82% of People Can't Name All of These Life-Changing Inventions From an Image! Can You?

By: Valerie
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Inventions: some change the world, others are just curiosities. Inventions are not like discoveries, in which a person might have an apple fall on their head and uncover a fundamental truth about gravity. They are a more finicky and complex thing. Our favorite tools, gadgets and implements tend not to result from some epiphany where a man sitting in a bath or a woman going for a run suddenly realizes what's been missing this whole time. Inventions evolve from an idea that springs from a need: "What if we could do this?" or, "I wish that were different."

Combine this impulse with a smart mind and the leisure time to work up a prototype, then add the will to fail a whole lot of times, succeed once, be laughed out of a hundred investor meetings and presentations, fail a bunch more, succeed again, get a little seed money, prove your concept, secure your patent, and not give up along the way... and maybe, just maybe, you have an invention. Suddenly everyone will rally around to cheer on the genius mind out of which this wonderful new gizmo exploded fully formed, overnight.

It's a short hop from there to a great fortune and a device so recognizable and significant that you can tell what it is from a single photo. So let's see which of history's great inventions made it all the way to that stage in your mind - and which did not!



Internal combustion engines are used mainly in transportation. They are also used for any portable situation where a non-electric motor is needed.

Thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who in 1989 was working as a software engineer for CERN, you can now take this quiz online. Sir Tim Berners-Lee was the first to realize the potential of linking computers together. The rest, as they say, is history.

The flushing toilet was invented in the Renaissance by Sir John Harrington who was, by the way, the godson of Queen Elizabeth. Sir John made it mainly for himself and the Queen, and since his friends started to make fun of him, he never made another one. Two hundred years later, Alexander Cumming reinvented it!

On April 3, 1973, Motorola employee Martin Cooper called the headquarters of Bell Labs in New Jersey from midtown Manhattan. This day is officially the day when the first cell phone was invented.

The first powered, sustained and controlled airplane was invented in 1903 by two brothers - Wilbur and Orville Wright. This talented duo laid the foundation for modern aeronautical engineering.

Electric washing machines were advertised in newspapers and used as early as 1904. However, Alva J. Fisher has been incorrectly credited with the invention of the first electric washing machine called The Thor. The US Patent Office shows at least one patent issued before Fisher's US patent number 966677. But the real "inventor" of the electric washing machine still remains unknown.

Many people think the wheel is a primitive invention that has existed for a very long time. However, the wheel was actually invented at a relatively late point in human history, when people were already planting crops, herding domesticated animals, and even had some form of social hierarchy.

Microwave ovens have been available for sale since 1946. They were invented by Percy Spencer, who came up with the idea after World War II and was inspired by the radar technology developed during the war.

Joseph Gayetty is widely known as the inventor of modern, commercially available toilet paper. His paper, first introduced in 1857, was available in the 1920s, was called "Gayetty's Medicated Paper" and was sold in packages of flat sheets.

Although Alexander Graham Bell is officially the father of the telephone, he was not the first inventor to come up with the idea of creating a telephone. The first one was Antonio Meucci, an Italian immigrant, who began developing his own design of a talking telegraph/telephone in 1849.

The first automatic storage water heater was invented in 1889 by Norwegian Edwin Ruud. However, this was by no means the first device to heat water. Other inventors created the devices almost 40 years before Ruud, but hot water was nonetheless cost-prohibitive and a luxury at that time, available only to the wealthiest people.

In the 20th century, Edison was the world's most prolific - and talented - inventor. At the beginning of the century, he held 736 U.S. patents. His final count was 1,093 U.S. patents.

The magnetic compass was first invented as a device for divination early - during the Chinese Han Dynasty. Back then, Chinese fortune tellers used minerals composed of an iron oxide, which aligns itself in a north-south direction, to create their fortune-telling boards. Eventually, someone noticed that these minerals, lodestones, were better at pointing out real directions. This discovery led to the creation of the first compasses.

Since the invention of writing, people tried to create something practical and easy on which to write. However, it took 3,000 years to come up with paper, which was invented around 100 BC in China. In 105 AD, Ts'ai Lun, a government official in China, became the first to start a paper-making industry.

The introduction of penicillin in the 1940s began the era of antibiotics. This invention, which hs saved billions of lives, has been recognized as one of the greatest advances in medicine.

Egyptians are believed to have started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5,000 BC, even before first toothbrushes were invented. Ancient Greeks and Romans are also known to have their own toothpastes, and people in China and India first used toothpaste around 500 BC. The bristle toothbrush, similar to those we use today, was not invented until 1498 in China.

Ray Tomlinson invented email in 1972. Like many of the Internet inventors, Tomlinson worked for Bolt Beranek and Newman as an ARPANET contractor. He randomly chose the @ symbol from the computer keyboard to denote sending messages from one computer to another.

Franz San Galli, a Prussian-born Russian businessman who lived in St. Petersburg, invented the first radiator between 1855 and 1857. This invention was a major step in the final shaping of the central heating systems we use today.

It is difficult to imagine modern life without scissors. Most likely, scissors were invented around 1500 BC in ancient Egypt, but the earliest known scissors were in Mesopotamia 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.

The first known refrigeration was demonstrated by William Cullen in 1748, but he did not know how to use his discovery for any practical purpose. In 1805, an American inventor, Oliver Evans, designed the first refrigeration machine. But it wasn't until 1913 that refrigerators for home use were invented.

