Technology has come a very long way over the last century, and there is no better proof of that than examining some of the insanely weird and stupid inventions of the 20th century.
We don’t know what would motivate someone to build a device that allows a motorcycle to turn into a boat. And there’s no reason for a brush that shines someones balding head while combing their side hair. Yet many of these bizarre inventions actually went on sale to the public.
In fact, a few of the devices were actually big hits at the time — that is, until consumers realized they were insane or just didn’t work as promised.
Here are 20 of the weirdest inventions from history. FYI, #8 is a good way to unintentionally kill babies.
Car Coffee Maker
Make coffee in your car? Sorry, but we have the Starbucks drive-thru for that now. This seemed like a good idea on the surface, but boiling hot coffee while flying around at 65 miles per hour is not smart. Pouring a cup of coffee while driving is also not a very good idea — remember the McDonald’s lawsuit?
Brush & Shine
Are you going bald, but still have a little bit of hair that needs to be combed? Are you also a fan of polishing your head? With the Brush & Shine you can accomplish both tasks at the same time. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that this wasn’t a huge hit among bald men (or anyone for that matter).
Upside Down Phonograph
Why? I understand that sometimes inventors do things just because they can, but unless you plan on using this phonograph in a zero gravity environment, is there really no reason to turn it upside down. This photograph of the invention doesn’t even really give a plausible reason for why you would ever need to turn one upside down.
Wooden Bathing Suits
Wood floats, bathing suits don’t. Problem solved. These bathing suits were made out of lightweight wood, which promised to make swimming less exhausting. These failed to catch on, probably because they look horribly uncomfortable and wood wouldn’t be easy to clean in the washer. It could even catch on fire in the dryer.
High-Powered Hair Dryer
This one’s great for those times when you need to blow dry your hair in five seconds. I have to hand it to the inventor of this crazy device — they really went out of their way to create one of the first “hands free” devices on the market. Apparently you need to sit on a tall table to use this thing.
Spray Tan Vending Machine
If you have ever spray tanned, you know that wearing a bunch of clothes as you do it is a great way to ruin your clothing. Despite that well-known fact, a company attempted to create a self-serve station that looked like a gas pump for your skin. This also seems like the perfect way to give yourself a farmer’s tan — on purpose. The device never reached the mass market.
Every time the trigger was pulled on this gun a photo was taken. The creators used this ad to show off some of the photos that had previously been taken. We’re a little concerned about the photo of the person in one of the examples. While the revolver camera didn’t become a huge hit, we are starting to see body cams on police officers so it wasn’t the worst idea on our list.
This snowstorm mask was meant to replace an umbrella in the winter time. It seems to be a pretty pointless invention, since you can typically cut out most of the snow with a hood and then you don’t have a giant protruding device that is likely to push your face to the side with any gusts of wind. This is yet another weird invention that failed to catch on.
Gas Powered Rollerskates
I’m not going to say I wouldn’t try these out, because they actually look like fun. However, the entire point of rollerskates is to get out and exercise. Plus, having a tank full of gas strapped to your back while flying down the street on a pair of skates seems like a great way to — well — explode! I’m not even sure if this tech would be street-legal. Even hoverboards these days are banned in many locations.
How do you wash your kid’s neck? If you aren’t lazy, you can try soap and water. One mom, however, asked a company many years ago to make a soft brush that her child could wear to clean his neck without any effort on her part. It failed completely and immediately. Why was the child’s neck so filthy, anyway?
Remote Controlled Lawn Mower
A potentially deadly machine controlled by a remote control — what could possibly go wrong with this idea? Sure, we have the Roomba for our living rooms in modern times but they can’t rip your body to shreds. Plus you may not realize there is something you need to pick up before mowing if you use this remote-controlled machine.
Reading in Bed Glasses
Want to read a book in bed but don’t feel like sitting up? Try these bed glasses. They use mirrors and regular prescription glasses so you can lay on your back and still see the words on the page. Apparently, consumers were not willing to pay for the ability to be this lazy.
People Shovel on Car
How do you stop pedestrians from getting run over by cars in the old days? You attach a shovel to the front of the car. This idea didn’t catch on — maybe because it would actually give reason for drivers to scoop up passengers who got in their way. I have to admit I would love one of these in a snowstorm though.
A Motorcycle Boat?
Take a motorcycle, attach it to a boat for power. What could possibly go wrong? Well, not much, other than an engine flooding from water as waves hit the boat and perhaps some corrosive side effects. At the same time, it does look like a fun and unusual way to spend a little time on the lake.
Control your video game console with your mind. Because we should give gamers even less reason to call themselves athletes. The Mindlink required users to wear a special apparatus on their head. By squeezing and loosening their head muscles, they could move around a game’s characters.
Refrigerator and Stove and Sink All-In-One
So basically if your sink leaks, your fridge breaks, or your oven fails, you have to buy an entirely new appliance. Not to mention that getting stuff out of your fridge while cooking means putting yourself in harm’s way. On the other hand, this could work really well in these super tiny 200 square foot micro-apartments in cities like New York and San Francisco.
A vending machine that substitutes as a supermarket? This, in some ways, isn’t a bad idea. The concept was that you can pick up the necessities when the store is closed. It didn’t catch on but there have been some recent concepts for drive-thru supermarkets that could become a reality.
Cat Mew – Mouse Repeller
This device meows like a cat to repel rodents. It was never proven to actually work. But this was actually a successful product for several years — proving that anyone will buy a product if they are told it works and if it’s shaped like a cat.