Twenty years ago, you would have been the coolest kid on the block for carrying a Nokia 3310. But time flies and technological innovation accelerates along with it. Today, we live in a world ruled by touch screens, face recognition, and machine learning, so imagine what the technology was like a century ago, or two.

In order to find out, we’re taking you on a historical roller coaster to see what ancient technologies defined the future a hundred years ago. From motorized roller-skate salesmen in 1961, aka the proud ancestors of today’s hoverboards, to giant mechanical tricycles from 1896 and orgone accumulators of the '50s, these are some of the most interesting retro-historical devices.

Some were truly incredible, others look kinda cool, and the rest… make you think "what on earth were they thinking?"

#1

300 Year Old Library Tool That Enabled A Researcher To Have Seven Books Open At Once, Yet Conveniently Nearby (Palafoxiana Library, Puebla)

300 Year Old Library Tool That Enabled A Researcher To Have Seven Books Open At Once, Yet Conveniently Nearby (Palafoxiana Library, Puebla)

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

The original multi-tab browser interface!

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#2

350 Year Old Pocket Watch Carved From A Single Colombian Emerald

350 Year Old Pocket Watch Carved From A Single Colombian Emerald

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

And I thought they exaggerated in Romancing the Stone

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#3

In 1955, This Tiny Electric Narrow Gauge Train Was Installed In New York’s Holland Tunnel To Monitor Traffic Speed

In 1955, This Tiny Electric Narrow Gauge Train Was Installed In New York’s Holland Tunnel To Monitor Traffic Speed

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

Slow down I the man in the toot toot command you to!

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Three decades ago, smartphones did not exist (the first phone of the "smart kind" was the Simon Personal Communicator, released in 1994,) while just over half a century ago (the first personal-use computer Altair was developed in 1974,) nobody had a computer in their home. Just let this sink in for a little. It feels like technology is accelerating at an immense pace.

According to Ray Kurzweil and his book “The Singularity Is Near,” technology’s quickening pace is not just a feeling, but actually real. It turns out, “the pace of technological progress—especially information technology—speeds up exponentially over time because there is a common force driving it forward.”

In other words, every generation of technology improves over the last as it achieves some kind of rate of progress.

#4

A British Couple Sleeps Inside A "Morrison Shelter” Used As Protection From Collapsing Homes During The WWII 'Blitz' Bombing Raids... March 1941

A British Couple Sleeps Inside A "Morrison Shelter” Used As Protection From Collapsing Homes During The WWII 'Blitz' Bombing Raids... March 1941

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Your Local Lizard
Community Member
7 months ago

I would wake up and hit my head

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#5

Robo-Vac, A Self-Proppeled Vacuum Cleaner Part Of Whirlpool’s Miracle Kitchen Of The Future, A Display At The 1959 American National Exhibition In Moscow, 1959

Robo-Vac, A Self-Proppeled Vacuum Cleaner Part Of Whirlpool’s Miracle Kitchen Of The Future, A Display At The 1959 American National Exhibition In Moscow, 1959

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

My roomba’s great grand father

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#6

This Car Is A French 'Delahaye 175s Roadster', Introduced At The Paris Motor Show In 1949. Only One Was Ever Made. It Was Recently Sold At Auction For Around Five Million Dollars.

This Car Is A French 'Delahaye 175s Roadster', Introduced At The Paris Motor Show In 1949. Only One Was Ever Made. It Was Recently Sold At Auction For Around Five Million Dollars.

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Sori
Community Member
7 months ago

This is so sexy

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When taking two separate innovations from different eras, from the birth of the first modern car in 1886 to the beginning of the self-driving car era in 2012, every step of progress speeds up from one version to the next.

The Singularity Hub explains that the more effective technology is, the more attention it receives, and the more efficient flow of new resources it has. “Increased R&D budgets, recruiting top talent, etc. are directed to further improving the technology.”

