Crazy Futures From the Past: Tank Operated by Phonograph, a Bike for the Whole Family, Etc

By Jennifer Welsh | March 11, 2011 8:31 am

All inventors have their ups and downs.

Thomas Edison wanted to make pianos out of cement and Henry Ford tried to invent a nuclear car. Popular Science recently went through their 138 years of archives to find the insanest inventions on its pages, and now they grace us in gallery form on their website.

For every airplane, computer or chemical weapon appearing in our archives, there are a ton of other inventions that are, to put it bluntly, rather pointless. At best, they’re well-intentioned but a little impractical. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Don’t miss the magic of the combo piano-vacuum, because really, everyone likes a mash-up and the only way to improve a vacuum is to make it stationary. But I guess you could always use it to clean the piano itself.

Some of the others are more reasonable, like a dog-wheel powered bike (don’t say you haven’t thought about it), which PopSci explains in the gallery:

The so-called “Poochmobile,” invented by eighty year-old dog trainer Z. Wiggs, applied the squirrel cage principle to its primary wheel. While the dog ran, a belt and pulley mechanism would turn the rear drive wheels, which were in turn controlled by the driver’s “gearshift” lever in the front. Our question is, how did Wiggs get his dog to run around around in that wheel? Dogs aren’t hamsters — wouldn’t most breeds just sit there, whining and confused?

The invention that takes the cake, though, is the whole family bike pictured above. Mom could get her sewing done while the men did all the work and her daughter enjoys the view. Way to go, Charles Steinlauf. (See video of the “Goofybike” in action.)

Image: British Pathe

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • Georg

    Biggest nonsense in those papers were pictures
    showing some “artists” ideas on the future city, household, traffic etc.

  • davin

    Always provide your hamster with a sleeping area. Hamsters like to snuggle and nest when sleeping and providing your hamster with a hamster house will ensure you have a happy, unstressed pet. Not only that, but you will find your hamster storing food in its house, they are truly delightful little creatures.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar