These images showcase odd old innovations that occasionally succeeded but largely failed to do so. The bizarre creations reveal creative efforts from the first half of the 20th century (and later) that assisted people in coping with the stresses of daily life.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants thousands of patents annually for novel inventions. The world was transformed by some of these inventions, including the lightbulb, transistor, and automobiles. Some inventions were made for things people didn’t even know they needed, while others have simplified life daily.
Nevertheless, even though many innovative and practical inventions are available today, other bizarre historical creations never progressed past their original concepts.
Perhaps they were technologically far ahead of their time, unusable, occasionally perplexing, and difficult to use, or they didn’t make any sense from a business standpoint.
Wooden bathing suits are supposed to make swimming a lot easier. Haquian, Washington, USA, 1929.
A person or thing that invents something is called an innovator. The Latin verb invenire, which means to discover, is where the word “inventor” originates. Even though science and engineering are closely related to the invention, not all innovators are scientists or engineers.
The invention is a crucial legal idea at the heart of every country’s patent law system. The legal meaning of the term is slightly different from how people typically use it, as is frequently the case with legal ideas.
All patent applications are viewed as innovations in the US. Contrary to the European invention concept, the law clearly states that discoveries are included in the American invention concept.
The first evaluation a patent application is subjected to, the European innovation concept, is equivalent to the American “patentable subject matter” concept.
Even though there are no restrictions on patenting under the statute, courts have ruled in legally-binding precedents that a patent cannot protect abstract concepts, natural phenomena, and rules of nature.
Stroller equipped with a radio, antenna, and loudspeaker to keep the baby quiet; USA, 1921.
Clap Skate. In 1936, inventor R. Handl came up with the movable heel plate, but it wasn’t until 1996 that this concept revolutionized skating.
The piano was designed for people confined to bedrest; Great Britain, 1935.
Hamblin Glasses. A pair of spectacles specially designed for reading in bed. England, 1936.
Electrically heated vests were developed for the traffic police in the United States in 1932. Electric contacts in the street supply the power.
A turntable linked to a film projector. It comes with a single, dual, and triple turntable. Designed by F.B.A. Prinsen, 1929.
Amphibious Bicycle. This land-and-water bike can carry a load of 120 pounds; Paris, 1932.
Car with a shovel for pedestrians. Purpose: reducing the number of casualties among pedestrians. Paris, 1924.
Portable and Extendable Bridge. The emergency bridge can easily be transported on a handcart, invented by L. Deth. The Netherlands, 1926.
Faxed newspaper. In 1938, the world’s first wireless newspaper was sent from the WOR radio station in New York City. In this photo, children are reading the children’s page of a Missouri paper.
Snowstorm mask. Plastic face protection from snowstorms. Canada, Montreal, 1939.
Revolver camera. A Colt 38 carries a small camera that automatically takes a picture when you pull the trigger. On the left: are six pictures taken by the camera. New York, 1938.
Comfort Lawn Mowers. The “Power Mower of the Future” was demonstrated on October 14, 1957. The lawnmower has a 5-foot-diameter plastic sphere in which the rider sits on an air-foam-cushioned seat. It has an electric generating system for operating running lights, a radiotelephone, air-conditioning, and even a cooling system to provide a chilled drink on a hot day.
Glow-in-the-Dark Tires. In 1961, the Goodyear illuminated tire was revealed to the public. The tire was made from a single piece of synthetic rubber that was brightly lit by bulbs mounted inside the wheel rim.
Window Baby Cages. In this June 1937 picture, a nanny is seen supervising a baby suspended in a wire cage attached to the outside of a high tenement block window. The cages were distributed to members of the Chelsea Baby Club who had no gardens and lived at the top of high buildings.
Pipe For Two. Two men demonstrate a “Double Ender” pipe in New York, June 2, 1949.
Suntan-Lotion Dispenser. Model Betty Dutter demonstrates how the spray nozzle is held on the new “Sun-Tan Lotion Dispenser” at the Annual Vending Machine Convention in Chicago on Jan. 19, 1949. A dime could get you a 30-second spray job.
Bald-Head Polishers. Ted Spence, an engineer at the Los Angeles Brush Manufacturing Corp., demonstrates the “Hairline Brush” on Jan. 12, 1950. The brush is constructed to fit a bald head’s contour, with bristles for brushing hair and a felt pad to massage the scalp gently.
Nuclear Bomb Shelters. In this Sept. 12, 1958, picture, a bomb shelter is shown that can hold eight to twelve people and would be safe to within three-quarters of a mile of ground zero if a 20-megaton nuclear bomb were to be dropped.
Desk Beds. In this 1913 photo, a schoolboy sleeps on a desk that folds into a hammock.