With that in mind, we can suspect that technological innovation will look very different in a couple of decades' time from now. It may not be the flying cars as we’ve seen in retro-futuristic movies, but it may well be an AI friend who talks to you like a real person. Oh, wait, we don’t need to wait that long, since that already exists.

#7

Philco Predicta Television From The Late 1950s

Philco Predicta Television From The Late 1950s

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
7 months ago

Nice design, though

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#8

The World's Oldest Surviving Diving Suit: The Old Gentleman, From 1860

The World's Oldest Surviving Diving Suit: The Old Gentleman, From 1860

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago (edited)

No thank you this looks like it came out of a horror movie

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#9

Motorola Vice President John F. Mitchell Showing Off The Dynatac Portable Radio Telephone In New York City In 1973

Motorola Vice President John F. Mitchell Showing Off The Dynatac Portable Radio Telephone In New York City In 1973

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Aleksandra Elias
Community Member
7 months ago

And when it stops working, you can use it to put under an unsteady table or wardrobe

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#10

Kodak K-24 Camera, Used For Aerial Photography During Ww2 By The Americans

Kodak K-24 Camera, Used For Aerial Photography During Ww2 By The Americans

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Steve Barnett
Community Member
7 months ago

He's so tiny.

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#11

The Old "Telefontornet" Telephone Tower In Stockholm, Sweden, With Approximately 5,500 Telephone Lines C. 1890

The Old "Telefontornet" Telephone Tower In Stockholm, Sweden, With Approximately 5,500 Telephone Lines C. 1890

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago (edited)

Imagine what that sounded like on a windy day!

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#12

A Rail Zeppelin And A Steam Train Near The Railway Platform. Berlin, Germany, 1931

A Rail Zeppelin And A Steam Train Near The Railway Platform. Berlin, Germany, 1931

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
7 months ago

This looks pretty futuristic even for nowadays, though

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#13

Helen, An American Indian Telephone And Switchboard Operator, Montana, 1925

Helen, An American Indian Telephone And Switchboard Operator, Montana, 1925

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Tabitha L
Community Member
7 months ago

My Grammy was a switchboard operator. I wish I had a picture like this of her.

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#14

A Thin TV Screen (Only 4 Inches Thick) With An Automatic Timing Device To Record TV Programs For Later Viewing Is The Wave Of The Future As Shown At The Home Furnishings Market In Chicago, Illinois, On June 21, 1961

A Thin TV Screen (Only 4 Inches Thick) With An Automatic Timing Device To Record TV Programs For Later Viewing Is The Wave Of The Future As Shown At The Home Furnishings Market In Chicago, Illinois, On June 21, 1961

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

They weren't wrong!

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#15

Soviet Peasants Listen To The Radio For The First Time, 1928

Soviet Peasants Listen To The Radio For The First Time, 1928

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Saint Thomas
Community Member
7 months ago

That's the original "What sorcery is this"-stare right here !

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#16

Motorized Roller-Skate Salesman In California, 1961

Motorized Roller-Skate Salesman In California, 1961

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Whovian
Community Member
7 months ago

Imagine skating normally when the fuel finished...... so slow

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#17

FBI's Fingerprint Files, 1944.

FBI's Fingerprint Files, 1944.

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

How long did it take to find a match??

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#18

The Open Side View Of An Old Calculator

The Open Side View Of An Old Calculator

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

Oh I thought that was mark zuckerberg‘s face with out its fleshy mask

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#19

One-Wheel Motorcycle, Germany, 1925

One-Wheel Motorcycle, Germany, 1925

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

How do you get out without tipping over?

