20 Vintage Inventions That Failed So Hard They Actually Won

1. Jetpacks


Bob Daugherty / AP

Robert Courter soars through the air during a test of his flying jetpack in Ft. Myer, Virginia, on June 10, 1969.

2. Dashboard Coffeemakers

Dashboard Coffeemakers

Albert Riethausen / AP

In this 1950 picture, a driver shows off his new dashboard coffeemaker, fixed upon the dashboard of his vehicle. According to the designer, the machine held enough water for three cups of coffee and can also be used for preparing soups, boiling eggs, or heating water for washing or shaving.

3. The Chain Smoker

The Chain Smoker

Jacobsen / Getty Images

Model Frances Richards smokes a pack of cigarettes all on one cigarette holder.

4. The “Motorwheel”

The "Motorwheel"

Fox Photos / Getty Images

Swiss engineer M. Gerder is seen driving his “Motorwheel,” a motorcycle with a wheel that runs on a rail placed inside a solid rubber tire.

5. Comfort Lawn Mowers

Comfort Lawn Mowers

Anonymous / AP

The “Power Mower of the Future” is shown demonstrated on Oct. 14, 1957. The lawnmower has a 5-foot-diameter plastic sphere in which the rider sits on an air-foam-cushioned seat. It has its own electric generating system for operating running lights, a radio telephone, air-conditioning, and even a cooling system to provide a chilled drink on a hot day.

6. Glow-in-the-Dark Tires

Glow-in-the-Dark Tires

Douglas Miller / Getty Images

In 1961, the Goodyear illuminated tire was revealed to the public. The tire was made from a single piece of synthetic rubber that was brightly lit by bulbs mounted inside the wheel rim.

7. Window Baby Cages

Window Baby Cages

Reg Speller / Getty Images

In this June 1937 picture, a nanny is seen supervising a baby suspended in a wire cage attached to the outside of a high tenement block window. The cages were distributed to members of the Chelsea Baby Club who had no gardens and lived at the top of high buildings.

8. Pipe For Two

Pipe For Two

Ed Ford / AP

Two men demonstrate a pipe called the “Double Ender” in New York, June 2, 1949.

9. Suntan-Lotion Dispenser

Suntan-Lotion Dispenser

Edward Kitch / AP

Model Betty Dutter demonstrates how the spray nozzle is held on the new “Sun-Tan Lotion Dispenser” at the Annual Vending Machine Convention in Chicago on Jan. 19, 1949. A dime could get you a 30-second spray job.

10. Bald-Head Polishers

Bald-Head Polishers

Don Brinn / AP

Ted Spence, an engineer at the Los Angeles Brush Manufacturing Corp., demonstrates the “Hairline Brush” on Jan. 12, 1950. The brush is constructed to fit a bald head’s contour, with bristles for brushing hair and a felt pad to gently massage the scalp.

11. Nuclear Bomb Shelters

Nuclear Bomb Shelters

Dvn / AP

In this Sept. 12, 1958, picture, a bomb shelter is shown that can hold eight to twelve people and would be safe to within three-quarters of a mile of ground zero if a 20-megaton nuclear bomb were to be dropped.

12. Desk Beds

Desk Beds

Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

In this 1913 photo, a schoolboy sleeps in a desk that also folds out into a hammock.

13. Vibrating Bras

Vibrating Bras

Anonymous / AP

A model is seen trying on a spiral electric bra at the “20th International Show of Inventions” in Brussels on March 13, 1971. The bra claimed to develop and strengthen the bust and was designed to vibrate while the person wearing it was at work.

14. Soup-Cooling Spoons

Soup-Cooling Spoons

Hans Reinhart / Getty Images

In this 1948 picture, a man is shown eating with a mechanical soup spoon designed to cool a bowl of scalding hot soup.

15. See-Through Boats

See-Through Boats

Keystone / Getty Images

This 1941 photo shows a model in a transparent “Lucite” rowboat, designed to see everything below the seat.

16. Automatic Tip Requesters

Automatic Tip Requesters

Evans / Getty Images

In this 1955 picture, inventor Russell E. Oakes shows off his “automatic tip requester,” which comprises an artificial hand and cashbox to be worn around the waist. A “No Sale” sign is displayed if a tip is not sufficient.

17. Monopod Seats

Monopod Seats

Fox Photos / Getty Images

Designed to be easily transported, these 1953 monopod seats could provide a quick and easy place to sit when on the go.

18. Spaghetti Spinners

Spaghetti Spinners

AP Photo

French inventor Alain Dham’s 1968 spaghetti spinner was designed to automatically rotate the noodles for easier pasta consumption.

19. Rocket-Propelled Bicycles

Rocket-Propelled Bicycles

Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

In this 1931 picture, a German engineer prepares his rocket bicycle with 12 rockets mounted on the back wheel. Moments after this photo was made, the bicycle exploded. Fortunately the engineer was not seriously hurt.

20. Sunning Chairs

Sunning Chairs

Doug Wilson / AP

In 1964, a 10-year-old named Marne Smith came up with an easy way to avoid a crick in your neck after lying outside for a tan.

20 Vintage Inventions That Failed So Hard They Actually Won


3 replies on “20 Vintage Inventions That Failed So Hard They Actually Won”

Monopod seats? Shooting sticks are still popular. The better ones double as whisky flasks.

Thanks LordJim- I just went to see if my shooting stick had been returned. Spray tan booths are very popular now too. Those baby cages- it doesn’t explain it was to allow slum kids to get sunlight and prevent rickets. Horrible complaint which was fairly common ( a cousin of my grandmother had it and walking with a brace) and it worked.

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