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Weird Inventions From The 20th Century That We're Grateful Never Became A Thing

13 de noviembre de 2017

María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

From revolvers with integrated cameras to hair brushes for bald people, the 20s definitely gave us some of the creepiest and most useless inventions we could ever imagine.

Without a doubt, we’re an extremely curious and inventive species constantly looking for ways to improve our lives. Tools and inventions have evolved with the passing of time: Think of the wheel, the many transportation inventions our ancestors came with to facilitate life, pulleys to carry extremely heavy things, and so on. However, some people have gone beyond imagination and taken us to unexpected reaches. For instance, Leonardo da Vinci's curiosity led him to study and analyze how birds fly, and eventually to design inventions to take humanity to the skies. Centuries later, the steam engine would give life to a series of life-changing inventions, such as the steamboat or the locomotive. We could spend a whole week talking about all those great inventions that have shaped history and our everyday life. So, while there are brilliant minds to thank for, there were also some curious people who invented really strange objects to ease our lives. However, their inventions were so creepy that, thankfully, they didn't become a thing.

Vending Machine For Tanning

Oh, those lovely days when people had absolute disregard for UV rays and carcinogenic materials. The desire to look perfect at all cost gave us some dangerous inventions, including this lovely vending machine. By the end of the forties, fair skin stopped being the beauty standard, so women tried their best to get a beautiful toasted color. This vending machine was not only more accessible, but also faster than going to a tanning place, so it became a sudden hit. Although people loved using this machine that colored their skin for just a dime per 30 seconds, they went out of the market quite soon because of the substances it used.


Neck Brush

Didn’t you hate how kids end up extremely dirty after a day at the playground? No problem for fifties parents. They could solve all their problems with this plastic neck brush. You don’t need soap nor water, just place the brush on the kid’s neck, and it’ll do the job while they play. Thank goodness this invention failed so badly because, as you can see from little Tim Gregory’s face, this wasn’t such a comfortable artifact. 


Amphibious Car

This one doesn’t sound that bad. I guess my cousin who once ended up sinking his car into a lagoon would have loved this amphibious car. Invented in West Berlin in 1952, this car could allegedly work in ground and water. I’m guessing it was a flop, since this is the last thing we heard of this invention. But, hey, nice try. 


Infrared Lamp

Don’t you hate it when you can’t sunbathe in the middle of winter because it’s snowing? I know right? It’s such a bummer for us, unlike the few who could enjoy this amazing infrared lamp in the late fifties early sixties. Allegedly, this lamp produces a nice bright artificial light emulating the warm sun rays. Honestly, though it sounds like a great idea for those of us who hate cold weathers, I wouldn’t dare to step closer to that gas-powered machine. That’s probably why it didn’t make it. 


Automated Shopping

No, this isn’t a sci-fi film nor a vision from the future. This was a real prototype during the thirties in a supermarket convention in New York. Actually, I’m pretty sure this is something we’ll eventually experience. But frankly, I think that there isn’t anything like choosing and looking closely at what you’re going to buy. I mean, you wouldn’t have to deal with some angry store personnel, but still.


Revolver Camera

Wouldn’t it be great to capture in photographs the precise moment you shot your gun? Hum… no! Who could even though this was a great idea? Well, it was actually someone called A. Kubrick, a guy there’s no much information about. Apparently, he wanted to create a system for the police to allow them to take a picture of the person they were aiming at so, in case they missed, they would have an image of the criminal and they could later identify them. No offense, but this is probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.


Baby Holder

Invented in 1937 by a hockey player, this baby holder was supposed to solve any couple’s problem if you loved ice skating frequently. Their idea was to create something that could allow them to take their baby while practicing this sport. However, you don’t have to be a genius to see the flaws in this design. I actually feel sorry for that baby who probably fell on the hard ice more than once.


