25 Things You Might Not Know Came From Sweden

Posted by , Updated on April 22, 2024

Despite having a population of just 9 million, Sweden makes a strong impact in the field of innovation. This Scandinavian nation has produced a wide range of globally recognized products that have become integral to our daily routines. Did you know that it was a Swedish person who developed the Celsius temperature scale? Also, Swedish inventors have contributed significantly to the medical field with inventions like the pacemaker. Additionally, they have played a key role in shaping one of the most distinct icons of Coca-Cola. With reference to a particular Swedish invention and inventor listed as #24, the United States might have been a very different country without their significant contributions.

In this list, we bring to light things you might not know came from Sweden. Though people like Alfred Nobel and products like Absolut Vodka are better-known Swedish exports – well, besides clothing manufacturer H&M – our modern lives would not be possible without the immense contributions from talented Swedish inventors. Maybe all the research and innovation is because Sweden hasn’t fought in a war since 1814 or because its high salaries attract talented workers. Either way, Sweden and its products are revolutionizing our world. Check out some of these amazing products in our list of 25 Things You Might Not Know Came From Sweden.


Coca-Cola Bottle

Coca_Cola_ad_ca._1943Source: Coca-Cola Company, Image: Wikipedia

Almost every person in the world recognizes the Coca-Cola bottle thanks to its distinctive shape. Though Coke was founded by John Pemberton, its iconic bottle was designed and originally produced by Swede Alexander Samuelsson.



Hercules.propellerSource: Sverige Turism, Image: Wikipedia

One of the most important inventions making modern-day travel possible, the propeller was originally designed for ships and patented by Swedish inventor John Ericsson in 1836. Ericsson famously built the Yankee battleship Monitor, which helped the North clinch victory from the South.



novelty zippersSource: Sverige Turism, Image: Wikipedia

A common feature of most of our wardrobes, backpacks, and more, the zipper was designed by Swedish-American inventor Gideon Sundbäck. Patented in 1917, the zipper’s interlocking teeth and slider have touched nearly every textile industry on Earth. (Fun fact: Originally, the zipper was called the hookless fastener – boring!)



Eric_Prydz_totally_rocking_the_main_roomSource: Ten Facts About, Image: Wikimedia

While every country has musicians, Sweden has some of the most popular; the country is the third largest music exporter in the world after the United States and United Kingdom. Though most people know of ABBA – they even have a museum in Stockholm – did you know that Ace of Base, Eric Prydz, and Avicii are also from Sweden?


Celsius Temperature Scale

celsius thermometerSource: Swedish Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Image: Wikipedia

Used by all but five countries, the Celsius temperature scale was developed by mathematician and astronomer Anders Celsius. After massively contributing to the field of astronomy with his observations of eclipses and planetary orbits, the scientist developed a new thermometer which measures 100 degrees between the freezing point and boiling point of water.



Ultrasound_visionSource: Sweden.se, Image: Wikimedia

Did you know the ultrasound was developed in Sweden? In the 1970’s, Swedish physician Inge Edler worked with Austrian researcher Carl Hellmuth Hertz to develop the first ultrasound, the primary non-invasive way to examine our hearts and internal organs.


Space Cameras

Lunar_Television_Camera_for_Apollo_11_Moon_Landing,_Westinghouse,_identical_to_the_model_used_on_the_moon_-_National_Electronics_MuseSource: Swedish Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Image: Wikimedia

Though Americans were the first to step foot on the Moon, the rest of us on Earth wouldn’t have seen it without a Swede. Viktor Hasselblad established a company to produce aerial cameras for the Swedish air force. His camera with a single-lens reflex system was later taken into space by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to photograph the Moon’s surface.


Computer Mouse

Assorted_computer_miceSource: Swedish Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Image: Wikipedia

Serial inventor Håkan Lans invented the predecessor to what became the standard computer mouse. He also developed color computer graphics which are used by nearly every computer manufacturer today.



DynamiteSource: Sverige Turism, Image: Wikipedia

One of the most famous Swedes, Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1866, revolutionizing the construction and exploration industries. He also bequeathed most of his fortune to create the Nobel Prizes.



Pacemaker PlacementSource: Sweden.se, Image: Wikipedia

The savior of millions of lives, the pacemaker was developed in 1958 by Rune Elmqvist. Run by a battery, the device is placed inside a person’s body to regulate an irregular heartbeat, emitting electrical pulses to ensure proper muscle contraction.


Three-Point Seatbelt

seatbeltSource: Sweden.se, Image: Wikipedia

These days, almost every car on the planet has Sweden to thank for its invention of the three-point seatbelt. Running across the waist and over the shoulder like a “Y” to spread energy during an accident, the seatbelt was created by Nils Bohlin for Volvo.


