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Blog > August Writing Prompt: inventions!

The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

Every country has inventors, talented people who brought something new to the world. Maybe it’s a novel product or an ingenious process, a breakthrough in some field of science… or maybe a cultural invention, like a new musical instrument or a different way to look at things! This month, we’re exploring these inventions and sharing some of our country’s creative heritage with the world.

In August, write about an invention from your country.

So, I’ll go first. It’s a hard job to pick one of the Portuguese inventions… but I think one of the earliest ones we’re taught in school is the sea astrolabe.

Sea astrolab

This is an instrument that was used by sailors to determine their location at sea, based on the altitude of the sun at noon or of a known star at its peak, during the night. By measuring the angle of the star with the horizon, they could calculate the latitude of their ship in the globe, thus getting the information they needed to guide the ships to the right destinations. The oldest Portuguese astrolabe was discovered a few years ago in the wreck site of the ship Esmeralda, which sank in 1503 off the coast of Oman.

What about your country? Which inventions did your fellow citizens bring to the world, and which are you most proud of? Do share these in the postcards you write this month… and also in the comments below, if you can — we’re always curious to learn new things! 😊

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41 comments so far

fmstrada, Italy
Italians gave important contributions to music: the violin 🎻 appeared in Italy in the Renaissance, the piano 🎹 was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori around 1700 and modern music notation was theorized by Guido of Arezzo, a Benedictine monk who lived around 1000.
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Nichtsnutz, Germany
My favourite german Inventor: Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (1400 - 1468) was a German goldsmith, inventor, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe with the printing press. His introduction of mechanical movable type printing to Europe started the Printing Revolution and is regarded as a milestone of the second millennium, ushering in the modern period of human history. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.
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Miss-Cynical, Germany
The BEST invention ever was the SNOOZE Button on my clock radio ;) I couldn't live without it. This will only be topped by the invention of a transporter to beam you from one place to another ;)
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Writercat, Canada
Canada invented basketball, lacrosse, ice hockey, the paint roller, the zipper, Easy Off oven cleaner, (didn't know that one!) as well as medical breakthroughs like treating diabetes by extracting medicinal insulin, the cardiac pacemaker, the Canadarm, the Walkie Talkie, the pager, and the Alkaline battery. Lots more on the Wikipedia page and lots to be proud about! And for food, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts and poutine. YUM! Now I'm hungry!
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samsonnette, France
Freedom is not an "invention" of course, but we all can be grateful to the French Revolution of 1789 to have written The Rights for all women and men in the world, especially right to be free, it is now a basis for every nation fighting for its rights and freedom.
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Geminiscp, Portugal
The best invention by a Portuguese is without doubt, Postcrossing! :D
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ned44440, Ireland
The Submarine, Flavoured Potato Crisps and Colour Photography number among Irish Inventions. My favourite of these is the crisps 😂
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swan, United States of America
This is of course not the greatest invention, but the cheeseburger was invented in my current home city, Pasadena, California.
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greenskull, Russia
I ❤❤❤ Postcrossing!
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Flippie, Canada
Writercat above named already some inventions from Canada but I know that Imax Movie System is invented by Graeme Ferguson & Roman Kroctor in 1986 and Canada Dry Gingerale by John J. Mclauglin in 1907.
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Luziaceleste, Brazil
Santos Dumont is cpnsidered by Brazilians as airplane crreator. Sorry, Americans...
There are 'caipririnha' as well, the famous drink.
And 'havaianas', the flipflop.
All in all, Brazilians enjoy good life and travelings! ❤️
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Inspired_rus, Russia
The periodic table of chemical elements was invented by the Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev and it is named by his last name. Mendeleev had a summer house near my town Klin, here he was engaged in aeronautics. This is a little known fact. He was the first in Russia to finalize the balloon project (based on the data of the Montgolfier brothers) and he himself rose in it over his house near Klin.
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MustangMeredith, United States of America
The US has made lots of fabulous inventions, but here are some fun ones from California. The wave, pet rocks, Barbie dolls, and Martinis were all invented in California! This says a lot about Californians. We love our sports, often personify objects, and strive for the perfect Barbie body. When our teams lose, our objects don't talk back, and our bodies fail us, we drink a martini.

