Blast From The Past: The Evolution Of The Things We Use Every Day

By Doreen R

Technological advancements are a given fact of life, and for that, we are eternally grateful. We are so used to hearing the catchphrase, ‘New and Improved’, and never really think too much about it. We take for granted new must-have essential items like iRobots, smartphones, laptops, and so on that, we never stop to wonder what we did before these so-called tools became a part of our daily lives. Sure, Teslas and Priuses are great for the environment, but what about cars or office tools say 100 years that were were afforded, long before saving the planet was the main worry in life? Many of us still stare in wonder as our offsprings come across a rotary phone or a typewriter. Young people today truly believe the earth came into existence when the umbilical was cut at birth. This piece, for some, will be a nostalgic stroll down memory lane, while for others, it’ll be an eye-opening journey into how things were handled long before Steve Jobs thought an apple was nothing more than a healthy fruit intended to keep us away from the doctor.

Market places

Even the grocery stores have changed drastically. In the 1900s, people did not have many options for things to buy. That was also because money was not a common luxury at that time period. The stores were small with few items to offer and only a few customers who could afford to buy.

Image courtesy: Facebook/History of Santee, Ca.

But in modern times, grocery stores are humongous. Every item has a different aisle with hundreds of varieties of items. Making it affordable for everyone to enjoy. There are also different sections specifically allocated for the product you desire to buy. The sections are also separated to disperse the crowd. Queues are seen on counters so people could pay for their products.

A Few Facts About Toilet Paper

Yup, even toilet paper was different than what we’re used to today. Not surprisingly, toilet paper first came to light thanks to the Chinese around 500-600 BC. However, it took until 1857 for toilet paper to really catch on. Prior to 1857, TP was initially used for personal hygiene.

Image courtesy:

Believe it or not, TP didn’t start out in the roll shape we’re so familiar with. No, it started as a package of pre-cut paper wipes. Only after the necessity to hang the paper in out-houses demanded it produces the roll we’re so familiar with making its debut in 1919.

Glasses Didn’t Start as Fashion Statements

Sure we know that eyeglasses serve a purpose, but we still put more emphasis on fashion than function, which is kind of a sad statement. When realizing we need glasses to see our world better, we accept that on the whole. What we don’t accept is that they need to be solely utilitarian.

Image courtesy:

Long before Ray-Ban and Tom Cruise made glasses cool in the iconic film Risky Business, eyewear came in boring styles. This was done during a time when one wore glasses to see, as opposed to being seen. Just look at images of Ben Franklin or even John Lennon, and you’ll see that glasses have been totally revised and are more about looks than actual purpose.

Canines and Modern Medicine

Yes, even dogs have changed over the years, and there’s an ongoing debate that may never get solved. If one looks back to a time before Paris Hilton made having a pet resemble an accessory, we can clearly see how our priorities have changed.

Image courtesy:

Before boutique dogs and Instagram took over our lives, dogs were bred and raised for a purpose.  Just look at how German Shepherds looked over 100 years ago and see what’s transpired. Thanks to growth in the field of genetics, we’re able to modify and create the perfect canine. We’re not voicing an opinion on this matter but will side with the popular stance of adopting your next pet as opposed to contacting questionable breeders.

The Evolution of Saying ‘I Do’

Whether we’re luckier today than decades ago is still up for debate. You can look at weddings today vs. hundreds of years ago, and we’re still not in total agreement if history has changed for the worse or not. Sure, marriage and devoting your life to your beloved is a special and sacred vow, no argument there.

Image courtesy: /Pinterest/Harvard Art Museums

However, getting drunk in Vegas and being able to drive to an all-night wedding chapel to get married may or may not be a blessing. Our staff was pretty much split down the middle when it comes to marriage. There are pros and cons to the old-fashioned way of getting married, where tradition and society norms were a factor. Today’s ease of joining into a union also has the same ease to go our separate ways, which is why we’re so undivided on this topic.

Lighting: Function Vs. Style

Similar to chain stores for food choices, lighting has also made big strides over the years. We definitely take it as a given that when we’re designing a room, we have endless choices for furniture and lighting. We simply go online and are shocked by all the options and choices out there, taking into consideration budget, taste, and availability.

Image courtesy:

The first Tiffany lamp debuted in 1893, and it was only for the wealthy. For the rest of us poor shlubs, we had to make do with simple bulbs on metal rods. We’re giving this advancement a huge thumbs up because it’s only fair that everyone should be able to decorate their personal space as they see fit, regardless of status and income.