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#20

The Hindenburg Takes Shape, 1932

The Hindenburg Takes Shape, 1932

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

I would not trust those wheel ladders I’d be like nope I’m out

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#21

The First Public Demonstration Of A Computer Mouse, Graphical User Interface, Windowed Computing, Hypertext And Word Processing, 1968

The First Public Demonstration Of A Computer Mouse, Graphical User Interface, Windowed Computing, Hypertext And Word Processing, 1968

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
7 months ago

Looks very cool to me

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#22

TV Glasses Decades Before Google Glass, 1960s

TV Glasses Decades Before Google Glass, 1960s

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

og virtual reality

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#23

Orgone Accumulator, A Device Sold In The 1950s To Allow A Person Sitting Inside To Attract Orgone, A Massless 'Healing Energy'. The Fda Noted That One Purchaser, A College Professor, Knew It Was "Phony" But Found It "Helpful Because His Wife Sat Quietly In It For Four Hours Every Day."

Orgone Accumulator, A Device Sold In The 1950s To Allow A Person Sitting Inside To Attract Orgone, A Massless 'Healing Energy'. The Fda Noted That One Purchaser, A College Professor, Knew It Was "Phony" But Found It "Helpful Because His Wife Sat Quietly In It For Four Hours Every Day."

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

Four hours?! “Honey sit down in this box while I got to the bar here is some books to keep you entertained”

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#24

Bikes For Your Feet

Bikes For Your Feet

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago (edited)

How to be the coolest kid on the block Step one: get a pair of these bad boys Step two: there is no step two

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#25

Jay Ohrberg's 'Double Wide' Limousine. Built By The Man Who Also Created The 'American Dream' Superlimo

Jay Ohrberg's 'Double Wide' Limousine. Built By The Man Who Also Created The 'American Dream' Superlimo

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Cip IESAN
Community Member
7 months ago

If it rains it becomes a "pool-on-wheels"! You can also put some sand inside, to keep the kids quiet.

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#26

A 5mb Hard Disk Drive Being Loaded Onto A Plane, In 1956

A 5mb Hard Disk Drive Being Loaded Onto A Plane, In 1956

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
7 months ago

I take a single picture that is more than 5mbs now

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#27

The 'Isolator' , By Hugo Gernsback: A Helmet For Insulating The Senses Against Distraction; From The Journal Science And Invention, Vol. 13, No. 3, July 1925

The 'Isolator' , By Hugo Gernsback: A Helmet For Insulating The Senses Against Distraction; From The Journal Science And Invention, Vol. 13, No. 3, July 1925

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Radar Doi
Community Member
7 months ago

looks like a good tool for open offices nowadays :))))

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#28

Using A Two-Horn Listening Device At Bolling Field In Washington, D.c., In 1921 Before The Invention Of Radar, To Listen For Distant Aircraft

Using A Two-Horn Listening Device At Bolling Field In Washington, D.c., In 1921 Before The Invention Of Radar, To Listen For Distant Aircraft

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Caffeinated Hedgehog
Community Member
7 months ago

And then his friend would prank him by farting in front of the device.

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#29

1911: Chester Mcduffee And His Ads Diving Suit, Aluminum Alloy Weighing 485 Lbs/200 Kg

1911: Chester Mcduffee And His Ads Diving Suit, Aluminum Alloy Weighing 485 Lbs/200 Kg

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

Steam punk before steam punk was cool

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#30

A Man With A Punt Gun, A Type Of Large Shotgun Used For Duck Hunting. It Could Kill Over 50 Birds At Once And Was Banned In The Late 1860s

A Man With A Punt Gun, A Type Of Large Shotgun Used For Duck Hunting. It Could Kill Over 50 Birds At Once And Was Banned In The Late 1860s

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plush n puppet shenanigans
Community Member
7 months ago

punt guns were so powerful that they had to be shot from a boat called a punt hence the name punt gun to absorb the recoil, they were usually 2 gauge in caliber and they were used for putting food on the table (though not necessarily your table as it was used to supply large amounts of birds to markets)

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#31

The Sea Shadow - An Experimental Stealth Ship Built For The Us Navy To Test New Technologies For Surface Ships. 1980s

The Sea Shadow - An Experimental Stealth Ship Built For The Us Navy To Test New Technologies For Surface Ships. 1980s

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
7 months ago

This also looks to me like a device from Bond movies

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#32

Steam Locomotive On A Cable Car, Crossing The Canyon Of The Rio Grande River In New Mexico, USA, In 1915

Steam Locomotive On A Cable Car, Crossing The Canyon Of The Rio Grande River In New Mexico, USA, In 1915

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

Polar express gone wrong

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#33

Judy Sullivan, Lead Engineer For The Apollo 11 Biomedical System, 1969

Judy Sullivan, Lead Engineer For The Apollo 11 Biomedical System, 1969

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

I just want to know how she did her hair that way.

