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Answers to a Quiz You Haven’t Taken

While no Yale alumnus would claim to have invented the Internet, more than a few devices, artifacts, concepts, and phenomena have sprung from the minds of Eli graduates. We won’t deny that some of the items on the list are less certain than others (will we ever know the real story of the Frisbee?), but one or more Yalies had at least some influence over them.

The Hawaiian shirt
Honolulu native Ellery Chun ’31 introduced the brightly colored “aloha shirt” in his family’s store in 1936, giving tourists, fraternity members, and Harry Truman the fashion statement they had been waiting for.

The shortstop
Playing for the pioneering Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in about 1849, Dr. Daniel Adams, Class of 1835, moved in from the outfield to cover the area between second and third base, forever changing the game of baseball.

Lee DeForest, Class of 1896, is widely known as the “Father of Radio.” He was granted 300 patents on related inventions.

The cotton gin
Eli Whitney, Class of 1792, may have hastened the coming of the Civil War with the machine that made cotton—and slaves—highly profitable.

Erector sets
A.C. Gilbert '09MD began manufacturing the premier building toy of its day in 1913.

The Frisbee
Legend has it that Yale students were the first to sail tins from the Frisbie Pie Co. around the campus. In these pages in February 1996, Sam Carr Polk ’47LLB claimed he brought the idea from Texas in 1946.

The dictionary
Well, maybe not, but how about the American dictionary? Without Noah Webster, Class of 1778, we might still be writing “neighbour” and “centre.”

The torpedo
David Bushnell was still a senior in 1775 when he developed the idea for the torpedo, earning himself the title “father of submarine warfare.”

Paleontologist O.C. Marsh, Class of 1860, kicked off the national fascination with dinosaurs with his dramatic finds in the American West.

“Total Quality Management”
The organizational reforms that changed business came to America from Japan, but the Japanese got the idea from W. Edwards Deming ’28PhD.

The Palm Pilot
Donna Dubinsky ’77 was the marketing half of the duo that put the “personal digital assistant” into five million hands.

“Night and Day”
Cole Porter ’13 wrote more than one candidate for best American pop song, but this one has haunted generations of musicians, dancers, and listeners.

The Gadsden Purchase
When the U.S. needed a piece of northern Mexico to build the Southern Pacific railroad in 1853, James Gadsden, Class of 1806, negotiated the purchase as minister to Mexico.

Head Start
Sterling Professor of Psychology Edward Zigler led the White House committee that first conceived of the program for low-income preschoolers in 1964.

Federal Express
Thank Fred Smith ’66 for the innovation that gained precious days for procrastinators everywhere. Without FedEx, Tom Hanks would have been a marooned UPS man.



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