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5 Innovations You Didn’t Know Came From Montréal

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Montréal is a hotbed of creativity. From the early development of Cirque du Soleil to the thriving video game industry to the iconic sound of Leonard Cohen, there is no doubt that magical things begin here. Maybe it’s something in the water poutine gravy?

Whatever the case may be, we’ve been pouring out inventions for over a century. Here are five of our favourite contributions to the world. 

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The First Internet Search Engine. “Archie” is a tool for indexing FTP archives, allowing people to find specific files — which is now considered to be the first Internet search engine. The original implementation was written in 1990 by postgraduate students at McGill University in Montreal, and incidentally, is still maintained active for historic purposes in Poland at University of Warsaw. (Source: Archie search engine on Wikipedia)  

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Wonderbra. In 1939, Moe Nadler founded the Canadian Lady Corset Company. He created a small sewing shop in the heart of Montreal to make a well fitting, good quality bra in the mid-priced range: from $1.00 to $1.50 retail. (Editorial note: Can you imagine spending that much for a bra?) As part of this effort, he travelled to New York City and licensed the Wonder-Bra trademark and diagonal slash patent. Women across the land breathed a sigh of relief. (Source: Wonderbra on Wikipedia) 

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The song “Give Peace a Chance”. The song was written during John Lennon’s ‘Bed-In’ honeymoon in Montreal in 1969. When asked by a reporter what he was trying to achieve by staying in bed, Lennon answered spontaneously “Just give peace a chance”. He went on to say this several times during the Bed-In. Finally, after a week in bed in Room 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, the song was recorded using a simple setup of four microphones and a four-track tape recorder rented from a local recording studio. The hippie anthem (above all other hippie anthems) was born. (Source: Give Peace a Chance on Wikipedia) 

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IMAX. During Expo 67, two fellows by the name of Kroitor and Ferguson were both using multi-projector, multi-screen systems to share their films. However, each encountered technical difficulties that led them to found a company (called Multiscreen) with a primary goal of designing and developing a simpler approach. As it became clear that a single, large-screen image had more impact than multiple smaller ones and was a more viable product direction, Multiscreen changed its name to IMAX — and mind-blowing, larger-than-life cinema began to take shape. (Source: IMAX on Wikipedia) 

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Peanut butter. In 1884, Marcellus Edson was the first to patent peanut butter. Granted peanut flour already existed, Edson cooled product had “a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment” according to his patent application. He included the mixing of sugar into the paste so as to harden its consistency. Children’s lunchboxes were forever changed. (Source: Peanut Butter on Wikipedia)

 

Up next: 10 Montréal startups you need to know about!

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