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"The little-known stories behind well-known inventions"

It's time for another patented quiz about inventors          By Paul Niemann

[APRIL 13, 2006]  It's tradition here at Invention Mysteries to quiz you every three months on what you've learned. Since the last quiz, at the beginning of January, we've had another three months of great stories about inventors and their inventions, so now it's time to find out what you've learned -- and how much of it you remember.

There are 10 questions, and the answers are at the end of the column. By the way, in the previous quiz, the correct answer to every question was "c."

1. Ehrich Weiss' stage name was...

  1. Richard Saunders
  2. Henry Houdini
  3. Zeppo Marx
  4. Nikola Tesla


2. Silence Dogood was the first pen name of...

  1. Richard Saunders
  2. Agatha Christie
  3. Betsy Ross
  4. Ben Franklin


3. The inventor of the sewing machine was...

  1. Isaac Singer
  2. Elias Howe
  3. Gideon Sundbach
  4. Whitcomb Judson


4. What does WD-40 stand for?

  1. Water displacement -- 40th try
  2. Water disbursement -- 40th try
  3. Water disbursement -- 40th attempt
  4. Water displacement -- 40th attempt


5. What popular toy did George Lerner create in 1952 with pieces of various vegetables as the parts?

  1. The pet rock
  2. Lego building blocks
  3. Mr. Potato Head
  4. Monopoly


6. Black History Month is celebrated in which month?

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April


[to top of second column]

7. Possible trick question: Where did the very first Summer Olympic Games occur in 776 B.C.?

  1. Rome, Italy
  2. Constantinople, Turkey
  3. Olympia, Greece
  4. Barcelona, Spain


8. Nolan Bushnell created the popular Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlors. What popular new product did he invent in 1971?

  1. The Pong video game
  2. Bushnell binoculars
  3. The pet rock
  4. The mood ring


9. Garrett Morgan invented the modern gas mask. What important invention did he create in 1923?

  1. Windshield wipers
  2. Intermittent windshield wipers
  3. The clutch
  4. The traffic signal


10. Abraham Lincoln is still the only United States president to receive a patent. What did he patent?

  1. A device to help boats maneuver through shallow waters
  2. A device to help presidents win elections
  3. An anti-impeachment device
  4. A hat-making device



1. b. Henry Houdini; 2. d. Ben Franklin; 3. b. Elias Howe (Singer commercialized it, though); 4. d. Water displacement -- 40th attempt; 5. c. Mr. Potato Head; 6. b. February; 7. c. Olympia, Greece; 8. a. The Pong video game; 9. d. The traffic signal; 10. a. A device to help boats maneuver through shallow waters.

Grading is as follows: 9 or 10 = A; 8 = B; 7 = C; 6 or below = this is why you should save these stories!

[Paul Niemann]

Paul Niemann may be reached at You can learn more about Invention Mysteries by visiting the official Invention Mysteries website.

Copyright Paul Niemann 2006

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