Historical Beginnings

The bizarre and fascinating creations through history

A newspaper advertisement for the Urban Window Baby Cage

Photo provided by rootsimple.com

A newspaper advertisement for the Urban Window Baby Cage

Something that may often slips people’s minds is the fact that everything around them was created by somebody at some point. The light bulb did not just magically appear. It started as an idea in Thomas Edison’s mind, and was then put through hundreds of prototypes until he eventually got it right. The telephone was first created by Alexander Graham Bell, and it also went through hundreds of prototypes and versions. In order to become an invention, one must secure a patent in order to claim the rights to their design. The U.S Patent and Trademark Office issues hundreds of thousands of patents every year. In 2020, they issued 646,244 patents and 388,900 patent grants, according to uspto.gov. Given these large numbers, there are bound to be a few strange and unique examples.

The air-turbo head-massaging machine
Invented in 1965, this device was designed to give people the experience of a head massage without the need of a second person. The helmet looks like a bowl with a tube coming out of the top that then connects to a large box-shaped device. If this weirdly sci-fi helmet interests you, you can still purchase a massage helmet today; albeit in a more comfortable and modern manner, all according to stacker.com and eandt.theiet.org.

The cat mew machine
Created in Japan in 1963, this strange machine was designed to scare away rodents from homes. Powered by a two-watt motor, the Cat Mew would let out a meow 10 times a minute. The little cherry on top would be the addition of light-up eyes, all according to eandt.theiet.org. Imagine walking to the kitchen with this thing in the corner meowing and staring at you through the dark.

The urban window baby cage
Do you feel your child needs more fresh air? Do you live in a high rise apartment in any large metropolitan area? Look no further than the “Urban Window Baby Cage.” In the late 19th century, doctors started to recommend that parents in urban apartments regularly expose their children to fresh air. In 1922, Emma Read from Spokane, Wash. filed the first commercial patent for a baby cage. The cages grew in popularity, specifically in London, throughout the 1930s among apartment dwellers who did not have access to backyards, according to mashable.com. However, there was likely a very prevalent reason why it landed on Time Magazine’s “The 50 Worst Inventions” in 2010, according to content.time.com.

The “goofybike”
Invented by Charles Steinlauf in 1939, this wacky bike design could carry four people. The person on top controls the steering using a car steering wheel, whoever was in the back was in charge of pedaling, there was a spot to sit on the handlebars in front of the bike, and there was a sewing machine on the underside. Someone could sit at the machine and actually continue to sew. Charles Steinlauf was known in Chicago for his outlandish bicycle designs, but the craziest part of them was that each and every one of them actually worked as one would expect from a bicycle, all according to vintag.es and thebrainpenny.com.