Vibrating Bras. A model is seen trying on a spiral electric bra at the “20th International Show of Inventions” in Brussels on March 13, 1971. The bra claimed to develop and strengthen the bust and was designed to vibrate while the person wearing it was at work.
Soup-Cooling Spoons. In this 1948 picture, a man is shown eating with a mechanical soup spoon designed to cool a bowl of scalding hot soup.
See-Through Boats. This 1941 photo shows a model in a transparent “Lucite” rowboat, designed to see everything below the seat.
Automatic Tip Requesters. In this 1955 picture, inventor Russell E. Oakes shows off his “automatic tip requester,” which comprises an artificial hand and cashbox to be worn around the waist. A “No Sale” sign is displayed if a tip is insufficient.
Monopod Seats. Designed to be easily transported, these 1953 monopod seats could provide a quick and easy place to sit when on the go.
Spaghetti Spinners. French inventor Alain Dham’s 1968 spaghetti spinner was designed to rotate the noodles for easier pasta consumption automatically.
Rocket-Propelled Bicycles. In this 1931 picture, a German engineer prepares his rocket bicycle with 12 rockets mounted on the back wheel. Moments after this photo was made, the bicycle exploded. Fortunately, the engineer was not seriously hurt.
Sunning Chairs. In 1964, a 10-year-old named Marne Smith came up with an easy way to avoid a crick in your neck after lying outside for a tan.
Jetpacks. Robert Courter soars through the air during a test of his flying jetpack in Ft. Myer, Virginia, on June 10, 1969.
Dashboard Coffeemakers. In this 1950 picture, a driver shows off his new dashboard coffeemaker, fixed upon the dashboard of his vehicle. According to the designer, the machine holds enough water for three cups of coffee and can also be used for preparing soups, boiling eggs, or heating water for washing or shaving.
The Chain Smoker. Model Frances Richards smokes a pack of cigarettes all on one cigarette holder.
‘Ski-sailing,’ a new sport invented in Austria, was demonstrated in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in January 1938.
Sunbathing with a foldable reflector, The Netherlands, 1961.
Anti-distraction helmet from 1925. The purpose of The Isolator was simple: the wooden helmet blocked out sound and vision to help the wearer focus on whatever task they had in hand. Gernsback claimed that the helmet reduced noise by up to 95 percent, and the tiny glass spy-hole ensured that no nearby movement could rouse the wearer from their work.
Plastic hard bra for female factory workers. This special bra was made entirely from plastic to protect female factory workers during world war ii. The special women’s undergarments, made entirely of plastic, prevented these certain occupational accidents.
A bike for the whole family. The four-position bicycle allowed a family to travel as a unit; the invention also contained the built-in sewing machine for the mother.
Breast Washer, 1930. This is a machine for massaging and/or washing breasts.
The Snogometer, 1965. Teenager Malcolm Pickard built a contraption to measure the voltage of songs, aptly calling it a “snogometer.” The loved-up duo holds electrodes in their hands, and their passionate snogging is measured with sound effects and a lighted scale.
Laryngaphone, 1929. A noise-excluding telephone only transmits vibrations from the vocal chords when the microphone is placed against the throat or cheek. For the man who wants to annoy both his wife and his mistress.
The dimple maker. It is a device that presses holes into your face if you wear it for an extended period. Here, a young woman demonstrates the dimpling machine at the Inventor’s Congress in Chicago.
The magical hat. You guessed it right; it didn’t work.
Cat Meow Machine, 1963. This 1963 mechanical cat meowing device from Japan can meow ten times a minute, with the eyes lighting up each time. The idea was to use the machine to scare rats and mice.
Cigarette Case to Keep Track. In 1940, smokers who were sick of loaning out cigarettes could keep track of how many smokes they were using themselves and how many were being “bummed” by friends. Two separate buttons opened the case: one for when the owner grabbed a smoke and another for when a friend asked. It was up to the owner to decide what to do with that information once he determined how many of his cigarettes were being given away.
Shaving Robot. This handy robot shaving assistant isn’t a horrific accident waiting to happen.
Rainy Day Cigarette Holder, 1954. President of Zeus Corp., Robert L. Stern, smoking a cigarette from his self-designed rainy-day cigarette holder.
Anti-Bandit Bag, 1963. Inventor John H T Rinfret demonstrates his anti-bandit bag. The chain is pulled to foil thieves, and the bottom of the case falls out, so the contents are scattered over the floor. That’ll stop those thieves from getting at the contents of your bag! No, wait. It won’t.
Feet-brush. Brushes on feet allow housewives to read while scrubbing the floor.
up Bras, 1949. Charles L. Langs pose with his strapless, backless, wireless, support-less bras. His wife is justifiably dubious.
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