Not every successful invention was widely accepted when it first appeared on the scene. The first television was brought to the public in the mid-1920s, and radio enthusiasts mocked the wooden box. Yet today, more than 1.4 billion homes around the world have people’s eyes glued to the screen.
Sometimes it takes a little while for great inventions to pick up momentum and change the world like they’re meant to do. From the smallest success like a safety pin, to an era-defining accomplishment like a railroad system spanning the entire nation, every idea was new once. These brilliant inventions haven’t caught on yet, but boy, we sure hope they do!
1. Umbrella cup holders: It’s pouring and you’re trying to hold your keys, phone, purse, and coffee cup all at the same time. You just simply don’t have enough hands to hold everything. This umbrella makes your life a little easier with its built-in cup holders for your morning caffeine fix.
2. LED traffic light poles: It’s not always easy to see traffic lights in the dark, especially in urban areas. One city in Ukraine implemented these glowing traffic lights to help you see better in the dark.
kfinny99 / Reddit
3. Train Loading Indicator: Commuting to and from work is a pain, and it’s even worse when you walk onto a crowded train car and have to stand for the next 25 minutes. Well, these signs make it very clear what parts of the train are crowded and what parts have space for you.
aquilaro / Reddit
4. Wheelchair accessible beaches: Lugging your beach gear across the sand is hard enough on foot, so imagine just how difficult it is for someone in a wheelchair. This New York town wants to make each beach friendly for all by making sure these walkways exist.
NYC Parks and Recreation
5. Pill bottle timer: We’re all guilty of saying, “I think I took my medicine six hours ago?” and just assuming it’s time for the second dose. You never have to wonder again with this handy gadget. When you open and then close the pill bottle, the timer resets, so you’re never left guessing when you took your medicine last.
CptnBo / Reddit
6. Bike ramp: Biking is a way of life. You bike to work, the store, a friend’s house, the bar, but not everywhere is biker-friendly. An architectural genius thought to put small thin ramps on the stairs so that cyclists could easily transport their bikes down the stairs.
7. Shopping cart calculator: It’s difficult to keep track of how much you’re spending at the grocery store, especially when they’re crowded with people trying to reach in front of you and shopping carts trying to run you over. This handy invention let’s you easily keep track of your expenses so you can make it out of the grocery store alive.
8. Pizza vending machine: This Italian vending machine prepares and delivers pizza — anytime, anywhere — within two-and-a-half minutes. This takes fast food to a new level.
mugentsu / imgur
9. Heated mirror: Fogging up the bathroom mirror while you shower is inevitable, but waiting for the fog to clear doesn’t have to be. This Japanese hotel has a heated portion of each bathroom mirror so that you can start getting ready as soon as you get out.
TheGamerEmerald / Reddit
10. Elevator weight indicator: For obvious reasons, elevators can only hold so much weight. So this weight indicator is extremely useful when people try piling into one elevator. It lets you know when to just wait for the next one.
bgrafnation / Reddit
11. Corner drawers: One of the biggest wastes of space is the corner area of your cabinets. Think of all the extra storage you would have if you just installed these handy corner drawers. They’re more practical than the lazy Susan.
TheSmartanator / Reddit
12. Pringles lift: Pringles containers are made for people with very tiny hands. It’s nearly impossible not to get a hand cramp when you try to reach deep down into the depths of the can. But you’ll never have to do so again with this Pringles lift — the Pringles come to you!
13. Ceiling fan pull indicators: If you’ve never accidentally turned the light off when you wanted to turn the fan on, then you’re lying! It’s so frustrating trying to determine which switch is for the fan and which is for the light, but you’ll never have to wonder again with these pull indicators.
Seamonkeyknifefight / Reddit
14. Toothpaste roller: Over 400 million toothpaste tubes end up in the landfill (and probably still filled with toothpaste that you couldn’t get out of the tube). These handy rollers help you squeeze out every last drop of minty paste for a clean mouth.
15. See-through highlighter: If you’re right-handed, the amount of times you went to highlight a line in your notes and completely missed or highlighted too much must be extensive. This super simple tweak to the classic highlighter would help you see exactly what you’re highlighting. No more goof-ups.
chillin_krillin / Reddit
16. Toilet seat lifter: Sometimes you need to lift up the toilet seat and having to grab it can be pretty gross. This toilet has a convenient tab that’s meant for just that. Petition to implement this handy invention for all toilets!
17. Shopping cart magnifying glass: Product packaging tends to squeeze a lot of important text — like the expiration date and nutrition facts — into a small space. Rossmann store has conveniently attached magnifying glass to their shopping carts so you don’t need to squint anymore.
