Here’s What 12 Everyday Items Looked Like Back When They Were First Invented

It seems like every time we walk into a store, there’s some new-and-improved version of a product to purchase. No matter what kind of item we’re looking for, technology is constantly advancing in order to make our lives easier.

If you’ve ever seen pictures of the original designs of everyday appliances (or maybe even used a few of them yourself), you immediately realize the stark contrast between the inventions of long ago and the sleekness of today’s top brands. Here are 12 of the biggest technological improvements for items we use almost every day!

1. Vacuums (then): Take a look at this cumbersome thing! Long ago, vacuums were absolutely enormous, and they were lugged from house to house to clean floors with the power of a combustion engine.

Vacuums (now): Nowadays, vacuums are small, sleek, and they can literally clean almost any surface you can think of. Nearly every home has one of these appliances, which come in all shapes and sizes.

2. Hair curlers (then): The first hair salons came about in 1917, and they utilized massive heated machines that looked somewhat like brain control devices to curl hair. It seems like this is a still shot straight out of a science-fiction movie!

Hair curlers (now): Modern technology has done away with the need for those multi-wired devices. Hair curling is achieved through the use of chemicals, hair dryers, and handheld curlers of many varieties.

3. Cameras (then): The art of photography was introduced in the early 1800s with ambitious devices like the one shown here. As you can see, these antique cameras were far too large to carry around, and they didn’t possess many features.

Cameras (now): Just take a look at any professional photographer’s portfolio and you’ll be in awe of what cameras can do today. With their impressive zoom lenses and external flashes, modern cameras are as stunning as the scenes they capture.

4. Condoms (then): Even long ago, people knew the importance of contraceptives, but the condoms they used weren’t very comfortable… or reliable. Many of the original versions were made of lambskin, animal intestines, or even tortoise shells!

Condoms (now): With a variety of sizes and shapes to choose from, safe sex is much more pleasurable with the latex condoms available nowadays. Pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are greatly prevented with their use—phew!

5. Toasters (then): The original toaster, invented in Scotland in 1893, used basic heated coils to brown bread. There was also a good chance of burning your fingers while trying to remove your toast.

Toasters (now): Pop-up toasters have alleviated the danger of skin-to-coil contact, and they also feature multiple settings for different types of bread. Thankfully, we don’t have to risk singeing our fingers just for a crunchy piece of toast!

6. Washing machines (then): Before washing machines, all clothing and garments were hand-washed, which was tedious. The first machine was developed in 1796, but by looking at it, you’d have no idea what it was made to do.

Washing machines (now): The washing machines of today help conserve water and boast multiple options for the type of clothes that need to be cleaned. No matter how delicate your fabrics are, they’ll come out clean and fresh!

7. Vending machines (then): One of the earliest versions of the vending machine was actually invented in ancient Greece. They were mostly located in temples, and when people placed coins into the side, the machines would dispense water.

Vending machines (now): Vending machines are everywhere these days and they contain all sorts of goodies, from candy to soft drinks. Just make sure you have the correct change so you can get what you’re craving!

8. Sound recorders (then): The first recording device ever created was known as the phonograph, and it helped pave the way for a revolution in the music and film industry not long after.

Sound recorders (now): There have been amazing advancements made to modern-day recording. Music and film studios have intricate soundboards that allow users to create any kind of sound they desire.

9. Telephones (then): Alexander Graham Bell holds the patent for the first telephone ever created. People were in awe that they could talk to one another from miles away on this odd-looking contraption. It must have seemed like pure magic!

Telephones (now): Phones today are nothing short of miraculous. Not only can we call our friends and family at a moment’s notice, but we can take pictures, record video, surf the Internet, and even order food with them!

10. Treadmills (then): Treadmills date back to the time of preindustrial societies, when they were used by animals to help grind grain. Not only that, but the same treadmill mechanics that allow us to keep ourselves fit today were used as torture devices for prisoners in some instances! Yikes.

Treadmills (now): These machines are located inside every gym in the world—and in many people’s homes, too. You might think exercise is torturous, but treadmills are now a great way to burn off fat and stay in shape!

11. McDonald’s (then): McDonald’s is the largest fast-food chain in the world, serving nearly 68 million customers every day. When the franchise was first established in the 1940s, the Big Mac wasn’t invented yet, and the Ronald McDonald mascot was still years away.

McDonald’s (now): The Big Mac sandwich has become a fast-food staple, and McDonald’s menu now includes healthier options as well. The chain is still serving burgers and fries to millions of hungry customers every day.

12. Computers (then): The world’s first computer, made from a hand-carved wooden case, was designed by Steve Wozniak, an electronics engineer who founded Apple. Still, it only had a fraction of the capabilities that modern computers have today.

Computers (now): It would be a challenge to find a company today that doesn’t use computers in some facet of their day-to-day routine. Their use has become utterly ingrained in our culture, and it’s almost impossible to imagine life running smoothly without them!

Modern technology is absolutely inspiring, and it’s only going to get better! Who knows what the future has in store for us?

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