top of page

Read: salmon on your sushi and 13 other Norwegian inventions you didn't know about

Once upon a time, there was a Viking... That's how I could easily introduce this article. Indeed, there was once a Viking who discovered that when you look through a piece of moonstone under a cloudy sky, you can still see where the sun is, making navigation and course-keeping much easier when the sky above the Atlantic Ocean is covered with dense clouds.

Although there is no direct evidence, this seemingly simple invention appears to be the reason Vikings successfully sailed the previously unknown seas and discovered entire continents, such as present-day North America and Greenland.

A picture of a sushi dish with a Norwegian harbour in the background

This very invention inspired me to write a small tribute article about inventions made by Norwegians, or inventions made in Norway...or inventions with a Norwegian origin. Yes indeed, I need to widen the criteria a little bit but that makes the list more entertaining. Let it be an encouragement to do some exploring on your own. Here we go!

1. Cheese Slicer (Ostehøvel): The modern cheese slicer was invented by the Norwegian carpenter Thor Bjørklund in 1925. It has since become a widely used kitchen tool worldwide. Occasionally, a rather shouty Dutch person may stand up and loosely claim it to be a Dutch invention, but that cheesehead can take a seat again because it's truly a Norwegian invention. Sit please!

2. A-ha's "Take On Me" Music Video Technique: The groundbreaking animation and live-action combination in A-ha's famous "Take On Me" music video from 1985 was developed by Norwegian artist and animator Michael Patterson. While the song itself stormed the global charts, the music video made an equally significant impression for those with a refined taste.

3. Oil Platform Technology: Norway is a pioneer in offshore oil and gas extraction. The country has developed advanced technologies for deep-sea drilling and platforms, significantly contributing to the global oil and gas industry. As this is a blog, and I'm allowed to express opinions, I hope these technologies will soon be used to halt the dramatic warming of the planet. However, according to the Norwegian government, we should continue burning fossil fuels because 'it's not that bad.'

4. Salmon Farming Techniques: Norway is a leading country in salmon farming and has developed innovative techniques for aquaculture. The country's expertise in fish farming has had a significant impact on the global fishing industry. However, this technique is controversial, to say the least. The industry around farmed fish is quite repugnant. Ecosystems suffer tremendously from the hormones, heavy metals, and antibiotics that end up in the seawater. Additionally, the living conditions for the salmon are deplorable. Furthermore, the health effects of these heavy metals on humans (NOT HEALTHY) are questionable.

5. Sonar Technology: In the early 20th century, the Norwegian scientist and inventor Carl August Bockish made significant contributions to the development of sonar technology, essential for underwater navigation and communication.

6. The Paperclip (not the one that became a massive succes): Although the invention of the paperclip is often attributed to Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian patent officer, it should be noted that the design he patented in 1899 wasn't the one that became popular. Nevertheless, his contribution to the early development of the paperclip is acknowledged. I wouldn't mind being remembered for doing an almost legendary invention.

7. Kongsberg Target Systems: Kongsberg Gruppen, a Norwegian defense and aerospace company, has developed advanced target systems for military training. These systems are used worldwide by armed forces for shooting exercises and simulations.

8. Norsk Hydro's Aluminum Production Process: In the early 20th century, the Norwegian company Norsk Hydro developed an innovative method for aluminum production. This method, known as the Birkeland–Eyde process, has been of great importance to the global aluminum industry and, in retrospect, of enormous value.

9. Moonstone navigation: As I mentioned earlier, the evidence is not entirely conclusive. But there is a strong suspicion that moonstone helped the Vikings navigate on the open sea when it was particularly cloudy. You can locate the sun when it's cloudy, which is extremely useful when trying to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Moonstone is actually a type of gemstone that belongs to the feldspar mineral group. It is known for its distinctive adularescence, a phenomenon where the gem appears to display a milky glow or shimmering light, reminiscent of the moon's soft glow. This optical effect is caused by light scattering between microscopic layers of feldspar within the stone. Voila!

10. Bluetooth: This is pure clickbait, of course. Because I'm talking about the Bluetooth symbol. Bluetooth itself was invented by a mishmash of inventive companies from Sweden and Finland. But the symbol comes from Harald Bluetooth. He was a Viking king known for uniting Denmark and parts of Norway during his reign. The Bluetooth symbol, a bind rune merging the initials of Harald Bluetooth in Nordic runes, was created by combining the runes 'Hagall' (H) and 'Bjarkan' (B). It's a bit of cheating, but you'll have to deal with it.

11. Kon-Tiki: It can't be considered a true invention, but it's noteworthy. In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl demonstrated that it was possible to cross the Pacific Ocean using ocean currents with a reasonably simple raft, thereby proving that pre-Columbian South American cultures could have settled in Polynesia, contrary to the prevailing belief that the islands were originally populated by people from Asia.

12. Salmon on Sushi: Sushi has been around for a while, but salmon on sushi is a different story. The introduction of salmon in sushi is often and rightly credited to a Norwegian named Bjørn Eirik Olsen. In the 1980s, he worked in the seafood industry and recognized the potential of Norwegian salmon in the Japanese sushi market. He introduced the concept of using salmon in sushi to Japanese chefs, and it was met with approval and became popular. And now, the whole world enjoys 'Norwegian' sushi. Well, the salmon, at least.

13. Rottefella Binding: A Norwegian invention that may not be well-known globally is the Rottefella binding. Rottefella is a Norwegian company founded in 1927, and they developed the first ski binding with a toe binding that could be opened with a pole. This binding revolutionized cross-country skiing, making it easier for skiers to manage descents and asc

ents. The Rottefella binding became a standard for cross-country skis, and the company continues to develop new technologies for ski equipment.

14. The Ski: The origin of skiing dates back to ancient times and is believed to have originated in the region spanning modern-day Norway, Sweden, and Russia. Skiing was not so much invented as naturally developed as a form of transportation in snowy and mountainous areas. It's somewhat challenging to connect a direct geographical location to 'the invention.' But since the word "ski" itself comes from the Old Norse word "skíð," referring to a piece of wood or a ski, I'm inclined to believe that the development primarily took place in what is now Norway. Early evidence of skiing dates back to prehistoric times, and ancient petroglyphs and ski fragments have been found in the Nordic region. Skiing was crucial for hunting, transport, and communication in these snowy landscapes. While skiing as a practical skill likely predates recorded history, the modern sport of skiing began to take shape in Scandinavia. Norway, in particular, played a significant role in the development of skiing, and the word "slalom," used in ski racing, has a Norwegian origin.


bottom of page