History

Oh, How Times Have Changed: Photos of the Strangest Inventions From Way Back When

Mankind never ceases to amaze us. Our evolution has always been an intriguing and surprising process for many of us to observe. Humans have been working on different inventive ideas since the beginning of time. Of course, some of these inventions paved the road to today’s technology that is now part of our daily lives.

Image: Facebook / Gabry Hair Fashion

However, not all contraptions and ideas that were created were great and comfortable; a lot of them were ridiculous too. Popular Everything made a collection of intriguing creations from the early 20th-century that might make you scratch your head. From crazy family bicycle with a sewing machine to snow-cone masks, some of these ideas were left in the past where they belong.

Blizzard Cone Masks, the 1930s

Even though this looks like a scene straight out of a horror movie, it most definitely is not. As a matter of fact, this scary-looking beak-shaped mask was designed to protect and shield everyone’s faces from ice and snow, way back when. Could you imagine seeing people walking around with these masks?

Image: The Presurfer

The cone was Invented back in the early 1930s in Canada. The weather conditions were hard to get by with the lack of technology then. Temperatures would drop to lower than -4F with blizzards covering the cities with more than 18 inches of snow at times. Clearly, the plastic snow mask was one of the most unusual contraptions of its decade.

The Cyclomer, the 1930s

The Cyclomer was the world’s very first amphibious bike. This exciting invention was launched in Paris back in the early 1930s. For a day and age that wasn’t very advanced technology-wise, the Cyclomer seemed like it was a pretty good idea back then.

Image: Revolutionary

The cyclomer was designed to have hollow wheels so it could both ride on the pavement and float on water. But much to their disappointment, the bike never gained traction neither on land or sea. Soon after it’s release, they decided to drop the invention.

Wooden Bathing Suits, the 1920s

Swimming hasn’t always been one of the easiest pursuits for some. It was once in fact quite daunting when it comes to swimwear fashion or even staying afloat. In the late 1920s, several innovations arose to assist those who weren’t the most comfortable while swimming.

Image: The Vintage News

Presenting the wooden bathing suits. They were made out of spruce wood to create a floating effect for the less skilled swimmers out there. The new swimwear was first established in Washington. However, the invention was short-lived as many women felt that the suit was quite unflattering. We would have to agree.

Safety Scoop, the 1920s

Also referred to as a car catcher, the built-on device was designed to prevent pedestrians from getting run over while crossing the road. “The Roller Safety Device Sweeps Away Fallen Pedestrians,” filled the headlines in prominent newspapers back in 1931.

Image: History Daily

The newspaper headlines would go on saying, “It will literally sweep a fallen pedestrian in front of it and therefore save him from being driven over by the heavy motor vehicle.” The “Grooved Roller” device was attached to the front towbar of the vehicle. If a pedestrian were to walk across the road and face the risk of being run over, the driver only needed to pull a lever, and the roller would be deployed to the ground.

Brush and Shiner, the 1950s

Generally, when men start experiencing the balding phase most prefer to draw attention away from their balding scalp or receding hairline. However, Mr. Ted Spence, an Engineer of the Los Angeles Brush Manufacturing Corp. suggest something extremely different.

Image: Taringa!

Mr. Ted Spence came out with an invention that was intended to take the male industry by storm. He demonstrated his then-new design the “Hairline Brush” in Los Angeles, California back in January 1950. This invention was designed to suit a bald head’s contour with bristles for brushing the sideburn sections and a felt pad to gently polish and massage the exposed scalp.

Gas War Resistant Pram, the 1930s

During the days leading up to WWII when the United Kingdom became under a growing threat of gas attacks, it was understandably scary to leave your home accompanied by your children. Naturally, provisions such as handing out gas masks to all citizens arose.

Image: Twitter / Decophile

FW Mills designed this pram as an alternative to infants wearing such masks. The stroller was designed with a lid, a glass panel, and a gas filter ontop. Sitting on top of the cover was a motor horn bulb and on the back, it expelled the stale air sucking in newly filtered air to ensure fresh ventilation.

Hamblin Glasses, the 1930s

Unfortunately, this invention arose just before the television arrived so it was over before it began. Nonetheless, this invention managed to stick around until today, with some people still taking an interest. These eyeglasses were originally designed in the United Kingdom back in the 1930s.

