Technology is constantly changing at an exponential rate. With new products and innovations coming about almost every day, even the most high-tech computers and gadgets are likely to become outmoded not long after they’re released to the public.
Technology evolves so much, in fact, that it’s only a matter of time before we realize we can’t recognize past inventions. (Seriously, have you ever tried explaining a floppy disc to Generation Z?)
These 18 strange objects from the past—from ancient sunglasses to toothpicks—certainly look odd. More importantly, though, they show how “cutting-edge technology” is all relative!
1. Toothpicks: This English toothpick dates back to 1620. It’s difficult to imagine that even back then, people wouldn’t have found it strange to use such a fanciful-looking artifact to do something like cleaning one’s teeth.
2. Cameras: Pigeons used to carry these cameras during World War II to help armies conduct aerial reconnaissance. It’s actually kind of adorable when you think about it, but doesn’t that seem like a lot of weight for a little bird?
This is what these winged soldiers looked like in action! There’s no denying how cute this pigeon is, even if he does seem to be taking his mission pretty seriously. Do you think he knew that the fate of the free world rested on his wings?
3. Chairs: This chair has an actual set of scales attached to it. Perhaps this was meant to remind the people sitting in it to get off of their butts and exercise? It must be hard to relax when you’re sitting next to that.
4. Syringes: This is a baptismal syringe that was used for abortions. Abortion is nothing new, and has been used in many cultures for generations. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the medical science behind it has improved quite a bit.
5. Focusing devices: Can’t concentrate at work after a sleepless night? Try this grotesque contraption! People would use this sound insulation helmet to provide a limited (think: focused) view… as well as a limited supply of oxygen.
6. Playpens: This is a window cage… for babies. Believe it or not, there really was a time when parents thought this was a good idea. Sure, put their children at the edge of a window the same way that you would an air conditioner. Great call.
The idea behind this admittedly horrifying contraption was to give babies more exposure to sunlight. In reality, it probably would’ve been smarter to let them play outside. This isn’t worth the risk! That baby doesn’t look to be enjoying it!
7. Trees: This is a “wishing tree.” It was once used much in the same way that we still use wishing wells: a person placed the coins in the trunk, and made a wish. Then, the tree grew over the pieces of metal over time.
The trees were a popular fixture in the woods in Scotland. Not only do they give you the hope that your wish will come true, but they look pretty neat too! Hopefully, some wishes did come true!
8. Underwear: Many years ago, in New Guinea, men traditionally wore a “koteka,” a case fashioned out of gourds, to cover their penises. Clearly, pants and underwear were not yet a part of the genitalia-covering technology.
9. Sunglasses: This is an ancient pair of sunglasses. They certainly look like they would block light, don’t they? Of course, it also looks like they would block the vast majority of your vision, in general. Seriously, how could this ever work?
10. Guns: This is a Type 89 machine gun was actually a camera used for aircraft training purposes during World War II. It would snap photos of targets to simulate firing actual bullets. A good photo meant the soldier “hit” the target.
11. Hairdryers: Would you have ever guessed that these paddles are really old-fashioned hair dryers? You’d fill them with boiling water and wrap your hair around them. That seems safe, right? There’s no way that this could have lead to any serious accidents…
12. Hats: This is a Chinese hat that was worn during the Qing dynasty. It looks pretty fancy, doesn’t it? If you were to wear this to an upscale formal event, you’d surely be the talk of the town! Hopefully, they still sell hats like these somewhere.
13. Religious artifacts: This is a portable altar for voodoo practitioners to worship with. After all, why shouldn’t you be able to continue practicing your voodoo rituals when you’re on the go? You never know when you’re going to need them!
14. Spoons: This spoon was used to feed bears. Of course, this begs the question, “Why would anyone in their right mind try to feed a bear?” Perhaps somebody was raising bears to do their own bidding? That would be pretty cool.
15. Medical supplies: Leeches were stored in jars like this during the days when they were more commonly used for medical purposes. When you take that into consideration, it’s not quite as weird. You need to keep the leeches somewhere, right?
16. Cutlery: This knife is made out of shark teeth. It must’ve been helpful when metal was inaccessible! That, and all those times in life when you need to defend yourself against wild, vicious beasts… you know, like sharks.
17. Backpacks: This deadly knapsack flamethrower was used by the U.S.S.R. during World War II. Most of the time, when people think of knapsacks, they think of the kinds that you take to school. Deadly weapons are a different story!
It’s incredible how foreign a lot of this technology seems to us now. Could you even imagine what somebody would have thought of your smartphone 200 years ago?
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