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August 24, 2016

11 Failed and Crazy Vintage Gadgets That Time Forgot

As technology evolves, there are bound to be some bumps in the road; some gadgets which seem like a great idea at the time, but are eventually revealed to be epic flops. These antique gadgets were at the cutting edge of technology when they were released, but never quite managed to become household names.

1. Solar Bath Apparatus

What better cure for the common head cold than a healthy dose of radiation? This scary-looking apparatus enclosed the head in a metal drum and doused it with ultra-violet rays. The Solar Bath Apparatus was meant to clear up catarrh of the ears, nose and throat, along with other head-related illnesses.

2. Clock Phonograph

Nobody likes waking up to the beeping or buzzing alarm clock, so some clever inventor decided to rig an alarm clock with a phonograph. Obviously, the phonograph wasn’t fated to enjoy a long and healthy life, and it fell out of use before the phonograph alarm clock really took off. The concept itself wasn’t exactly a complete failure, though – many of us wake up today to a CD in the alarm clock.

3. Flying Saucer Camera

In the 1950s, UFO sightings were being reported at a frenzied pace. In an attempt to weed out the obvious fakes, the Flying Saucer Camera was developed. One of its lenses took a normal picture, and the other separated the light in the picture into individual colors. The separation allowed authorities to easily discern the origins of the UFO in the photograph.

4. Electric Shaver Haircutting Guide

For the fancy but cash-strapped gentleman, the Electric Shaver Haircutting Guide allowed owners of electric hair clippers to cut their own hair. The metal guide was basically a single piece of wire bent in several places which the user held against his head to guide the clippers.

5. Umbrella-Equipped Cigarette Holder

This umbrella-equipped cigarette holder from 1931 was reportedly inspired by a British clown. Rather than using the tried-and-true hand-cupping method, smokers in the 30s could look just like a clown by using this truly weird contraption to keep the rain off of their lit cigarettes.

6. Scale in Soda-Fountain Seat

It’s little wonder that this invention never caught on, though if it had we might not be facing the obesity epidemic sweeping the developed world today. This seat, installed at a soda fountain counter, was meant to help customers watch their figures by giving weight readouts for waiting patrons. Perhaps someone realized that this was terrible for business and that’s why the invention has not seen the light of day since its 1938 conception.

7. Goofybike

This totally weird bike from 1939, aptly dubbed the Goofybike by its inventor, involved the whole family in some sort of weird bonding activity that involved Dad and Brother pedaling while Mom worked on her sewing machine and Sister simply sat there enjoying the ride. Poor Mom never got a break, even when it was time for family recreation.

8. 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 was grabbing a smoke, and another for when a friend asked for one. It was presumably up to the owner to decide what to do with that information once he determined how many of his cigarettes were being given away.

9. Glamour Bonnet

This 1941 beauty treatment was purported to improve a lady’s complexion through the use of a vacuum – which seems dangerous, given that it completely encases her head in plastic. The picture above looks quite sinister, with the woman in the mask furrowing her brow and grasping the air hose worriedly and the other woman smiling menacingly while holding the plastic bag on the poor lady’s head. But the accompanying copy assures readers that this is a “glamorous” beauty treatment, not torture.

10. Breathing Balloon for Big Breasts

Women have done some extremely odd things over the years in the name of increasing their bust size. This balloon device is one of the less dangerous, but the idea behind it is certainly odder than most. The product was supposed to “develop the form” while measuring and increasing lung capacity with a shut-off valve (that little tape measure looped around the balloon). Just breathe deeply, and before you know it your breasts will magically increase in size.

11. Scooter Cannon

It seems like some scooter riders already have attitude problems, based on their tendency to zip dangerously through traffic, so the last thing you would want to do is give them weapons on their Vespas. This scooter cannon from 1957 featured a gun on top with six ammo shells carried on the sides, making it even more dangerous than the usual scooter.

(via Gajitz and Modern Mechanix)


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