Let’s make a little journey into the past today. I just want to share with you what I have learnt recently. It’s about all the crazy things that our grand-parents came up with )) I couldn’t even imagine that 50-60 years ago people could thought through such things ) Well, many of these inventions are hilarious, stupid, incredible or simply useless. But still, it’s interesting to know the way people saw things back then ) I spent many hours on the modernmechanix looking through dozens of inventions and selected the best of them, in my opinion! So, let’s go!
NOTCHED WEDDING RING WORN TO DENOTE DIVORCE (Jan, 1924)
Many women in England, who have been divorced from their husbands, continue to wear the wedding ring, but have a fracture cut in it by a jeweler, as an indication of that fact. Those who have parted from more than one husband have notches to indicate the number made in the edge of the gold band, it is said.
FORTY-POUND CIGAR IS VALUED AT SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS (May, 1924) What is said to be one of the largest cigars ever made was shown at an eastern tobacco exposition. It was rolled from broadleaf tobacco from the Connecticut valley and is five feet in length. The value of the tobacco used is estimated at $75.
No More Rain-Soaked Cigarettes! (Aug, 1931) MANY are the inventions devised to insure a dry smoke, but it has remained for a clown appearing with a circus in England to solve the problem. An umbrella over the smoke keeps off water and a spigot drains off excess moisture.
Double-Barrel Cigarette Holder (Nov, 1931) We don’t know whether the cigarette manufacturers were behind this idea, but it might be a good idea for them to give away one of these new holders to all smokers. Just think how cigarette sales would jump if everybody smoked two at one time!
Cellophane Blanket for Sun Tans (Jul, 1932) CALIFORNIA sun bathers are now getting their tans “wrapped in cellophane.” A specially dyed cellophane blanket, shown in use in the photo below, prevents the sun from burning or blistering the skin, but allows the ultra-violet rays to give it a healthy tan. The new “tanner” is large enough to cover the body, and when carried may be rolled up into a small cylindrical bundle.
“Boat Tunnel” for Harbor Crossing (Aug, 1932) Proposed as a substitute for the suggested Golden Gate suspension bridge at San Francisco is an ingenious boat tunnel of unique design which, it is claimed, can be built for one-third the estimated $35,000,000 cost of a suspension bridge. The plan comprises a combination of several short truss spans of ordinary construction, two seadrome type floating sections, the boat tunnel, anchorages and protective barriers. The two seadrome members are simply long platforms supported above the waterline by columns resting on buoyancy chambers below the surface. Connected to and between the platform members is the boat tunnel section, consisting of a 1200-foot tubular tunnel floating 45 feet below water level, joining the two hulls. Inside the hulls are ramps at 4% grade on which automobiles travel up or down in high gear. The advantage of this design to shipping is apparent, since a clear channel 1000 feet long and 45 feet deep is open at all times. As a protection to the hulls and floating sections of the bridge, a resilient chain barrier would be hung from anchored buoys carrying lights and sound warnings. Because of strong tidal currents the floating units would have to be anchored in solid rock, and provision has been made for automatic motors to take up slack in the anchor lines. Underwater stresses are greatly reduced by streamline shape of the parts.
New Burglar Alarm Set Off by Vibrations of Heartbeat (Jan, 1933) THERE have been numerous inventions to foil bank bandits in their hold-up attempts but the latest one is the most original. The vibrations of the human heart-heat set off an alarm bell. The device, shown in photo at the left, incorporates principles of electricity and accoustics to do its detecting job. It is the result of three years of work by the inventors. In appearance, the burglar alarm resembles a miniature radio. If any would-be bandit approaches close to the cage, his heartbeat, working faster than usual because he is under a high nervous tension, will set off the boisterous alarm bell that can be heard a block away.
Solar Bath Apparatus Helps Cure Diseases of the Head (Jan, 1933) NO, THE peculiar looking device in the photo at left is not a camera, nor even a telescope, although partially resembling both. It is a new solar bath apparatus for the head and has made a great hit with the medical fraternity of Germany. The main purpose of the device is to cure sicknesses of the head, like catarrh of the nose and throat or of the ears. It reposes on a stationary upright and has an opening in under side for a patient’s head. Affected person sits in a chair while taking treatments. An ultra-violet ray machine within throws artificial sunlight upon all parts of the head. Eventually, when fully tested and improved, it is expected to cure many of the illnesses of the head.
HORSE OF STEEL RUNS ACROSS FIELDS (Apr, 1933) A MECHANICAL horse that trots and gallops on steel-pipe legs, under the impulse of a gasoline engine, is the recent product of an Italian inventor. With this horse, he declares, children may be trained to ride. The iron Dobbin is said to canter along a road or across a rough field with equal ease. Its design recalls the attempts of inventors, before the days of the automobile, to imitate nature and produce a mechanical steed capable of drawing a wagon.