Image: The Daily Telegraph

The inventor intended for the glasses to be made specifically for those moments when you’re feeling lazy but would still like to read in bed. Named the “Hamblin Glasses”, they unfortunately never gained the publics’ attention the way they had hoped for. But on the bright side, some people still buy them as collectibles items today.

Piano Bed, the 1930s

Long ago, one opinion about the piano with a built-in bed was that it was a way to show one’s wealth. After all, a piano was once used as a symbol of one’s social status in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Families would have pianos to display the quality of their family-especially young women.

Image: Víkingur Ólafsson

The second opinion regarding the instrument was that it was specially designed in the United Kingdom in the early 1930s for people who were sadly restricted to bed rest. It was never confirmed for how long this invention caught on but since it doesn’t exist in our day and age, it surely passed on.

Infrared Lamp, the 1950s

Ladies and gents, this is one of those inventions that many of us are undoubtedly grateful for. It was in 1960 that someone introduced one of the first infrared lamps to the public in Wiesbaden, Germany. The genius that came up with the beloved heater idea will live on in our hearts forever.

Image: Twitter / veraizmaylova41

The product was smartly demonstrated in 1959 by Marion Liebig, also known as Miss Hesse. She best displayed their new technology, powered by bottled gas, by sitting in the snow, all nice and warm while wearing a summer outfit. And yes, this heater caught on fast and continues keeping many of us warm during those cold winter days.

Video Dating, the 1950s

Yeah, this invention is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine you were to have a video call with someone you liked, or you were to have an internet date, you’d probably want to do that in the privacy of your own home, right? Well, back when technology was still on the rise, people had to find creative ways to do so.

Image: The Columbus Dispatch

The video dating system was presented to the public at the Radio and Television Fair in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1950s. You would use the new digital dating technology by communicating vocally through a TV telephone. The great part about this was that you had a screen to see the other person as well as a screen to see yourself.

Self-Tanning Vending Machine, the 1940s

This is an invention that made its mark in history but in different shapes and forms. Relatably, back in the day, the women would put a lot of effort into looking at their very best whether it was to make a quick stop at a convenience store or simply take a walk.

Image: Slide Player

Late-model Betty Dutter demonstrated how the spray nozzle should be used and held. The then-new Sun-Tan Lotion Dispenser was introduced at the Annual Vending Machine Convention in Chicago, January 19, 1949. Reportedly, all one required was a dime for a 30-second spray job which can be found nearby swimming pools, beaches, and tennis courts.

Power Mower Delux, the 1950s

In the 1950s, this invention was referred to as the “Power Mower of the Future.” After being tested for safety and the public caught word of the up and coming innovation. The Power Mower raised quite the buzz. Finally, it was introduced and presented to the public in Washington in the ’50s.

Image: The Dallas Morning News

The Powermower was five feet in diameter and made of plastic. It had a unique generation system for generating power to the air conditioner, radiotelephone, and even a cooling system for one’s drinks. Oh, but that’s not all, even though it was meant as a lawnmower, somehow, the Mower Delux could also be used as a golf cart!

Amphibious Car, the 1960s

The first mass-produced amphibious vehicle was designed and introduced in the early 1960s. The manufacturer, a German industrial designer, was named Hans Trippel. This was not his first rodeo when it came to designing and creating vehicles.

Image: Hemmings

The Amphicar car was the world’s first commercial amphibious vehicle which was powered by two propellers. It cruised through the water at about 6.5 knots. This invention obviously wasn’t continued in the form of a motor vehicle but it did make way for new inventions to arise; such as speed boats or fishing boats.

Auto Minion, the 1950s

This young woman from the ’50s is demonstrating how a record player, referred to as the “Auto Minion” would look inside someone’s vehicle. This invention was created by the German Phillips Company. Their design was genius, why should one be limited to the places you can listen to your music? Why not have the option of listening to your music while driving?

Image: Twitter / EasyLounge

Well, the German Phillips Company went on to introduce their new creation to the public at the International Fair in Hannover, West Germany. It was a record player that would be attached to the dashboard of the car. Also, the player would be entirely automatic and would work simply by placing a record in the slot.

Family Bicycle With Built-In Sewing Machine, the 1930s

It isn’t very easy to take this contraption seriously by looking at it. But in the late ’30s, it was a means of getting a whole family to a place they needed to be. This bike was equipped with a sewing machine and table for a mother or grandmother to use until they had reached their destination.

Image: Twitter / Luacks

In the picture above, the manufacturer can be seen standing and peddling at the top of the contraption, demonstrating how it would be used. And much to our surprise, the circus-style bicycle was shorter-lived than most creations back in those days. But at least it made headlines making the family bicycle an iconic invention from the 30s.

