The Highest of Achievers

Colin Murdoch, inventor, pharmacist and self-taught engineer, a man who designed something the world could not do without, has died in Timaru, aged 79. Murdoch led an extraordinary life; creator of the disposable syringe, he also invented the tranquiliser gun, the silent burglar alarm and the childproof bottle cap. Born in Christchurch in 1929 and an inventor not many years later, he successfully built a firearm at the age of ten. At 13, he saved a drowning man in the New Brighton estuary and was awarded the Royal Humane Society Medal. Working late at night at the kitchen table or in his workshop Murdoch was to patent 46 inventions. His most famous and influential invention for the well-being of humankind was the disposable syringe which he developed more than 50 years ago. Murdoch designed a range of pistols, rifles, syringe darts and velocity-controlling telescopic rifle sights, he travelled to Africa to field test them on herds of zebra and antelopes, supervised their commercial production at two Timaru factories, and marketed his equipment worldwide. Within a few years of its establishment in 1961, his company, Paxarms, was exporting products worth some $NZ2 million a year to veterinarians, zoos and hunters around the world. In 2000, Murdoch was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to inventing. In a recent television interview, he said: “I have no regrets and I am very pleased with what I have achieved.” Who could deny him that? Colin Murdoch’s story features on the nzedge New Zealand Heroes page. He generously contributed photographs, archive material and detailed commentary on his life and work.

Colin Murdoch: 6 February 1929 – 4 May 2008


Tags: Colin Murdoch  Engineer  inventor  nzedge hero  pharmacist  Sydney Morning Herald (The)  Timaru