MACHINE MEASURES BEAUTY OF FACE (1933) Even beauty may now be reduced to cold, hard figures, according to the inventors of a device that is said to record the contours of a face with thousandth-of-an-inch accuracy. Beauty shops might use the device, the inventors say, to learn how to change their customers’ features. In the inventors’ opinion, the following measurements are ideal: nose, same length as the height of forehead; eyes, separated by a space the width of one eye.
Shark Octopus Undersea Battle Filmed (Jul, 1933) A most remarkable battle between a shark and an octopus has been photographed by a daring cameraman for the film, “Samarang”(Out of the Deep). With his camera and equipment inside a diving bell, open at the bottom, the internal air pressure being sufficient to keep the water out at shallow depths, he placed a piece of meat in the water to attract the shark, the octopus already being in the vicinity. The battle which ensued between shark and octopus lasted twenty minutes, but it was quite one-sided. The shark swung into attack from below, as shown in one of the pictures, getting a death grip which is never relinquished until the helpless victim succumbs. The shark was of the tiger variety. The battle was staged in comparatively shallow water to allow of sufficient light for recording the extraordinary scenes. The battle winds up with the shark dining off one of the tentacles of his foe.
STILT CYCLE HAS TWO LEGS INSTEAD OF WHEELS (Jun, 1934) Wooden legs replace the wheels on a stilt cycle made by a Los Angeles man who proudly boasts that he can now sit down while walking. The two legs are pedaled like a bicycle, the rider balancing on a seat at the end of a vertical bar.
TEST NEW PARACHUTE FOR THE DOGS OF WAR (Nov, 1935) Foreseeing that troops may be dropped with parachutes from speeding planes, in future wars, Soviet experimenters are trying out a similar means of landing the dogs used in army service. A recent invention is a cylindrical coop for the dog, provided with a parachute that opens automatically when it is tossed from a plane. The shell of the coop, locked closed during the descent, springs open of its own accord when the device strikes the ground. The photographs reproduced here show the device in action during recent successful tests by Soviet aviators
POO-POO PILLOW (Apr, 1936) Place this under a cushion or newspaper before someone sits down, WOW! a most embarrassing sound results! A SCREAM FOR PARTIES, DANCES, AUTO-SEATS, etc. Durable rubber. Sample only 25c, postpaid. Send for FREE catalog of fast-selling Specialties. AGENTS WANTED!
WINDSHIELD FOLDS INSIDE UMBRELLA (May, 1936) An umbrella with a built-in windshield, recently patented, protects the user from driving rain but allows him a clear view ahead. Made of sections of transparent celluloid, the windshield folds inside the umbrella when not in use and automatically drops down into place when it is opened. Metal rods hinged to the umbrella ribs hold the shield in a rigid position when in use. The device was invented by a Brooklyn, N. Y., woman who had been struck by an auto that she failed to see because an ordinary umbrella obscured her view during a rain storm.
Woman Invents Dimple Machine (Oct, 1936) DIMPLES are now made to order! These aids to beauty can be produced as the result of a new invention by Isabella Gilbert of Rochester, N. Y. The device consists of a face-fitting spring carrying two tiny knobs which press into the cheeks.
Alarm to Keep Motorist Awake Buzzes When Chin Drops (Dec, 1936) Dozing at the wheel is a common cause of automobile accidents. To eliminate that cause, an inventor has devised an alarm that rings sharply at the motorist’s first nod. It is a small metal gong that is hung from the shirt collar. A trigger at the top sets off the alarm when the dozing driver’s chin drops on it.
Compass Mounted on Hat Brim Is Handy Guide for Hiker (Dec, 1936) Always there to guide you, yet never in the way, a tiny compass clipped to the hat brim is a useful companion on a tramp through woods or mountains, a hunting trip, or bicycle expedition. It clips on the hat or cap just above the line of vision. A floating disk with the needle attached bears the initials of the four points of the compass, and through a window in the base the di-
Cigarette Holder for Nudists (Jan, 1938) Faced with the problem of carrying cigarettes when no pockets were available, a delegate to a recent nudist convention devised the holder shown at right. The leather case is strapped to the leg by means of an elastic band.
Fire Box Traps Pranksters (Feb, 1938) THE sending of false fire alarms by mischievous persons may be eliminated through use of a newly developed call box. To use the device, the sender of an alarm must pass a hand through a special compartment to reach the signal dial. Once the dial has been turned, the sender’s hand is locked in the compartment until released by a fireman or policeman with a key.