Keep reading to find out what other safety features Swedes have added to our daily life.



skype sceenshotSource: Swedish Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Image: philwolff via Flickr

Many of us chat daily with family and friends on video through Skype, but did you know the service is something which originally came from Sweden? Working with a small team that included Danish inventor Janus Friis, Niklas Zennström developed the back-end for Skype, a company which sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion in 2011.


Gamma Knife

Gamma_Knife_GraphicSource: Swedish Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Image: Wikipedia

The gamma knife is one of the most important medical inventions which has come from Sweden. Professors Lars Leskell and Borge Larsson invented the surgical device which, despite its name, has no metal knife; it uses gamma waves to treat cancer and brain tumors without making dangerous incisions.


Adjustable Wrench

Western_Forge_Craftsman_adjustable_wrenchesSource: Sweden.se, Image: Wikimedia

Though it may not seem immediately revolutionary, the adjustable wrench (AKA adjustable spanner) is one of the most widely used Swedish inventions, found in nearly every toolbox. Rather than having to carry around packs and packs of wrenches, Johan Petter Johansson patented the adjustable wrench, sometimes called the Swedish key, in 1891.


Milking Machine

milking-machineSource: Sverige Turism, Image: Wikipedia

Anyone who has worked on a dairy farm knows how laborious it is to milk a cow by hand. Enter Swedish inventor Gustaf de Laval who invented the milking machine in 1896, drastically streamlining the dairy industry. (He also invented a Separator to divide the cream from the milk.)


Mecanum Wheel

mecanum wheel robotSource: Wall Street Journal, Image: Wikimedia

Swede Bengt Ilon invented the Mecanum wheel in 1973. Though the standard wheel has been virtually the same since the caveman era, the Mecanum wheel can move in any direction. It has proven especially useful in wheelchairs and on Navy ships.


Bottle Return Machine

reverse vending machineSource: Reverse Vending, Image: Wikipedia

Though still a relatively rare sight in the United States, bottle return machines are something you may not know came from Sweden. The machines can be seen throughout Europe thanks to Wicanders, who created the first working model. Today, over 100,000 of the machines are spread out across the planet, accepting used bottles and containers and returning money to the user.


Safety Match

fire-match-matchboxSource: Sverige Turism, Image: Pexels

Though matches weren’t invented in Sweden, until Gustaf Erik Pasch took a look at them, they were quite dangerous. With flammable phosphorous embedded in the match head, they easily burned the user. Pasch moved the phosphorous to the side of the match box and replaced the poisonous yellow phosphorous with a non-toxic red version. Thanks to his innovation, Sweden has at times produced upwards of 75% of global matches.



Tetra_Pak_packaging_portfolio_I_medium_sizeSource: Sweden.se, Image: Wikipedia

Almost every carton of milk, fruit juice, and a host of other liquids has Sweden to thank. Invented by Erik Wallenberg in 1946, the Tetrapak revolutionized packaging systems by making cartons out of paper. It was soon commercialized by Swede Ruben Rausing.


Telephone Handset

Old_Ericsson_PhoneSource: Sverige Turism, Image: Wikimedia

Famous Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson was founded by Lars Magnus Ericsson in 1876. Its first widely successful product was a telephone handset with both speaker and mouthpiece built into the same housing. Previously, telephone users had to hold the speaker to their ear and hold the separate microphone to their mouth to speak.



automatic identification system on board shipSource: Swedish Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Image: Wikipedia

Though a Swede didn’t directly invent GPS (Global Positioning System), Håkan Lans did invent one of its most important derivations. His AIS (Automatic Identification System) has become the standard for both sea and air traffic tracking and collision avoidance.



prilosec otcSource: Sweden.org.za, Image: jeepersmedia via Flickr

Better known as Prilosec in the United States, Losec was the 1990’s best-selling drug worldwide. This Swedish ulcer medication was developed by Astra Zeneca and is also used to treat acid reflux.



IKEA-Sendai-_JapanSource: Ten Facts About, Image: Wikimedia

So, in truth, we didn’t think we had to mention this one since every IKEA store is basically a massive Swedish flag. For those who haven’t yet built a full dining room for less than the price of a beer in Manhattan, IKEA is one of the most popular furniture companies in the world and proudly Swedish.


The System of Nature

Linne system naturaeSource: Swedish Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Image: Wikipedia

Anyone who studies plants, animals, or minerals has Carl Linnaeus to thank. Not receiving nearly the amount of notoriety he should, Linnaeus compiled a classification system for our natural world, creating a central repository for scientists worldwide which is still used over 250 years later.


Hövding Bicycle Airbag

Hovding_Airbag_for_CyclistsSource: Sweden.se, Image: Wikimedia

With such a prevalent biking culture, Sweden wanted to make sure its riders were safe in all situations. To counteract the lack of helmet usage, the company Hövding developed an airbag for cyclists. The tiny “invisible helmet” looks like a trendy scarf and can inflate within 1/10th of a second if it detects strange or erratic cycling.


If you enjoyed this list, you might also enjoy 25 People You Might Not Know Are Swedish.