Trevor Baylis - Tribute To The Legendary Inventor of The Clockwork Radio

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By Tom Hasker, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

What do you do when you watch television and you suddenly exclaim 'That's outrageous! Someone should do something about that!!!'? If you think like Trevor Baylis, you won't even see the end of the program...

Trevor Baylis is perhaps best known for his work in later life on the 'Windup Radio' later called a Baygen radio. He got the inspiration for it while watching a BBC program about the spread of AIDS in Africa during the 1990s. Instead of complaining about how bad the situation is or how some government or head-of-state should be changing the situation, he elected to act.

Mr Baylis had at the age of 15 been an active swimmer and narrowly missed attending the 1956 Summer Olympics. He studied mechanical and structural engineering during his first job and then during his national service, was a physical training instructor and competed for the Army in swimming meets. After this time he applied his swimming skills to high diving, stunt work and performing underwater escapology acts!

It was during this varied and diverse career that he made several friends in the same daredevil business, some of whom unfortunately lost limbs and gained disabilities.

Mr Baylis also worked for Purley Pools, a company that installed swimming pools, where he soon found a calling in their research and design department. He also founded several companies including one that installed swimming pools in schools. So the combination of his technical ability and seeing the need of his friends to overcome disabilities resulted in his founding of Orange Aids, a company that developed prosthetics and disabled help devices.

As you can see from Mr Baylis' life so far, he was constantly looking at ways to develop his own skills and serve others at the same time. It takes a certain level of awareness and conscience, to empathise with a friend that has lost a limb and then a tenacity to actually do something about it! To apply the engineering knowledge he had in order to serve and help someone else. Acts like these are what I feel give meaning to someone's life.

It's no surprise then, that when Mr Baylis saw the plight of those affected by AIDS, he was not a man to sit still. Before the program ended he had taken apart a toy electric car, a wind-up music box and a transistor radio, and reassembled them into a prototype wind-up radio. So problem solved then??

Well no, as with so many people who have bright ideas - no one was interested in it. The turning point came when he was featured in a 1994 BBC program called Tomorrow's World, which showcased fascinating new technologies and ideas from around the world. That broadcast led to investors in the idea, which then allowed Mr Baylis to create a better version and production started in South Africa of the radio in 1997.

Like many of the legends we see, Mr Baylis didn't give up at the first attempt. This is something we see time and time again with successful ideas and the people behind them - keep trying! Learn from our mistakes through speaking with other people and mentors, in order to realise the opportunity that is held in the situation. This is something I am learning and applying in my own life.

Trevor Baylis received a CBE and OBE for services to Intellectual Property, many honours degrees and doctorates from several universities, met HM Queen Elizabeth II and Nelson Mandela in his work, but as an avid pipe smoker, he also received in 1999, The Pipe Smoker of the Year Award for the invention of the Clockwork Radio from The British Pipe Smokers Council! 🙂

Trevor Baylis sadly passed away on the 5th of March 2018, but leaves a legacy of invention and continues to help other inventors become successful through the Trevor Baylis Brands. This helps inventors and engineers to get their inspired ideas to market and help people around the world.

You can discover more here on The Guardian website.

What would you do?


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Featured Image By User:J. D. Pfaff (from en.wikipedia) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons