio communications system for military Portable radio communications – business, public safety, marine, amateur radio, CB radio
Night vision 1939 - 1940s Nazi Germany Nazi Germany

United States United States

Visibility for military personnel in low light situations Low light photography, surveillance
Duct tape 1942 United States United States Sealing ammunition cases Multiple uses
Ballistic missiles 1940s Nazi Germany Nazi Germany

Soviet Union Soviet Union

Long range attack Space exploration, launch of communication, weather and global positioning satellites
Darknet 1990s United States United States
Anonymous/protected computer networking Used by journalists, political activists, scientists, etc.
Nuclear technology 1940s United States United States

United Kingdom United Kingdom
Canada Canada
(Manhattan Project)

Nuclear weapons Nuclear medicine, nuclear power
Jet engine 1940s Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (Hans von Ohain)

United Kingdom United Kingdom (Frank Whittle)

Jet fighters, jet bombers Airliners
Digital photography 1960s United States United States

Soviet Union Soviet Union

Spy satellites, eliminated the need to recover deorbited film canisters Digital cameras
Compiler 1952 United States United States Allow programs to be written for multiple target computers by different vendors without needing to rewrite the assembly for each of them. Compiler
Internet 1960s - 1970s United States United States (ARPANET)[4]

United Kingdom United Kingdom (NPL network)[4]
France France (CYCLADES)[4]

Reliable computer networking Led to invention of the World Wide Web by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee; subsequently widespread availability of information, telecommunication and electronic commerce
Rodriguez well 1960s United States United States Army
Nuclear weapons and logistics, provide water supply for bases hidden in polar regions Colonization of Mars
Satellite navigation 1970s United States United States Air Force

Soviet Union Soviet Union

Nuclear weapons force multiplier, increased warhead accuracy through precise navigation Navigation, personal tracking
Sanitary napkins 1920s United Kingdom United Kingdom

France France

Prevent bleeding using cellulose in bandages. British & American nurses picked up the bandages and started using them as Sanitary Napkins.

See also


  1. ^ Angela Hind (February 5, 2007). "Briefcase 'that changed the world'". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-08-16. It not only changed the course of the war by allowing us to develop airborne radar systems, it remains the key piece of technology that lies at the heart of your microwave oven today. The cavity magnetron's invention changed the world.
  2. ^ Harford, Tim (9 October 2017). "How the search for a 'death ray' led to radar". BBC World Service. Retrieved 9 October 2017. But by 1940, it was the British who had made a spectacular breakthrough: the resonant cavity magnetron, a radar transmitter far more powerful than its predecessors.... The magnetron stunned the Americans. Their research was years off the pace.
  3. ^ Don-Hings-Walkie-Talkie-Development.PDF[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b c Kim, Byung-Keun (2005). Internationalising the Internet the Co-evolution of Influence and Technology. Edward Elgar. pp. 51–55. ISBN 1845426754; Hauben, Ronda (1 May 2004). "The Internet: On its International Origins and Collaborative Vision A Work In-Progress". Retrieved 25 September 2017; by Vinton Cerf, as told to Bernard Aboba (1993). "How the Internet Came to Be". Retrieved 25 September 2017. We began doing concurrent implementations at Stanford, BBN, and University College London. So effort at developing the Internet protocols was international from the beginning.; "The Computer History Museum, SRI International, and BBN Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of First ARPANET Transmission, Precursor to Today's Internet". SRI International. 27 October 2009. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2017. But the ARPANET itself had now become an island, with no links to the other networks that had sprung up. By the early1970s, researchers in France, the UK, and the U.S. began developing ways of connecting networks to each other, a process known as internetworking.