Bars Before Women’s Liberation

We can’t even picture not being able to go out with our girlfriend to a bar after work or on the weekend. But in the early 1900s and before prohibition in the United States, bars were mostly hangouts for men. It was a place to go and hang with the guys after a hard day at work.

Image courtesy:

The bars in the 19th and 20th centuries were more geared towards males, while the woman stayed home to take care of the home and kids. Thankfully, the women’s movement reared its head, and smart businessmen realized the untapped potential of women and booze. We can’t prove it, but we’re pretty sure that once Girls Night became a thing, bar sales became more lucrative.

The Car Dashboard, Then and Now

The majority of us millennials and even baby boomers recall a car as a necessity and not always a luxury. Okay, maybe not millennials, let’s get real here. For most, in the early days of car production, it was mostly about function and reliability. Getting from point A to point B in one piece was all we aimed for.

Image courtesy:

Then luxury cars entered the game. Whoever had the most gadgets, bells, and whistles was the clear winner. Today, when considering which car to buy, we look at a lot more than just gas consumption and safety ratings. We also want huge graphic displays and satellite music blasting from our overpriced speakers while making the commute to the job that pays for our car.

Before the AC, We Had Fans

Taking a stroll at a flea market or antique fair is always an eye-opening treat. How great it is to see a young child’s face when they come across a typewriter or tape recorder, looking at it in amazement. Their gaze not quite comprehending what it was intended for. At a lot of these fairs or markets, we consider ourselves lucky when we come across those scary-looking fans from decades ago.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/etsy

They looked and still look downright dangerous, and far from being approved by any consumer safety committee. Before our safety was a concern, staying cool was on our minds, but thankfully, these dangerous fans weren’t around too long. It goes without saying that accidents and injuries were all that was needed to kick things up a notch safety-wise.

The Playground: From Health Risk to Haven for Kids

This image embodies what so many of us remember as children. Hard, asphalt-covered playgrounds with metal slides and hard-edged equipment. We all remember hot summer days and shouting in pain as we slid down those slides in our shorts. Ouch! Updating the playground was a welcome respite to many of us who experienced the hard cement ground and the less than modern play equipment.

Image courtesy: Monovisions/DenverParent

This second picture shows the evolution of the playground, which was a long time coming. Weather, safety, and fun were definitely a consideration in this particular setup. Thankfully, soft mats and materials replaced the hard and often hot tar or asphalt ground. Plastic slides and climbing accompaniments with smooth edges replaced their sharp metal counterparts. This is a great improvement.

Modernizing Schools Was a Good Thing

A large number of us readers can remember classrooms back during a time when chalkboards, wooden chairs, and desks were the norm. Our comfort wasn’t the main priority, nor was our health. Just think about the hot school lunches we consumed daily.

Image courtesy:

Many of us might reminisce about those simpler times, but let’s be real here, it wasn’t all that great. It’s a welcome relief to step into a classroom today that uses modern technology and considers our comfort before outfitting a room. Chairs are significantly more comfortable. Chalkboards have been replaced by whiteboards and even large screens. Our kids might not agree, but that’s another story altogether.

Living with Diabetes

Before 1985, diabetics had a rough time getting their insulin shots. Oftentimes, multiple and ongoing visits to hospitals and clinics were required in order to get regular insulin injections. But in 1985, all that changed and for the better, sort of. Novo Nordisk was the pioneer behind the insulin pen and it was groundbreaking.

Image courtesy: Wikipedia Commons/Quaro

At first, the pen was clumsy to use and required medical intervention, and wasn’t all that great, at least not compared to today. Since 1985, the pen has been updated and revamped and is totally user-friendly. Those requiring insulin shots are taught by their Dr. how to use the pen within minutes, and it’s been life-changing for many diabetics.

Thank Goodness Pocket Calculators Caught On

Whoa, many on our staff were shocked that before pocket calculators and after 1623, the introduction of the calculator, this monstrosity was all we had. This large, heavy-adding machine looks more typewriter than a calculator, but this is what there was in the early 1900s.

Image courtesy: Amazon

Thankfully, the groovy 1970s produced more than just hippies and flower-painted VW vans. Jack Kilby and Texas Instruments came up with the pocket calculator that contained that cool LCD, that we all oohed and ahhed over. Depending on which source you go with, the pocket calculator started in the early 70s through HP, Sharp, or Texas Instruments.

