10 Recent Inventions That Aren’t As New As We All Thought

Self-driving cars, selfie sticks, drones, touchscreen devices, e-cigarettes, jetpacks, and many other things seem like fairly modern inventions. Indeed, most of their “inventors” list them as newly invented and even go as far as seeking patents. But the fact is, many of these “inventions” have already been in existence for quite some time. They may have earlier lookalikes that ended up not going into production or that went into limited production due to one reason or another. Some also made it into full production but were recalled due to poor sales.

10 Selfie Sticks


The first selfie stick was invented long before the first handheld mobile device was made. This 1925 photograph, for instance, may show a couple taking a photograph with a camera attached to a 507 Mechanical Movemen... Brown, Henry T. Best Price: $2.15 Buy New $6.30 (as of 12:20 EST - Details) stick. However, a selfie stick was definitely invented by the Japanese man Hiroshi Ueda in the 1980s. A photographer and worker at the Minolta camera company, Hiroshi made the selfie stick because he and his wife were unable to take pictures of themselves during a trip to Europe. (When he asked a boy to take pictures of them, the boy ran off with the camera.)

Frustrated, he invented something that would allow him take a picture of himself: He called it the “extender stick.” Since the iPhone really hadn’t been invented yet, a small camera was to be attached to one end of the stick. It also had a small mirror in its front so that users could see how they would look in the photograph. He patented the “extender stick” in 1983. The product was mass produced for sale but it was a commercial failure. The quality of the pictures was low. Besides, previous research showed that the women back then were embarrassed by the idea of taking pictures of themselves. The selfie stick was then reinvented by Wayne Fromm in the year 2000, three years before Hiroshi’s patent expired. Fromm called his the “quik pod.” He believes he is the inventor of today’s selfie sticks and has even sued several other selfie stick producers. When asked about Hiroshi’s selfie sticks, he said they were “prior art.”

9 Touchscreens


Photo credit: Bcos47

In 2007, Apple released the first iPhone: a full touchscreen phone, complete with its own virtual keypad. To many, Apple had done something new, something never seen before. They had made Check Amazon for Pricing. the first touchscreen phone. But this was incorrect: Apple did not make the first touchscreen phone, nor was the touchscreen a new invention.

To start with, a year before the first iPhone was released, LG had introduced a full touchscreen phone. Even that was not the first, though. The world’s first touchscreen phone was IBM’s Simon, which was released in 1992. And touchscreen technology even predates the Simon. The first touchscreen device was a tablet made by E.A. Johnson in 1965 that was used by air traffic controllers until 1995. Bent Stumpe and Frank Beck made the first capacitive touchscreen in the early ‘70s. Unlike Johnson’s tablet, it could not be pressed with the fingers. Instead, it required a stylus. In 1971, Samuel Hurst developed the first resistive touchscreen, which he called the “elograph.” It responded to the fingers as well as a stylus. In 1985, HP invented the world’s first touchscreen computer, called the HP-150. In 1993, Apple also released its first touchscreen device—the Newton Personal Digital Assistant. The product was a flop, recording low sales.

8 Wheel Skates


Photo via Scientific American

Wheel skates look somewhat like regular inline skates, except that the wheels are much larger, up to the size of bicycle tires. They are seen as a cross betweenan inline skate, a ski, and a bike. Amazon Prime (One Year... Check Amazon for Pricing. Recently, a company called Chariot Skates said they had come up with something unique—the Chariot wheel skates. According to the company, wheel skates are “revolutionary new skating product[s].” Revolutionary? They do at least revolve. New? No. The first wheel skate was made more than 142 years ago.

It even featured in the March 19, 1870, issue of Scientific American magazine. Made by Thomas Luders from Olney, Illinois, and called a “pedespeed,” the wheels then were much smaller, measuring around 36 centimeters (15 in) in diameter. Luders also said the skates could be used by anybody, irrespective of their physique. He himself was a large, heavy man, and he claimed he could use them for two straight hours without getting tired. Another version of wheel skates, appearing in 1923, had its tires on the inside of the foot rather than outside. (Other than the size of the wheels, the main improvement made by Chariot Skates is the small tire at the back of the bigger tire for increased stability.)

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