Andrew Brown McKenzie’s train braking system has helped save thousands of lives.
Andrew Brown McKenzie’s train braking system has helped save thousands of lives.

Invention info at a click

ANDREW Brown McKenzie is not a household name, yet he has saved thousands of lives.

A railway man, he witnessed serious accidents caused by trains that took an age to slow down and stop.

And in 1904 he invented what became known as the Westinghouse Air Brake, the first invention to be granted an Australian patent.

McKenzie’s work, and the work of numerous other Aussie inventors, can now be viewed online thanks to the latest addition to AusPat, a database of patent records dating back to that first patent issued under Commonwealth legislation.

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the new information would help modern day

innovators by making it easier to find patented inventions, and provide a pool of priceless information for everyone interested in our nation’s history.

“Australia has a rich history of innovation and this excellent tool delivers better access to this important information,” Senator Carr said.

“Records for iconic Australian inventions, such as David Unaipon’s 1909 patent for the shearing handpiece featured on the Australian $50 note can now be located with the easy-to-use search tool deemed one of the best in the world.

“When Andrew Brown McKenzie filed that first Australian patent in 1904 he could never have envisaged that his patent record, and the records of thousands of other Australian innovators, could be accessed so easily more than 100 years later.

“McKenzie’s work on the railways led him to identify a problem with train brakes and a way to overcome it. His patent – improvements in air-leak preventative for Westinghouse and like brakes – helped railway workers and passengers alike.

“One hundred and seven years later Australian innovators are still changing lives with modern day inventions like Gardasil and the CSIRO’s Wi-Fi technology.

“AusPat offered a significant improvement on the old process in which people searched through a mountain of paper, microfiche and electronic systems.

The tool would save modern Australian inventors time and effort as they can easily search the inventions that had come before them,” he said.

Resource booms would come and go, but long-term sustainability had to be based on building new industries around smart ideas and innovation.

AusPat had data from over 7300 books, 620,000 microfiche films and more than 37 million documents.

To access the AusPat visit

Bullet fragments lodged in dog's brain

Bullet fragments lodged in dog's brain

Kelpie 'Goldie' latest dog to be shot in Eatonsville

WET WEEK: When will the heat end?

WET WEEK: When will the heat end?

Your guide to the week's weather

Pop-up hubs a hit with Valley youth

Pop-up hubs a hit with Valley youth

Out of the Box program provides much-needed drop-in spaces

Local Partners