Explore the past and check out forgotten gadgets from the early 1900s. Not every gadget from back then became a big deal.
In this exploration, we’ve gathered around 20 inventions from the past – some practical, some not so much.
It’s like opening a time capsule filled with interesting stories. From devices that aimed to make life easier to ones that might leave you scratching your head, each gadget has its own tale.
Picture a time when the future was uncertain, and innovation took unexpected turns, some useful, and some a bit quirky.
The “Niagara” Wave & Rocking Bath
The brains behind the “Niagara” wave and rocking bath are on a mission: to keep every drop of water right where it belongs – in the tub.
Picture this: you rock and sway, creating a full-blown illusion of a sea or river bath without a single splash to dampen the mood.
But let’s be real, your family might just threaten to ship you off to jailhouse for attempting such aquatic shenanigans.
Behold the Swiss Army Knife of canes, a true gentleman’s companion that accommodates a myriad of refined pursuits: capturing butterflies, seeking shelter from the rain, indulging in opium, playing the flute, and even measuring a horse.
Yes, it covers almost every gentlemanly pastime.
Just observe the incredible shift from calm to complete panic in the aftermath of this prank.
It’s almost tempting enough to consider pulling it on a friend from the working class, just to witness the bewildered cry of, “Why would you do this to me?!”
Solar Bath Apparatus
What could be a more unconventional remedy for the common head cold than a healthy dose of radiation?
This formidable-looking apparatus encloses the head in a metal drum, administering therapeutic ultraviolet rays.
The Solar Bath Apparatus aimed to alleviate ailments such as catarrh affecting the ears, nose, and throat, along with other head-related illnesses.
Waking up to the traditional beeping or buzzing of an alarm clock isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. To add a touch of ingenuity, an inventive mind once rigged an alarm clock with a phonograph.
Even though this idea didn’t last long, and the phonograph alarm clock didn’t become popular, the concept stuck around. Nowadays, some of us wake up to the sound of music via our smartphones.
Flying Saucer Camera
During the 1950s, UFO sightings were on the rise, prompting the development of the Flying Saucer Camera to sift through the numerous reported cases.
Equipped with two lenses, this camera captured a regular photograph with one lens while the other lens separated the light into individual colors.
This ingenious design aimed to help authorities distinguish genuine UFOs from obvious fakes by analyzing the color composition in the photographs.
This downright peculiar bike from 1939, charmingly named the Goofybike by its inventor, transformed family time into an eccentric affair.
In this odd bonding ritual, Dad and Brother diligently pedaled away, Mom seamlessly operated her sewing machine mounted on the bike, and Sister simply soaked in the ride.
Alas, poor Mom never seemed to catch a break, not even during the supposedly leisurely moments of family recreation.
Cigarette Case to Keep Track
In 1940, if you were tired of lending out cigarettes, a smart case came to the rescue. It had two buttons—one for your own smokes and another when a friend asked for one.
This way, you could keep track of how many cigarettes you used versus those borrowed by friends. It gave you the info to decide what to do about sharing your smokes.
This beauty treatment from 1941 claimed to enhance a lady’s complexion using a vacuum—a bit risky considering it covers her head entirely in plastic.
The image might seem a bit ominous, with the woman in the mask looking concerned and holding the air hose, while the other woman smiles somewhat menacingly, holding the plastic bag over the lady’s head.
However, the text assures readers that this is a “glamorous” beauty treatment, not a form of torture.
Electric Shaver Haircutting Guide
For gentlemen who appreciated a bit of sophistication on a budget, the Electric Shaver Haircutting Guide was a handy tool.
It enabled owners of electric hair clippers to give themselves a haircut. The guide was a simple piece of bent wire that users held against their heads to guide the clippers.
Umbrella-Equipped Cigarette Holder
Inspired by a British clown, this umbrella-equipped cigarette holder from 1931 added a quirky touch to smoking.
Instead of the traditional hand-cupping method, smokers in the 1930s could embrace their inner clown using this peculiar contraption to shield their lit cigarettes from the rain.
Scale in Soda-Fountain Seat
No surprise that this invention didn’t become popular. If it had, maybe we wouldn’t be grappling with the obesity epidemic today.
This seat, designed for soda fountain counters in 1938, aimed to assist customers in monitoring their weight by providing readouts for those waiting.
Perhaps someone realized it wasn’t the best idea for business, and that’s likely why this invention never saw the light of day again.
Breathing Balloon for Big Breasts
Throughout history, women have explored various methods to enhance their bust size, and this balloon contraption is among the less risky options.
The concept, however, stands out as particularly peculiar. Designed to “develop the form,” the product aimed to measure and boost lung capacity through a shut-off valve (indicated by the tape measure looped around the balloon).
The idea was simple: take deep breaths, and voilà, your breasts were supposed to magically increase in size.
Some scooter riders already act a bit reckless, zooming through traffic. The last thing you’d want is to give them weapons on their scooters.
Imagine a scooter with a gun on top and six ammo shells on the sides—definitely more dangerous than the usual scooter.
Licking stamps is not a favorite task, considering where they might have been. A postal worker might’ve handled them, and you know how that goes.
Fortunately, they had a solution: an artificial dog’s head that could moisten stamps.
Vigor’s Horse-Action Saddle
This claims to be a “perfect substitute for a live horse,” promoting good spirits and stimulating the liver. Well, they aren’t fooling anyone.
There used to be something similar available from mail-order catalogs – they were called “massage wands.”
Madam Rowley’s Toilet Mask (or Face Glove)
Here’s an interesting tidbit: wearing this toilet mask three times a week is said to rid you of imperfections.
And just in case it doesn’t work (though that’s unlikely, they claim), you can just keep the thing on permanently.
Walking the length of a fence can feel like a real chore. Imagine if there were a way to make it easier.
Well, there almost was, as shown here by none other than Vincent Van Gogh, the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Electric Branding Iron
“I’m going to brand you!” howls Satan, as his candidate shrieks and screams. Imagine his relief when he realizes it was all a prank.
Instead of being scalded by a branding iron left over an open flame, he’s merely having the skin burnt off his back by an innocently heated electric joke.
Water Hunting Tripod
Facing the challenge of shooting birds over water can be tricky. However, the Victorians, in their inventive spirit, came up with a solution – albeit a somewhat wobbly one.
Instead of resorting to boats, which seem like a more stable choice, they opted for a method that might not be the most reliable.
(Photo credit: Britannica / Gajitz / Wikimedia Commons / Flickr).