Chain-Smoking Device

Because smoking 20 cigarettes at the time brings you a huge step closer to lung cancer. I mean, I smoke, but if sometimes you feel ill when you have more than one cigarette in a short period of time, how could someone think it was a good idea to make something to smoke twenty at a time? Seriously, I’d love to hear the reasoning behind this. Sadly, there are only pictures and we can’t place a face on the genius creator of this device, but I’m guessing his invention didn’t go that well for obvious reasons.


Cat Meow Machine

I’m living for this one. Invented in Japan in 1963, this device would reproduce cat noises to scare rats and mice. I know, it sounds great, assuming the old cartoons’ stereotypes are actually accurate and rodents really get scared by the meowing of cats. I sincerely doubt it, but still I think it’s a nice try. Plus, it’s actually quite cute. 


Beating Breasts

And in the segment of weirdly shaped stuff, let me introduce you the beating breasts, another sixties Japanese invention created to help babies sleep better and faster. So, you know the theory that states that the best way to rock your baby to sleep or simply ease them is by putting their head near your heart? Well, based on that theory, this gadget reproduces adult heartbeats so that babies can fall asleep easier. It’s all nice, and it actually works, but what is weird and sort of creepy is its boob shape.


Radio Hat

If you love listening to your favorite tunes or radio shows but you’re not at home or at your office most of the time, don’t you worry, this radio hat is the perfect solution for you. With a nice, and not-so-uncomfortable design, you’ll be able to go everywhere while listening to your favorite station. Invented in 1931 and then popularized during the late forties, this helmet was a big hit in the US. Thank goodness, it’s something we can only watch on pictures, since it’s probably the most hideous invention ever made. Well, that and plastic clothing.


Electrically heated jacket

People love electric blankets during winter. But could you imagine having an electrically heated jacket? That’s kind of the dream for extreme weathers. This one was created by the police department in the US during 1932, and it was thought for traffic officers that could plug in themselves to street poles.


Outdoor Baby Cage

Because apparently babies’ safety wasn’t really something to worry about in the past, during the thirties someone in London came with this impressive idea so that babies could enjoy some fresh air in that overpopulated city. Nice intention, terrible reasoning. Not only could these cages break, dropping your baby from a tall building, but the pollution in London has always been an issue, so I can't imagine why would you want your newborn to breathe that for such a long time.


Rainy Day Cigarette Holder

Now, this is honestly a genius invention. Sometimes vicious people like me won’t wait to reach our homes to smoke, and rain can really ruin our smoking time. I just love the fact that this man, Robert L. Stern, created a tiny umbrella to protect his cigarette in the fifties. I mean, it’s really cute, but after looking at the photo, it seems that it didn't really work. What this brilliant man didn’t think was that rain doesn’t always pour in a perfectly vertical direction. Also the umbrella only covers the tip of the cigarette leaving everything unprotected from the water, and thus unsmokable.


Cigarette Holder Built For Two

Sometimes you don’t want to spend so much on cigarettes, so you just decide to share it with someone. Well, this is a great solution to avoid sharing germs with the other while still sharing a nice cigarette. Yeah, I don’t think it’s such a great idea, but it looks uncomfortable to smoke and carry.


Hairline Brush

Finally, who says bald people should neglect their scalp? That’s probably the premise Ted Spence, an engineer of the Los Angeles Brush Manufacturing Corporation, thought when presenting the prototype of his hairline brush in 1950. This brush fitted perfectly a regular sized bald head, so it would just need a couple of strokes to leave the head clean and shining. The bristles of the brush would remove all the dead skin, while a felt part would massage it, leaving a nice shine on it.


We don’t really have to look at the past if we're searching for creepy and weird inventions. There are still quite a lot being released all over the internet making these ones we talked about look brilliant and genius. They might not have become a thing, but they will always be in our minds as sources of good laughs, which isn't that bad at all.


For more strange "historical" pictures, take a look at these:

Historical Photographs That Give New Meaning To The Word Creepy

25 Photographs That Prove Humanity is Doomed to Die

Late Victorian Erotic Photographs Of Women Dancing With Skeletons


TAGS: Photodocumentary
SOURCES: Business Insider Brain Pickings Big Think

María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

Creative Writer


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