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#34

Morris And Salom Electrobats In Front Of The Old Metropolitan Opera House On Manhattan's 39th Street In 1898. The Electrobats Are Electric Battery-Powered Cars That Served As Early Taxis In NYC

Morris And Salom Electrobats In Front Of The Old Metropolitan Opera House On Manhattan's 39th Street In 1898. The Electrobats Are Electric Battery-Powered Cars That Served As Early Taxis In NYC

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Norma
Community Member
7 months ago (edited)

and the drivers look more dashing than their fares!

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#35

A Look Into The Future Or A Blast From The Past? Gas Resistant Pram From 1938, Ww2.

A Look Into The Future Or A Blast From The Past? Gas Resistant Pram From 1938, Ww2.

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Daria B
Community Member
7 months ago

Reading Nausicaa recently, and, yep. This part of history obviously played a big role in the inspiration for Miyazaki.

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#36

Ford Model T With Optional High Water Kit Sold By Trilacoochee Ford In Green Swamp Florida.

Ford Model T With Optional High Water Kit Sold By Trilacoochee Ford In Green Swamp Florida.

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
7 months ago

Google 'DONK Cars' Donk-cars-...a8fca6.jpg Donk-cars-1-1-5fb78c1a8fca6.jpg

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#37

The World's 1st Digital Image, 1957

The World's 1st Digital Image, 1957

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Saint Thomas
Community Member
7 months ago

I'm surprised it's not a cat.

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#38

Forging Press In The Krupp Factory, Essen, Germany, 1928

Forging Press In The Krupp Factory, Essen, Germany, 1928

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Kevin Camp
Community Member
7 months ago

These type of forging hammers are buried in the ground now to protect the surrounding area from the sound they make. Very few are left in operation in the US.

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#39

Multi-Bladed Folding Knife Made In Germany Ca. 1880 For John S. Holler, Cutlery Merchant, New York City. It Can Kill In 100 Different Ways, Including A Pistol On The Upper Left Side

Multi-Bladed Folding Knife Made In Germany Ca. 1880 For John S. Holler, Cutlery Merchant, New York City. It Can Kill In 100 Different Ways, Including A Pistol On The Upper Left Side

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Steve Barnett
Community Member
7 months ago

I can see one way of killing someone. Yourself, by leaving it open like this.

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#40

The Antarctic Snow Cruiser On The Drive Towards The Ship That Would Take It South To The Pole. The Vehicle Provided Living Space And Laboratories To Five Scientists. Unfortunately, It Was Found To Have No Traction On Snow Unless Driven In Reverse And Was Eventually Abandoned. 1939

The Antarctic Snow Cruiser On The Drive Towards The Ship That Would Take It South To The Pole. The Vehicle Provided Living Space And Laboratories To Five Scientists. Unfortunately, It Was Found To Have No Traction On Snow Unless Driven In Reverse And Was Eventually Abandoned. 1939

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
7 months ago

Imagine developing something for years and then discovering that it doesn't work where it is supposed to work. Why didn't they just try develop it in canada or something

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#41

The New York Central Streamliner 'Mercury' Passes Through New York City Hall, 1936

The New York Central Streamliner 'Mercury' Passes Through New York City Hall, 1936

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Norma
Community Member
7 months ago

wait...it went through city hall?!?!?!

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#42

Portable TV, 1967

Portable TV, 1967

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Steve Barnett
Community Member
7 months ago

Oh yes, very portable.

