You’ve seen our futuristic gadgets list, now check out the “Top 10 Strangest (or Coolest) Gadgets of the Past”. Which ones are your favorites?
10. Mirage 2000 – 1976 (?)
The Mirage 2000 is a classic gadget that produces a “small, full-color hologram of natural, lifelike appearance, allowing 360-degree viewing” of objects that are placed inside.
The physical object to be converted to a hologram is placed in the concave centre of the bottom mirror. A hologram instantly projects up through this aperture, appearing to the viewer as a truly solid object.
9. Wrist-Watch Radio – 1947
First introduced in 1947, this wrist-watch radio used a “new miniature radio transceiver being developed by the U. S. Bureau of Standards”, capable of receiving/transmitting short waves while also picking up standard radio broadcasts.
This world’s smallest microtube was made possible by the elimination of bulky wires, which have been replaced by a silver chloride circuit stenciled on a slice of plastic or ceramic material. Developed as a result of co-operative research with industry, the miniature tube has various military applications aside from its use in the wrist-watch radio
8. Micro TV – 1979
This nifty Sinclair Micro TV made its debut in the September 1979 issue of Scientifican American — priced at a whopping $705 ($249.95 without inflation). It offered a 2-inch tube with a resolution that resembles “that of a clear sharp photograph”.
The Sinclair TV comes complete with an American AC adapter and charger, ear phones, carrying case, rechargeable batteries and a built-in antenna for both VHF and UHF. It also comes with a cigarette lighter power converter, so you can watch all your favorite TV channels from your boat, plane, motor home or car without even using your batteries
7. Wrist Watch Camera – 1939
This wrist watch camera was ahead of its time, invented by Jujiro Ichiki, it took real pictures — 36 pictures in one loading — and is equipped with a f .4.5 lens. [Source]
6. “LASER” CD Player from 1983
In 1983, you could’ve purchased this brand new CD player — the size of a VHS deck — for $589.99, complete with “LASER” etched onto the tray.
You’ve heard stereo before, but never like this. Treat your ears to music that sounds so real, you might just think it’s the original. Our Compact Digital Audio Disc Player (CD) uses a sophisticated laser system to delicately lift the sound off compact discs for phenomenal sound.
5. Clock Phonograph
Similar to the CD player alarm clocks we have now, this device offers a built-in phonograph that “awakens you in the morning to the sound of music”. The “Clock Phonograph” was first shown in a 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics. View full-sized article here
Both phonograph and clock motor is contained in a box the size of a large camera, and the hour for the morning serenade is set by knob as in an alarm clock. When out of use the case is folded up to make a neat and attractive table or mantel ornament.
4. World’s First Hard Drive – 1956
Presenting the world’s first hard drive, first introduced in 1956 — IBM’s 5MB Random Access Memory Accounting: RAMAC®, magnetic-disk memory storage. It stored information on fifty disks, which spun at 1,200 rpm.
These disks are mounted so as to rotate about a vertical axis, with a spacing of three tenths of an inch between disks. This spacing permits two magnetic heads to be positioned to any one of the 100 concentric tracks which are available on each side of each disk. Each track contains 500 alphanumeric characters. Total storage capacity: 5,000,000 characters. The two recording heads are mounted in a pair of arms which are moved, by a feed-back control system, in a radial direction to straddle a selected disk.
3. Stapleless Japanese Stapler – 1986
Made by Lihit Industrial Company of Japan, this innovative stapler actually cuts a little flap/slot in the paper instead of using normal staples.
But from the users point of view, you just push the stapler down as if it was a normal stapler – the clever mechanism does the rest.
2. Flying Saucer Camera – 1935
This “Flying Saucer Camera” was first introduced back in 1953 and was designed specifically for the Air Force. It featured one lens to “take regular pictures” while the second lens “separates light into colors so scientists can judge the source and make-up of saucers”.[Source]
1. Flat Screen TV – 1958
According to this old Popular Mechanics article, flat screen televisions have been around since 1958 — or at least the technology. Designed mainly for military use, it just never caught on due to patents/licensing issues.
The picture tube, only 2-5/8 inches thick, is made of two rectangular pieces of plate glass with about an inch of space between them. The edges are sealed with powdered-glass solder to hold the vacuum. The surface of the thin tube is the equivalent of a 21-inch conventional screen
Honorable Mention – Duck Hunt-Style Game – 1935
This Duck Hunt-style game made its debut in a 1935 issue of Modern Mechanix — basically consisting of two light guns that were used to shoot an electric eye on a bird.
Photo-electric cells are mounted in the bodies of duck targets which move across a panelled opening at one end of the room. Each gun has its source of light which flashes on when the trigger is pressed. If a marksman “hits” the photo-electric cell directly in the center of the bird’s body, the duck falls and the number of respective hits is registered automatically in light.
Honorable Mention – 14 Ton Camera – 1934
This 14 ton camera from 1934 cost a whopping $15,240 ($217,540.28 – 2005) to construct — weighing in at 14 tons and 31 feet long.
Two years’ time was needed to build the camera which can take photographs with microscopic exactness. It is equipped to make nautical and airway charts with a precision of less than l/1000th of an inch. The camera can hold plates as large as 50 inches square.