10 Modern Inventions That Are Older Than We Think


Many modern inventions have been around longer than we think. Though they were not like their present-day counterparts, they served the same purpose and it is even true to say that many of recent invention were inspired by the older ideas.

10. Reality-Based Television Shows

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First reality TV show was aired in the early 1970’s – it was called An American Family. The series was aired for the first time in 1973. The show captured a very large audience as the people were intrigued by the unscripted demise of the family. As Santa Barbara housewife Pat Loud and her husband went through divorce while showcasing rest of the family’s troubles.

9. Contact Lenses

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Leonardo Di Vinci first came up with the idea of lenses as he predicted that human vision can be corrected through water contacting the cornea. According to some reports, German glassblower F.A. Muller is credited with producing the first contact lenses in 1887. However, other reports cite Paris optician Edouard Kalt and Swiss physician Adolf E. Fick as the creators of the first contact lenses in 1888. These early contact lenses covered the eye completely and even stop the supply of oxygen to the cornea. It was not until 1948 that California optician Kevin Tuohy introduced a prototype of modern contact lenses.

8. Fast Food Restaurants

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Eating on the run is not a trend developed by the modern generation . Apparently after study of various Roman archaeological sites, it was concluded that the average ancient Roman did not wine and dine without restraint like the elites in Rome. These establishments were a mixture of present day modern restaurants & pubs as they served both food and alcohol.

7. Social Media

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Sorry Mark Zuckerberg but you were not one of the first people to popularize social media. Around the 1560s, young men from the areas we now call the Netherlands and Rhineland began leaving home in search of a broader education throughout Europe. These men went to various schools and universities & met  numerous philosophers, scientists, and students. Whenever they admired someone they would write a short comment on their personality. In some cases, even artists were invited to draw illustrations. 

6. Brain Surgery

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According to archaeologists, brain surgery has been practiced since the late Neolithic period. Originally believed to date back about 5,000 years, the earliest known technique is Trepanation which involves the removal of bone from the skull. In 1997 a skull was discovered in Ensisheim with two holes in it. The holes had healed with a layer of bone so it suggested that the surgeries were successful.

5. The Telephone

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There are reports that Graham Bell is wrongly attributed with the invention of the telephone rather Antonio Meucci should be acknowledged as the inventor. However, the idea of a telephone actually dates back to over 1,200 years ago. This ancient version was made by the Chimu civilization. Currently located at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, this ancient telephone was discovered by Baron Walram V. Von Schoeler, a Prussian aristocrat, while excavating in Peru in the 1930s. The Chimu culture’s phone consisted of two gourd receivers, each about 9 centimeters (4 in) long, connected by about 22 meters (75 ft) of twine cord.

4. Automobiles

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In 1769, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a French engineer and mechanic, became the first person to design and construct a self-propelled vehicle. It was basically a tricycle powered with steam which can run at a top speed of 3km/h. The vehicle had to stop every 15min to build up enough energy to move again.

3. Anti-Vaccination Movement

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Ok this just  proves that stupidity existed before. In the early 1800s, Edward Jenner developed the cowpox vaccine, but it was met with public outcry and criticism. There were multiple reasons ranging from sanitary, political, scientific and religious beliefs. Almost a century later riots broke out in England against a law making vaccines compulsory. Popular victorian era scientists such as Alfred Russel Wallace  even threw in their support.

2. Submarines

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Most of us associate the invention of the submarine with World War I. However, the first workable description of a submersible ship was drawn up by William Bourne, an English innkeeper, in 1580. Bourne offered an explanation citing that if the ship’s density is increased proportional to the water it displaces, then it may sink.  However it was not until 1620’s that James I of England build the first submarine. Drebbel’s submarine was a wooden rowboat wrapped tightly in waterproofed leather. It had air tubes attached to floats that reached the surface for oxygen. Various accounts are present of the submarine remaining submerged for 5 meters under water in the Thames River. 

In 1890’s first true submarines were built by two rival inventors. Built by John P. Holland and Simon Lake for the US and Russia, respectively, these submarines used steam engines and petrol for surface travel and electric motors for underwater cruising.

1. Text Message Slang

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Present generation adopted these slangs to shorten their text messages and increasing writing speed over cell phones. However, abbreviated communication language has been around since the 1890s when the telegraph was invented. Although telegraph provided people the means to send messages over long distances, however, it was very expensive as people had to pay per letter. It was soon referred to as “telegram style” and was pretty similar to modern day SMS language. 

SidelineMention: Inventor of Apple I


It is often assumed that Steve Jobs invented Apple I, however, it was Steve Wozniak. Learn more on his Wikipedia page.


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