An urban legend says that Charles H Duell, the commissioner of the US Patent Office, declared in 1899 that “everything that can be invented has been invented.” There is no evidence that he ever said such an idiotic thing, and the decades of the early 20th century were some of the most creative in human history. While some of this enthusiastic vision was put into inventing things like the airplane, other inventors were just as enthusiastically creating umbrellas for cigarettes and vacuum beauty helmets, neither of which we have ever heard of, and for good reason: they were useless. Not all failed inventions were useless, however. Some were genuinely intriguing and could even have been revolutionary with proper marketing and the presence of an actual market for the products in the time they were invented. These are some of those projects, and they are so awesome that someone needs to revive them immediately.
I’m not certain what point of one-wheeled vehicle was, but they sure looked cool. Unfortunately dynaspheres were dangerous and difficult to drive, so everybody stuck with the safer options of two or four wheels. I don’t know about you, but I totally want one. What’s life without a little risk?
Forget electric cars; steam-powered automobiles were actually invented before the internal combustion engine was. Sadly, the cars were too heavy to be used for everyday travel, and were soon eclipsed the forerunners of the huffing, puffing, toxic fume-pumping machines most of us drive today.
Or as I call it, the hamster ball for people. This device is perfect for going out for “walks” without ever having to be in the outdoors. First and foremost, it looks insanely fun. Secondly, the spherical-velocipede can keep you warm in cold weather, prevent you from having to talk to other human beings, and protect you from polluted air (looking at you, China).
I honestly can’t understand why the radio hat didn’t become a thing. It is to radio as Google Glasses are to internet, and we all know how popular Google Glasses are (raise your hand if you’ve ever actually seen someone with a pair). Sure, we can listen to the radio on our phones now, but do our phones possess the dashing steampunk coolness of the radio-hat? I think not.
Never mind a camera-phone; the camera-gun can snap a picture of your unfortunate victim right before you shoot them. This helpful tool, while most likely to have been used to aid psycho murderers in building their creepy wall collages, might also have been useful for solving crime. Even if we don’t bring back the exact model, wouldn’t it be amazing if all guns had a built in camera? Each time the trigger was pulled, a picture of both the person firing and the target would be automatically uploaded onto a central database that the police could access. Gun crime would be solved (I realize this will never happen, because privacy and the Constitution).