Cheers!
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Sweetsazzle, United Kingdom
Television, telephone and penicillin are 3 Scottish inventions I remember from school. I can't imagine life without the first 2 and was grateful for the 3rd after having a horrible case of tonsillitis, the penicillin worked so quick to get rid of it.
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ALFAVIT, Russia
Soviet and Russian inventions that first came to mind are an atomic icebreaker, the first artificial Earth satellite in space, Kotelnikov's backpack parachute, Pirogov's military field surgery, Fedorov's cataract treatment, ekranoplanes, aviation fire extinguishing, a hazy toy, matryoshka, samovar, vodka, 3D- holography, multiple rocket launchers, gorodki, tetris, artificial diamonds.
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kurea_s, United States of America
From my state in the US, some useful ones are zippers, the dishwasher, cell phone, pinball machine, skyscrapers, and the steel plow :)
Hi from Illinois!
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dundun, China
China was the first to plant and drink tea. As early as 3000 years ago, our ancestors began to drink tea. Tea was first used as medicine, but with the popularity of tea drinking, many people's purpose of drinking tea is not limited to this. Gradually it became the social atmosphere and habit. Of course, we also know that many people drink tea very delicately, so the style of the first teapot is naturally made by Chinese people. As we all know, the teapot with tea and boiling water was designed as early as the Yuan Dynasty.
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horetha, Netherlands
The microscope is a Dutch invention. Younger inventions are cassette tapes, compact discs, WiFi and Bluetooth.
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margreetbtn, Netherlands
I just bought soms vreet cards of the waterloopbos. In this forrest Dutch scientists built harbours and lakes at scale to test all kinds of stuff. Hoe there are computer programms for these tests.
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booboo_babies, United States of America
Not really an invention, but pretty close to it. More like an innovation. Wisconsin had the first Kindergarten in the United States, started by Margarethe Schurz, a German immigrant. She started the American Kindergarten in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1856.

