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Inventions Trivia

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On November 23, 1835, Henry Burden of Troy, New York, developed the first machine for manufacturing horseshoes. Burden later oversaw the production of most of the horseshoes used by the Union cavalry during the U.S. Civil War.

The German chemist Johann Friedrich Böttger was the first European to discover how to make porcelain in 1708.

On the first neon sign, the word "neon" was spelled out in red by Dr. Perley G. Nutting, 15 years before neon signs became widely used commercially.

The Giroux Daguerreotype was the first commercially manufactured camera.

One of the more peculiar (and lucrative) "inventions" of the 1970s was the Pet Rock. It was first introduced in 1976 and was an immediate hit. Nearly 1.5 million common smooth stones, packaged in cardboard "pet carriers" with air holes and enclosed Pet Rock care instructions, were sold within six months.

The guillotine was originally called a louisette. Named for Antoine Louis, the French surgeon who invented it. It became known as the guillotine for Joseph Ignace Guillotin, the French physician.

Ornithologists often use Scotch tape to cover cracks in the soft shells of fertilized pigeon eggs, allowing the eggs to hatch. Scotch tape has also been used as an anti-corrosive shield on the Goodyear Blimp.

The heel of a sock is called the "gore." The back panel of a shoe is called the "counter."

Out of the 11 original patents made by Nikola Tessla, for the generation of hydroelectric energy, 9 are still in use, (unchanged) today.

The horse race starting gate is a Canadian invention, designed in the early 1900s by Philip McGinnis, a racetrack reporter from Huntingdon, Quebec. The device proved popular because it prevented arguments caused when horses started prematurely.

Paul Winchell, the ventriloquist, was not only the voice of Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh films, he also invented the artificial heart. He donated the patent for it to the University of Utah.

The hypodermic needle was invented in 1853. It was initially used for giving injections of morphine as a painkiller. Physicians mistakenly believed that morphine would not be addictive if it by-passed the digestive tract.

PEZ Candy was first marketed as a compressed peppermint candy over 70 years ago in Vienna, Austria. The name PEZ was derived from the German word for peppermint...PfeffErminZ. Today, more than 3 billion PEZ candies are consumed annually in the U.S.A. alone.

Philip Morris started making cigarettes in 1854 in London.

In 1986, Rob Angel, a 24-year-old waiter from Seattle, Washington, developed Pictionary®, a game in which partners try to guess phrases based on each other's drawings.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the umbrella was regarded as effeminate. Men rarely used one.

In Scotland, James Young was the first to extract paraffin from coal, and he was nicknamed “Paraffin Young.”

In the 1530s, a printing press was set up in Mexico City, and the first Mexican newspaper was published there in 1541.

In the airplane known as the DC-10, the letters "DC" stand for Douglas Commercial.

In the early 1800s, a French silk weaver named Joseph-Marie Jacquard invented a way of automatically controlling the warp and weft threads on a silk loom by recording patterns of holes in a string of cards.

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