Minds can sometimes go astray, as proven by the recent article from Popular Science. Its editors went back to take a look at the most impractical, failed inventions they have featured over the years. The highlight is probably the piano-vacuum, an instrument that can be converted into a pedal-operated, enormous, 400-pound vacuum cleaner. Only one thing can be said about the design: it sucked, big time.
Then, there was a pooch-mobile, a small vehicle employing an oversized running wheel as the primary means of locomotion. The inventor was obviously a good mechanic, but he was barking up the wrong tree – dogs are not gerbils, and they simply didn’t cooperate. Still, the 1939 version of a zero-emission vehicle is nothing to sniff at.
But probably the most innovative was a crew-less tank from 1934. It was an autonomous, programmable vehicle designed a decade before the first electronic computers. The program was simply punched on a phonograph disk – simple, but brilliant. It didn’t strike the right note with the military, though. Without proper artificial intelligence, the vehicle was simply stupid. That didn’t stop scientists from fine-tuning the idea, which eventually resulted in today’s Predators.
The PopSci list was fun, but it seems incomplete. I personally know at least a couple of failed inventions that weren’t featured, and I had a feeling it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Some quick research proved me right. And also gave me a bad case of laughing pains.
If you thought that vacuum-cleaning piano was awkward, what do you think about an anti-eating face mask? While slightly freaky and reminiscent of various Saw scenarios, it was certainly working. Please remember: if at any time you choose to forcibly limit your food intake, you owe royalties to Ms. Lucy L. Barmby and the U.S. Patent Office.
The next invention is even stranger. After all, why would anyone need three-legged pantyhose (my apologies to the radioactive mutants all around the world). Well, the third leg is a backup in case of runs or tears, and I’m pretty sure it’s well worth the potential social humiliation.