Are You an Expert on Innovation Pioneers?

Greetings, tech fans! Our innovation-obsessed group of quiz creators has struck again! We’ve created our latest quiz to test your knowledge of tech titans and the innovations they’ve pioneered.

Spoiler alert: The answers are below, so be sure to take the quiz first!


Quiz questions and answers:

1. Which company gave us the first graphical user interface (GUI) featuring windows, icons, and menus?

Xerox. Xerox has often been criticized for failing to commercialize innovations from its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). The graphical user interface (GUI) was initially developed at PARC for the Xerox Star workstation that was introduced in 1981. Technologies such as laser printing and liquid crystal displays (LCDs) ultimately proved more profitable for Xerox than its innovations for the personal computer.

Xerox Star workstation

Image courtesy of Xerox Corporation

2. Which company is responsible for inventing the smartphone?

IBM. In 1992 IBM introduced a touchscreen-equipped prototype of what is widely considered the world’s first smartphone, called Simon. The prototype could place and receive calls, and send emails and faxes. Simon also featured apps for a calendar, address book, calculator, scheduler, and notepad. IBM also demonstrated Simon’s ability to display maps, stocks, and news—15 years before the iPhone’s introduction.IBM Simon Personal Communicator

Image courtesy of IBM

3. Which company launched the first online music store?

Ritmoteca. Founded in Miami in 1998, Ritmoteca was an early online music store that enabled users to download popular Latin music—and preceded iTunes by three years. Ritmoteca assembled a library of more than 500,000 music tracks and videos, but eventually folded in 2005 due to competitive pressures.

4. Which organization could claim to have pioneered the chatbot?

MIT. Years before Siri, Alexa, or Cortana, an early natural language processing program called ELIZA was developed at MIT from 1964 to 1966. Joseph Weizenbaum, a professor and computer scientist, created ELIZA, which used pattern matching and word substitution to create simulated conversations with users.

5. Which corporation had the most U.S. patents awarded in 2018?

IBM. By a wide margin, Big Blue leads all organizations in U.S. patent grants awarded in 2018. Many of the patents cover advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain, and quantum computing. Here are the top five companies, in order of the number of U.S. patents awarded:

  1. IBM, 9,100
  2. Samsung, 5,850
  3. Canon, 3,056
  4. Intel, 2,735
  5. LG Electronics 2,474

3D Printer

6. Which innovator developed cloud computing?

Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider. Larry Ellison of Oracle and Marc Benioff of Salesforce are undoubtedly cloud computing innovators (and billionaires). But Licklider, an American psychologist and computer scientist, is widely considered to have invented cloud computing in the 1960s as he worked on ARPANET, the predecessor to today’s modern internet. Licklider was known as a visionary who foresaw several advances of the digital age, including cloud-based software and human-computer interaction.

7. Who is the innovator generally credited with inventing the web?

Tim Berners-Lee. British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee laid out his vision for the web while working at the CERN research labs in 1989. He created the first web client and server in 1990. In April 1993, CERN made the World Wide Web software in the public domain, which allowed the web to grow even more rapidly. The world’s first website offered this description:

“The WorldWideWeb (W3) is a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents.“

If you’re curious about the origin story, you can visit the very first website here.

The Globe of Science and Innovation

8. Which innovator was responsible for the most important DNA sequencing breakthroughs?

Frederick Sanger. Sanger was a British biochemist who was known for winning not one, but two Nobel prizes in chemistry. But perhaps his most impactful work is what’s known as the Sanger Method for sequencing DNA molecules. Sanger and his colleagues’ breakthrough allowed long stretches of DNA to be rapidly and accurately sequenced. The Sanger method was then used to sequence human mitochondrial DNA and paved the way for the sequencing of the entire human genome.

DNA Sequencing

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