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Answers to Patent Quiz


  1. "Improvement in the Method of Protecting Timber" (pressure treated lumber). 1837, number 232, patented by August Gothliff, of New York, NY.
  2. An "Electrical Calculating System" - 1890, Patent Number 430,804, granted to Herman Hollerith of St. Louis, Missouri, for a tabulating device used in the 1890 census.
  3. The "Clasp Locker", later to become known as the "Zipper". Patent 504,038 to W.L. Judson in 1893.
  4. A mechanical refrigerator for the "artificial production of ice" - 1851 - U.S. Patent number 8,080 granted to Dr. John Guthrie.
  5. The first US Patent granted on an electric motor was granted in 1837, number 132, to a Vermont blacksmith.
  6. A method to adjust the angle of the slats on Venetian blinds. 1841 - U.S. Patent No. 2,223 to John Hampson.
  7. "Improvement in Wire Fences" (barbed wire) - Patent 157,124 issued to Joseph Glidden of DeKalb, Illinois, in 1874
  8. The Traffic Light - 1923, number 1,475,024 by Garrett Morgan of Cleveland, Ohio.
  9. "Engine Starting Devices" - the first self-starter for automobiles - Patent no. 1,150,523, issued to Charles Kettering of Dayton, Ohio in 1915. His company, the Dayton ELectric COmpany, became part of General Motors under the name of DELCO.
  10. A "compound for culinary use" called margarine. 1871 - U.S. Patent No. 110,626 to Henry Bradley.
  11. The "pour lip" on the screw-top bottle. 1936 - U.S. Patent No. 2,039,345 to Edward Ravenscroft.
  12. A "device to bake waffles" - the first waffle iron. 1869 - to Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York.
  13. Canning - a "process to preserve in tin." 1825 - Ezra Dragget got the U.S. Patent, though Napoleon was "canning" food for his army in wine bottles much earlier. The can opener, on the other hand, did not exist until well after the Civil War.
  14. The first machine to show animated pictures or movies. 1867 - A device called the "wheel of life" was patented by William Lincoln for showing "moving drawings" through a slit. Now called a "zoopraxiscope".
  15. A machine to make threaded metal screws for use in woodworking. 1798 to David Wilkinson.
  16. A "velvet type fabric" - you know it as Velcro. 1955 Patent no. 2,717,437 to G. DeMestral
  17. "Weaving Straw or Fabric" - the first patent to a woman inventor. 1809, patented to Mary Kies, of Killingly, Connecticut.
  18. "Self Serving Store", patented by Clarence Saunders in 1917. It was the "Piggly Wiggly", named after a popular board game of the time which had the players tracing a zig-zag path to reach a goal. Saunders' store used the same concept, closing off the ends of self-service aisles to require each shopper to pass all the shelves on their way from the entry to the checkout register. Although the full serpentine path concept didn't last very long (and probably would be illegal under present-day fire codes), the Piggly Wiggly stores continue to this day. 
  19. The first patent issued in America - what was it and when was it issued? 1646, by the colony of Massachusetts, for a mill for manufacturing scythes.
  20. The first patent issued in the United States - what was it, when was it issued and who signed it? A "Method of Making Potash or Pearl Ash", issued in 1790 to Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, Vermont, signed by George Washington. The patent examiner was Thomas Jefferson.
  21. What invention was Patent Number 1 for, and when was it issued? Traction Wheels (an improved railroad wheel having a cog system for increased traction on hills), issued in 1836 . Prior to this, patents were not numbered. They were just called "Jones' 1803 patent" or the like.
  22. "Manner of Bouying Vessels" - Patent no. 6,469 (1849) president Abraham Lincoln
  23.  "Refrigeration" - Patent no. 1,781,541 (1927) physicist Albert Einstein
  24.  "Secret Communication System" Patent No. 2,292,387 (1942) actress Hedy Lamarr
  25. "Cardiac Pulse Rate Monitor", Patent no. 3,473,526 (1969) actor Zeppo Marx
  26. "Improvement in Scrapbooks", Patent no. 140,245 (1873) author Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Bonus Question:  

The second patent office was run for the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia. It issued 266 patents, of which about a third related to implements of war. The first was issued on August 1, 1861 (for a Breech Loading Gun), and the last on December 17, 1864 (for a Percussion Cap Rammer). The Confederate Patent Office was destroyed during the evacuation of Richmond in 1865, and most of the patents and models were lost or destroyed.

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