Metal Diving Suit Developed (Aug, 1938) FITTED with ball bearing knuckle joints, which provide mobility for the wearer, a new all-metal diving suit is said to enable a diver to descend to a depth of 1,200 feet. The suit eliminates the need for air lines, having a specially designed built-in air tank. Hand-operated grappling irons are a feature of the suit.
Baby Goes for a Buggy Ride with Trained Cat for Nurse (Aug, 1938) Here is a buggy rated at one catpower. All dressed up in her Sunday best, “Bum,” the trained cat, poses at the “controls” ready to take the baby for an afternoon’s outing in the pram.
Gyro Wheel Is Novel “Boat” (Oct, 1938) A NOVEL aquatic gyro wheel by means of which he propels himself over the water by rolling over and over has been constructed by H. Schulze, of Hanover, Germany. The wheel is built of wood and light metal.
Rose Glasses on Chickens Reduce Fighting (Dec, 1938) There was murder going on in a New Jersey penitentiary yard. The prison chickens were killing each other. One after another, the young White Leghorns would fight among themselves to the death. Nothing was effective in preventing the quarrels until the warden tried putting rose-colored glasses on the birds. That stopped the fighting instantly. The Leghorns, the only fighters in the poultry lot, now are all equipped with aluminum-framed spectacles with center pieces extending in front of the bill.
Special License Plates Tag Careless Drivers (Mar, 1939) Special license plates for traffic violators are being considered as a safety measure by Cliff Davis, commissioner of public safety in Memphis, Tenn. If the measure is adopted motorists who persistently break traffic laws will be required to run in their regular licence plates for special tags, similar to that shown in the photograph above, bearing a skull and the words “traffic-law violator.”
Advertising Novelty Blows Smoke Rings (Jul, 1939) Smoke rings are easy to produce with a small cardboard pyramid introduced as an advertising novelty. Through a hole in the side, smoke may be blown into the interior. Then a series of quick taps ejects slender smoke rings that float lazily through the air, as shown in the illustration at the right. Pressing slowly on a side releases a fat ring. For best results, a spot free from drafts must be chosen, otherwise the air currents will quickly destroy the rings
Engineer Builds Baby Walker (Sep, 1939) To teach his young son to walk, a Swiss engineer built the curious apparatus shown above. Pairs of wooden arms are strapped at one end to the infant’s legs and at the other to the legs of an adult, so that the latter can control the baby’s leg movements. A harness connected to a pulley on an overhead wire holds the child upright while it is taking its first steps.
Bike Keeps Family in Stitches (Oct, 1939) CARRYING four persons and a sewing machine, the world’s weirdest bicycle recently had a tryout in Chicago, Ill. The two-story vehicle, known as the “Goofybike,” is the creation of Charles Steinlauf. It carries the whole Steinlauf family. The inventor rides at the top and guides the contraption by means of a huge automobile steering wheel. Mrs. Steinlauf sits below, operating a sewing machine, while her son pedals behind and her daughter rides on the handlebars in front. When the odd vehicle is at rest, the projecting legs of the sewing machine prevent the lofty cycle from tipping over.
Walking the Dog Drives Poochmobile (Nov, 1939) DOG power drives an odd vehicle constructed by Z. Wiggs, eighty-year-old dog trainer and former railroad worker of Denton, Tex. Operating on the squirrel-cage principle, the dogmobile has a giant central wheel which is revolved as a dog walks or runs on its inside surface. The four-legged canine engine is anchored to a central shaft by a special collar. Power is transmitted to rear drive wheels by means of a belt-and-pulley mechanism which the driver controls by a “gearshift” lever.
Human Sunshine Tester Compares Two Brands (Jun, 1940) Which has the better quality of sunshine, Florida or California? To settle this longstanding dispute, the gentleman at the left is exposing half of his epidermis to Florida’s sun, reserving the clothed half for a comparison test in California.
Voice Silencer on Telephone Lets You Talk in Secret (Feb, 1941) Your telephone conversation can be made inaudible to others in the same room if the phone is equipped with a new mouthpiece that prevents sound from escaping. It is easily attached to any hand instrument and fits snugly around the speaker’s lips. There is no distortion of the voice. Part of the midget “telephone booth” telescopes to fit the standard cradle phone.
PIPE HOLSTER (Apr, 1946) Pipe holster gives protection against stem breakage. Worn over the belt or a suspender button, it will also hold pen, pencil, pliers, ruler or fishhooks. A sanitary plastic cup holds the stem in place
Pay as you look (Mar, 1947) Small television receivers will shortly be made available for home use by Tradio Inc., of Asbury Park, N. J., at no initial cost to the subscriber. Payment is made by feeding a coin meter fifty cents for each half hour of operation. The receiver may later be offered on a fixed rental basis, and will also be installed in hotels and, other public places. It is said to be the world’s smallest television set.
