As technology marches ever onward, the gadgets and tools we use will someday be replaced with new and better inventions. It’s interesting to imagine that someday people may laugh and roll their eyes at the surround sound systems and computers that currently hold the lead in the race of technology.
With a list of 10 old home inventions that are now extinct, get ready for a fascinating discussion of inventions that have gone the way of the dinosaur.
Thomas Edison gave the world the first phonograph in 1877. As the story goes, Edison was actually working on the telegraph transmitter when he heard a noise that sounded like spoken words. He then spoke a few words into the machine and the rest is history. Records were the standard recording media until the introduction of cassettes in the 60s.
Most consumers were more than willing to transfer their love affair with recorded music from records to cassettes in the early 1960s. Cassettes were smaller and far less fragile than record discs. Gone were the days of having your favorite LP marred by a devastating scratch. Cassettes offered longer playtimes – up to 90 minutes total – and were much more portable than records. In fact, the first personal computers released actually had cassette recorders installed – a foretaste of the CD/DVD recorders/players in current computers. By the mid-1980s, cassette popularity was waning as compact discs slowly took over the market.
The first film camera was invented in 1888 by George Eastman. Eastman went on to provide a way for amateur photographers to have their film developed in processing plants that year as well. The first “filmless” camera – a digital camera – came into existence in the mid-70s. Large and bulky in the beginning, eventually digital photography evolved and progressed to the point where film cameras became obsolete.
In the 1870s, Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone and then patented his invention in 1876. In 1923, the rotary telephone was developed, a phone that used electrical impulses decoded to connect two telephones for a telephone call. Eventually, rotary telephones were replaced by push-button phones, which were the precursors to today’s telephones.
Scrubbing boards with textured ribs originated in Scandinavia in the 19th century. These bumpy surfaces were effective for cleaning clothing fibers when people rubbed wet and soapy items briskly up and down the ribs of the washboard. Eventually, in the 1800s, improvements in design involved metal washboards, which cleaned clothes more effectively. In its height of popularity, people even referred to washboards as “machines” because they were so helpful in the quest of cleaning clothing.
Henry Mill received the first patent for a typewriter in 1714. Typewriters continued to evolve during the 1800s. Thomas Edison developed the first electric typewriter in 1872 and these typewriters came to be a mainstay for Americans throughout the 1950s and going forward. In 1978, the first electronic typewriter was developed by the Olivetti and Casio Companies. The electronic version of the typewriter was able to store small amounts of text for retrieval.
Home television viewing experienced a massive leap during the 70s with the release of VCRs for home use. Available in two formats – Betamax and VHS – a format war ensued in which the two VCR formats fought over the title of format king. Eventually, the VHS format won and became the industry standard. VCRs enjoyed their reign until DVDs unseated them early in the 21st century. Homes with extensive VHS libraries may still have VCRs lurking in basements or rec rooms to enable viewing these old movies. It’s possible to transfer VHS content over to DVD to update a video library.
Carousel slide projectors gave people an effective way to project and show 35mm slides for home viewing. After loading the carousel with a collection of slides, the photographer would turn on the machine and direct the display onto a large screen. The carousel would advance through each slide to display them one-by-one on the wall. Slides eventually became largely obsolete with the shift to digital photography.
In 1884, Willis Johnson patented the egg beater as a tool for beating eggs, batter and other types of batter ingredients. Held in one hand while rotating the handle with the other, the beaters were capable of whipping and frothing eggs and other ingredients more quickly and smoothly than by hand. Some egg beaters even had the extra accessory of a clamp that attached to the countertop to provide added stability during the mixing process. The manual egg beater may still afford egg-beating efficiency in times when electricity isn’t available. Generally, the hand-held mixer has replaced this kitchen gadget.
In the 1950s, transistor radios became readily available to the American consumer. Initially, due to the high costs of the transistors inside the radios, these little gizmos were prohibitively expensive – far out of the reach of most households. When prices came down within a few years, people could afford transistor radios and they became popular with young and old alike. Still available for purchase as retro items or simply as pocket radios, transistor radios are relics of a bygone era.
The common trend in each of these old home inventions is the evolution of technology that has made each tool outdated and eventually obsolete. It’s still possible to find and purchase each item, although a newer and better variation of the item now exists for consumer enjoyment or use. There may be times when using an old fashioned item suits your needs better, but often the newer technology will make life faster and easier.