50 Inventions That Are Way Older Than You Think

1Tin Cans

The first can openers appeared in 1855 and were of a primitive claw-shaped design. This was about 83 years after the tin can first came in use. Food preserved in tin cans was in use by the Dutch Navy from at least 1772. So for nearly a century, the cans weighed more than the food they contained and required ingenuity to open, using whatever tools available.


2Headphone Jack

The headphone jack we use today was invented back in the 19th century. The larger version of the phone connector was invented for use in telephone switchboards in 1878. Its design has remained unchanged except for its size. The original 1/4" design is still standard on a lot of audio equipments.


3Roller Skates

Roller skates were invented in the 1700s. While the first reported use of roller skates was on a London stage in 1743, the first patented roller skate was introduced in 1760 by Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin. He designed them for a masquerade party. Not bothering to practice, he smashed into a wall-length mirror upon entrance.


4Birth Control

While latex condoms and birth control pills are a modern form of contraceptives, humans have been practicing birth control for a long time. Greeks used Silphium, a plant which was known to have contraceptive and abortifacient properties. The demand for the plant was so great that by the third or fourth centuries, Silphium went extinct. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus from 1550 BC and the Kahun Papyrus from 1850 BC have within them some of the earliest documented descriptions of birth control: the use of honey, acacia leaves and lint to be placed in the vagina to block sperm.


5Eyeglasses

Monks or craftsmen in Italy produced the first form of eyeglasses between 1285-1289. In 1306, a monk in Pisa, Italy named Giordano da Rivalto remarked in a sermon that he knew the man who created glasses, but he failed to give the person’s name. Its inventor attempted to keep the idea a secret to avoid economic competition, but a monk named Friar Alessandro Spina knew of the design and decided to make pairs of glasses himself and then distribute them to everyone. Even before this, Roman Emperor Nero, who lived in the 1st Century A.D. used a polished emerald to correct his vision.



6Cataract Surgery

The first modern European physician to successfully extract cataracts from the eye was Jacques Daviel who did it in 1748. One of the earliest forms of cataract surgery recorded is now known as ‘couching’ which was introduced in ancient India and subsequently introduced to other countries by the Indian physician Sushruta in 3rd century A.D., who described the procedure in his work the “Compendium of Sushruta”. Even before him, Greek surgeon Aelius Galenus performed an operation similar to modern cataract surgery in 2nd century A.D.


7Vibrators

Vibrators were created in the 1880s by an English doctor named Joseph Granville, who is now known as the ‘father of the modern electromechanical vibrator’. These early vibrators became popular among the medical professionals to treat a (now debunked) condition called female hysteria. Doctors used to treat this condition by masturbating the patients to orgasm. Vibrators helped doctors as it saved their hands from cramping from all the orgasms they gave to women.


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8Middle Finger

The middle finger gesture was used in ancient times as a symbol of sexual intercourse, in a manner meant to degrade, intimidate and threaten the individual receiving the gesture. The Romans gave each other the middle finger. Greek Philosopher Diogenes was the first recorded person to flip somebody off as an insult in 4th century B.C. He did it to Demosthenes when he got tired of arguing.


9Lighters

Lighters were invented before matches. Lighters were invented in 1823. It wasn’t until 1826 that a man named John Walker from England invented the first actual match. It was the kind which needed friction to light. It wasn’t until 5 years later a Frenchman named Charles Sauria developed a match that used white phosphorus.


10Contact Lenses

Leonardo da Vinci introduced the idea of contact lenses in his 1508, wherein he described a method of directly altering corneal power by wearing a water-filled glass hemisphere over the eye. In 1888, German ophthalmologist Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick constructed and fitted the first successful contact lens. These were large scleral lenses, which rested on the less sensitive rim of tissue around the cornea and were made from heavy blown glass.

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