Hangover Heaven (Apr, 1947) Hangover Heaven is the apt name of the unusual bonnet at right. Originally developed by makeup man Max Factor for the benefit of actresses who wish to refresh their faces on hot studio sets without spoiling their makeup, the facial ice pack was quickly diverted to another purpose by festive Hollywoodians. The headpiece, adorned with water-filled plastic cubes, is kept in the refrigerator while the water freezes.
Walking Robot Has Radio Controls (Oct, 1948) Controlled by a radio installed in a truck, a 400-pound robot can walk under its own power. The mechanical man, built by Reat Younger of Springfield, Mo., stands over six feet tall and weighs 400 pounds. Younger was intrigued by a robot he saw in a motion picture when he was a boy, and started building his own automaton while he was in high school. He now is working on plans to make the robot walk through a complicated system of transmitters, receivers and relays.
Vest-Pocket Ash Tray (Feb, 1950) What can you do with cigarette ashes when there’s no ash tray around? Dr. John H. Findlay, Westinghouse engineer, often was looking for a place to deposit ashes so his colleagues came up with an answer - a vest-pocket ash tray. They made it from part of an electronic tube and fastened on a clip that holds it to the user’s pocket.
Ash Tray Fits Cigarette (Jun, 1950) Smokers can attach a new ash tray directly to their cigarettes. The ash tray is a tube of stainless-steel screen with a hinged cap on one end. The smoker opens the metal cap, pushes the cigarette through the tube, lights it, then pulls it back until the end is in the tube. When he closes the cap the screen catches all the ashes. As the cigarette becomes shorter it is pushed farther into the tube. The cigarette also can be placed upright on the cap without danger of marring any surface.
Helicopters for Everybody (Jan, 1951) The Hoppicopter is evolving into a comfortably single-seat helicopter that will supply you with cheap air transportation. By Frank Tinsley
BACK in the 30’s, a Seattle aeronautical engineer named Horace T. Pentecost became convinced that he could design a set of personal wings. As an engineer and student of aviation history, Pentecost was well aware of the shortcomings of man-made flapping wings, so he gave the problem an entirely different solution. In place of rosy pinions, he substituted the whirling blades of the modern helicopter. His first machine, designed for army paratroopers, was intended to supplant the clumsy and uncontrollable parachute. Strapped to the wearer’s back, it was christened “Hoppicopter” because the trooper literally hopped off and landed on his own two feet. It consisted of little more than an engine, rotors and control stick, mounted on a tubular frame that was strapped over the flier’s shoulders and back. The Hoppicopter’s dependence upon human legs as landing gear proved its ultimate undoing. Landing on rough terrain, the wearers frequently stumbled and fell, smashing the whirling vanes against the ground. This was not only embarrassing but expensive.
How Nuclear Radiation Can Change Our Race (Dec, 1953) An atomic war could produce an entirely new species of man. Would he be friend - or foe? By O. O. Binder It's funny to see how the author imagined the effects of the nuclear war on humans, especially now, after all science fiction movies that we saw )
CAMERAS IN DISGUISE (Aug, 1955) Climaxing the mystery yarn of 50 years ago was the instant the intrepid spy or detective clicked his concealed camera, capturing the evidence. Cameras were bulkier then, byt designers disguised them ingeniously. These cameras are displayed at the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. Opera glasses and pistols are sure-fire giveaways for spies, yet that didn’t deter the designers. Those in Photo 1 are cameras in disguise. That harmless-looking man surveying land near the Army base was really a spy and his thotolite, like te one in Photo 2, was a camera! The dapper detective was never without his cane because it had a camera in its handle, Photo 3. Back in 1890, the ascot tie, Photo 4, was the mark of a gentleman, but this one had a built-in camera, its lense forming the stickpin. Cruder but just as efficient is the circular camera that shoots through a buttonhole, Photo 5.
Car Exercises Dogs (sep, 1955) With six racing dogs to keep in top shape, Dewey Blanton of Columbus, Ohio, has developed a “canine exerciser” that fastens to his station wagon. Blanton built a frame to support a long plank beside the vehicle. Springs fastened to the plank are attached to the dogs’ collars, permitting the dogs to run wide. Longer chains keep the dogs in check. The broad plank bumper prevents injury to the dogs as they race along at 35 miles per hour. Best of all, the dogs seem to love the exerciser.