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#43

This 'Device' That Was Created Aiming To Develop Leg Muscles

This 'Device' That Was Created Aiming To Develop Leg Muscles

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
7 months ago

WTF is going on here?

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#44

The Armor Of A 19-Year-Old Antonie Fraveau, A French Soldier Who Died In The Battle Of Waterloo In 1815 With A Cannonball

The Armor Of A 19-Year-Old Antonie Fraveau, A French Soldier Who Died In The Battle Of Waterloo In 1815 With A Cannonball

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Saint Thomas
Community Member
7 months ago

Poor guy didn't suffer long... And poor guys who had to retrieve his body. Must have been a gnarly sight.

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#45

Transportation Technology Incorporated People Mover. January 1971

Transportation Technology Incorporated People Mover. January 1971

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
7 months ago

Just like a scene from James Bond movies in 70's. And you know what's next when something like this appears...

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#46

Austro-Hungarian Tail Gunner Armed With Ten Mauser C96 Handguns, Wwi

Austro-Hungarian Tail Gunner Armed With Ten Mauser C96 Handguns, Wwi

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Evil Little Thing
Community Member
7 months ago

It's WWI because World War 1 and the capital i stands in for the Romsn numeral. Wwi is just a stupid noise.

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#47

Giant Italian Gun Captured By Austro-Hungarians During Caporetto Breakthrough, November 1917 [colorized]

Giant Italian Gun Captured By Austro-Hungarians During Caporetto Breakthrough, November 1917 [colorized]

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ADHORTATOR
Community Member
7 months ago

This photo was taken near Cividale, my family comes from there. My grandfather was injured when the Autro-Hungarians attacked...he was 10 years old and almost lost his leg.

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#48

1972 Maserati Boomerang – Steering Wheel

1972 Maserati Boomerang – Steering Wheel

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
7 months ago

I don't know why, but somehow, I believe this car can be used to go back to the future

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#49

The British Using Inflatable Dummy Tanks To Assert Presence On The Battlefield In Ww2

The British Using Inflatable Dummy Tanks To Assert Presence On The Battlefield In Ww2

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Dave In MD
Community Member
7 months ago

Please do more research. This was not on a battlefield. This was part of a deception program prior to the invasion of Normandy. Operation Fortitude South, fictitious First US Army Group.

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#50

Concorde’s Cockpit - One Of The Most Complex Cockpits In History.

Concorde’s Cockpit - One Of The Most Complex Cockpits In History.

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

The SST, Super Sonic Transport operated from 1969 - 2003 between the UK and the US. It reached speeds up to Mach2, twice the speed of sound (1354 mph/ 2180km/h).

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#51

Dive Suit From 1878, Housed At The Maritime Museum In Paris

Dive Suit From 1878, Housed At The Maritime Museum In Paris

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Giles McArdell
Community Member
7 months ago

Where's his little sister?

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#52

This Is The First Computer Mouse Invented By Douglas Carl Engelbart. It Was A Wooden Box With Only One Button

This Is The First Computer Mouse Invented By Douglas Carl Engelbart. It Was A Wooden Box With Only One Button

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kjorn
Community Member
7 months ago

now let's play call of duty

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#53

Amphibious Bicycle, This Land-And-Water Bike Can Carry A Load Of 120 Pounds; Paris, 1932

Amphibious Bicycle, This Land-And-Water Bike Can Carry A Load Of 120 Pounds; Paris, 1932

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Francisco Scaramanga
Community Member
7 months ago

I wonder where the dip line is ... Those top tanks suggest the cyclist is down to the buttocks in the water. : /

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#54

Early Gps. Yesteryear’s Tomtom, A Rolling Key Map That Passes Through The Screen In A Tempo Determined By The Speed Of The Car; 1932

Early Gps. Yesteryear’s Tomtom, A Rolling Key Map That Passes Through The Screen In A Tempo Determined By The Speed Of The Car; 1932

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Chris Miller
Community Member
7 months ago

You can only straight, if you turn you will get lost.

