Quiz: Can You Identify the Inventor Based on Their Invention?: HowStuffWorks
Can You Identify the Inventor Based on Their Invention?
By: Tasha Moore
7 Min Quiz
Image: RichVintage/E+/Getty Images
About This Quiz
When was the last time you thought about how some of your favorite creature comforts came to be? Here is a way for you to identify the inventors who make life so much easier. How many masterminds can you identify by name? We've filtered geniuses and their wonderful developments from around the world and from different moments in history.
Many folks don't stop to think how hard on the human frame it would be cut a solid block of cheese with even a sharp knife. Thanks to Thor Bjorklund, humans have not had that problem for many years. The Lillehammer, Norway native discovered a brilliant way to slice hard-to-cut cheese with ease. A special nod of appreciation also is due to Eadweard Muybridge whose countless hours of photographic study paid off hugely. The English photographer's work greatly contributed to the development of modern-day motion picture film. And the food industry would not be what it is today if it were not for the intellectuals responsible for canned food storage (Nicolas Appert) and the epic flash-freezing method (Clarence Birdseye).
Have you ever wanted to be an innovation whiz? Discover a human need, then answer the call. It's as simple as that! To set your gadget wizardry off to a good start, see how many inventors you can name now!
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The person who invented the crash test dummy shares his name with a biblical prophet. Can you guess the inventor from these choices?
Samuel W. Alderson created Alderson Research Labs in 1952 after working at his father's sheet-metal company and assorted military technology firms. Crash test dummies are anthropomorphic creations that were first used by NASA and the U.S. military to test parachutes and ejection seats.
The Barbie doll is the creation of which marketing genius who had a firm grasp on what little girls wanted to play with?
Ruth Handler changed the way little girls perceived toy dolls. Until her high-fashion Barbie creation in 1950, toy marketers assumed that baby dolls better socialized young girls for motherhood and adulthood.
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Who invented the fuel-powered automobile and lent his name to a world-famous car brand?
German-born son of an engine driver Karl Benz successfully designed industrial engines while wanting a "motor carriage." In 1886, Benz indexed a patent called DRP 37435 for a three-wheeler with a four-stroke engine, which was powered by a gas engine cooled by water.
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If it weren't for this mastermind, the karaoke machine would not be what it is today. Can you quickly spot the Japanese inventor?
Daisuke Inoue was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for the invention. When given the "honor," the awards committee remarked that Inoue deserved the prize for "providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other."
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Among these options, which Soviet engineer conceived the ekranoplan?
The ekranoplan is more fuel efficient and fast than an aircraft of the same size that can haul similar cargo. Ekranoplan uses ground-effect technology which increases in lift with flight at low levels resulting from air compression between a wing and the ground or water directly beneath.
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We take for granted the convenience of the ordinary zipper. Which intellectual, with a "tidy" first name, invented it?
Whitcomb Judson pioneered the "Clasp Locker," which was a complex hook-end-eye device that was originally designed to fasten shoes and replace boot laces. The "Clasp Locker" was first presented at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
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His first name includes a cooking term. Which inventor came up with synthetic coal fuel?
In 1931, Friedrich Bergius won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. In a January 1929 interview published in "Nation's Business" magazine, the fuel technologist is quoted as saying: "In a year from now about 20 percent of all the gasoline consumed in Germany will be made by liquefying coal."
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Is it a challenge for you to choose the long name of the expert behind liquid helium?
Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes pioneered the liquefaction of helium in 1908 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in 1913. Kamerlingh Onnes was born on September 21, 1853 in Groningen.
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The digital voltmeter is just one of the contraptions authored by what mastermind who shares his first name with the seventh U.S. president?
In 1953, Andrew Kay started a company called Non-Linear Systems and in the early '80s produced the cheap Kaypro 2 personal computer which was a huge success. With his son David, Kay created the Kaypro all-in-one device to offer a compact computer alternative to computers plagued with cables.
The gramophone inspired an entire industry. Do you name the engineer who has a famous world city included in his name?
In 1870 at age 19, Emile Berliner immigrated to America from Germany. Berliner pioneered a flat disk that reproduced music and the human voice more precisely, eventually becoming the basis for the phonograph. His company, the Berliner Gramophone Company, opened the first recording studio.
