‘Phenakistoscope’ a popular Victorian Toy, 1833.

The Phenakistoscope — a popular Victorian parlour toy, generally marketed for children — is widely considered to be among the earliest forms of animation and the precursor to modern cinema. The device was operated by spinning the cardboard disc, and viewing the reflection of the image in a mirror through a series of moving slits. […]

The Daddy Long Legs of Brighton.

The Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway was a unique coastline railway in Brighton, England that ran through the shallow waters of the English Channel between 1896 and 1901. Magnus Volk, its owner, designer and engineer, had already been successful with the more conventional Volk’s Electric Railway, which had then not been extended east of […]

Henry McGill’s popular Stapler, 1879.

by Colin Bisset A stapler is a very satisfying object, securely attaching paper with a pleasing crunch. Small wonder that it is so often a child’s favourite stationery item. The emergence of the stapler reflects a rise in the use of paper within offices during the 19th century. Previously, sheets of paper had been held […]

Unusual Old Typewriters.

Article by M. Christian and A. Abrams Horse and buggies, hoop skirts, steam engines, bustles … oh, yes, life around the turn of the previous century was a delight of simplicity and workmanship. But that doesn’t mean that the artisans and engineers of way-back-when didn’t at least have their hearts and minds in the right […]

The Rowing-Bath (1916).

Touted as the “newest contribution to the enjoyment of living”, news of the ingenious “rowing-bath” comes to us from the pages of a 1916 edition of The Popular Science Monthly. Consisting of what amounts to some sort of a metal dustpan tied by a rubber cord to the taps, the device promises to secure “the […]

Laszlo Biro & the Birth of the Ballpoint Pen.

The Hungarian Laszlo Biro (above), a magazine publisher, noticed, during a visit to a printer, how quickly the printer’s ink dried. It occurred to him that this fast-drying ink would work well in a fountain pen. This dense ink, however, would not flow through a pen. Therefore, Biro decided to replace the metal writing nib […]

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 […]