10 Vintage Versions of Modern Technology

1950s | May 27, 2016

Sometime people comes up with ideas and inventions that are just way ahead of their time. Like these familiar but curious designs from the past that were actually early prototypes of today's most advanced technology.

Often these pioneering designs, ideas and inventions that were just way ahead of their time, were put back in the shelves for decades, until new innovators and technology could re-discover and finally make them a reality...


1. Before GPS, behold, the 1920s RouteFinder

In 1920, the Plus Fours Routefinder was introduced to the world. This manual “navigator” resembled a wristwatch and consisted of paper maps and two wooden handles that has to be scrolled manually. A variety of scrolls could be fitted in the watch depending on the trip the driver is taking.

Ten years later in 1930, the world’s first automobile navigator, the Tom Tom or Sat Nav called the Iter Avto, made its debut. The map passes the screen in a rhythm that depends on the speed of the car. The screen manually scrolls the paper maps that are attached to a cable similar to that of a modern mechanical speedometer. If the driver made a turn, he would have to change the map and find it on his current location.



2. FaceTime and Skype before the Invention of the Mobile Phone

Here's a 1956 magazine clipping talking about the future of phones. The article is about a voice recognition as well as a touchtone, colour videophone that you can watch TV on.

And here’s some early versions of Skype...

In 1964, Bell Labs developed the Picturephone... Yes, selfie!



The first public videophone service was first operated by the German Reichspost in 1936. It closed in 1940 because of WWII.


A 1930s illustration of a “proto-eyephone-o-matic”! Need a Skype call to China? This is the technology for you.

3. Victorian Submarines

There had been several very successful submarines built in the Victorian era.



Then enter the “roller ships” pictured at Ferry Bay, Baltimore, in 1858. It was built by American inventor Ross Winans. Newspapers of the time said it “will pioneer a new era in naval architecture.” There was nothing else like it; it had no keel, no masts, no rigging and was even missing a deck. The roller ship was also shaped like a streamlined cigar. It’s ring-shaped propeller was in the middle of the vessel, circling the waist of the ship.


4. Before Kindle and eBooks

Circa 1922, the Fiske Reading Machine was introduced, a new technology that will make books obsolete. Pictured here is the Fiske in the hand of its inventor, Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske.

And here’s another early form of the eReader, invented 65 years ago by a 54-year-old teacher from Spain.

And in 1935 the Microfilm Book Reader predicted books would be stored on microfilm

Also noteworthy: Before Amazon Books is the lighthouse traveling library. If you happen to be a lighthouse keepe, then this chest of books will be delivered to you.

5. ATM Machines for Sinners (and prostitutes)?

In 1039, inventor Luther George Simjian, came up with a hole-in-the-wall machine that would allow customers to conveniently make financial transactions. It was deemed a failure. Simjian himself was quoted saying “It seems the only people using the machines were a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who didn’t want to deal with tellers face to face.



6. Early Nintendo Wii?!



7. Before Google Earth

In 1908 Dr Julius Neubronner invented and patented a miniature pigeon camera activated by a timing mechanism. Okay, it’s not exactly satellite imagery, but it's a very early and innovative form of aerial photography that might have inspired our Google engineers to create Google Earth.


Here are some snaps captured by the pigeons...


8. The in-car Turntable





9. The 1950s Flat Screen Televisions


And just a reminder of what the first televisions looked like...

Several decades later, came the cable television...

And in 1963, television glasses was invented – looking just about as silly as the Google glasses!

10. Vintage Blogging?!

Introducing the radio-delivered newspaper machine of 1938. Somewhat a cross between the modern fax machine and your favorite blog.





H/T Firsts

Tags: vintage versions of modern technology

Like it? Share with your friends!

Share On Facebook