History is full of inventions that were going to change the world. The only problem is — the majority of them die out even before the prototype stage. It’s incredibly difficult for inventors to anticipate society’s needs, especially considering the time period we live in. It is quite impossible to predict how the world will change and what inventions will make a big difference, so people started coming up with all sorts of gadgets and technologies to see what sticks. All the following doohickies and whatchamacallits were supposed to be bigger than sliced bread, but in the end, we don’t even remember they existed.
1) Daylight Motion Pictures
In the 1910s, some people thought that a fully lit cinema was going to be a new craze in America because dark places were apparently too spooky for women and children. The concept initially caught on, and “daylight movies” became a trend across the country. But in the end, we got even darker venues, much darker movies, and 4D films! I actually can’t tell which is worse.
2) Electrified Water
In the early 1900s, “electrified water” was considered to be a big-brain idea. Giving a good electric jolt to the regular water was supposed to grant it all kinds of wonderful new qualities. Back in 1904, people were using electrified water not only to sterilize and clean clothes without soap but also for drinking and watering plants. But that’s nothing. In 1920, a physician suggested dipping hands in electrified water to cure a hangover! A hangover, Coral! I hope I don’t need to tell you this, but electrified water won’t help with that, nor is it sterile.
3) The Fiske Reading Machine
Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske invented many cool gimmicks, which may explain why people thought that his reading machine was going to be a huge hit. Here’s how it worked: the books were printed on small pages in tiny letters, and readers would use magnifiers to enjoy the story. This invention would make the printing process cheaper, books would last longer, be easier to carry and store, etc. Everything sounds great so far, so what went wrong? In short — it’s about money. Paper is a big business, after all. Maybe using a magnifying glass for hours every day was the final nail in the coffin.
4) Submarine Tube
The submarine with a tube going down was once thought to be the future of underwater photography. Invented by Charles Williamson in 1911, this apparatus was intended as a treasure-seeking device. Later, he changed the tune to “it’s an unusual way to see the ocean.” And I gotta say, it does look fun on paper; however, with the invention of small, waterproof cameras in 1940 sent the tube sank to the bottom.
5) Spokes for cars
Tires with air? Ew, yuck, gross! What is it, 1899? That’s what the engineers were thinking in 1905. They tried to create complex spoke wheels to make the car go smoother. In 1914 Popular Mechanics proposed that this new wheel would send pneumatic tires into the past, but somehow it didn’t. Nevertheless, this idea is still alive, although mostly in military projects and some bicycles.
6) The Helio-Motor
The early 1900s was a time of big brains. Dr. William Calver was one of them. Helio-Motor was his greatest invention that was destined to reach every household in the US and maybe even the world. Hmm, I don’t see any Helio-Motors in my house, do you? Yeah, it was one of those “Sun is hot and hot means free energy” kinda deals. The idea of using mirrors to focus the sunbeams was fine, but for this technology to be efficient, you’d need superconductive materials we don’t have even in 2020.
7) Flying Cars
We know that flying cars are a real thing, but they’re not going to change the world anytime soon. You wanna know why? Because maneuvering in three dimensions is much harder than in 2D. And looking at the devastating stats of car accidents, it’s clear that our minds are not ready to go 3D. But maybe in the future, a more developed AI system will take on this responsibility, and we’ll get flying highways just like in the movies. BRB, going to rewatch the Fifth Element!
8) Google Glass
It’s the future of mobile technology! That’s how the media christened Google Glass. You can watch memes while jogging or sitting in a boring meeting. What’s not to love? Well, if anyone else aside from Google was in charge of this product, people wouldn’t be as disappointed. Just like with other inventions on this list, Google Glass had a great concept that will inevitably be improved in the coming decades, but the execution was extremely subpar. Let’s give it another 20 years and see what the media giant will come up with.