Joseph Gayetty – Inventor of Toilet Paper.

The first mentions of toilet paper were found in the Chinese 5th century writings and during the 14th century. They even started regular mass production of such paper in the amounts of over 10 million sheets in only one province. Wealthy citizens and the royal family in Beijing even had access to the several types […]

Vintage 19th Century Washing Machine.

A Compressed-air washing machine (manufactured in the late 19th century) by Friedrich Wolter & Hans Echberg. Image Credit: Photograph by Benjamin Healley. Source: Museums Victoria, Copyright Museums Victoria / CC BY (Licensed as Attribution 4.0 International) Source: Washing Machines Collection

The Early Hair Dryers from Hell, c.1930s.

Before the invention of hair dryers, women would often attach hoses to the exhaust ends of vacuum cleaners to blow-dry their hair. A woman sits under a chrome-plated hair dryer, 1928. (Keystone-France/Getty Images)c. 1928 (Corbis) A stylist uses a freestanding dryer to blow dry a client’s hair with controlled precision at the Hairdressing Fair of […]

1928: The Birth of Sliced Bread, Missouri.

Sliced bread and its inventor, Otto Rohwedder, have both celebrated a birthday. Rohwedder was born on July 7, 1880, and the first sliced loaves were sold on July 7, 1928. Every invention that makes life easier is now deemed “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” (or if you live in Australia, ‘the greatest thing since […]

Why Mediaeval Europeans Slept Inside Boxes.

A box bed in Austria. Photocredit: Wolfgang Sauber/Wikimedia Commons. For much of human history, privacy during bedtime was an alien concept. Many poor families lived in small houses, where there was only one or two rooms, the larger of which functioned as bedroom and living room both shared by every occupant of the house, including […]

The Zippo Lighter, invented by George Blaisdell in 1932.

When it comes to reliable products, they don’t come more hardy than Zippo lighters, a device so insanely well made that the company that makes them guarantee to repair it for free, forever. Basically, if you ever break a Zippo lighter (a considerable feat in of itself) Zippo will repair and/replace it free of charge, […]

The Coalminer’s Canary Resuscitator.

This peculiar device, in the collection of the Science Museum in South Kensington, London, looks like a tiny gas chamber a movie villain would use. Throw in your enemy—in this case, a small innocent canary—close the hatch, turn open the valve to let in poisonous gas from the cylinder above, and then laugh manically as […]

The Flying Bum, Bedfordshire.

Full of gas: The world’s longest aircraft – part airship, plane and helicopter – has been unveiled in Cardington, Bedfordshire. It will be used for surveillance and aid missions… and resembles something very familiar. The 300ft-long ‘airship’ unveiled in Britain is the world’s longest aircraft. Known as the HAV304, aircraft is being displayed at a […]

Hobbs and the Great Lock Controversy of 1851.

In April 1851, Alfred C. Hobbs boarded the steamship Washington bound for Southampton, England. His official duty was to sell the New York City-based company Day and Newell’s newest product – the parautopic lock – at a trade show – London’s Great Exhibition. But Hobbs had something a bit more nefarious up his sleeve, or […]

The Anatomy of Metal Type.

A term not labelled on this diagram is the kern, the part of the face which extends over the side of the type body and rests on the shoulder of the type next to it, or on a special, high piece of spacing material. Kerns are often found on the letters f and j, among […]