18. Electric plug grip: Pulling out a plug from an outlet requires a little elbow grease. You’re tugging and pulling and shimmying (even though they taught you not to do that in elementary school), but you still can’t get the plug out. Every plug should have this little hole to help you safely remove it from the outlet.
f03vral0n3 / Reddit
19. Elevator call button: Wouldn’t it be great for the elevator to come before you reached the doors? This hotel heard your annoyed prayers and strategically placed the call button down the hallway so its guests can get a head start waiting for the elevator.
lukeallen1 / Reddit
20. Door toepener: This sanitary door pull is a nifty lever at the bottom corner of the door that allows you to use your feet to open a bathroom door instead of your hands. It’s a germaphobe’s dream come true!
happysunbear / Reddit
While these inventions are quite brilliant, there are still many ideas out there that should have never come to fruition. Would you be worried about anyone who paid $17 for a unicorn squirrel feeder? Then again, it does make for amusing photos.
2. Daddle Saddle ($40): Lots of kids like to play cowboy with their dads and ride on their backs, but now it can feel even more official when they perch themselves up on this plush saddle. Yeehaw daddy!
3. Nose pencil sharpener ($5): Your parents might tell you not to pick your nose, but you can certainly shove a pencil up it! This sharpener is a hilarious desktop item, and kids will certainly have plenty of entertainment sharpening their lead.
4. Animals breaking wind coloring book ($6): Kids love to color pictures of animals, right? And they certainly think it’s hilarious when someone breaks wind, so why not combine the two for an afternoon of colorful gassy fun!
5. Cat wine ($8): Why not help make your feline extra fancy by turning them onto “Moscato” wine. You might want to monitor their intake, however, so they don’t start slurring their meows. Mr. Tibbles is such a lush.
6. Gameboy refrigerator decals ($25): Decorate your kitchen retro style with these decals that make your fridge look like an old school Game Boy. All those retro gamers out there can finally geek out their kitchens in the coolest way possible.
7. Miniature hands ($7): So, you’re probably thinking, “Why on Earth would I need a set of tiny hands to wear on my fingers?” Well, don’t worry, because so is everyone else. Whenever someone asks for a hand, though, you’re more than prepared.
8. See-through gummy bear model ($27): This somewhat creepy-looking model is actually a 41-piece puzzle. Most people have probably taken a crack at a jigsaw puzzle before, but not many can say they’ve pieced together the anatomy of an over-sized gummy bear.
9. Remote controlled centipede ($16): Have you ever wanted to scare someone so badly they go into cardiac arrest? Well, look no further than this nightmarish toy. Set it on the ground outside your friend’s bedroom and have the ambulance on speed dial.
10. Salmon pillow ($16): Sushi and fish lovers can rejoice! Finally, a pillow that speaks to the deep-sea lover in them all. It’s soft and realistic, but the best part is you can use it all you want and never get mercury poisoning!
11. Ravioli spoon rest ($17): For those people who seem to have every kitchen appliance and knickknack in the world, they still probably don’t have a big rubber ravioli spoon rest. Like a rug to a room, it truly ties the kitchen together.
12. Squishable bread loaf ($11): Squeezable stress relievers come in all different shapes, but have you ever seen one that looks like an entire loaf of read? Probably not. The sheer size looks like it would help during a very stressful day — it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
13. Unicorn mat ($20): Are you looking to make any room way more epic? Then you just have to have this majestic floor mat! It will make all your guests feel like they stepped into a fantasy realm as soon as they enter.
14. Hedgehog cheese grater ($20): Trying to grate some delicious fresh Parmesan cheese on your pasta? Well don’t be boring and use a regular grater; shred some of that cheesy goodness using these hedgehogs! Unique and hilarious!
15. Literally nothing ($7): This is the gift for someone who has literally everything. It’s exactly what it looks like: a package with nothing in it. Because what else are you supposed to get them other than a nicely packaged piece of nothing?
16. Cow decal ($25): Wake up every morning to your friend Bessie peering out at you! You can un-peel it and stick it on a different wall whenever you want, and if you have other artwork in the way, simply “moo”-ve it over!
17. Nicholas Cage pillow ($22): This is something any die-hard fan of Nicholas Cage needs in their home. When the grain of the pillow is brushed in one direction, the pillow is a shiny silver color; brush it in the other and Mr. Cage peeks through!
18. Nicholas Cage shirt ($20): If that pillow didn’t satisfy your Nicholas Cage fix, this shirt full of grinning Nicholas Cage faces is sure to. You don’t ever have to worry about one of your friends wearing the same thing when you go out.
19. Electronic face bank ($13): Well this is one sure-fire way to ensure you have nightmares. This rubber soulless-eyed face will chew up the coins you feed it, and then it swallows them into the depths of hell.
20. Suture practicing kit ($20): Just in case you ever get a deep gash in your skin and medical attention is hours away, you’ll know exactly how to stitch up your flesh after practicing on this realistic skin-like material. We all need to brush up on our suture game.
Things like the bed piano prove that weird inventions have always existed. Today, when you’re sick in bed, you might pull out a laptop and blow through a few seasons of a TV show on Netflix; in 1935, you pulled out your bed piano and knocked out a few afternoon symphonies.
2. Television Glasses: Hugo Gernsback, the man known today as “The Father of Science Fiction,” dared to dream of strapping a television set to his face in 1963 — so he made it happen (and later inspired future 3D glasses, too).
3. Man from Mars Radio Hat: Speaking of entertainment on your head, in 1949, Victor T. Hoeflinch created this hat, which allowed wearers to listen to the radio on the go, so long as they didn’t mind wearing a hat that wasn’t exactly a fashion statement.
4. Dimple Maker: In the ’30s, a smile was nothing without a set of dimples to go with it. But the dimple-less were not the hopeless: the Dimple Maker could force dimples onto their smiles by digging into their cheekbones. It did not work well.
5. The First PET Scan Device: As if going in for a PET scan wasn’t scary enough, the first machine capable of performing one was this wire-wrapped monstrosity, developed at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.
6. Portable Sauna: Back in 1962, a Finnish inventor realized that being unable to step into a sauna wherever he went was comparable to actual torture. So he created the portable sauna so he could live every moment in hot, steamy bliss.
7. Sunscreen Vending Machine: Tennis courts, swimming pools, and beaches of the 1940s offered this vending machine, which dispensed little globs of sunscreen right into your hands. Honestly, weird as this was, it could come in handy today!
8. Cone Mask: The inventor of these masks wanted to protect the wearers’ faces from things like hail and rain. Somehow, getting pelted with rain was a big enough problem that he couldn’t just, you know, tilt his head down like three inches
9. Pedal Skates: In 1913, Charles A. Nordling understood people look for any excuse possible not to walk, so he created the pedal skates. A bit cumbersome, yeah, but unlike many other items on this list, they nobly served their purpose for a while.
Online Bike Museum
10. Cigarette Pack Holder: Because smoking one cigarette at a time was totally inefficient (and totally lame by 1950’s standards), this 1955 invention allowed smokers to stop dreaming about chain smoking an entire pack and start doing it.
11. All-Terrain Car: Invented in 1936, this English automobile ascended and descended slopes as steep as 65 degrees. With, what, 12 tires, it must have cost an absolute fortune to manufacture. Speaking of all-terrain…
12. Cyclomer: With six flotation devices, the cyclomer — also called “The Amphibious Bike — was designed to function on land and in water. In practice, it was clunky on dry land, borderline deadly in the water, and no one liked it much.
13. Goofybike: So the cyclomer didn’t catch on, but that wasn’t the end of all bike-alteration efforts. The Goofybike — seen in Chicago, 1939 — sat four people, one of which worked a sewing machine that kept the bike’s weight evenly distributed.
14. Pedestrian Shield: To reduce fatalities, inventors drummed up a shield reminiscent of a train’s cowcatcher to slap on the front of automobiles. It doesn’t look like a much better alternative to the front of a car.
15. Fax Newspaper: Imagine just wanting to catch up on your daily news and waiting (and waiting) for the darn newspaper fax to show up! Cool, but a paperboy standing on the corner was probably more efficient.
16. Shower Hood: Marketed as a way to keep your makeup intact, the shower hood prevented water from hitting your hair or face, which kind of defeated the major purpose of taking a shower altogether.
17. The Baby Dangler: Today, naming your device “The Baby Dangler” would make your peers mock you at best and land you in prison at worst; but back in the day, it was the perfect name for a device that strung up a baby between mom and dad.
18. A Radio-Controlled Lawn Mower: The lawn’s not going to mow itself, so why not invent a small mower operated with a remote control? Developed in the 1950s — and later celebrated by British royalty — the device survived time and still exists!
19. Ice Mask: There were plenty of reasons to drink in the 1940s, and inventors knew it. That’s why one developed the ice mask, which advertisers touted as a cure for the morning hangover.
20. Wooden Bathing Suits: These barrel-like suits were invented in 1929 and, allegedly, acted like flotation devices for swimming (wood floats, after all). But they must have been restrictive!