Nothing Beats a Great Shower

Few things are more relaxing than a nice hot shower after a stress-filled day. Today’s showers are a far cry from say 100 or 200 years ago. The first shower dates back to 1767 and was operated by pumping water. Hard to imagine not having hot clean water at your fingertips. It goes without saying that we’ve come a long way.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/dovenda

Imagine showering only after pumping water, and we’re not even talking about massage heads or other goodies. We are truly in an age where we are spoiled when it comes to hygiene. At-home, spa-like features aren’t just for the rich anymore. Just check out the variety of affordable shower heads at any local hardware store. Crazy how many things we take for granted, when just a few years ago, they didn’t exist.

Yep, Rotary Phones Were Really A Thing

Show a youngster today an old-fashioned rotary phone and see the look of shock on his or her face. Most of us were lucky to have been born into a world where push-button phones were the norm. Conceiving a smartphone back in the 1900s would’ve seemed like science fiction. The first phone was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell.

Image courtesy:

Ask anyone over say, 40 years of age about the telephone, and you’re in for a treat. Party lines and Star 69 were all the rage. The first mobile phone was invented in 1973 by Motorola, and that’s about when our communication changed. forever. Many credit Steve Jobs with the first smartphone, but it was actually done in 1992 by IBM. Steve Jobs just made it better.

Before Television There Was Radio

Before cable, television, Netflix, and Amazon, we got our information from a small box called a radio. In fact, the first radio signal was transmitted in 1895 and it happened in Italy. Before the television entered our orbit, radios were the in-home entertainment system. Families would gather around regularly to listen to shows and music and get the latest news updates from that mysterious box in their homes.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/ANI News

While many of us are hooked now on streaming services, many still listen to the radio, albeit in different formats. We no longer rely on big bulky boxes that took up lots of space. The radios today have been modified and are sleeker than ever. They’re rechargeable, don’t require electricity, and have a quality of sound never before achieved.

Football Helmets

The first football game was played in November 1969. The teams were from Rutgers and Princeton and the rest is history. From the images below we can see the advancements in protective helmets. It seems that safety wasn’t the main concern at first, but that quickly changed with the sport’s popularity.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/Facebook/Sparkman High School

The first helmets weren’t ideal, and made of leather, and didn’t really protect the player all that much. But thanks to modern technology, helmets today are made of tough plastic, proper interior padding, and a strap for the chin. Head injuries can still happen, but the chances of serious damage have been greatly reduced with newer helmets. Go, team!!

The Wonders of Modern Appliances

Few of us can remember a world without washing machines. Sure, we’ve seen movies showing washing done in creeks using metal or wood washboards. For collectors check out eBay or visit a flea market and get an idea of how washing clothes was done. Even the first washing machines, circa 1760s, required manual labor and nothing like what we’re used to today.

Image courtesy: Piximus

People only really understood what a luxury a proper washing machine could be back in 1937. 1937 is when the first fully automatic washer hit the market and the world became a truly happier and cleaner place. Today’s washers are so advanced they can be programmed via our AI devices or phones. The new washers can hold up to 12k of soiled clothing and require minimal effort to operate.

Gas Pumps and Stations

We were floored to learn that gas stations didn’t exist when cars became the popular mode of transportation. Until the first station opened up in 1913 by the Gulf Refining Company, gas was bought at the general store. The first station set the standard by giving drivers access to air for their tires, water, and various tire service. This explains why gas stations are often referred to as Service Stations.

Image courtesy:

Fast forward to today and not much has changed, well maybe a little has changed. Gas stations are pretty much user-friendly, requiring fewer employees to fill up for us. Don’t even get us started on overpriced convenience stores that go hand in hand with gas stations. We’re not too upset, because where else can you fill up gas, eat a burrito, read a magazine, and play your luck by getting a few lottery tickets?

The Motor Cycle

The first motorcycle and every parent’s worst nightmare made its debut in 1885. Gottlieb Daimler, who created the first motorcycle was aptly referred to as ‘The father of the motorcycle.’ Much like the automobile, the motorcycle has changed with the times. While we’re not proponents of dangerous driving tactics or anything that puts us at risk, this mode of transportation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Motorcycle Latest

No one can deny the sleekness of a cool motorbike and the image that goes through our minds when we see a Harley Davidson whiz past us when we’re stuck in a minivan full of screaming kids. We are definitely all for driving safely and not scrimping on proper safety gear or equipment. Anyone hear “Born To Be Wild’ in their heads yet?