Pipe For Two, the 1940s

The purpose of coming up with new inventive ideas is to either save people time or to make life more exciting. In this case, the inventor wanted to save people money. Joe Damone and Goerge Braunsdorf demonstrate a pipe for two named the “Double Ender.”

Image: Facebook / GiGadgets

The pipe was introduced in New York back in the late ’40s. According to the manufacturer, it was created as a way of conserving tobacco by a pair of smokers who had either run out or want to simply share a smoke at a sports game. It might have seemed practical at the time but it is strange.

Automated Shopping, the 1950s

In the 50s, innovations were all about trying to come up with smart ways to make daily tasks like shopping in supermarkets much easier tasks. Model Joan Lockwood is shown selecting items from the glass case at an automated section of the supermarket. This took place at an annual IGA Food Store Convention in New York.

Image: Consumerist

All you would need to do is put a circular shaped key into a slot, turning the system on. Then you could select the buttons pertaining to the item you’d want. The amount would be calculated by this automated system and you’d pay at the counter. This never worked out the way the creators had hope but at least we have vending machines today.

Driving Under Hypnosis, the 1960s

When you think you’ve heard it all; This is easily one of the most creative business startup ideas we have heard of in a long time. Back in the day, one man referred to as Hypnotist Henry Blythe believed he had the power to put people in a trance state.

Image: The Shelby Star

Naturally, Henry believed he had a talent and wanted to make a living out of it. So, he decided he would advise learner drivers before they were about to take their driving tests. He allegedly hypnotized over 40 students, and all of them later passed. Reasonably, this business was shortlived and forgotten.

Smog Test, the 1940s

This contraption was designed for research purposes. Betty Cook, the lab assistant who volunteered at the Stanford Research Institute is taking a “blinking test” which was part of a project studying the smog at Stanford, Calif. A Smog test is designed to measure the pollution the public was exposed to from vehicles.

Image: The Dallas Morning News

The plastic helmet will measurably fill with small amounts of smoke and fog. Then the test would gauge your eye irritation by recording each eye blink through photoelectric cells. The glasses Betty is wearing would act as a blink recorder while she reads a book.

Flight Training, the 1940s

A man named Albert H. Luke once believed that people would be able to fly a plane once they had experienced doing so on land. As we see bellow, that is Albert himself advising his student as she operates the demo airplanes controls. The little Pre-Flight Trainer plane was named the “Penguin” in Chicago.

Image: History By Zim

This practice and training for students took place in the mid-1940s and was intended to give students the basic feel of flying without actually leaving the ground. According to Albert, his students were often able to take off in a real airplane after completing his pre-flight Penguin training.

Hanging Television Stand, the 1960s

It was kind of laborious to find the right height stand that would be suitable for you and the height of your sofa, especially with the lack of equipment. So, some smart inventor came up with a portable television set that could be easily lowered and raised to any height with the then-new stand.

Image: Wilmington Star News

The new TV set was introduced to the public in the early ’60s and demonstrated by a lady named Carol Smith at the China Glass and Gift Market in Chicago. The stand was said to have been able to carry a 19-inch television set. It was made from brass; it had chains and hooks, which was used to carry the set.

Upside Down Record Player, the 1960s

Well, we aren’t 100% sure if the logical reasoning behind creating an upside-down record player was genius or not. But the upside-down player was made for minimalizing the dust that would collect on your discs, and provide you with a full view of your records.

Image: AudiKarma

Then-Model Helen Sorowitz is seen here demonstrating how it would also be safe for people standing underneath. This creation was presented at the New York High Fidelity show in New York in the early ’60s. Even though the lovely idea didn’t work out as planned, there are people that still buy floating players today.

A Snail Pacer, the 1950s

Once upon a time, there were no such things as cellphones and tablets for young children to play games on. The younger generation would have to be creative and come up with exciting games to entertain themselves. This 10-year-old boy reportedly named Martin Witter from Lynwood created a “Snail Stable” and would race his snail horses every afternoon.

Image: Twitter / Xavierdaniel999

The first time the game was discovered was during the ’50s. The children would meet with their friends to take part in snail races outside where the sun was shining. They found that when the snails were outside in the sun, it would make them start slithering their way to some shade, marking the beginning of the race.

