1. George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter, though he reputedly discovered 300 uses for peanuts and hundreds more for soy beans, pecans and sweet potatoes.
2. Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet; flushing toilets were first used in the Indus Valley Civilisation, around the 26th century BC. The forerunner of the modern toilet was invented by the Elizabethan courtier Sir John Harington, who was banished from court when his book on the subject poked fun at important people. Crapper, however, did much to increase its popularity and introduced several innovations, including as the 'valveless waste-water preventer', which allowed the toilet to flush effectively without leaving the flush water running for a long time.
3. Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb. He did, however, develop the first practical light bulb in 1880 (employing a carbonised bamboo filament), shortly prior to Joseph Swan, who invented an even more efficient bulb in 1881 (which used a cellulose filament).
4. Henry Ford did not invent either the motor car or the assembly line. He did improve the assembly line process substantially, sometimes through his own engineering but more often through sponsoring the work of his employees. Karl Benz (co-founder of Mercedes-Benz) is credited with the invention of the first modern car and the assembly line has existed throughout history.
5. James Watt did not invent the steam engine nor were his ideas on steam engine power inspired by a kettle lid pressured open by steam. Watt improved upon the already commercially successful Newcomen atmospheric engine in the 1760s and 1770s, making certain improvements critical to its future usage, particularly the external condenser, increasing its efficiency, and later the mechanism for transforming reciprocating motion into rotary motion; his new steam engine later gained huge fame as a result.
6. The Wright Brothers did not invent the first powered heavier-than-air aeroplane. Nine months prior to their famous takeoff on the 17th of December, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, New Zealander Richard Pearse performed the same feat in Timaru, New Zealand (31 March 1903). Although it lacked an aerofoil section wing, Pearse’s flying machine resembled modern aircraft design much more than did the Wright brothers’ machine: monoplane rather than biplane; tractor rather than pusher propeller; stabiliser and elevators at the back rather than the front; and ailerons rather than wing-warping for controlling banking. It bore a remarkable resemblance to modern microlight aircraft.
7. Alexander Graham Bell did not invent the first telephone. In 1860 an early version of the telephone was claimed to have been invented by a man named Antonio Meucci. He originally called it a teletrofono. In 1860 an Italian language newspaper in New York published a description of Meucci’s invention. Meucci coupled an electro-magnetic transmitter with a receiver. The motion of a diaphragm would modulate a signal in the coil by causing movement to an electromagnet. Although this was a dependable and lasting signal, it was a very weak signal. Mr. Meucci’s patent for his invention expired in 1874 and he was not able to pay the continuation fee and Western Union labs claimed to have lost the working models that were Mr. Meucci’s invention. To further muddy the waters for Mr. Alexander Graham Bell there is the fact that he conducted experiments in the same lab where Mr. Meucci’s materials had been stored. Giving ample access to any notes or records left behind. In March of 1876 Mr. Bell was granted a patent and has forever been credited with inventing the telephone.
8. Marconi did not invent the radio. The real inventor of radio is now considered to be Nikola Tesla. He invented so much stuff that it is hard to catalogue all of it (much less understand it). Tesla got the idea for radio back in 1892 and demonstrated a remotely controlled boat in 1898. He did get basic US patents in 1897; these were for single-frequency radio, not spark gap. Yet somehow, he never got recognition for this work, while Marconi took the basic idea and ran with it. Marconi was very successful in assembling a system for wireless telegraphy. Although he was born in Italy, Marconi spent a great deal of his life in the UK. It was here that he got the patent and formed the British wireless service. He later formed the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company.
9. Galileo did not invent the telescope. There is evidence that Leonard Digges invented both the reflecting and refracting telescopes. In 1608, Dutch eyeglass maker, Hans Lippershey offered a new device to the government for military use. This new device made use of two glass lenses in a tube to magnify distant objects. He may not have invented the telescope but Hans Lippershey has been credited with its invention. He, at least, applied for the patent for it first. As soon as Galileo Galilei heard about the device coming out of the Netherlands, he was fascinated. He began constructing telescopes, himself, before ever seeing one. By 1609, he was ready for the next step. He began using telescopes to observe the heavens, becoming the first astronomer to do so. While Galileo did not invent the telescope, he made great improvements in the technology. His first construction was a three power instrument, which he quickly improved to eight, twenty, then thirty power. With this new tool, he found mountains and craters on the moon, discovered that the Milky Way was composed of stars and discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter.
10. Samuel Morse did not invent the telegraph. As the tale goes, Samuel Morse was having dinner with friends and debating electromagnetism (as you do) when he realised that if an electrical signal could travel instantly across a wire, why couldn't information do the same? Like most fun eureka stories, it's a fib. The telegraph was invented by not only Morse, but also Charles Wheatstone, Sir William Fothergill Cooke, Edward Davy and Carl August von Steinhiel so near to each other that the British Supreme Court refused to issue one patent. It was Joseph Henry, not Morse, who discovered that coiling wire would strengthen electromagnetic induction. Of Morse's key contribution - the application of Henry's electromagnets to boost signal strength - Lemley writes that "it is not even clear that he fully understood how that contribution worked."