The first iPhone was released in 2007. The iPhone got its name because it can be customized to suit the user and highlights the 'i' — individuality of the each user.

The reliability of the modern pen is something most of us take for granted. However, this invention has had a major impact on literacy, education, and has literally changed the course of history. The history of the pen can be traced to 1880s, when the first patent on a ball pen was issued to John Loud, a leather tanner who was trying to create a writing object with which he could write on the leather he used.

The first eyeglasses were invented in Italy in about 1286, but the inventor is unknown. The first spectacles were held in front of the eyes or balanced on the nose.

The first calculator was the abacus, developed in China in the 9th Century. The young French mathematician, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), invented the adding machine in 1642, a clever device capable of performing mechanical addition and subtraction.

There are many methods of food preservation. It can be canned, pickled, or salted, but the most common - and convenient -method is refrigeration. For hundreds of years, we have use cold to keep our food from spoiling - the history of artificial refrigeration began in the mid-1750s. However, it was only in 1913 that refrigerators for home use were invented.

Zenith Radio Corporation invented the first remote control in 1950. The remote, called "Lazy Bones," was connected to the television by a wire. A few years later, the wireless remote control, the "Flashmatic," was developed.

Did you know that sandals were the most common footwear in most early civilizations? Until 1850, most shoes were made on straight lasts, with absolutely no difference between the right and the left shoe. Obviously, breaking in a new pair of shoes was not easy.

Although the first photo was taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1814, in 1021, an Iraqi scientist, Ibn-al-Haytham, described this kind of a device in his book, Book of Optics, .

Laptop computers revolutionized the way people work, communicate, and travel nearly as much as the first computer. Alan Kay, who worked for Xerox PARC, was the first to create the concept of the laptop computer. He called his invention Dynabook. In 1976, Xerox PARC came up with a working model of the Xerox Note Taker, but the machine was not available to the public. The first laptop computer available to the public was the Osborne 1, released in 1981.

Officially, matches were invented in 1805 by Jean Chancey. However, "Records of the Unworldly and the Strange," by Tao Gu, circa AD 950, includes one of the first mentions and descriptions of a modern match.

Before modern painkillers, there were opiates, originally derived from the opium poppy. The most active substance in opium is morphine, named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Morphine is considered to be one of the most powerful painkillers, but it is also very addictive.

The first lawn mower was invented by Edwin Budding in 1830 to cut the grass on sports grounds and extensive gardens. Years later, the lawn mover became the essential purchase of many homeowners.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder was an American inventor, engineer, and the first person to create the bread-slicing machine for commercial use in 1928. So, in fact, sliced bread has been around for less than a century.

Patent No. 775,134 was granted to King C. Gillette for a “safety razor” in 1904. Gillette was a traveling salesman who had to support himself after his family’s home was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871.

What we know as binoculars, is a binocular telescope. In other words, two small prismatic telescopes joined together. This invention allows us to use both eyes (binocular vision) when viewing distant objects.

On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz applied for a patent for his “vehicle powered by a gas engine.” This patent – number 37435 – is widely regarded as the birth certificate of the first automobile.

Suntan lotion is widely used today to protect the skin from sun damage. But one of the first suntan lotions was invented in 1938, by chemist Franz Greiter. He called his invention Gletscher Crème, or Glacier Cream. This lotion had an SPF of 2.

The earliest known bicycle was a wooden scooter-like vehicle called a celerifere; it was invented in 1790 in France. In 1816, Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun, invented a model with a steering bar attached to the front wheel. He called his invention a Draisienne.

The very first calendar was created by the Stone Age people in Britain about 10,000 years ago. It was a lunar calendar that tracked the cycles of the moon.

The steam engine was not really invented - it was developed over a period of 100 years by three British inventors. It began with the first steam-powered machine built by Thomas Savery in 1698.

Bottle openers are widely referred to as "church keys," because its original design resembled an old-fashioned, heavy ornate church key used by monks to open the doors of a church.

At first, electric blenders, developed in 1922, were used solely for making malts and milk shakes at soda fountains. And only 10 years later, its inventor, Stephen J. Poplawski, received patents for a machine that would be used for reducing fruits and vegetables to a liquid.

Long before iPad, Dr. Dre, and Spotify, headphones had little to do with music. In the 1880’s, the first headphones - heavy, bulky, and inconvenient - were used by telephone operators only.

Sunglasses played a significant role during the World War II, when Ray Ban created anti-glare aviator-style sunglasses. Later, Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses also became popular with celebrities, when they started to be sold to the public.

The first motorway every built was the Autostrada dei Laghi (or Milano - Laghi) in Italy that connected Milan to the city of Como. It officially opened in 1924.

For centuries, screws were used to fasten two objects together. In 1908, square-drive screws were invented by Canadian P. L. Robertson. However, 28 years earlier, Henry Phillips patented his Phillips head screws, also square-drive screws that became popular worldwide. Their design quickly became a North American standard.

The first wristwatch was made for a woman, Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, by Swiss watch manufacturer, Patek Philippe, in 1868. Even though it worked just like a modern watch, it was intended primarily as a piece of decorative jewelry.

Although the single inventor of the modern computer is unknown, the principle for it was proposed by Alan Turing in his seminal 1936 paper. Also, Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer and polymath, is considered to be the "father of the computer" - he conceptualized and invented the first mechanical computer in the early 19th century. Today, computers are the symbolic representation of the modern world.

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