When you sit back and think about how our society has progressed over the years, it’s amazing to think about how far we’ve come with some of our inventions.
One of the greatest traits that sets aside humanity from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to imagine. To imagine a device or different way of doing something to make our lives easier.
From the invention of contraception to machines that help us clean, and even products to improve our everyday lives, here are the unexpected origins of products we’ve come to love.
1) Treadmills: According to Wikipedia, one of the first consumer treadmills for the home was made back in 1968, but did you know that the history of this machine dates far more back in time than you might expect? In fact, in an article published by HistoryToday by K. Kenneth Major, Treadmills date back to Pre-Industrial society. Machines powered by man or animals date back almost to ancient Egypt. Some uses of treadmills even included torture for prisoners. Some of these machines were used for grinding grain, threshing, or even lifting water. Now we use them to shed excess weight off our buns!
2) Apple: Steve Wozniak, the American inventor and electronics engineer from San Jose, California, was responsible for hand-building and designing the world’s first Apple computer made from a hand-carved wooden case. According to Wikipedia, the Apple Co-Founder credited watching Star Trek in his youth to the inspiration for starting Apple Inc. The first Apple, known as Apple I, built in 1976, helped pave the way for personal computing to evolve into the products we use today.
3) Cameras: Before the age of photographic cameras, Camera Obscura was the predominant form of the art, which dates back as far as 391 BC, described by a Chinese Philosopher named Mozi according to Wikipedia. The method of exposing light to film or other mediums originated in the early 1800s. According to the University of Texas, the first ever photograph (or the earliest known surviving photo made by a camera) was taken by a man named Joseph Nicéphore Niépce between 1826-1827 of an image from a view through his upstairs window. Now, cameras have evolved so much that they are in almost every electronic device we own. Radical!
4) Hair Salons: The first hair salons that included heated machines for the use of curling hair originated around 1917, credited to two entrepreneurial inventors by the name of Eugene Suter and Isidoro Calvete. Both men came up with various methods of curling women’s hair using heated coils. A machine created in 1923 for Eugene shows a woman who looks like her brain is plugged into a mind control device! Nowadays, curling can be done through a variety of methods including the use of chemicals, hair curlers, and hair dryers.
5) The Telephone: A lot of minds and contributors went into the invention of the first telephone (which has been the subject of debate for a great many years as to who designed the machine first). Alexander Graham Bell holds the patent for the first telephone. According to Wikipedia, the first telephone exchange was designed by a man named Tivadar Puskas of Hungary who was quoted by Edison for being the first person to suggest the idea. Nowadays, the device has evolved beyond anything these men could have possibly comprehended. What’s next? Phones plugged into our heads?
6) Vending Machines: Believe it or not, one of the earliest forms of the vending machine came from ancient Greece according to EngineersGarage.com. The ancient urns were placed in temples and in return of placing a coin inside a special slot, water was dispensed. Nowadays, Vending machines are in almost every building where humans gather for work, for medical care, or for school.
7) Sound Recording: The invention of the first and earliest known recording device called a Phonograph, is credited to French poet and inventor Charles Cros, who submitted a proposal to the Academy of Sciences in 1877. According to Wikipedia, the first actual practical recording device for sound and reproduction of sound was made by the phonograph cylinder invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. Nowadays, sound is recorded through digital recording, and accessible to nearly every person with a cell phone. The invention of the phonograph paved the way for a revolution in the music industry, as well as entertainment as we know it.
8) Washing Machine: Before the invention of the washing machine, clothes and garments had to be washed by hand which was tedious and physically demanding work for women everywhere who were at the time tasked with this menial work. According to Wikipedia, the first washing machine was invented in 1796 by Nathaniel Briggs from New Hampshire. According to an article released by the Vatican and later reported on by NPR, the washing machine can be credited with liberating women in the 20th century, paving the way for feminism and equality. The idea is that the machine allowed women to have more time to themselves, and therefore, more time to think about how unequal to men they were. Nowadays, modern washers allow ANYBODY to wash their own clothes!
9) The Toaster: Before the invention of electric toasters, people would toast slices of bread with utensils designed to hold them over a fire. According to Wikipedia, The first electric bread toaster was invented by Alan MacMasters from Scotland in 1893. Before the invention of the pop-up toaster in the early 1900s, electric toasters simply made use of heating coils to turn sliced bread into toast. Nowadays you can even get modern toasters that cook hotdogs!
10) Vacuum Cleaners: Also known as sweepers, or hoovers, according to Wikipedia, the first vacuum cleaners were invented in the 1860s and it wasn’t until 1898 that John S. Thurman from St. Louis Missouri patented the first “pneumatic carpet renovator” that travelled from building to building to clean the carpets using a combustion engine. The term “Vacuum Cleaner” was likely coined by a man named David T. Kenney, and Hubert Cecil Booth. The first vacuum with an electric motor was credited to Corinne Dufour of Savannah, Georgia who patented two different designs featuring an electric motor. Nowadays, virtually every household has a vacuum cleaner to keep our floors dust and debris free.
11) McDonald’s: The McDonald family originally from Manchester, New Hampshire moved to Hollywood and brothers Maurice and Richard began their careers as set movers for the Motion Pictures. According to Wikipedia, their father Patrick opened “the Airdrome,” a food stand on Hunting drive. Later in the 1940s, Maurice and Richard moved the building 40 miles east and renamed the restaurant “McDonald’s Bar-B-Que.” Now, there are close to 40,000 restaurants worldwide, and they serve nearly 68 million customers each and every day. Maurice McDonald passed away at age 69 in 1971, and his brother Richard died back in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1998 at the age of 89. McDonald’s remains to this day to be the largest fast food chain in the world.
12) Condoms: Whether or not condoms were used in ancient civilizations remains the subject of debate among historians according to Wikipedia. Some of the earliest condoms were made from lambskin, animal intestines, animal horns, or even tortoise shells. The use of condoms remained controversial in early history and to this date, they are not looked on favorably in some religions. Nowadays, they are predominantly are made of latex, however other materials are available to people who have an allergy to the material. According to GetTheFacts, condoms are 98% effective in preventing STIs and unplanned pregnancy.