33 Things That Were Invented Earlier Than You Probably Thought


Nintendo is mostly known today as a video game company. While video games have certainly been one of their most successful business ventures, they existed a long time before computers were even invented, as a toy company. The company was founded in 1889 when it produced playing cards, which it still does to this day.

22Death Growl

Death growl, which is usually employed by death metal singers and in other heavy metal styles is centuries old. Growled vocals may have been a part of Viking music. In the 10th century, Arab-Spanish Sefardi Jewish merchant Ibrahim ibn Yaqub visited Denmark and commented on the local music as follows: “Never before I have heard uglier songs than those of the Vikings in Slesvig. The growling sound coming from their throats reminds me of dogs howling, only more untamed.”


The sewing needle is over 40,000 years old. Human beings may have begun wearing clothing as far back as 190,000 years ago. Humans already had pants and jackets 20,000 - 12,500 years ago. Dyed flax fibers dated 36,000 years ago found in a prehistoric cave in the Republic of Georgia suggests that people were wearing clothes at that time.

24Electric Car

Tesla revolutionized the electric car's image in customers' minds – stylish, comfortable with a nice blend of traditional automotive stuff and futuristic features. However, electric cars are more than a century old. In 1884, over 20 years before the Ford Model T, the first practical production electric car was built in London that used specially designed high-capacity rechargeable batteries.

25Toilet Paper

The first documented use of toilet paper in human history dates back to the 6th century A.D., in early medieval China. In 589 A.D. the scholar-official Yan Zhitui wrote about the use of toilet paper. An Arab traveler to China in the year 851 AD remarked: “...they [the Chinese] do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities, but they only wipe themselves with paper.”


Medicines made from willow and other salicylate-rich plants can be dated to at least 2000 B.C. in ancient Sumer as well as 1500 B.C. in ancient Egypt. Hippocrates referred to their use of salicylic tea to reduce fevers around 400 B.C. Willow bark extract became recognized for its specific effects on fever, pain, and inflammation in the mid-18th century. By the 19th century, pharmacists were experimenting with and prescribing a variety of chemicals related to salicylic acid, the active component of willow extract. One such formulation was later marketed as aspirin.


Most people might think true smartphones were first invented in the late 2000s when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. The first true smartphone was actually IBM’s Simon Personal Communicator which was launched in 1992. It came with features such as a touchscreen and the ability to send and receive e-mails.

28Electronic Cigarette

As the slogan for a smokeless world has been raised, a new practice called “vaping” has come to the forefront recently, but vaporizers/e-cigarettes were invented back in the 60s. The earliest e-cigarette can be traced to Herbert A. Gilbert, who in 1963 patented “a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” that involved “replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air”. This device produced flavored steam without nicotine. The patent was granted in 1965. This concept never took off because smoking was still fashionable back then.

29Rap Battles

The concept of the “rap battle” has existed since the 5th century, where poets would engage in “flyting,” a spoken word event where poets would insult one another in verse. The Norse god Loki is noted as having insulted other gods in verse. In Anglo-Saxon England, flyting would take place in a feasting hall. The winner would be decided by the reactions of those watching the exchange. The winner would drink a large cup of beer or mead in victory, then invite the loser to drink as well.


Autopilots on aircraft look like a modern comfort for the pilots, but they are as ancient as aircrafts themselves. In the early days of aviation, aircrafts required the continuous attention of a pilot to fly safely. The first aircraft autopilot was developed by Sperry Corporation in 1912. That is just 9 years after the Wright Brothers achieved first powered flight in 1903. This autopilot connected a gyroscopic heading indicator and attitude indicator to hydraulically operated elevators and rudder.


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