Bananas Weren’t Always Bananas?

Never thought this was even a thing, but apparently bananas have evolved over the years. The bananas were originally grown in Papa New Guinea and looked like the image below. They were roundish in shape with seeds and looked nothing like the bananas we’ve grown up with.

Image courtesy: Science Alert/

The bananas we know today were attained by cross-breeding two forms of wildly grown varieties of bananas which resulted in what we’re familiar with. Some more interesting facts, they’re considered berries and can reduce blood pressure, while being great for your heart. They are also low in salt and high in potassium.

I Wear My Sunglasses At Night

If you remember anything, remember this, sunglasses are fashion and function, period. Trying to be humorous, but let’s remember that sunglasses were originally intended to protect our eyes from the sun. This remains the main purpose, but appearance and fashion also dictate how we choose to protect our eyes.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/harterjlin/

We now know the dangers of UV rays and the importance of polarized lenses. Where once colored glass was used in the production of sunglasses, today we learn that protecting our eyes is our main priority. This is one accessory we shouldn’t scrimp on. It’s vital to ensure polarized lenses offering UV protection are used before plunking down money for the latest trend in eyewear.

Nothing Beats a Warm Pair of Cozy Socks

The information we gained while writing this article was truly mind-blowing. To find out socks date back to the 8th century BC totally floored our staff. Admittedly we giggled at the image of how socks used to look and couldn’t get past images of Danny Devito’s Penguin character in Batman.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/ThoughtCo

As odd as they looked, they’re to be worn with sandals. This alone would cause the fashion police to hand out a fine. All kidding aside, we’re forever grateful that socks have evolved into a staple and appreciate the thought and design involved. Reminder: socks and sandals don’t mix!

The Drill

While the first electric drill was invented in 1895, drills were used in ancient Rome. Sure an electric drill is efficient and time-saving, but before that manual labor was required. To us, the first drill looks more like a torture device than a handy tool to have around the house.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/

Most of us can’t imagine not having a handy power drill at our fingertips. Overall these are affordable, useful, dependable, and a must in nearly every home. The cordless drill was introduced in 1960 by Black and Decker and home repairs were no longer a scary endeavor.

Life Savers

If anyone has ever taken a vacation cruise, we’re all familiar with the first-day training for passengers. We’re taught the importance of the life vest and to use it to save our lives. We don’t necessarily wonder how life jackets came to be, we just assume they always existed and that’s why we’re here today. The first life vests or jackets were made in 1854 and don’t resemble anything near what we’re used to today.

Image courtesy: Dawn Stetzel/Pinterest

At first life, jackets were bulky and restricting and thankfully have been updated. Life vests are now sleeker and easier to move around in. They have whistles attached so we’re able to call for help. Maritime law dictates the life vest standards and we’re hoping they know what’s needed to save us from drowning. We also get first-hand knowledge of these life-saving devices every time we fly and continue to pray we never need to use them. Happy travels!!

Rollerblading Began Ahead of Its Time

Our staff was floored to find out that rollerblades were invented in the 19th century. While most think they came soon after rollerskates, you’re wrong. The first pair of rollerblades was officially launched in 1819 and looked a bit bizarre. This could explain why they didn’t really take off till the 1980s and 1990s. Just look at what they used to look like and it’s clear why it was a flop at first.

Image courtesy:

Nothing says casual living like taking a stroll on Venice Beach in California. The sight of many gliding along with sidewalks in ultra-cool rollerblades and neon-colored spandex clothing makes most people just smile. The popularity of rollerblades is similar to Heidi Klum’s favorite saying; ‘In fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.” .

Vegans and Vegetarians Scroll to the Next Slide

Let’s begin with we’re not taking sides on this issue, just stating the facts. Broiler chickens are bred and raised for the poultry industry to sell chickens for consumption. Modern technology allows these chickens to be injected with steroids and hormones to make them bigger and more attractive. While some groups voice their argument against this, it’s still happening.

