Hope you guys having a good day. I am on the other hand, not so much. I came accoss this Ielts question and it reads:

  1. Michael Owens was hired by a large US company to design a fully-automated bottle manufacturing machine for them.
  • Is this true, false or not given?

TRUE = if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE = if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN = if there is no information on this

And here is the information from the essay:

From 1887 onwards, glass making developed from traditional mouth-blowing to a semi-automatic process, after factory- owner HM Ashley introduced a machine capable of producing 200 bottles per hour in Castleford, Yorkshire, England - more than three times quicker than any previous production method. Then in 1907, the first fully automated machine was developed in the USA by Michael Owens - founder of the Owens Bottle Machine Company (later the major manufacturers Owens- Illinois) - and installed in its factory. Owens’ invention could produce an impressive 2,500 bottles per hour.


I chose "Not Given", my logic is that while he did create the first automated machine, we can't be sure whether he was hired by a company before/after that to create a different machine. But the key said "False"

Say, if I replaced Michael Owens with Mark Zuckerberg and automated machine with Facebook, then the answer would be "True", since he was hired by Winklevoss twins to make a social network similar to Facebook, whom later he put aside and secretly developed his own project. People who don't know this are likely to choose "False" as well. The point is, though, that because it was not specified in the text, the answer shouldn't be "False".

However, I think if they add one word to the question, that is "first": Michael Owens was hired by a large US company to design a first fully-automated bottle manufacturing machine for them. Then maybe I would be more okay with "False".

Every opinion is appreciated, thanks.

Update: I could not comment due to the character limit so i write it here.

First of all i want to thank you all for your comments.

While I do acknowledge that Michael founded his company and created the first machine for it, my approach was from a different angle. My interpretation of the statement: "Michael Owens was hired by a large US company to design a fully-automatic bottle manufacturing machine for them" that is: given any time in his entire life, was he hired by a US company to make an automated machine, regardless of whether he did a similiar one in the past or would make one in the future, then the statement can be True. That's why i included the "Mark Zuckerberg" example, who indeed was hired to do the "product" but then quit the job to create his own similiar version of the "product" under his name. From the perspective of an Ielts taker who has no knowledge about Michael Owens, Not Given for me was the most suitable.

Please help me find the flaws in my argument / logic. Appreciate every opinion.

  • 2
    The information in the text contradicts with the question. Owen invented the automated glass making machine. Now, did he found his company before or after the said invention? This is not mentioned but presumably he started his company after. He would not have been able to do so if he had been hired by a glass manufacturer, the invention would have remained with his employer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:44
  • 1
    I like this question, it's open to different interpretations. I don't think your idea is at all wrong, NOT GIVEN is a plausible response.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:49
  • 1
    I'd go with not given. In the quote, the only US companies mentioned are Owens Bottle Machine Company (OBMC) and its successor Owes-Illinois (OI). We can exclude HM Ashley because the text talks about it as an English company, not American. The text doesn't say anything about Owens being hired to design anything for OI, so that excludes OI. On the other hand, it doesn't say anything about OBMC being large, so that excludes OBMC.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:59
  • Hi @CelestialWalker, One of my main objections to any answer other than false, is simple business logic. Because Michael Owens developed the FIRST such machine, it would be against his financial interest to later design one for what would surely be a competitor. The fact that we are told his business grew to be a major manufacturer, supports the view that he did have good business sense and would not pass his intellectual property to others, even for a fee. Your other angle is that he may have done so BEFORE his own factory. But we are told above that his own factory was the FIRST. So, QED.
    – MikeRoger
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 8:17

1 Answer 1



A founder is the person who creates a company. So he is there before anyone else gets hired.

Ref https://www.google.ie/search?q=founded

  • 1
    The information says clearly that Owens was the 'founder' of the OBM Company (i.e. the company did not hire him). It also says that the first fully automated machine was developed by Owen and installed in his ('pre-existing' understood) factory.
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 11:30
  • 1
    Hi @Dan, I agree with the general thrust of your comment. One minor note: it could be his 'pre-existing' factory. But could it not equally be his 'purpose built to house his new invention' factory?
    – MikeRoger
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 14:53
  • While Ido acknowledge that, my approach was from a different angle. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 17:50
  • 1
    Disregard of the previous comment, i'm not familar with how commenting works on this site. Please read the update of the post and help me, thanks. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 18:16
  • 1
    @MikeRoger - Yes, my bad! It does not say 'his' (preëxisting) factory, but 'its' (12th word from the end) - which could refer either to the (pre-existing factory) or to the newly-invented machine?
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 18:37

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