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Inventions Trivia

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There were 15,700,003 Model T Ford's manufactured, all in black.

The electric chair was invented by a dentist.

Thomas Edison held more than 1,300 U.S. and foreign patents.

The father of the pink flamingo (the plastic lawn ornament) was Don Featherstone of Massachusetts. Featherstone graduated from art school and went to work as a designer for Union Products, a Leominster, Massachusetts company that manufactured flat plastic lawn ornaments. He designed the pink flamingo in 1957 as a follow-up project to his plastic duck. Today, Featherstone is president and part owner of the company that sells an average of 250,000 to 500,000 plastic pink flamingos a year.

Thomas Edison, "the Wizard of Menlo Park," established an "invention factory," the first industrial research laboratory, with the hope of producing a new invention every ten days. In one 4-year period, he obtained 300 patents, or one every five days.

The film for the first Kodak camera was 2 inches wide, or 70 millimeters. Kodak has been manufacturing 70-millimeter film continuously since 1888.

The first "braces" were constructed by Pierre Fauchard in 1728. Fauchard's "braces" consisted of a flat strip of metal, which was connected to teeth by pieces of thread.

Thomas Edison's first major invention was the quadruplex telegraph. Unlike other telegraphs at the time, it could send four messages at the same time over one wire.

Thomas Jefferson invented the dumbwaiter.

Though Frederick Banting and Charles Best were co-discovers of insulin, only Banting was officially recognized for the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1923. He shared his winnings with Best, though.

Today, 40 percent of the world's newspapers are printed on paper made from Canada's forests.

U.S. Patent #D219,584 was issued in 1970 to veteran movie actor Steve McQueen. He was famous not only for his movies but also for racing cars and working on engines off-camera as well. A byproduct of his racing hobby was the invention of a bucket seat.

Unknown people made the first glassware about 3,500 years ago in Mesopotamia.

Until recent years, people living in remote areas of Afghanistan and Ethiopia were immunized against smallpox by having dried powdered scabs from victims of the disease blown up their noses. This treatment was invented by a Chinese Buddhist nun in the eleventh century. It is the oldest known form of vaccination.

Until the mid 1800s, paper was made from cotton rags.

Vellum, a fine-quality writing parchment, is prepared from animal skin: lambs, kids, and very young calves. Coarser, tougher types are made from the skins of male goats, wolves, and older calves. Vellum replaced papyrus and was superseded by paper.

Vic Cedarstaff of Wickenburg, Arizona has been credited with the accidental invention of the bola tie. As the story goes, one day while riding his horse, Cedarstaff's hat blew off but the leather hatband slipped down around his neck. He left it on and a friend remarked that it looked nice. Soon thereafter, a replication of his original bola appeared on Arizona maps. The name comes from the bola, a device used by South American cowboys to rope cattle, because the rope device and the tie resemble each other.

After Marion Donovan was inundated by the wild success of her invention of waterproof diaper covers in 1946, she was surprised when her prototype for disposal paper diapers was met with disinterest and ridicule. She journeyed to all the major U.S. paper companies, and was laughed at for proposing such an "unnecessary and impractical" item to replace cotton diapers. After nearly ten years of pitching her revolutionary idea, Victor Mills had the foresight to capitalize on it, and he became the creator of Pampers.

Albert T. Marshall patented a household refrigerator on August 8, 1899.

Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone, an "Improvement in Telegraphy", on Valentine's Day, 1876.

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