The Hangover Cap, the 1940s

In today’s day and age, we simply lie in bed and wait out the horrible memories and feelings we brought upon ourselves the night before. However, back in the good days, clearly, people felt a little more sensitive towards their terrible self-inflicted actions.

Image: Reddit / Vivid Veracity

This genius creation we only see or hear of in the movies still exists but is unpopular. Little-known there’s nothing that can make you feel better than a relief ice cap while you’re suffering from a mean hangover as Carole Lombard demonstrates above.

Outdoor Baby Cage, the 1930s

Goodness, gracious. It seems that it was once believed that babies were made out of steel in the past. During the thirties, a mother who lived in an apartment came up with this surprising idea so that babies could enjoy some fresh air in an overpopulated city.

Image: The Presurfer

Fortunately for us, with today’s advanced technology and shared knowledge, we are more aware of the risks involved, including city air pollution, and more. We are grateful to the generations who had various strange inventions and creative ideas that helped us get to where we are today.

Nuclear Chickens, the 1950s

If you think you’ve seen it all already, you haven’t. Despite the best efforts of competing nations during the war, the British were the first to think of the revolutionary war technology; Nuclear Chickens. They made nuclear chickens a thing. Now, we know you’re probably wondering how this is possible, let us tell you.

Image: Revolutionary

Military scientists lacked a way of keeping their landmines warm underground. Naturally, they proposed having a lot of chickens roaming their territory to provide a consistent source of heat. Quickly after the idea of nuclear chickens was launched, it was shut down. We are happy that they decided to put the chickens first, after all!

Radio Hat, the 1930s

According to reports, this radio hat invention was one of the geekiest inventions during the 40s. For people that really enjoyed listening to the radio and on-air shows but weren’t at home most of the time, the radio solution was perfect for them.

Image: The Vintage News

With a not-so-comfortable design, you’d still be able to go anywhere while listening to your desired radio station. The hat was invented in 1931 and was later popularized throughout the 40s. This helmet was a big hit in the U.S. The invention shaped our technology of today and we are deeply thankful for it.

The de Lackner Aerocycle, the 1950s

Before the invention of the beloved jeeps, army officials would use this one-man metal device below to ride into battle. This “helicopter” was designed so that even an inexperienced official could operate it after spending just 20-minutes reading the provided manual.

Image: Taringa!

Though, very little thought and planning went into the propeller-powered reconnaissance vehicle. It was almost impossible for an inexperienced soldier to fly it. When the Aerocycle was introduced to the army, it was just as quickly disposed of due to numerous crashes.

Lockheed XFV-1, the 1950s

This happens to be one of our favorite inventions of them all. We sincerely understand the logic behind this creation, it’s just a pity they never perfected it. This was the very first creation out of the many proposed “Tail-Sitter” fighter planes.

Image: The Columbus Dispatch

The aircraft was intended to launch and land vertically in case a landing strip or aircraft carrier was compromised. Much to their disappointment, the Lockheed was extremely slow, complicated to maneuver, and hardly held enough firepower to support its use during battle. And so, the prototype was deemed unworthy.

Baby Holder, the 1930s

Naturally, when you love and enjoy your hobby, you would do just about anything to participate in it. This baby holder was invented by a highly devoted ice-hockey player. It was intended so that parents who love to frequent the ice skating rink could still do so without the need of a babysitter. Who knows? Maybe this baby grew up to be the next figure skating champ!

Image: The Daily News

The bright idea behind the holder was to create something that would allow participants with infants and toddlers to include them while practicing this sport. However, you probably see the dangers in this design at first glance. But on the bright side, even though this never worked out, it might have influenced the baby door jumper.

Chain-Smoking Device, the 1960s

Isn’t it strange reflecting on how oblivious people once were regarding the dangers of cigarettes and tobacco? 60 years ago, this habit was the essence of glamor and cool; It was made so by the likes of icons James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, and Humphrey Bogart.

Image: The Daily Telegraph

Once mass-production and marketing strategies were underway, the industry began producing the traditional pipes that we recognize today. As you know, pipes still exist in this day and age and are sometimes enjoyed by the baby boomers generation. However, boy, are we glad this 20 cig pipe no longer exists.

Electrically Heated Jacket, the 1930s

You know that time of the year when temperatures drop, and people tend to stay at home a lot more? It’s because they love their warm electric blankets, heaters, and hot water bottles that keep them cozy. No one likes being cold to the bone. Now, imagine having an electrically heated jacket while walking outside in the cold. That’s a dream!