The disposable cellphone was the idea of which whiz, with a first name synonymous with "exhilarating"?
Randi Altschul also invented the Tonka Turbo Fist, which is a glove that allows you to maneuver a remote-controlled toy car by moving your hand. Her first creation was a "Miami Vice" board game.
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Can you identify the "lettered" inventor who devised the stethoscope?
Dubbed the "father of the stethoscope," Rene T. H. Laennec invented the concept for the medical device in 1816 by rolling up a sheet of paper into a tube shape to amplify sound. Laennec held one end of the tube to his ear and the other to the chest of a woman who showed symptoms of a diseased heart.
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He shares his first name with a renowned evolutionist. How easy is it for you to pick the inventor of the waterproof raincoat from these choices?
Scottish inventor and chemist Charles Macintosh developed the Mackintosh waterproof raincoat after discovering how to convert rubber into a waterproof fabric in 1823. Macintosh started his career as a store clerk.
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You might use the World Wide Web often, but do you know the "smoldering" name of its creator?
In January 2004, the Queen of England named inventor Tim Berners-Lee a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire in recognition of his pioneering work. Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist who developed the first server software and Web browser in 1990.
If you enjoy eating margarine, you might want to know who invented the spread. Are you confident that you know of this French person?
In the late 1800s, when Emperor Napoleon III of France promised to award anyone who could invent a cheap butter substitute for the lower classes, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries answered the call and won. He created margarine from skim milk and fat rendered from beef.
The windshield wiper blade was devised by a female named ________?
Drivers had to clean their windshields by hand when the first windshields came on the driving scene in 1904. Anderson patented the windshield wiper design for a "window cleaning device" after coasting on street cars in snow.
Have you heard of the flash-freezing method? Who had an eye for developing this process?
In 1886, Clarence Birdseye was born in Brooklyn, New York. Birdseye did not complete college but he became a biologist and naturalist by keeping journals of his wildlife observations.
Antiperspirant deodorant is the creation of which scientist with a "gem" of a first name?
In 1940, chemist Jules Montenier registered a patent for an antiperspirant that did not damage clothes or wound the skin. Montenier managed to tame the harmful acidic effects of aluminum chloride.
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Can you choose the correct inventor who probably was the first to write the letter "z" with the ballpoint pen he engineered?
Born in Budapest in 1899, Laszlo Biro developed a fascination for pens when he observed how hard it was to write with a nib-type fountain pen on newsprint paper. Biro became a newspaper journalist after completing his formal education. He sold his first patented pens circa 1943.
Instant noodles are the development of which Japanese intellectual?
Japanese inventor Momofuko Ando created instant noodles as a postwar product, but it eventually became a staple food for U.S. college students for many years. In 1999, the Momofuko Ando Instant Ramen Museum opened in Ikeda City in western Japan to honor Ando's inventions.
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The hand cheese slicer was authored by ________, who shares his name with a superhero?
Born in Lillehammer, Norway, Thor Bjorklund was a cabinetmaker by trade. Bjorklund's hand cheese slicer quickly became one of the country's leading manufactured exports. Lillehammer is also renowned for producing ski wax and fishhooks.
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Motion picture is a phenomenon created by which person whose last name mentions an "overpass structure"?
Eadweard Muybridge developed the fundamental science behind motion picture technology while conducting photographic analyses of human and animal movement during the late nineteenth century. Muybridge was a photographer by trade.
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Try to quickly select the French inventor of canned foods?
French manufacturer, chef and inventor Nicolas Appert committed his life to the appertization method, which sterilizes food so that no noticeable microorganisms can be detected. Appert's primary focus was to create food preservation solutions for seamen.
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His name includes the term for "widow's real estate." Stereo sound recording is the finding of whose brain among these options?
On December 14, 1931, Alan Dower Blumlein registered a patent for what he termed "stereo," which was an audio system with two channels. Blumlein's invention was noted as having a "shuffling" circuit to nurture directional sound and an orthogonal-sized "Blumlein Pair" of velocity microphones.
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This inventor's first name sounds like a major Australian city. Who developed Magic Marker pens?
Sidney Rosenthal is credited for having created the felt-tip pen, but patent disputes followed by business failures and health complications shrouded his legacy. Rosenthal manufactured the ball-point pen alternative in 1952 from his Queens, New York company called Speedry Chemical Products.
