What the First Versions of Modern Technology Looked Like

Technology is developing rapidly nowadays, and if we look at the prototypes or the versions of some everyday objects available 100 years ago, we will hardly believe our eyes. These originals may look unsophisticated, funny or awkward, but they paved the way for future technologies to come.

We at Bright Side collected some rare pictures of how many common products looked in the past and invite you to compare them with their existing counterparts.

1. Bathing suit

Although, as shown on the ancient frescos, women in Greek and Roman bathhouses wore bikini-like suits, ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries in England wore bathing ankle-length full-sleeve gowns as well as stockings for swimming to remain modest and keep their skin white.

Nowadays the swimsuits are not only dramatically smaller, but also more functional. In 2006 New York designer Andrew Schneider introduced a Solar bikini with attached photovoltaic strips. This bikini is supposedly able to charge your phone when you are done swimming.

2. Computer mouse

The first computer mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart during the 1960s and was named "X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System." The mouse was rectangular and made of wood. The modern gaming mouse, such as the R.A.T.7, is metal-based, USB-connected, and adjustable in length and weight to suit one's grip.

3. Baby stroller

The first baby carriage was invented in 1733 by William Kent. It was designed to be pulled by a goat, dog, or miniature horse. In the 19th century, Charles Burton created the first recognizable pram with a three-wheel push design called the ‘perambulator.’ Strollers quickly became a trendy, heavily ornate, luxury item that was custom-made for wealthy aristocrats.

4. Vacuum cleaner

One of the first vacuum cleaners, introduced by Hubert Cecil Booth in 1901, was called Puffing Billy. Its was powered by an oil engine and required a horse-drawn carriage for transportation. In 1906, Siemens started selling their so-called dedusting pumps that had one-horsepower motors and weighed 300 kilos.

Modern vacuum cleaners are intelligent robot cleaners, which can be controlled with a smartphone.

5. Virtual Reality glasses

The prototype of the modern virtual reality glasses was made as early as 1963 by Hugo Gernsback. These "teleyeglasses" weighed about 140 grams and were built around small cathode-ray tubes that ran on low-voltage current from tiny batteries. The glasses had a separate screen for each eye and could display stereoscopic images. Unfortunately, this invention never went to production.

6. Robots

Although Robert the Robot was not the first robot toy in the world, it was the first one that gained fame. It had a cable driven remote control and could speak and light up its eyes, and all that as early as 1950. Nowadays, collectors are ready to pay anywhere from $200 and $1200 for a classic Robert the Robot.

7. Motorcycles

In the 19th century, scientists and inventors realized that two recent inventions, bicycles and steam engines, could be combined together. In 1867, American inventor Sylvester Howard Roper introduced a two-cylinder, steam-powered velocipede. Later, in 1885, the steam engine was changed to gas engine. Nowaday, over 200 million motorcycles are in use all around the world.

8. Microphones

The microphone in the left picture was invented by Emile Berliner in 1876 using a telephone voice transmitter. The microphone was composed of two electrical contacts separated by a thin layer of carbon. One contact was attached to a diaphragm that vibrated when struck by a sound wave. Carbon microphones similar to the ones used now were invented in 1878 and later developed in 1920s.

9. Airplanes

Before and after the first successful heavier-than-air controlled flight on December 17, 1903 by the Wright Brothers, inventors tried different machines to achieve flying in the air. The device in the picture is a multiplane, introduced by Horatio Phillips in 1907. It was his third and final multiplane, which had 200 separate wings. In this machine Phillips made a powered, although uncontrolled, flight of about 500 feet.

10. Skype

Almost everyone uses Skype today for cheap video calls. Establishing connections between phone and TV was a long-lasting field of research by Bell Labs. Picturephone debuted as a major attraction at the New York World’s Fair in 1956. Selected visitors could make video calls from one booth to the other and even to a similar booth at Disneyland.

11. Kindle e-reader

Surprisingly, the prototype of a Kindle was developed as early as 1922 by American Admiral Bradley Fiske. The Fiske Reading Machine was equipped with a tiny lens and a roller and could hold cards filled with more than 100,000 words. The device was aimed to reduce the costs for books manufacturing, yet the machine did not find any success.

12. Camera

The world's largest mammoth camera in the picture above was built in 1900. The camera weighed 900 lbs, required 15 men to load it to the van, and made the largest plates at the time. It was designed to make a picture of an equally large train.

Nowadays, scientists strive to be able to transfer any surface in a high resolution camera. For instance, scientists from Columbia University are exploring the idea of imaging using a thin, large, flexible sheet.

Were you surprised by any of these comparisons? Which items, do you think, can also be included in this list? Share your opinion in the comments.

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