For every life-changing invention like the wheel, there are hundreds of thousands of trivial creations that prove useless, harmful or just plain annoying. We searched the history books and pop culture archives to bring you 10 innovations, from the familiar to the obscure, that are definitely not the greatest thing since sliced bread. Read on and realize that a baby on a leash is rather civilized when compared to a baby in a cage.
Anti-Eating Face Mask
No more failing diets! Just strap this metal cage to your head and stuffing your face with cookies will be impossible. Breathing and speaking may be difficult as well but that’s a small price to pay for a trimmer waistline. As a bonus, the product doubles as the mask for a Hannibal Lector costume. While patented in 1982 this device never really took off, perhaps because there just aren’t enough sadomasochists in the world these days.
What do you do when your baby wants some fresh air but you can’t leave the home? Place your bundle of joy in a cage shoddily attached to an open window of course. Patented in the United States in 1922 and popular in 1930’s London, the baby cage was intended for city folk whose kids weren’t getting enough fresh air, sunshine and fractured skulls.
Middle-of-the-night infomercials have touted hair in a can for decades, claiming that with a quick spray both bald spots and years disappear. In practice, however, the black dust is only marginally better than coloring your head with a Sharpie marker. And unless you’ve got a fume hood with 360 degrees of plastic to the floor, your bathroom will look like the soot-covered body of an 18th Century chimney sweep.
Think pulling the fire alarm is a fun prank? Not when this 1938 device, which traps your hand until the police arrive, is involved. While the invention may deter the mischievous teen, it also kills the heroic man who’s yanking the dang thing cause there’s an actual blazing inferno. Talk about taking one for the team!
The Ford Pinto
Manufactured by Ford from 1971 to 1980 this subcompact car offered decent comfort and adequate performance at a reasonable price. There was just one caveat: if rear-ended the car would explode into flames. Since a recall to reinforce the rear would cost $121 million and the potential payout to victims was estimated at $50 million, Ford decided to leave the fiery fuel problem alone and let their customers burn.
An herbicide used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War, Agent Orange was designed to burn through the thick jungle canopy in order to spot enemy troops below. While the compound served its intended purpose, scientists neglected to realize that human exposure to the chemical caused a long list of deadly health conditions including cancers and birth defects. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese citizens and some of our own troops were affected by this major medical oops.
When interests rates dropped in 2004 banks started handing out these extremely risky loans to people with less-than-stellar credit histories. When these homeowners defaulted on their payments, the result was a wave of foreclosures that sent our economy into the worst economic recession since The Great Depression. Bring on the bread lines!
This energetic virtual paper clip came preinstalled in Microsoft Office bundles from 1997-2003. While designed to be a helpful office assistant, Clippy proved both intrusive and assumptive, popping up unprompted with statements like “Hey! It looks like you’re writing a letter!” The irksome character drew ire from users and was eventually given the pink slip, but not before being parodied on "The Simpsons", "Family Guy", and "Drawn Together", to name a few.
While this electronic pitch-correction algorithm can be used tastefully, it almost never is, leading to tracks where the actual singing has been chopped, mixed and processed almost entirely out of the song. C-3PO, WALL-E and Rosie from "The Jetsons" may as well sing today’s pop, rap and hip hop since the actual voices of artists like T-Pain, Ke$ha and Kanye are almost impossible to pick out of any given tune.
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The Parachute Jacket
German inventor Franz Reichelt was so confident in his 1912 parachute jacket that he jumped off the Eiffel Tower to test it out. His hubris was unfortunately unfounded and he fell to this death in front of a crowd of horrified onlookers. Franz had set up multiple cameras to capture the potentially amazing but ultimately deadly feat, making him the first of many idiots—think Jackass—to film himself doing something incredibly dumb (video below).