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This mastermind shares his first name with a wrestler and a disco-dancing movie icon. Whom can we thank for the digital computer?
Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff worked at Iowa State in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He and Clifford Berry, a graduate student, invented the digital computing device named the Atanasoff-Berry Computer. The device could only solve a certain kind of math problem.
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Although he didn't have "scissorhands," he invented the stock ticker. Who was it?
In 1867, Edward Calahan developed the first stock ticker, which Thomas Edison modified in 1870 by increasing its speed. Calahan was a telegraph operator who reconfigured a telegraph machine to list financial data.
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This person, with a "mature" last name, is responsible for the assembly line in product manufacturing. Do you know the correct answer?
General Motors organization, the first mass producer of gasoline cars, named the Oldsmobile car for Ransom Eli Olds who manufactured gasoline engines. Oldsmobile's Curved Dash model inspired the first assembly line in 1901.
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Parents can thank this mastermind for the Lego toy system. Can you spot this person, with a "senior" first name?
Ole Kirk Christiansen conceived the idea for the Lego toy system in 1934. The name of the toy and company combines the Danish words "leg" and "godt" which translate to "play well" in English.
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Which talented individual, whose last name sounds like a large animal, created the home video game system?
Ralph H. Baer invented the video game console in 1966 from his television engineering training and U.S. Army experience. When Baer died at age 92 in 2014, he held more than 150 foreign and U.S. patents.
If you're a fan of the Tetris video game, you'll want to know its Soviet inventor. Can you take a guess?
Soviet computer programmer and mathematician Alexey Pajitnov first produced a more generic version of the game as free software. Spectrum HoloByte, an American game software company in Alameda, California, later licensed a more refined version of Tetris from Pajitnov.
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Do you know the lady who invented the dishwasher?
Illinois socialite Josephine Garis-Cochrane observed that the ordinary hand washing her servants administered to her antique plates caused the dishes to crack and chip. In 1886, Cochrane pioneered a non-mechanical technique that is the foundation technology for today's dishwashers.
The wind-up radio is the brilliant contraption designed by ________, who shares his name with a late-night funny guy?
British inventor Trevor Baylis conceived his wind-up radio idea while watching a documentary about AIDS in Africa. Baylis noticed that people on the continent were not able to listen to life-saving information on their radios for more than half an hour a day because of the high cost of batteries.
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Don't spell his first name with a "v." What expert devised the rubber band?
Inventor Stephen Perry registered the patent for the rubber band in 1845. Natives of South and Central America had already been using milk from the rubber tree to produce bottles, shoes and clothing.
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Who is the Italian mastermind behind the Vespa scooter?
Corradino D'Ascanio's aeronautical experience and his aversion to motorcycles inspired his Vespa creation. Of motorcycles, the inventor loathed the grimy chain drive, and he believed that the machines were uncomfortable to operate.
Do you recognize the female creator of wrinkle-resistant cotton?
Dr. Ruth Benerito was a government chemist who oversaw the team that aided the development of the wrinkle-free fabric. Benerito authored over 200 publications and owned 55 patents prior to her death in October 2013.
The paper coffee filter is the invention of which female person?
Founder of coffee company Melitta North America, Melitta Bentz invented pour-over coffee as well as the two-part filtration system used for drip coffee. Bentz's frustration over bitter cups of coffee filled with coffee grounds is what inspired her to develop pour-over coffee.
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Is it a challenge for you to select the titled genius responsible for the thermos flask?
Before the advent of quantum mechanics, Sir James Dewar tested chemical principles. Dewar is most famous for his gas liquefaction discoveries and his work that has led to cryogenics research.
The microprocessor is the creation of Italian inventor ________?
Italian inventor Federico Faggin was born in Vicenza in 1941. He ventured off to America in 1968 to the region known today as Silicon Valley to work for Fairchild Semiconductor. His MOS silicon gate technology paved the way for the microprocessor he helped create for Intel company in the '70s.
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John's son invented the heart and lung machine. Can you identify his name?
Dr. John H. Gibbon was inspired to develop the heart and lung machine from his experience with a patient in 1930. Gibbon's device would replace the functions of a patient's heart and lungs so that repairs could be made to the interior of the heart or to major vessels.
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