In his 1998 James Clayton Memorial Lecture at the IMechE entitled “The Struggles of a Modern Day Inventor”, Trevor Baylis described how he had his idea for the clockwork (wind-up) radio whilst he was watching television: “Archimedes has his idea in the bath. I had [mine] when I was watching television”. Inspired by a programme about HIV and AIDs in Africa, Baylis thought that if he could make a radio which was human powered, then people living in Third world countries could have easy access to broadcasts and information that they could not otherwise without electricity.
The design is brilliant and simple. The radio contains a clockwork motor which generates power from turning the crank handle. The original prototype that Baylis made included the clockwork mechanism from a music box.
Baylis did not originally identify as an inventor – more as a man who believed in being unconventional as “convention is an obstacle to progress”. Nor was he always an inventor – in his younger years he was both a professional stuntman and an underwater escape artist!
In his paper, Baylis is passionate about the need for a greater recognition of the value of invention – and gives the example of Frank Whittle, inventor of the Jet Engine:
In modern times, we should have listened to Frank Whittle, who invented the jet engine which he first created in 1931-32 yet was not developed or utilised in an aircraft in Britain until 1944. By this time, the Germans had already flown a Whittle-type engine aircraft in 1939…
In response to wanting to support independent inventors who did not have the big business smarts, Baylis set up Baylis Brands http://www.trevorbaylisbrands.com/ which helps give advice about patents, legislation and routes to market.
We have a Baygen wind up radio signed by Baylis in our archive at the IMechE, along with his lecture paper and many other papers related to other inventors such as Frank Whittle.