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Top 10 Scottish Inventors.

Biography of Kirkpatrick Macmillan Inventor of The Bicycle

Inventor: Kirkpatrick Macmillan

Most Famous Invention: Bicycle


           Kirkpatrick Macmillan was born in 1812 in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.  His father, who was a village blacksmith, enjoyed the company of his young son and often took him to work with him, giving him small jobs to do around the blacksmith shop and as the boy grew, actually teaching him the art of blacksmithing.

          One day at the age of twelve years, young Kirkpatrick Macmillan saw another boy riding what was called a hobby horse in those days and immediately decided to construct one for himself which he did. 

Kirkpatrick Macmillan

          When enjoying riding his new toy, Kirkpatrick Macmillan got the idea of how much better it would be if he had a way to propel the hobby horse without pushing it along the road with his feet.  He began experimenting with various ways of creating a riding vehicle which could be propelled by some sort of pedals.  Around 1839, now an adult, he finally succeeded in accomplishing this childhood ambition and the first bicycle became a reality.  The movement of the pedals moved rods which were connected to the back wheel of the bicycle and the bicycle was propelled forward. 

          Kirkpatrick Macmillan was thrilled with his new invention and although it was nowhere near as easy to control as are our modern day bicycles, he managed to master the art and then continued to improve on his original invention.


Kirkpatrick Macmillan Bicycle

Kirkpatrick Macmillan Bicycle


          For some reason, Kirkpatrick Macmillan never bothered to give thought to patenting his invention and soon others began copying it.  One man, Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow copied Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s bicycle and taught a number of other people how to make them also.  For a long time, Gavin Dalzell was considered to be the inventor of the bicycle although he made no such claim for himself and was quick to deny it when it was said of him. 

          Kirkpatrick Macmillan never was concerned with receiving publicity and credit as the inventor of the bicycle.  He preferred his quiet country life as a blacksmith and enjoying the use of his invention itself.  He died January 26, 1878.


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