Challenge #2 Answers

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#1 Airplane
Did Shamus get it correct: Yes.

This one was easy because the invention year is extremely specific. Unlike a few of the other questions, there is a very defined date of proof of concept with the Wright Flyer 1 on Dec 14, 1903.
As for year of commonality, I chose to include the last year of WW2 and the following decade. While commercially they were still not completely common by ’44, they were obviously common at the military level. I probably could have even pulled the date a bit earlier.

#2 Microwave
Did Shamus get it correct: Yes.

The invention here was accidental. Per Wikipedia, Perry Spencer mistakenly melted a candy bar in his pocket with active radar. Ta-da! Food heating! By 1986 25% of households had a Microwave.

#3 Television
Did Shamus get it correct: No.

Ohh, but this was my least accurate clue. I chose 1928 for the television because it was the year of the first public broadcast. This was probably a fault on my part. 1927 would have been a better choice and I’m certain Shamus would have got it had I chosen differently.
As for adoption, I aimed for late 50’s and 60’s based almost entirely on unreliable information I found on the internet.

#4. Air Conditioner
Did Shamus get it correct: Yes.

I thought this was was really tough because the technology for cooling things down was developed in 1902 not for cooling a room, but instead for controlling humidity. The technology didn’t do much beyond tread water in part because of the high cost. Only when the prices started dropping in the late 40’s and early 50’s could the technology reach the common household.

#5. Smartphone
Did Shamus get it correct: Yes.

There really aren’t a lot of inventions that go from rare to common practically overnight. Smartphones is one of those rare few. In 1992 IBM released the COMDEX a ‘smart’ phone that had some limited functionality in addition to cell phone reception but it remained obscure.
In 2007? The release of the iPhone. According to apple, one million phones were sold in 74 days. This was enough of a splash into the market that it certainly deserved a spot in this challenge.

#6. Mayonnaise
Did Shamus get it correct: Yes.


This wasn’t even that easy to look up on the internet. There are all sorts of conflicting dates for when mayonnaise was invented and all of them are anecdotal. 1907 is however very specific. That’s when the first jarred mayonnaise was sold commercially under the brand name Mrs. Schlorers.

Thanks for participating!

Now, if through some scientific cosmic time-displacing wormhole accident you’re whisked through time and you end up back on Earth in a different era, you’ll be able to better orient yourself by determining whether or not there is Mayonnaise at the local grocery.

One thought on “Challenge #2 Answers

  • 12/12/2014 at 4:49 pm

    I was actually surprised at how easy it was to look these up on the internet. The search phrase “invented {year}”, was sufficient to narrow it down to a handful of items which you could either dig in further to determine adoption, or just use your cultural understanding to guess.

    For example that search phrase has a few articles about mayo in the first few hits.


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