Outstanding Portuguese Inventions and Creations

(Courtesy of Maravilhas de Portugal and I just let the Google Translator roll. It is not a perfect translation, but feel free to ask.)

Despite being a small country with few registered patents, Portugal was responsible for the invention of artifacts, objects or systems that contributed decisively to change the world. Among many we could cite, highlight 5.

1. Caravela: This type of marine vessel appeared in the fifteenth century by the hand of the Portuguese. Was used in the discoveries made by the great icons of our story: Gil Eanes and Bartolomeu Dias for example.

2. Passarola: Although Leonardo da Vinci have designed in the sixteenth century, the first flying machine, Gusmao Bartlomeu was the first to build and to have license (request to King D. João V) in 1709, making it Portugal become world pioneer in aviation.

3. Via Verde: It first appeared in 1991, created by Brisa Auto-Estradas company. This system is already used in various parts of the world, thus allowing ease of payment at toll motorways and bridges.

4. Mutibanco: The Network ATM appeared in 1985 and was one of the major changes in the banking sector in Portugal. It is one of the most advanced in the world, capable of making any kind of service payments. At first, only 12 boxes were installed, around the Port and Lisbon, currently with 13,000 boxes. It is undoubtedly one of the most significant inventions in our country and in our day-to-day.

5. ColorAdd: The ColorAdd is a color identification system for color-blind (problem that affects 10% of the world male population), developed by a Portuguese graphic designer. Since its creation, the ColorAdd has been applied in several areas, particularly in health and education, such as: packaging of tablets in hospital bracelets, colored pencils, the metro network maps, traffic lights, signage, packaging, among others. 6. Prepaid cards: Almost all Portuguese have or have had a day a prepaid card in your phone. Is to load the card with a certain amount, which can later spend on phone calls or messages. What most people do not know is that TMN, current MEO, was the “inventor” of this payment system that today is scattered all over the world .

Portuguese Caravela


24 thoughts on “Outstanding Portuguese Inventions and Creations

  1. Ahhh..the Caravel.

    As an addendum to the Caravel I would add that the Portuguese, under the tutelage of Henry the Navigator’s school of explorers, and his new ship the Caravel, were the first to learn the Volta do Mar (the turn of the sea), the art of using the winds and sails to both leave port and return, and on a larger scale to use the Atlantic and Mediterranean winds and currents to navigate vast distances. This was a major, crucial, step in the Age of Discovery.

    Thanks Susan, for a very informative post!!


    1. I know, right? You should read about the Portuguese man who turned banking upside down. He was a flim-flam man and got away with it for a loooooong time. The book about it is “The Man From Lisbon.”


  2. Thank you for this article. The ATM thing is quite funny because being Portuguese I never really thought about it… that is, until I moved abroad. Having used ATMs all over Europe and also in NY I must say I really miss Portuguese ATMs. You can do SO MANY MORE transactions! You can buy train tickets, top up your phone (another Portuguese invention 🙂 ), pay any bill, buy concert tickets, pay online purchases, etc. It really is the best!


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I think that Portugal is one of the undervalued countries of the world. I lived there for 11 years and a day doesn’t go by that I would not jump at the opportunity to return. Thanks for commenting.


    1. I know the coloradd is some sort of graphic signs for the primary colors that can be combined in other colors but I’m not sure how it works but the prepaid phone card is the phone you can top-up, or better, you have to top up in order to use them, It’s exactly what it says, first you pay, then you use. 🙂

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