Always new and always old, the jet pack is one of those inventions that never seems to go out of style. Some are powered by water pumps, and others are simply glorified leaf blowers. Very very few are crazy enough to actually try to strap something onto their backs that shoot fire. That fantasy is usually saved for the movies. The risk of car accidents and plane crashes are tragic enough. It’s often portrayed as living the dream of personal flight, but would we really want to live in a world where periodically some guy falls out of the sky and splatters himself on the pavement?
This dash-mounted coffee maker for the Volkswagen Beetle is incredibly rare, and sought after by vintage car collectors. It was called the “Hertella Auto Kaffeemachine“. The machine has no markings to indicate the correct voltage and no power switch. When plugged into the cigarette lighter, it heats up automatically, and it is unclear what kind of coffee it brews. Although it is expensive, the rarity of the Hertella Kaffeemachine makes it a unique and eye-catching accessory to install in a Beetle. This needs to be in every car. Sometimes you’re just running late or it’s just cold outside. Or you just want that amazing smell of ground coffee to sooth your mind as you grind through rush hour traffic. Every car seemingly still has a cigarette lighter. Replace them with coffee makers. Who cares if it’s a pain in the butt to clean.
We all have that friend who took Covid seriously. Very seriously. Some of the things that came out of the pandemic were just bizarre. A lot of people were pushed to their breaking point. In 1925, Hugo Gernsback must have been pushed beyond the point of sanity by something, because his anti distraction helmet is one of the most far out things you’ll see, like, ever. It blocked out 95% of all sound, and the field of vision was so narrow it was guaranteed you would not notice anyone walking by. Constantly checking your oxygen supply would defeat the purpose, though.
It’s like a safety cup, but for your tatas. Great idea, actually. These, however, were designed to protect women who were just beginning to work in industry during WWII. The company that invented it was Wilson Goggles. Yet, that was the company’s name, they called their product the SAF-T-BRA. It was designed to prevent certain occupational hazards around heavy machinery involving certain female anatomy. Certainly, it was a great idea, especially for someone who may not have been accustomed to mechanical hazards. They didn’t have sports bras back then, and some women are so well endowed, close calls are inevitable.
Charles Steinlauf’s creation, the “Goofybike,” is a two-story vehicle designed to carry the entire Steinlauf family. The inventor himself rides at the top, steering the contraption with a massive automobile steering wheel. Meanwhile, Mrs. Steinlauf operates a sewing machine from below. The couple’s son pedals from behind while their daughter rides on the handlebars in front. Thanks to the sewing machine’s projecting legs, the unusual vehicle remains stable when at rest and is prevented from tipping over. Just imagine: It’s a windy day, your thread is flying everywhere, the family has to dodge a distracted pedestrian, the bike jerks around and you bounce up and down with every crack in the road. God forbid the wife isn’t doing domestic work 24/7 and enjoys a family outing.
Malcolm Pickard, a teenager from 1960s England, created a device called the “Snogometer” to measure the voltage of passionate kisses. The device involved holding electrodes in each hand, with sound effects and a lighted scale showing the level of passion. Despite spending two pounds on electrical equipment and testing it on a couple, the device was deemed dangerous and left a coppery taste in users’ mouths. However, the Snogometer earned Pickard a brief stint of fame, receiving fan mail from all over the world and even recognition on the street. Ultimately, the invention did not go anywhere, but it remains a quirky relic of teenage ingenuity from the 1960s.
A Laryngaphone is a device designed to amplify the vibrations of someone’s throat who cannot speak in a normal fashion. It is a medical device that’s still in use today, but they are usually portable. Having a public in the form of a telephone is really unusual, though I suppose it does somewhat increase accessibility for the handicapped. The problem is that a lot of people likely tried using it as a regular phone. It also likely did not have a very pleasant sound quality. The person listening on the other end probably thought they were in a horror film.
We all want to be beautiful. And if there were inventions that promised to make us more beautiful than we were, we’d buy it in a heartbeat. Hence why the makeup industry makes billions of dollars. The dimple maker is not nearly as extreme as some of the other inventions on this list, as it’s just a cheek clamp. It was invented by Mrs. E. Isabella Gilbert in 1936. This product was denounced by the American Medical Association, as it didn’t actually give you dimples. It simply indented your face temporarily, before your skin eventually went back to normal. But it might give you cancer, though.
