Page ii
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Online Edition

Title Page
Table of Contents
Sir Lindesay Clark


Contact us

Technology in Australia 1788-1988

The history of science has been well documented because the great leaps forward of scientific minds can be isolated as individual achievements. Technology - the application of these scientific advances to man's economic advancement - has been less well documented because its advances have tended to be cumulative and collective rather than dramatic and individual.

Yet all sciences have developed from techniques: mathematics from measuring in the market place and construction, mechanics and physics from craftsmen working with wood and metals, chemistry from smelting, brewing and distilling. The technologists have always had to solve practical problems. During the Dark Ages the great scientific advances made by the Greeks and Arabs were almost lost, but technology continued to develop and when man's physical needs enlarged ways were found to meet them by empirical and experimental methods rather than scientific ones.

This Bicentenary study by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering is an account how men and women who had been set down by force majeure in a remote, strange and often hostile environment were driven by necessity to combine the resources of science and technology brought with them from their former homes to create in a brief two hundred years a community as technologically advanced as any in the world.

In separate chapters distinguished Fellows of the Academy, assisted by many co-authors and advisers, have recorded the ways in which successive generations have absorbed and modified the knowledge and technologies of the Old World and from this springboard created their own brilliant advances and innovations. Many of these were taken up overseas but others lay idle for long periods or even failed, some because of the handicaps of a small domestic market and long lines of transport, and others because of failure of institutions in the private and in the public sector to recognise and grasp the opportunities.

The book is the inside story of Australian technology written by those who in recent decades have been personally involved in Australia's technological emancipation.

On the balance the book portrays, for the first time in an authoritative manner, the immense contribution which technology, both technology-creation and technology-transference made to man's conquest of this vast and arid continent. It brings home the fact so often overlooked in contemporary historic treatment, that without technology Australia would not have become the hospitable, prosperous and fortunate country that it now is.

No comprehensive summary of Australia's technological development has previously been published. This book, accompanied by four hundred informative illustrations, provides a unique record of Australia's achievement. Its straightforward style and ample illustrations make it accessible to a wide readership and as a record of Australian achievement it must surely be unique.

The exciting potential advances in applied chemistry, physics, and biology can only become economic reality in Australia if private and public sector science, development, production and marketing interact effectively.

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering has done much to bring this interaction about. In 1976 it was established with the express purpose "to promote in Australia the application of scientific Fellows who have been elected on the basis of their outstanding achievements in the technological sciences. Approximately half the Fellows are senior industrialists and technologists, while most of the others are leaders in applied research in government establishments or universities. Together they represent national leadership in technology and engineering.

The Academy acts as an authoritative and independent source of information, advice and commentary on technological matters of national importance. It expresses its views and advice through annual symposia, conferences and orations; publications and reports, submissions to governments and committees of inquiry; representation on national committees and organizations; and a range of international activities. It is making an important contribution to the technological development of Australia.

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition flyleaf, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher