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11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST

Science and innovation must work together to create marvels that will benefit humanity. Over time, innovative marvels were created, and each invention is directly proportional to progress. However, some of the creations in which money was invested failed. The concept and motivation for these inventions were well thought out, but they failed miserably when put into action. Several factors, including design complexities and global market trends, contributed to the obliteration process. Let’s take a look at ten interesting inventions that didn’t work out.

  1. Cinerama movies

Cinerama in motion pictures used three 35mm projectors to project images on a deeply curved screen spanning a 146 degree arc. This was designed to improve visual experiences while watching the movie. Fred Waller of New York invented it in 1952 to improve visual experiences.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Image Credit : Cinema.ucla.edu

Cinerama, the predecessor to Imax, was introduced in the 1950s. Lowell Thomas, a broadcaster, spoke about the history of art in the film “This is Cinerama” (1952), including painting on the Sistine Chapel and early movies. He believed that the concept would usher in a new era of global cinema. His prediction, however, proved to be incorrect.

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Cinerama motion pictures used projectors that were designed to reveal one-third of the image on a curved screen. This produced better visuals than other forms of media. “Search for Paradise” (1957) and “Windjammer” (1958) are two notable Cinerama films (1958).

Unfortunately, problems with alignment and illumination eventually led to Cinerama’s obliteration within a decade. The cost of broadcasting was higher than usual, and most film producers withdrew from the process.

  1. Personalized Kinetoscope

In 1912, Thomas Edison introduced a non-commercial motion picture projector. A strip of film was passed between a lens and an electric bulb in it, and the viewer had to peer through a peephole to see what was going on. Behind the peephole was a rotating wheel that served as a shutter. This eventually produced a motion picture effect and provided a brief glimpse of the films passing through the shutter.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Edison first movie machine, the Kinetoscope.

The Kinetoscope is another of Thomas Edison’s failed inventions that had enormous potential utility. It was created to watch motion pictures without sound. Edison patented the Kinetoscope on August 31, 1897.

The nitrate acid base of the films had caused severe burns in the majority of the kinetoscopes. “Fred Ott’s Sneeze,” one of Edison’s first moving pictures, was popularly viewed through the Kinetoscope.

Because the audience couldn’t keep up with the fluctuations for more than 10 minutes, the movies of the time were usually short.

At the Black Maria, Edison shot approximately 200 films. Unfortunately, the kinetoscope’s popularity declined because it only allowed one person to view the image. Projectors in movie theaters dominated market trends, and the Kinetoscope was quickly rendered obsolete.

  1. Digital Audio tape

Sony invented digital audio tapes (DAT) in the mid-1980s as a medium for playback and signal recording. DATs looked like audio cassettes, but the medium was digital rather than analog. DATs, unlike other digital media, can produce impressive clones if a digital source is copied without using the analog domain.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Bramanyuro/Shutterstock.com

DAT, or Digital Audio Tape, was a playback medium developed in the 1980s by Sony. It looked like a cassette player and used a rotating head to record data, similar to a video recorder. The tapes range in length from 15 to 180 minutes. The length of a 120-minute tape was 60 meters.

As the name implies, the recording was primarily digital, as opposed to a compact analogy cassette, but unlike regular cassettes, one side of DAT can be used. DATs were made in two sizes: R-DAT and S-DAT. It provided numerous advantages for both commercial and personal use.

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The Recording Industry Association of America lobbied against DATs because it believed they were being used to copy or plagiarize audio content from pre-recorded CDs and cassettes. As a result, to address the issue of piracy and other significant factors, the production of DATs was halted.

  1. DH 106 Comet

The Comet was the first commercial jet airliner, introduced by De Havilland, a British aircraft manufacturing company. The Comet 1 prototype, introduced in 1949, became Mexicana Airlines’ first jet airliner. It was aerodynamically designed with four turbojet engines, wing roots, a pressurized cabin, and large windows. It had a spacious cabin and made a promising debut in 1952.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Comet 1 prototype at Hatfield Aerodrome in October 1949. Image Credit : iwm.org.uk/wikipedia.org

British airlines introduced the world’s first jet airliner, the Comet, in 1959. It was intended to provide transportation services to the United Kingdom following World War II. It has the capacity to transport up to 40 passengers. The cruise altitude reached 40,000 feet, with a cabin pressure of 8,000 feet. Other commercial aircraft of the time, such as Douglas’ DC-6, could not compete with Comet’s superior performance and design.

Unfortunately, a tragic event occurred shortly after it was ready for use. Two significant crashes within 16 weeks revealed a flaw in the plane’s technical design. Finally, when the design was corrected, it was too late, and other models, such as the Douglas DC-8, dominated the aircraft market.

The Comet took its first flight on October 31, 1959, and flew a significant distance between Mexico City and Los Angeles until 1970. It had gone through several transformations before being sold to the Museum of Flight in the early 1990s.

  1. Monowheel vehicles

Dr. J.H. Purves invented it in 1932 under the name Dynasphere. It was a single-wheeled, single-track vehicle that allowed the driver to sit within or next to the wheel, which was supported by smaller wheels. It was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s ancient sketch and came in two models: gas and electric.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Image Credit : User:Postdlf / Wikimedia.org , Wikipedia.org

Dr. J.H. Purves invented the first monowheel vehicle in France in 1932, no matter how absurd it may sound now. Dynasphere was the name given to this motorized vehicle, which could travel at a speed of approximately 25 miles per hour. Smaller wheels pressing against its rim determined the propelling force. The vehicle’s turning force is provided by a gyroscope, while the outboard skid allows friction drag on both sides of the vehicle.

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The vehicle’s designer believed that monowheels were the most effective and driver-friendly innovation because they provided a number of advantages. However, his invention was not widely adopted due to a number of factors, including the fact that it could only carry one person at a time and that drivers complained about structural and design flaws.

Monowheels did not appeal to the general public, but the design is still used today. Inspired by Purves’ design, a well-known Dutch company created the Wheelsurf, a monowheel vehicle.

  1. The Bell Rocket Belt

The American army first introduced the Bell Rocket Belt sometime between the 1950s and 1960s, with lofty goals. Wendall Moore invented it, and it allowed people to jump for a short distance. President John F. Kennedy provided a personal demonstration, and it allowed an individual to stay in the air for up to 21 seconds and cover up to 120 meters. The belt contained two tanks of hydrogen peroxide and nitrogen, which would allow for short-term flight.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
(Left) Gene Shoemaker with Rocket Belt Image Credit : Airandspace.si.edu , Wikipedia.org

Wendell Moore, an Aerospace engineer for Bell who was inspired by the Bell X-1 airplane, invented the Bell Textron Rocket Belt. Moore’s belt resembled a massive backpack carrying two tanks of hydrogen peroxide and nitrogen weighing approximately 120 pounds. The creation’s average weight allowed people to glide in the air for 21 seconds.

Bill Suitor, a 19-year-old boy, was taught to use the belt and flew 1200 times in 35 years. For many years, the rocket belt was the main focus of Bell aircraft design. The creation, however, lost momentum over time and was donated to the Smithsonian in 1973.

Despite President Kennedy’s personal demonstration of the invention, it did not last long on the market. It enabled the wearer to remain in the air for 21 seconds and travel 120 meters. As a result, its use was discontinued.

  1. The electric pen

The renowned scientist Sir Thomas Edison invented a pen that allowed people to make copies of documents. The pen’s motor drew the needle up and down the shaft, creating a stencil. The stencil was placed on the press, and ink was applied to the stencil with a roller, resulting in copies of the document.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Image Credit : Edison.rutgers.edu , Electricpen.org

The electric pen, invented in 1875 by Sir Thomas Edison of New Jersey, is one of the most well-known inventions that failed to gain popularity due to a variety of factors. It is regarded as the mimeograph’s forerunner. Edison was granted a US patent for autographic printing in 1876.

Edison created the electric pen using the same technology that was used to create the stencil for duplicating written texts. In 1880, he received another US patent for the creation of a stencil using a metal file plate.

The electric pen was in high demand in the 1870s, not only in the United States but also on a global scale. However, due to competing mechanical pens that did not require batteries, the electric pen industry suffered significant losses in 1880. The tattoo needle operates in a manner similar to that of an electric pen.

  1. The wearable parachute

In the 1900s, Franz Reichelt invented a wearable parachute that could transform from a suit to a parachute during a fall. The original design weighed around 70kgs and used 8 square meters of material that could transform into a parachute if a person jumped from a suitable height while wearing the suit around his body.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Image Credit : Agence de Presse Meurisse / Wikipedia.org , British Pathe via Youtube.com

Around 1910, Franz Reichelt, a Paris-based designer, came up with the innovative idea of a parachute suit that pilots could wear. The goal of a wearable parachute was to keep pilots safe in the event of a crash or to allow them to escape unharmed.

The suit’s initial design had a number of flaws. It weighed around 70 kilograms and was made of 6 square meters of material, making the invention too bulky for testing. The aeronautical clubs even asked Reichelt to abandon the plan.

Improvements were made to the design, and in February 1912, he obtained permission to test the wearable parachute from a higher elevation, the Eiffel Tower. He jumped from the Eiffel Tower, but his invention rejected him and was ineffective. He landed on the ground and exhaled his last breath.

  1. The Virtual boy

Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, released in 1995, is a portable 3D console that requires one to cram his face in order to play. The system used a monochromatic visor, typically red and black, to provide a three-dimensional view. To enable multiplayer mode, the console had an EXT port.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Image Credit : Evan- Amos / Wikipedia.org , Wikipedia.org

The Virtual Boy was released by Nintendo in 1995. It was a video game console designed to provide 3D graphics in order to enhance the player’s gaming experience in the form of virtual reality.

It was designed in such a way that players could immerse themselves in their own private universe while playing this 3D game, thanks to stereophonic sounds and a double grip controller that allows for multidirectional movement.

Despite the fact that approximately 7 million products were sold, the Virtual Boy was considered a market failure because the graphics and design were subpar and even posed a threat to one’s health. It was said to be too taxing on the eyes, and Nintendo quickly pulled it from the market.

  1. The flying tank

The Antonov A-40 was a Soviet attempt to support airborne forces or partisans by allowing a tank to glide onto a battlefield after being towed aloft by an airplane. In 1942, a prototype was built and tested, but it was found to be unusable.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Antonov A40. Image Credit : Tempshill/Wikipedia.org

In order to increase mobility and maneuverability, the Soviet Union experimented with the deployment of armored cars and tanks from the air in the 1930s, developing the Antonov A-40 flying tank.

Flying tanks were developed in the 1930s, and the TB-3 bomber was the aircraft that carried them and dropped them directly into the water. During WWII, T-37A tanks were flown by air to halt German landings in the Vyazma region in 1941. The BT-2, a light tank designed by Aram Rafaelyants in 1933, was outfitted with special gliders and propellers.

Designer Aram Rafaelyants and his colleagues began developing an alternative idea for attaching wings to the tanks. The BT-2, a light tank, was chosen for the job.

Oleg Antonov, an aircraft designer, was commissioned in 1941 to create a glider for the flying tanks. It was built in such a way that it could drop its wings and be ready for battle in a matter of seconds.

Finally, Sergey Anokhin successfully landed the tank, but he was apprehended by the opposing army. Anokhin was released and the tank was returned upon the arrival of the flight test institute’s rescue team.

The flying tanks were withdrawn from service due to a variety of factors, including a lack of materials and failed test runs.

  1. Antarctica snow cruiser

The Antarctic Snow Cruiser was a vehicle designed between 1937 and 1939 under the supervision of Thomas Poulter to facilitate transportation in Antarctica during the period of the US Antarctic Service expedition. The vehicle could seat five people and travel at a speed of 48 kilometers per hour.

11 OF THE MOST INTERESTING FAILED INVENTIONS FROM THE PAST
Abandoned Antarctic Snow Cruiser (December 22, 1940) Image Credit : United States Antarctic Services / Wikipedia.org

Dr. Thomas Poulter, explorer Richard Byrd’s second-in-command, returned from the 1934 Antarctic expedition with the goal of developing a vehicle capable of providing transportation in the dense snow of Antarctica. The snow cruiser’s design was approved by officials in Washington, DC.

It had long overhangs on both ends and retractable wheels to help speed things up. The retractable wheels were installed to keep the tires from becoming entangled in the hard, dense snow. The upper area between the 20-foot wheelbase was designed to hold a small plane capable of capturing the view from an aerial perspective. It was outfitted with four motors for increased mobility.

In Indiana, the vehicle was hit by a truck and suffered a fuel pump failure. Six miles from Lima, Ohio, the snow cruiser collided with a bridge corner and fell into a creek. The Antarctica expedition, on the other hand, was a success, and the vehicle was unloaded onto the Antarctica shore at the Little America III base. Its tires began to spin before it sank into the icy water.

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