The cringe is strong with this one. Invented by Alois Merke. He promised that anyone who wore his “New Kind of Hat” for just 10 minutes a day would regrow their hair in just 30 days, guaranteed. You can trust him due to the thousands of cases of baldness he treated. Apparently there was no upfront cost. Just mail in a coupon, and only send the money if you are happy with the product. Perhaps it was just a gag, or perhaps a vintage style phishing scam. Falling for an identity theft scam will lose you more than just hair.
Don’t pretend that you didn’t already know this was invented in Japan. This thing is so bizarre. The Cat Mew Machineplugs into a wall outlet. Yet they claimed it capable of things that are darn near impossible for even a modern machine. They asserted that it can actually visually detect a mouse. It will then emit a cat’s meow and chase the mouse, even though there appears to be no clear method of locomotion. A modern cat robot made today that was actually capable of seeing a mouse, knowing what it was, and pursuing it effectively would be an absolute marvel. But for now, we will have to settle for real cats.
Smoking is an unhealthy habit, and this article is in no way encouraging the practice. However, this novelty cigarette case requires a second look. It keeps track of how many cigarettes you gave to a friend with a relatively simple mechanism. The case has two buttons, with the first opening the case. Then the second button opens the case AND ticks a counter over by one. Sure, there are many other ways to do the same thing, like a notepad or memory. But both require minimal effort. This is so tactile and effortless. Imagine a case like that today, but for chewing gum, instead!
Out of all the inventions on this list, this one might be the most pointless. Why? Just why? I can’t even. Imagine being so devoid of brain matter you can’t brush your own back with a normal back brush. They can’t do anything regarding their own body without a direct line of sight. Really? Then how do they even wipe themselves after using the bathroom?! Can’t scratch your own back? Well, good luck with this thing. It only requires perfectly aligning a pair of mirrors that jerk in all directions while you use it. The brush isn’t even angled properly. Just useless.
Actually not a terrible idea as far as inventions go. Seriously, just hear me out. First off, you have to wonder what exactly would convince a man to allow another man to be that close to his neck with a razor. One slip up, and that’s it. A robotic arm could be fine tuned to make only the smallest movements, and even to not move at all if the operator jerks too suddenly. In fact, they are being used today, but for robotic surgery, for precisely that reason. The only thing holding this back is that no real barber would have hoped to afford it.
Anyone who has ever experienced rain knows that even a normal umbrella is dubious when it’s so windy the water falls sideways. Someone either thought that people are so stupid that ads can sell anything, or worse. They actually believed it was a good product. What I actually want to believe is that Robert L. Stern, president of Zeus Corp, already knew this, and the 1956 Rainy Day Cigar Holder was only meant as a humorous novelty item. It would make an excellent gag gift for Chirstman or birthdays, even today. File this one under, “Could sell on Etsy, actually.”
File this one under “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” This briefcase had a pull-out bottom attached to a chain. In theory, a thief would steal it, only to pull the chain and send the contents flying. Forget having a firm grip, or a lock code that wasn’t “1234”. All it would take was for just one accidental discharge for you to just decide to use a normal briefcase. The genius behind this item was a man named John H. T. Rinfret. It was a product perfectly designed to make the short-sighted believe they’re actually playing the long game.
Nothing quite hits the right mix of misogyny and stupidity like the Feet Brush. Someone actually thought that walking on a soapy floor with less-than-solid footwear was a great idea. It was such a great idea, you didn’t even have to pay attention to what you were doing. You could do anything, like read a book! Imagine being engrossed in the latest entry in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and a patch of extra soapy floor sends you flying backwards and snaps your neck. The truly concerning fact was that it wasn’t laughed out of the room.
“Now you can have that sensual no-bra look while wearing a bra,” read the ad for the Nipple Bra, the first (and last) women’s bra to have a built-in nipple. I’ll be honest, this just seems like the best of both worlds. It was made of nylon, and was even machine washable! $20 for the bra, and $15 for shipping. Apparently it was mail order only. A shame, really. Would have been a real head-turner for a window display. It is hard to imagine a more inappropriate item of dress, but it’s not unimaginable for it to see a comeback.