9 of the strangest prototypes for everyday products

Comedian Louis C.K once said that “Everything is amazing, and nobody is happy.”

Maybe that’s because people lack perspective when it comes to the products they use every day.

Perhaps people would be happier with their electronics and home appliances if they knew how much innovation actually went into each item.

In that spirit, here are the humbler beginnings of some of today’s everyday products.

The earliest variation of a pedaled, two-wheeled bicycle was the penny farthing, developed in the late 19th century. It is hilariously ill-proportioned, but technically rideable.

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In 1983, Apple cooked up a (nameless) prototype phone and tablet that would eventually inspire the iPhone. Of course, back in 1983 mobile phones were still in their infancy. Apple had yet to ditch the dreaded cord.

Similar to modern-day models, turn-of-the-century toasters relied on heated electric coils to produce a nice crust. This model from 1915 even features a partial casing, though it's still not enough if you ask us.

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When IBM introduced the first computer hard drive in 1956, it was the size of a grand piano stood on-end. It weighed over a ton and held just one megabyte for a cost of about $119,000 in today's dollars.

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In 1924, the Coleman gas iron preceded modern electric irons with its rear reservoir to produce a contained fire inside the iron, which the user would then shut off once the iron had been sufficiently preheated.


Roller skates weren't always the super-cool mode of transportation they are today -- in 1910 Sweden, for example, you basically had to wear two small bicycles on your feet. (Not exactly convenient to take off once you got to the office.)

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The Wigomat was the world's first all-electric drip coffee maker. It was invented in Germany in 1954, and though it's on the strange-looking side you can definitely make out the family resemblance to the coffee makers of today.

Wikimedia Commons

Families switched from manual dishwashing to electric around 1917. Instead of sitting below waist-level, the early models lived on top of kitchen counters. They didn't get drying elements until about 1940, however.

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The grandfather of the e-reader is the Sony Data Discman, a pre-loadable media player that displayed certain books depending on the disc. The discs were incredibly hard to use and quickly abandoned when people decided paper books were just fine.

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