Creatives are always coming up with new inventions every day. Some of these, such as the telephone or lightbulb, have withstood the test of time, whereas others have been completely forgotten. In this post, we’ll take a trip down memory lane to list some of the most unique but forgotten inventions.

1. The Smell-O-Vision

In the early 1960s, Hans Laube created the Smell-O-Vision, a concept where the TV would release scents to let viewers smell what was happening in a program or movie. He sold this idea to several TV manufacturers, but none considered it. If anything, the Smell-O-Vision was only used in the film “Scent of Mystery” by Mike Todd Jr.

One of the primary reasons why this idea was forgotten was it was impractical. For the TVs to work, they would have to be bought with a wide range of scents that would need occasional refilling. It sounds like so much work for an entertainment device.

2. Holy Water Vending Machines

Modern-day vending machines are packed with sodas, snacks, and many other items along the same line. Interestingly, this is not a new/recent concept – it dates back to the 1st century. A Greek engineer named Hero of Alexandria built the first vending machine to dispense holy water when a coin was inserted. The Church dropped this invention after a few years.

3. The Telharmonium

Before mp3 players and jukeboxes, there was the Telharmonium. This was the first electronic music device, and it was massive. Developed by Thaddeus Cahill, the Telharmonium comprised multiple electronic keyboards that would generate music, which would be transferred via telephone in the 1800s. The introduction of more effective and less bulky music sources contributed to the forgotten telharmonium.

4. Radio Hats

During the 1940s, people used to walk around with radio hats. As the name implies, these were hats fitted with radios. It had everything, including speakers, antennas, and wires. They were called Man-From-Mars Radio Hats and were invented by the American Merri-Lei Corporation. Radio hats were abandoned when headphones were invented. Also, they were impractical because other people could hear what was playing.

5. The Microsoft SPOT Watch

Besides Microsoft, Bill Gates has invented several other devices, such as the SPOT watch, which many people have forgotten. It was an older version of the smartwatch. The gadget was designed to receive news, stock updates, weather reports, and different types of information via FM radio signals.

Launched in 2004, the SPOT watch was a massive flop because it was super expensive and didn’t work well. Funny enough, when an almost similar watch was launched by Apple in 2015, it was a huge success, raking in millions of dollars in sales.

6. Electric Pen

Thomas Edison was famous for inventing the light bulb that we use today. However, he also invented other things, including the electric pen, which wasn’t popular. It was a regular pen connected to an electric motor, designed to puncture holes inside papers to duplicate what was written on the top page. After patenting this invention, it never got much attention from scholars and was forgotten.

7. Wireless Electricity

Nikola Tesla, one of the brilliant minds of the 1900s, had a plan to create wireless electricity that would be free and accessible to everyone. It was more than a vision because Tesla actually conducted experiments and even built a tower in New York for this purpose. Unfortunately, Tesla went broke, marking the end of the invention.

8. Water Clocks

While it’s true that sand timers were the famous clocks used by ancient civilizations, there were also water clocks. Invented by the Ancient Greeks, water clocks used water flow to tell time – each had an intake and outtake. Though somewhat efficient, water clocks were impractical and were forgotten. To begin with, they were not portable. Also, touching or interfering with the water clock would mess up its operation.

9. Dynasphere

In the era of the first automobiles, J.A. Purves, a Scottish engineer, created one big wheel called the Dynasphere. It was basically a giant wheel that would rotate you from point A to point B. From the get-go, the Dynasphere was a massive failure. It wasn’t easily navigable and was quite unstable, especially while negotiating corners.

10. Runcible Spoon

The runcible spoon, a combination of a spoon, fork, and knife, was popularized in Edward Lear’s poems. Invented in the 16th century, the cutlery was designed to eliminate the need for many dining utensils. It remains a mystery why this invention was forgotten because it would have really come in handy in fast-food dining.

11. Anti-Comet Umbrellas and Pills

In 1910, astronomer Camille Flammarion predicted that Halley’s comet would pass close to Earth and there would be a chance of toxic particles entering the atmosphere. This news scared a lot of people but not inventors. As people were panicking, another lot decided to create anti-comet umbrellas and pills.

The umbrellas were marketed as ideal options for protecting oneself from meteor showers, whereas the pills would act as antidotes to exposure to these toxic particles. Obviously, both inventions were snake oils.

12. Talking Dolls

In 1890, Thomas Edison was back in the world of inventions with the first talking doll. He hired a group of women to record “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” which was then programmed into the dolls. Unfortunately, these talking dolls were a massive failure because they scared children, the target market. The invention remains forgotten more than a century later.

13. Giant Crossbow

Designed and built by Leonardo Da Vinci, the giant crossbow was 27 yards wide. It had the exact design of a typical crossbow, but it was 20 times bigger. The strange thing about Da Vinci’s invention is that it wasn’t designed to harm opponents. Instead, it was meant to induce fear in battle and intimidate the opponents.

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Last Update: June 19, 2024