Image: Slide Player

This fantastic heated jacket was designed by a police department in the early 30s. Keep in mind, officers wear uniforms that don’t offer much warmth or protection from the cold. The idea was for officers working on the streets to keep warm and plug themselves into street poles for power when need be.

Gas-Powered Mercedes, the 1900s

The transitioning of using horses and carriages to gas-powered vehicles is an exciting milestone for many. The first gasoline-powered Mercedes was released for public use in 1886. It proved to be extremely powerful, lightweight and advanced for its time.

Image: Wilmington Star News

Regardless of this invention being an absolute success, it belongs on this list too because if you think about it, it’s still strange. We literally stoop down and sit in a metal box that transports us from one place to another at crazy high speeds. But Carl Benz, creator of the first car, we thank you!

Monopod Seats, the 1950s

Hmm, for those of you wondering just how comfortable this monopod seat can be, according to some, it’s merely convenient. We’re sure there has been a time in your life where you’ve wished you had a chair while waiting in a long line for hours. It happens to the best of us.

Image: AudiKarma

This creation doesn’t look that safe, which is probably why it was discontinued. It literally gives meaning to the phrase, “Living life on the edge.” Nevertheless, it was a good idea, and it might have been the very reason for the portable camping chairs today.

Tele Eyegoggles, the 1930s

Designer Hugo Gernsback first came up with the concept of eye goggles in 1936. He soon abandoned the creation as he found it to be impractical however he did first have his employees build a prototype. Little did he know, his invention would actually kick off again some 40 years later.

Image: The Vintage News

The Teleyeglasses only weighed 140 grams that ran on low-voltage current from small batteries. The bizarre glasses featured a dial along with other tuning buttons on the front, including some fancy v-shaped antennas. While the peculiar invention did not see immediate success, it did provide the first step towards the invention of VR headsets.

Ice Cold Whiskey Dispenser, the 1950s

When you think of vending machines, naturally, you’d think of the different sodas, snacks, and chocolates it holds. We have them everywhere these days, particularly in gyms, schools, airports and sometimes even offices. But were you aware of what people used to use them for?

Image: True Art

It was once common for workers to drink during office hours, even if it were a small office space. If you naturally felt like a cold one here or there at work, you could make your way to a vending machine and have it on the rocks, or how you’d like it. Gone are the days!

Sidecar Jail, the 1920s

Here is another innocent invention from 1921. Pictured below is a police officer on his Harley bike with a prisoner held in an attached cage. The early police motorcycle had a jail intended for traffic offenders. In hindsight, this solution seems impractical for both parties involved.

Image: History By Zim

Transporting criminals to a police station could have been a hairy ride. If we were to use these bikes with side jails today, many officers would find themselves off the bike quicker than they jumped on. And so, we understand why these officers had a change of heart switching to sealed vans!

Motorized Bathtub, the 1960s

In 1960, a new mode of transport took us by storm, and it appeared on the streets of Kingston in Surrey. Three classmates decided to attach three wheels and a motor to a bathtub, and drove the bath around Kingston High Street. Why not? It’s not that different from a boat.

Image: The Dallas Morning News

With a rearview mirror made from a loofah brush and a rubber duck as a horn, the motor-driven bath was created by students attending the local technical college to raise money for a charity week. As you can see in the picture displayed above, the tub was later used for fun sports. And even enjoyed by the famous race car driver, Graham Hill

Automatic Tip Requester, the 1950s

This vintage picture was taken back in the mid-1950s. the photo shows Inventor Russell E. Oakes demonstrating his invention of a minor robotic system. This strange-looking belt was designed to help workers who don’t like the idea of collecting money from people.

Image: The Vintage News

Russel shows off his “automatic tip requester,” which includes an artificial hand and cashbox that’s worn around the waist. The best part is, it pops up with a “No Sale” sign if a tip is not enough. This was solely made for employees working in hotels and hospitality.

Radio Stroller, the 1920s

You know when a baby needs to sleep, the last thing you want to do is wake them up. However, some people felt differently back in the day. This baby stroller came with a radio, a loudspeaker, and an antenna attached to it. This stroller-system was initially designed to keep children from crying and help them sleep better.

Image: True Art

Well, one thing we know for sure is that this stroller definitely didn’t work out the way they had expected it too. But regardless of their failed attempt to create a useful baby device, at least the design sort of encouraged the mobile for a baby crib and the name of the Walkman!