Image courtesy:

We will take a side on broiler chickens vs. organically grown and urge shoppers to do their own research on the subject. It goes without saying that for a cost there are alternative options to questionable chickens that have been modified to fit certain criteria. Kudos to farm-friendly growers who prefer the old way of raising chickens for consumption. Now, if we can just make them more affordable, this entire industry could be revamped.

The Baby Monitor

Baby monitors are about as important as food and diapers for our most precious offspring. The first baby monitor dates back to 1937, thanks to Zenith. Thanks to the popularity of the radio, the baby monitor was quick to follow, as it works the same as a radio. Countless deaths were prevented thanks to baby monitors, making them must-haves in every home with infants.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/Vintage Penny Lane/Amazon

Check out the strides made in the baby monitoring sector. The advances are mind-boggling. We no longer rely on corded boxes that limit our mobility. Thanks to smartphones, AI devices, and more we’re now able to view babies 24/7. Note to new parents, we highly recommend doing your due diligence and getting the most reliable product available.

What a Shame Florence Nightingale Isn’t Around

It goes without saying that proper health care is a basic need and not a luxury. Hard to even fathom fearing hospitals for getting medical care, but that really was once the case. Check out the images below to get an idea of what hospitals used to look like. Or better yet, check out an episode of ‘The Knick’ to get an idea of how hospitals were run in the early 20th century.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/RMF 24

Hospitals and health care have thankfully advanced to a point where hygiene and patient safety is of utmost importance. One possible upside to the recent global epidemic has to be the implementation of stricter hygienic practices. It’ll be a while before we’re ever caught without disposable gloves, masks, and alcogel. Let’s not forget a shout-out to anyone in the medical profession. We thank you all.

The Progress of Tractors

John Froelich built the world’s first tractor in 1892, only he didn’t know what to call it. Before this, farmers used steam-powered engines to get the job done, but that came with risks. Then engines overheated and caught fire, causing damages that far outweighed the benefits. This is why Froelich’s gas-powered device took off.

Image courtesy: Facebook/Wilts and Glos Standard

Several months after Froelich’s invention, it was aptly named the ‘Froelich Tractor’ and there was no looking back. The farming industry has changed considerably and for the better since the tractor arrived on the scene. For the history buffs amongst us visiting Froehlich, Iowa, now named Tractor Town, USA, should be considered, if in the area.

Even the Key Has Evolved

It makes sense that keys and locks were invented around the same time, some 6000 years ago in ancient Babylon. The first car key came to be in 1910. It wasn’t used to start the car, but to lock the engine. Starting a car still meant cranking the engine. It wasn’t until the late 1940s that keys were used to start the vehicle.

Image courtesy:

Oldsmobile was the pioneer in car keys in the early 20th century, but it took till 1999 to think up the wireless remote key. Once this was introduced, the sky was the limit. These pricey little keys can start the car by pushing a button, lock the car, pop open doors, and trunks at the push of a button. But unlike normal keys, if lost, these are costly to replace.

Transporting Our Favorite Ales is Serious Business

Those commercials with Budweiser Clydesdales pulling cold brews to their next delivery isn’t just a media ploy. It really was the way beer makers transported their wares to the masses. Getting beer delivered fresh and ready to drink wasn’t so simple back in the 19th century.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/AB Mack

The first refrigerated truck only appeared in 1925 and was used for beer, ice cream, food and so much more. Before trucks that were refrigerated, beer was transported openly and susceptible to harsh weather conditions. Needless to say, refrigerated trucks solved many problems and continues to be a crucial commodity today as well.

Getting There by Airplane

Many great minds imagined flying long before the Wright brothers, including Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Moy. The Wright brothers were just the lucky ones who succeeded, and thanks to them, travel was never the same afterward. The growth following the creation of the first Flying Machine has been beyond impressive.

Image courtesy: Linda W. Bell/Pinterest/

Thanks to low-cost carriers, travel is no longer for the rich, and practically anyone on any budget can hop on a plane and travel. Flying is still considered one of the safest modes of transportation and safety measures are strictly followed. Can’t help but wonder if Orville and Wilbur Wright even imagined jumbo planes, let alone first class and business sections. .

Before Robots There Were Vacuum Cleaners

Only a young demographic believes iRobots are the only way to clean a floor. The majority of us remember traditional vacuum cleaners. We’re talking about big, heavy machines with accessories to clean carpets and floors. A few on our staff are at an age that they recall door-to-door vacuum salesmen, yep, that really was a thing.

