35 Fascinating Early Versions Of Inventions We Still Use Today

35 Fascinating Early Versions Of Inventions We Still Use Today

Have you ever wondered what your great-grandmother’s toaster looked like? Have you ever considered what kind of contraption you would have needed to mow your lawn over a century ago? Do you know how your great-grandparents made a fresh pot of coffee each morning? 

The tools that past generations used look quite different from what our homes hold today, thanks to decades of innovation. But if you’d like to experience a blast from the past, we’ve got the perfect list for you. Bored Panda has scoured the internet for photos of early versions of the inventions we still use every day, so enjoy scrolling through this virtual museum and be sure to upvote the tools you’d happily purchase at an antique shop!

We all know inventions have shaped our world. Without brilliant minds like Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell and countless others, our lives would be incredibly different. But before we had smartphones, smart cars and smart watches, many of the tools and appliances we use every single day had slightly less intelligent versions. They were still impressive at the time and very useful, but I don’t think watches from 100 years ago could monitor heart rate and take photos.

Viewing all of these fabulous and charming inventions from back in the day got me wondering what some of the most influential inventions have been. When it comes to technological inventions in particular, Telefonica explains on their site that there are several that have without a doubt changed the world. The first that they note is the printing press. Being able to spread knowledge and literacy quickly and accessibly was an absolute game changer for Europeans in the 15th century, and it has impacted how we share ideas ever since.      

The light bulb was another important invention that very clearly changed the world. Suddenly, working hours were extended, electric household appliances were able to be developed, and we no longer needed fire to be able to see at night. Telefonica reports that the lightbulb is often regarded as the greatest invention since the discovery of fire, and as someone who has absolutely awful vision in dimly lit rooms, I have to agree with that sentiment!

“Hello? Can you hear me now?” Of course, we would be remiss if we did not hail the telephone for its incredible impact on the world. Being able to speak to others at a distance without sending letters that would take days or weeks to arrive and resulted in largely one way conversations was a huge game changer as well. Suddenly, information could be exchanged instantaneously, and without Alexander Graham Bell’s creation, we would never have our pocket-sized computers that we’re all addicted to today. 

The airplane is another invention that opened up our world to completely new experiences as well. It’s hard to imagine taking a voyage across the sea just to visit my family who lives on another continent, but just over 100 years ago, that’s what it would have required. Being able to defy gravity and have the possibility to visit nearly any point on the planet is quite amazing, even today. Yes, flying can be extremely expensive, but the fact that it’s even possible would blow our great-great grandparents’ minds! 

When it comes to more recent inventions that have altered the course of humanity, CNBC published an article detailing some of the most influential innovations of the last 65 years. The first that they mention is the Automated Teller Machine, better known as the ATM. If you hate going to the bank, this one’s for you. These machines are a godsend for travelers in need of cash or anyone who refuses to deal with waiting in line to speak with a bank teller. ATMs, which first appeared in the 1960s but really gained their stride in the 1970s, have become an important part of many people’s daily lives and have allowed banks to handle more pressing matters than simply dispensing cash all day.  

DNA testing and sequencing has been another fairly recent invention that has saved countless lives. Apparently, scientists began sequencing DNA molecules in the 1970s, but the US government organized an effort to map the human genome in 1990. After spending 13 years identifying 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA, this achievement has contributed to massive advancements in the research of and treatment of genetic diseases. Hopefully, as more time passes, scientists will continue to expand their understanding of DNA to save even more lives! 

Continuing on the theme of health advancements, birth control pills are another incredibly important invention that became available in the early 1960s. Today, they are still one of the safest and most effective ways to prevent pregnancy, and they’re much more widely available than some other forms of contraceptives. Birth control pills have given women much more freedom in taking control of their sexual health, and without all of the options that are available today, these pills were a godsend for many women decades ago.  

While we’ve already touched on telephones, if there’s anything this list teaches us, it’s that inventions transform and are innovated over time. So, of course, cell phones were another incredible invention that changed our lives in the past 40 years. Car phones popped up in the 1970s, but the first true handheld cell phone appeared in 1983. Since then, however, we’ve seen phones shrink and grow and develop tiny buttons and touch screens and applications and much more. There’s no question that cell phones will continue to adapt and change over time, but for now, I’m thankful to live in an age where I can take photos and play music with mine. 

Electric Blender

The first electric blender was developed in 1922, specifically for making malts and milkshakes at soda fountains. In 1932 its inventor, Stephen J. Poplawski, received patents for a machine that would reduce fruits and vegetables to a liquid. 

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GPS technology is another important advancement that appeared in recent decades. As charming as pulling out a massive paper map was and searching for the exact street then wandering around until you found the right numbers, I have to admit that I’m glad I never had to experience that. GPS technology makes getting around safer, more convenient and allows us to look up restaurants nearby that Airbnb we’ll be staying in weeks before going on a trip. Can’t wait to visit that bakery across the street! Google Maps says it has great croissants!

Electric Waffle Iron, Ca. 1940

This deluxe Dominion waffle iron has twin grids that are controlled separately and have adjustable indicators for light or dark waffles. Companies advertised the cast aluminum grids as “fast heating” and “greaseless”.

Illinois State Museum Report

Do you wish you could swap out your toaster or refrigerator for a gorgeous, vintage version after viewing this list, pandas? We hope you’re enjoying scrolling through these pics and this blast from the past. Keep upvoting all of your favorite inventions, and if you’re looking to view even more, you can find another Bored Panda article featuring similar photos right here!

Electric Coffee Maker, Tray, Sugar And Creamer, Ca. 1940-1946

In 1940 this coffee maker sold singly for $16.00 or for $23.50 as part of a matched set. Its design was modern, one of many industrial designs by Alfonso Ianelli who was brought to Chicago in 1913 by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Illinois State Museum Report

Electric Fan

The electric desk fan has been around since 1882 when it was little more than a motor attached to two blades. This fan delivered “powerful breezes” in an arc around the room. It was turned on or off by a single switch, and the oscillator arm could be disconnected. Fans similar to this one were advertised as “economical to use” and of a “modern streamline design.”

Illinois State Museum Report

Electric Mixer, 1950

This Meal Maker mixer was purchased by Gerald and Shirley Berg of rural White Hall, Illinois. The Bergs butchered fifty chickens to raise the money necessary to buy it. The motor of this 1950 Meal Maker is adjustable to five speeds: mashing, mixing, beating, whipping, and “juice-grind.” The juicer, which sits above the beaters, was designed with a long spout that allowed the juice to pour directly into the bowl. An attachment was also available for grinding meat.

Illinois State Museum Report

The Boston Toaster Circa 1909

The patent for this Simplex toaster was applied for in 1909, and manufactured by a Boston company, The Simplex Electric Heating Company. According to William F. George, author of Antique Electric Waffle Irons 1900-1960 A History of the Appliance Industry in 20th-Century America, it was a division of Simplex Wire & Cable Company that grew from The Simplex Electrical Company incorporated in 1895 and doing business on Franklin Street in Cambridge.

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Pop-Up Electric Toaster, 1939

The first pop-up toaster was introduced in 1926 by the McGraw Electric Company. The Toastmaster sold for $12.50 and promised: “Perfect toast every time without watching, without turning, without burning.” Over the years many mechanisms were introduced to improve temperature control. In 1939 the model shown here was sold alone or as part of the “Toastmaster DeLuxe Hospitality Set,” which included trays, glass relish dishes, and a toast-cutting board.

Illinois State Museum Report

Note: this post originally had 36 images. It’s been shortened to the top 35 images based on user votes.

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