50 Inventions That Are Way Older Than You Think

41Smartphones

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.


42Electronic 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.


43Rap 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.


44Autopilots

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.


45Pizza

Foods similar to pizza have been made since the Neolithic age (10,200 - 4500 B.C.). If a pizza is “flat, baked bread,” then pizzas are as old as the ancient Babylonians. If a pizza is “flat, baked bread with toppings,” then they were invented in ancient Greece.


46Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery is considered a highly specialized modern specialty, but Incas appear to have practiced a procedure known as trepanation since the late Stone Age. Trepanation is the surgical process of drilling a small hole in the skull to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases or release pressured blood buildup from an injury. During the Middle Ages in Arabia from 936 to 1013 AD, Al-Zahrawi performed surgical treatments of head injuries, skull fractures, spinal injuries, hydrocephalus, subdural effusions, and headache.


47Bowling

The earliest known forms of bowling date back to ancient Egypt. As early as 3200 B.C., balls made out of husks of grains and bound in leather and string were rolled along the ground to play a game similar to modern target bowl games. In Roman Empire about 2000 years ago a similar game was thriving, which eventually evolved into Italian Bocce or outdoor bowling. In about 400 A.D., bowling began in Germany as a religious ritual to cleanse oneself from sin by rolling a rock into a club (kegel).


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48Electrotherapy

Thousands of years before the modern procedure of electrotherapy was invented, the Ancient Romans successfully treated headaches and mental disorders with electroconvulsive therapy using electric fish.


49Beer

Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world. There is some evidence that beer was produced as early as 6000 B.C, a full 2000 years before the invention and use of the wheel in 4000 B.C. Proven records of beer produced from barley dates to about 3500–3100 B.C. in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran, but unproven estimates date back even further to about 10,000 B.C., when cereal was first farmed. Archaeologists speculate that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilizations.


50Checking Account

The checking account was invented by the Knights Templar in the 12th century. Crusaders would deposit their valuables with the Knights before journeying to the Holy Land and would receive a certificate entitling them to items of equivalent value upon their arrival. This innovative arrangement was an early form of banking and may have been the first formal system to support the use of checks.

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