I grew up just south of the Illinois/Wisconsin border, and have lots of family all over Wisconsin, so I will always be partial to the state. Even if my husband still teases me about my "Wisconsin Accent" after 28 years of marriage. However, having a sense of humor is part of a good relationship, so I can not complain!
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NIDUSKA, Finland
nice idea
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Aphrora, China
We invented the compass and gunpowder. Our ancestors sailed to the South China Sea before God was born.
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Lies76, Belgium
The Belgian Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone. He was a builder of musical instruments, just like his father.
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Gen24, United States of America
My state of Pennsylvania invented the ferris wheel, the smiley face emoticon, :-) and bubblegum!
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MissAndrea, Spain
Leonardo Torres-Quevedo (1852–1936) was a Spanish civil engineer and mathematician. He created, among other ideas, wireless remote-control operation principles and a chess automaton in 1910. In 1887 he constructed the first cableway and aerial cable car to cross Niagara Falls, a masterpiece still in regular use. He is also known by his design in 1902 of a new type of transatlantic dirigible used during the First World War for diverse tasks like naval protection and inspection.
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Roxanne, Germany
Some german inventions are for example the .mp3 music file or the scotch tape both things to make life easier... not to forget the car too :)
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April_ka, Russia
В. К. Зворыкину принадлежат более 120 патентов на различные изобретения.В 1929 году Зворыкин разработал высоковакуумную телевизионную приёмную трубку — кинескоп, к 1931 году завершил создание конструкции передающей трубки — иконоскопа. В июне 1933 года Зворыкин выступил на годичной конференции Американского общества радиоинженеров, где ознакомил присутствующих с вновь созданной электронной телевизионной системой. В 1940-е годы он разбил световой луч на синий, красный и зелёный цвета и таким образом получил цветное телевидение.
Самый первый в мире мобильный телефон был изобретен советским инженером Куприяновичем в 1957 году.
Первый сверхзвуковой самолёт ТУ-144.
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Phibatola, Greece
Honestly I would no know what to pick .....so many options
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nm_rockhound, United States of America
There are too many to list, but here in my home state of New Mexico "we" invented nicotine patches, the atomic bomb, the breakfast burrito, and laser-guided bullets. We also invented putting red and green chile in all of our foods.
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shc, Indonesia
I'm proud of Indonesian instant noodles B) not really an invention, more like innovation, tho!
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sienemien, Belgium
The body mass index (BMI) was developed between 1830 and 1850 by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet.
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carlinde, Netherlands
I really hadn't a clue, so I looked some up and didn't realize some chairs of Rietveld were called inventions (LOL) but yes somethings with iceskating comes in mind, just a pitty not so many harsh winters nowadays.
What's probably invented by the Dutch is complaining about the weather. Hot and Sunny?Wish it rained! Rainy? Where is the Sun? Windy? Just when I'm on a bike!? But coming back it's a blessing lots of wind pushes you forwards!
Learned a lot though by this topic. Keep the inventions comming.
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elos, Netherlands
Four-wheel drive was first applied in 1903 to the Spyker 60HP racer. The car also had the first six-cylinder engine in the world. A car of great historical importance.
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Nana805, France
BCG vaccin was invented in France 🇫🇷
I live nearby the Pasteur institute in Lille where professors Calmette and Guérin have work on it.
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babytreese, United States of America
As an Executive Secretary I have to thank Bette Nesmith of Dallas, TX for inventing Correction Fluid (Liquid Paper). Thanks Bette! :-)
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starlitey, Singapore
Everyone would have used one of these before, but not many would have known it, Singaporeans included. The USB flash drive (or thumbdrives) was one of the inventions from the Little Red Dot (that's what we are often known as because we are such a small country). It was originally invented by Trek 2000 International and the first flash drives made its debut in a technology fair in Germany at the turn of the millennium. How cool is that! :))
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princeofasturias, United States of America
In the US stamps on theme of Innovation will be released august 20th.
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princeofasturias, United States of America
Carne asada fries were invented in San Diego. Google the recipe. Theyre are so many variations
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DenisEr, Russia
Russian, Soviet and Russian scientists have made a significant contribution to the development of world medicine!
The appearance of topographic anatomy was a response to the requests of practical surgeons. Unlike descriptive anatomy, which has a long history, topographical anatomy studies nerves and vessels in the way they are presented to the surgeon performing the operation.
The genius of the scientist's idea was to develop a technique for cutting in various planes of a frozen corpse, so that the organs, vessels and nerves kept their natural, undisturbed position. Soon this method became the main one in the study of the topography of the human body. And currently, the training of a doctor is simply unthinkable without studying the topographic anatomy formed due to the efforts of N. I. Pirogov.
The great Russian physiologist and pathologist Ilya Mechnikov is considered the founder of the phagocytic theory of immunity. He proved the existence of special cells in the body that can absorb pathogens. I. I. Mechnikov formulated the main provisions of the new theory in his work "Immunity in infectious diseases"published in 1901.
A little earlier Than I. I. Mechnikov, in 1904, another great Russian scientist, Ivan Pavlov, was awarded the Nobel prize in medicine and physiology. And, although the official wording stated that the award was awarded "for work on the physiology of digestion", the work done allowed I. P. Pavlov to formulate for the first time the principles of higher nervous activity — a set of unconditioned and conditioned reflexes, as well as higher mental functions that provide adequate behavioral responses of animals and humans.
To a modern person, organ transplantation is largely a routine operation. However, we should not forget that the genius of the Russian experimental scientist Vladimir Demikhov was at the origin of Transplantology.
In 1937, while still a third-year student, he designed and implanted an artificial heart in a dog. After the operation, the animal was able to live for two hours. In 1946, he successfully transplanted a second heart to the dog, and later the heart-lung complex, which became a worldwide sensation.
A few years later, for the first time, he replaced the dog's own heart with a donor heart and proved the fundamental possibility of performing a similar operation in humans. And the sensation took place! In 1967, South African surgeon Christian Barnard was the first person in the world to perform a heart transplant. He considered himself a student of V. p. Demikhov and before deciding on surgery, twice came to the teacher for consultations.
Svyatoslav Fedorov, a Russian ophthalmologist, is also known worldwide. In 1962, in collaboration with Valery Zakharov, he created one of the best rigid artificial lenses in the world — the Fedorov-Zakharov lens.
In 1973, S. N. Fedorov first developed and performed an operation to treat glaucoma in the early stages. Soon his method was used all over the world, and in 1994 at the International Congress of ophthalmologists in Canada, he was officially recognized as "the outstanding ophthalmologist of the XX century".

I apologize for writing so much, I really wanted to share it.
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jaleen, Malaysia
The first pen drive as invented by Mr. Pua Khein Seng, who is a Malaysian. :)
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SuperGirl89, Netherlands
Like @horetha stated above someone from the Netherlands invented the CD. Fun fact about that is, that the small hole that is in the middle of a CD is exactly the size of our 10ct piece at the time (1983, so before the euro).
Our nickname for that 10ct piece was a dubbeltje.
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