Quiz on inventions

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on April 26, 2019 Published on April 26, 2019

On April 27, 1981, Xerox PARC introduced the computer mouse, just one of the many inventions from their Palo Alto research lab. This week’s quiz is all about inventions.


1 An 18th-century pioneer from Berkshire, he invented a horse-drawn seed drill that revolutionised farming in the UK in the era. However, his name is far more associated with a set of people who got together in Lancashire in 1967. Identify the man.

2 In 1938, what did American architect Alfred Butts invent, with a frequency analysis based primarily on The New York Times newspaper?

3 What was invented as early as 1952 and used in the railroad and motor industry, but really became popular only after being used in supermarkets from 1974, the first time on a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum?

4 Despite estimates of some 100 million of his inventions circulating worldwide, this man claimed that he had not profited from any of them and that he lived on a state pension. He did, however, own 30 per cent of a German company, Marken Marketing International(MMI), that revamps trademarks and produces merchandise carrying his name, including pen knives and other tools. Who is he?

5 “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

Which literary character, inventing a legendary cocktail?

6 The mass production of which personal health item was developed by William Addis around 1780, based on an invention he came up with whilst in prison?

7 In 1942, Helmut Schenk, a German test pilot, first test flew the first German jet fighter, Heinkel He 280. On the same aircraft, he also became the first to test an invention that is still used by fighter planes around the world. What was it?

8 George G Blaisdell invented this in 1932 in Bradford, Pennsylvania. He gave its name as a derivative of another invention that had been patented in nearby Meadville, Pennsylvania. The basic concept of this product has remained unchanged for over 70 years. It has sold over 400 million units, all with lifetime guarantees. What is it?

9 In 1874, French inventor Gustave Trouvé developed a device for locating metal objects. In 1881, Alexander Graham Bell invented a similar device for a very specific purpose. Why did Graham Bell invent his metal detector?

10 In 1959, car manufacturer Volvo made a specific invention, and instead of patenting it, allowed it to be copied free by every car manufacturer in the world. What did they invent and share?


1 Jethro Tull; the music band took his name

2 Scrabble, derived from an earlier version, Lexiko. He decided the frequency of letters from the newspaper.

3 The barcode

4 Mikhail Kalashnikov, remembered for the iconic AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle

5 James Bond, inventing the Vesper martini in Casino Royale

6 The toothbrush

7 The ejection seat

8 The Zippo lighter (the other invention was the zipper)

9 To find a bullet lodged in the chest of US President James Garfield. Unfortunately, the metal bed springs confused the detector

10 The three-point safety belt


Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster; Twitter: @joybhattacharj

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Published on April 26, 2019
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