news A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help publish a new book on Australian inventor Henry Sutton – a self-taught engineer and inventor from Ballarat.
According to the Telecommunications Association (TelSoc), which is supporting the project, Sutton was one of the “greatest Australians”, yet is scarcely known to the public.
This was not always the case, however, and the Australian was apparently well known in scientific circles in Europe and America 120 years ago.
Notably, the inventor was also “a friend to Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell”, TelSoc said.
To inform Australians about Sutton’s achievements, his great-granddaughter, Lorayne Branch, has written a book about his “triumphs and tragedies”.
“After seven years of searching through thousands of old scientific journals, newspapers and patent books from libraries and archives all over the world, my journey to uncover the truth about my great grandfather Henry Sutton has now been completed and fully documented,” she said.
A student of the Ballarat School of Mines, Branch said, Sutton went on to make “Australia’s first telephone” and later a telephone handset.
After the telephone he went on to invent the “light globe”, but Edison had pipped him to the post by just 16 days.
Many inventions followed – all “given freely to the world for the benefit of everyone”, said Branch.
The first invention that brought Sutton international acclaim, however, was his storage battery – “the first battery in the world to store electricity”.
Sutton would go on to invent “the world’s first” portable radio, a new combustion engine and a number of wireless telegraphy inventions, but after his death in 1912 his fame faded
While Branch’s book is now complete, TelSoc said, with arts funding at current “low levels”, she cannot get it published without finding the cash herself, something she said is “not an option”.
To overcome this fiscal hurdle, the author has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the necessary funds to see the book at last on stores’ bookshelves.
Robyn Williams, science journalist and presenter on the ABC’s Science Show has offered his support for the campaign and book, as have others, TelSoc said.
TelSoc itself is also supportive of the project and has now named an annual lecture after him, dubbing it The Henry Sutton Oration, with the inaugural lecture being given by Robyn Williams.
Those interested in supporting the publication of the book, should email the author Lorayne Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Branch has said that, for donations of $1,000–$2,000, an autographed copy of the book will be donated in the donor’s name to a high school of their choice.
For donations of over $2,000, the autographed copy of the book will be donated to a high school of their choice, plus the donor will be acknowledged in the published book.
Image credit (Henry Sutton): University of Ballarat