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#55

Polish Policeman In Full Assault Gear, 1934

Polish Policeman In Full Assault Gear, 1934

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Owen Purdy
Community Member
7 months ago

The trench coat!!!

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#56

Giant Mechanical Tricycles By The Boston Woven Hose And Rubber Company, 1896

Giant Mechanical Tricycles By The Boston Woven Hose And Rubber Company, 1896

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

The original Big Wheel

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#57

Radio Stroller, Stroller Equipped With A Radio, Including Antenna And Loudspeaker, To Keep The Baby Quiet; USA, 1921

Radio Stroller, Stroller Equipped With A Radio, Including Antenna And Loudspeaker, To Keep The Baby Quiet; USA, 1921

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Daria B
Community Member
7 months ago

The first Baby Shark ♡

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#58

So Ahead Of Its Time

So Ahead Of Its Time

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Brett
Community Member
7 months ago

I totally would take that as my first car!

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#59

Tsar Tank (Tank Lebedenko), 1915

Tsar Tank (Tank Lebedenko), 1915

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Saint Thomas
Community Member
7 months ago

Just a prototype. It was never used in real battle. Too heavy and the small directional wheel on the back would get stuck in soft ground.

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#60

Pilots Of American 8th Bomber Command Wearing High Altitude Oxygen Masks And Flight Goggles, 1942

Pilots Of American 8th Bomber Command Wearing High Altitude Oxygen Masks And Flight Goggles, 1942

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Daniel (ShadowDrakken)
Community Member
7 months ago

Starlord

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#61

All-Terrain Car, This All-Terrain Car Can Descend Slopes Up To 65 Degrees; England, 1936

All-Terrain Car, This All-Terrain Car Can Descend Slopes Up To 65 Degrees; England, 1936

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Katherine Boag
Community Member
7 months ago

This car looks wheely good

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#62

Extensible Caravan. Built By An Unknown French Engineer In 1934

Extensible Caravan. Built By An Unknown French Engineer In 1934

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
7 months ago

Only two wheels?

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#63

Supertrain, The Failed TV Series That Bankrupted Nbc. This Model Cost Over $500,000

Supertrain, The Failed TV Series That Bankrupted Nbc. This Model Cost Over $500,000

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BG
Community Member
7 months ago (edited)

Wait, wait, wait... this model is the 1-1/4 inch = 1foot scale model. There is also a full scale model which is over 570 feet long and a 1/4 scale model. The three models cost NBC over 10 million dollars to build in 1978! Also, this one was fully operational with model cities, towns and bridges which it passed through, and they CRASHED it!

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#64

People Wearing Earbuds Listening To A Phonograph With For The First Time During A Cattle Show In Tonstad, Norway, C. 1890's

People Wearing Earbuds Listening To A Phonograph With For The First Time During A Cattle Show In Tonstad, Norway, C. 1890's

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Thomas Robb
Community Member
7 months ago

They dont look happy.

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#65

The Scalp Molester – A Massager Made Up Of 480 Articifical Fingers

The Scalp Molester – A Massager Made Up Of 480 Articifical Fingers

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
7 months ago

Wow... it stimulates blood circulation, brain cells and also removes dandruff and loose hair. Basically, it does everything

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#66

Futuristic Wwii German Ho-229 Jet Fighter Prototype. 1940s

Futuristic Wwii German Ho-229 Jet Fighter Prototype. 1940s

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Andrew Gibb
Community Member
7 months ago

approved by Fledermaus

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#67

Dr. Guy Brewster’s Bullet-Proof Armor, 1917

Dr. Guy Brewster’s Bullet-Proof Armor, 1917

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WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
7 months ago

So you aim for the legs.

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#68

Israel's Weizac At The Weizmann Institute, One Of The World's First Computers

Israel's Weizac At The Weizmann Institute, One Of The World's First Computers