Image courtesy: Flickriver/NYMag

We’ve chosen to discuss the advancements from 1908 to the present. The big bulky cleaning machine has since been replaced by rechargeable hand-held devices that are lightweight and easy to use. Vacuums can now wash floors in addition to picking up dust. And the iRobot has got to be one of man’s greater inventions.

Speakers and Sound Systems

When we hear the word speakers, we envision a pair of big bulky boxes that take up way too much space. True audio lovers have their preferences and are willing to pay almost any price for the perfect sound. Speakers were invented in the 1800s by Johann Philip Reiss and were far from perfect. All we need is one good idea and then the sky’s the limit.

Image courtesy: Freepikpsd/Americainclass

Speakers have changed significantly over the years. We’re now learning that bigger isn’t necessarily better, in speakers that is. Speakers come in all sizes, ranges, and prices to fit nearly every budget. We can now listen to our favorite tunes on a small single soundbar or AI device and achieve superior quality. We no longer are bound to huge space-consuming bulky boxes that might not fit our minimalistic lifestyle.

Razors, Then and Now

Let’s talk about shaving and let’s for a moment focus on the older demographic, both men and women. We can remember a time when shaving options were pretty limited. Men always had a better selection than women, but still, the pickings were slim, not to mention dangerous. Some of us recall finding the old school razors in our parent’s bathroom.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/zacharyekjones1/etsy

We were pretty surprised to find out that the first disposable razor was introduced in 1901 by none other than Gillette, synonymous with razors and shaving. That first disposable razor, in which only the blade was disposed of has since gone through many upgrades and improvements. Most of us are more familiar with the 1970s version of disposable razors which are made of plastic and are tossed away after use.

Baby Strollers Are More Modern Than Ever

Depending on where you live, it’s called either a stroller or a pram. 100 years ago, comfort, style, or convenience weren’t a factor when it came to a baby’s day out. It was more about reliability and function. Safety and reliability are still a factor today, but so are demands from parents of said babies, which explains the transformation of this once boring but necessary piece of baby gear.

Image courtesy:

Today’s parents are looking for ease, convenience, lightweight alternatives for their outing with their offspring. Getting a stroller that can double as a car seat is a plus. Aerodynamic wheels and advanced navigation options for the active parent who wants to go jogging or power walking are a given today. Much like cars, handbags, smartphones, price is no object when it comes to getting the best bang for your buck.

The Fall and Rise of Women’s Swimsuits

Both images here show pretty modest swimsuits for women. We know that the 1800s and 1900s it was a simpler time. Women were expected to fit certain norms and Instagram selfies weren’t yet a thing. The evolution of the bathing suit is a fascinating subject and covers far too many areas, but we’ll try to hit the main points. Up until the bikini’s debut in 1946, women wore one-piece suits that by today’s standards would be considered dowdy and unflattering.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Parade

All that changed in July 1946, when France unveiled the bikini, and the rest is history. Depending on where you live, bathing suits are usually dictated by culture and location. Take Brazil for example, where bathing suits leave very little to the imagination, yet in the US, it’s a bit more conservative. The evolution of the one-piece suit has also changed dramatically in the last 200 years, with more changes undoubtedly to come.

Coffee Machines Were Always Money Makers

Decades before the term Barista and lattes were buzz words for our daily caffeine fix, drip coffee makers were our go-to machines. This is before pressed espresso makers were all the rage along with over-priced brand-name coffee pods. Drip coffee machines hit our lives in 1908 by Melitta Bentz, who used a paper filter to create that elixir that gets our day started.

Image courtesy: Catawiki/Amazon

While a large majority of us grew up with drip coffee makers, we had no problem ditching them for more modern espresso machines. The surge in popularity of quality slash gourmet meaning overpriced coffee to go began in the late 1980s and hasn’t slowed down since. Coffee chains are abundant worldwide, but just as popular are the home machines for our favorite roasted brew.

Stop. Go. Stop.

Admit it, this article brings us information about items we have grown up with our entire lives, yet we never questioned how they came to be. Well, that’s why we’re here today. The traffic light is one such part of daily life, we just figured has always been around, but that’s not the case.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/IReen Weiss/Wikimedia Commons

The first-ever traffic light made its debut in London in 1868 in the city of Westminster. It was a huge success and was quickly adopted by the rest of the world. Technology was quick to update the original version from the UK and in 1914, in Cleveland, Ohio, the electric traffic light was introduced to the world. Unlike the English version, the American signal system included the red, yellow, and green lights that are still in use today around the world.

