10 Unexpected Things That Came Back to Us From the Past Like a Boomerang

The past always has its way of coming back to us. Nothing is ever out of style forever, and let’s be honest – nothing is truly 100% original anymore. If you can think of it, chances are someone else has in the past. Their idea may have been before its time, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t in mind. These are 10 modern-day items that you probably didn’t know have already existed for a very long time.


10 Modern Day Items That Were Invented A Long Time Ago

The world has changed a lot in the last 50 to 100 years. We have technology that people back in those days couldn’t even imagine. Or could they? It turns out, even some of our most “advanced” items today were actually thought of a long time ago.


1. VR Headsets and Television Eyes

television glasses
image Credit: flickr
Woman using the HP Reverb G2 Virtual Reality Headset and controls
Image Credit: HP

We all think of VR headsets as incredibly new, highly advanced technology. While the ones we have today certainly are more advanced than ever before, the idea isn’t a new one. In 1936, Hugo Gernsback invented what he called “television glasses”. At the time, people thought they were impractical. As it turns out, he was just way ahead of his time.


2. Electric vs Motor Scooter

10 Unexpected Things That Came Back to Us From the Past Like a Boomerang
Image Credit: Getty Images/ Pixaby

Naturally, electricity (and access to it) was quite different in 1915. So while the Autopad Company of Long Island, New York didn’t manufacture an electric scooter, the did have a motorized one. They produced these babies from 1915 until 1922. They didn’t become big back then. Today, however, you’ll see many people traversing major cities around the world on the electric version of them.

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3. Dishwashers

10 Unexpected Things That Came Back to Us From the Past Like a Boomerang
Image Credit: Keith’s Magazine/ Shutterstock

We tend to think of the dishwasher as a relatively recent modern-day convenience. Turns out, it was actually first invented quite a long time ago – in 1850, in fact! These dishwashers were made of wood and required a hand crank to use. They didn’t begin popular, however, because they weren’t overly practical. Today, at least in North America, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a house without a dishwasher installed.


4. Menstrual Cups

Divacup - Beauty Photos, Trends & News | Allure
Image Credit: Allure

For my part, I only first-ever even heard of menstrual cups as early as five years ago. They’ve been slowly gaining popularity in the last few years. While they may seem like some modern, new-wave feminist invention, the first prototypes of menstrual cups were patented in the 1960s and 1970s. While most of these never made it to market, in 1937 actress Leona Chalmers designed and patented the first contemporary version. These cups were pretty similar to the ones you can buy today, such as the most well-known version, the Diva Cup.


5. The Treadmill

Torture treadmill
Image Credit: Nairaland
old version of a treadmill
Image Credit: Nairaland

Most of us have always grown up in a time when treadmills have existed. Some of us may even have had one in our homes growing up. Whether used as a clothes rack or for its actual intended purpose, we still think of them as something more, well, modern. In reality, the first-ever treadmills were used as torture devices in prisons in the 19th century. Later on, the first patent for a treadmill as an exercise device was granted in 1913.

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6. Paddle Boats

10 Unexpected Things That Came Back to Us From the Past Like a Boomerang
Image Credit: Wikipedia/ Deposit Photos

How many romantic comedies can you think of in which the couple goes on a paddle boat date in the nearby park? Probably a few! Turns out these were invented long before rom-coms were a thing. The Hydrocycle, operated with a crank and pedals, was invented in the 1970s.


7. Water Bicycle

10 Unexpected Things That Came Back to Us From the Past Like a Boomerang
Image Credit: Wikipedia/ AliExpress

Though still not too common, water bicycles are something that you can see today. While the new ones are built much more for sport and speed, apparently these contraptions have been around since da Vinci!


8. The Water Tricycle

10 Unexpected Things That Came Back to Us From the Past Like a Boomerang
Image Credit: East News/ Depositphotos

I know, seems like I’m repeating myself here, but these really all are different inventions. Nowadays, the water tricycle is merely a fun kids’ ride at the local amusement park. In 1809, however, the Pinkert Navigating Tricycle was used to cross the English Channel from France to England. The distance was only about 25 miles, but on a small water tricycle, it was an impressive feat.


9. Bedtime Reading Glasses

10 Unexpected Things That Came Back to Us From the Past Like a Boomerang
Image Credit: Wikimedia/ Amazon

For those too lazy to stack some pillows behind their head (or, yes, for those who are unable), there’s an invention for that! They’re called the Hamblin glasses, aka the lazy glasses. First released to the market in 1936, these glasses are designed so that you can read while fully lying down in bed. They’ve never been super popular, but they are still available for purchase… as long as you don’t mind looking a little funny.

10. The Portable Sauna

Vintage Photos of Bizarre Exercise Fads / portable sauna
Image Credit: Insider
Americans Single Person Steam (Traditional) Sauna with Remote Control
Image Credit: Wayfair

It’s a sauna that you can take with you… anywhere! That’s right, you can hit the sauna right where you are. First invented in 1955, the purchase of portable, personal saunas is apparently on the rise. Would you buy one?

Do you know of any other modern-day items that were invented a long time ago? Let us know!

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Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.