Cha Ching

For many of us, paying for items at a store is an everyday task, and we don’t think too much about it. We don’t stare at the cashier in awe and question how this system was ever achieved. Maybe we should delve into the fascinating world of cash registers before scanning bar codes were even thought up. The first register came to light in 1879 by bar owner James Ritty and looked much like the one in the image below.

Image courtesy:

For anyone above the age of say 50, we have seen the amazing advances of registers throughout the years. We are becoming a cashless society that relies on bar codes, scanning, and wireless technology to purchase our items. We are truly fortunate to witness the progress in our shopping and payment options. On the other hand, we must consider the lack of human contact required today when shopping online, which is oftentimes bittersweet when flashing back to simpler times.

Freshly Ironed Clothe are Overrated

Some of our staff wanted to keep this one off the list, but others insisted. For some, this is a personal issue and brings up PTSD for some who’ve done away with the horrible chore of ironing. We’ll settle for just laying out the facts. The first iron was introduced by the Chinese in First Century BC. It was similar to the image below and was heated and then used to iron clothes. For obvious reasons, it wasn’t ideal and caused far too many injuries to have made it worthwhile.

Image courtesy:

Thankfully, modern technology advanced so quickly that it took less than 2000 years to invent the electric iron. The electric iron was introduced officially in June 1882. It’s fair to assume that ironing clothes before 1882 was a hassle, and when the electric version hit the market, women were ecstatic and thrilled. Many of us still think the dishwasher was a much better invention.

Storing Data Wasn’t Always So Simple

Storing data dates back to the early 1900s. Data storage was totally archaic and nothing like what we’re familiar with today. The storing of data was done on paper cards. Yep, that’s right, paper cards! The system was similar to a loyalty punch card. Hard to imagine storing data in this fashion or how reliable it really was.

Image courtesy:

Thanks to the gods of modern technology, storing data is easier and simpler than ever before. Just as computers advanced, so have storage practices. Here’s how to gauge the progress in an easy-to-understand manner. We have gone from large containers that could hold several kilobytes of data to today, where microchips can store multiple terabytes of information.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Many of us wouldn’t be caught dead without our smartphones, and rightly so. Nothing beats having a handy camera available at all times. This wasn’t always the case, and many people are still around to attest to the fact that cameras have probably made the most significant advances over the years. The first camera was invented in 1685 but didn’t catch on till the 1800s.

Image courtesy:

Photography is truly an art form, and we’re not disputing that. On the other hand, we’re grateful that budget and skill no longer dictate if we can or should have a camera. Many of our staff remember the days of loading film into their trusty camera and waiting to get pictures developed. The digital camera hit our lives in the late 1970s, and everyone was sure it would fail and that nothing compared to traditional cameras and film. The rest, of course, is history, and we’re glad we’re all allowed to nurture our inner Ansel Adams.

Army camouflage or Fashion?

Camouflage dates back to the middle of the 18th century, where it was tried out by military rifle units. It wasn’t grown into more until the French implemented it in 1915. Here’s some interesting trivia, the term camouflage is a French verb, defined as ‘make up for the stage.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/

The U.S. military began using camouflage in 1942, during World War II. That was then, and this is now, right? Digital camouflage was introduced in the 1990s. Digital camouflage is made up of a disruptive pattern, allowing the military to remain hidden in the distance. This technology was achieved by combining macro and micro patterns in one design by Georg Otto Schick.

Men’s Swimsuits Weren’t Always a Thing

A lot of people aren’t aware of this, but up to the late 1800s, men used to swim naked. That’s right, skinny dipping was the norm, at least for men. Women also swam during that time but were expected to figure out a way to cover themselves up, but we’re focusing on men now. The first swimsuit came to light during the 1970s and were pretty much one-piece monstrosities, as seen in the image below.

Image courtesy of

How we went from one-piece bathing suits to skimpy bikini-style suits is another story altogether. Swimsuits for men are definitely dictated by culture and location. It’s obvious that in North America, men are more conservative in comparison to, say, the French, who love their risque and revealing suits. Whether we like our men in briefs, speedos, or baggy swimming trunks, we’re just happy that they’re covering up and slathering ourselves with sunblock.