Over the years many inventors have tried their luck with inventions they believed were set to revolutionize their industry. Sadly, not every product is going to be a big hit. From VHS tapes to cassette tapes and portable televisions, there are plenty of vintage technologies that we no longer use.
But what are some of the lesser-used inventions that have hit the market over the years? We take a look at some of our favorite weird inventions that never quite took off.Calculator watches
Smart watches are everywhere these days, but back in 1977, Hewlett-Packard took their crack at it with the HP-01. This smart calculator watch was marketed as “a new idea for the new age of personal information.”
While it resembled the digital watches of the day, it used an LED display and performed more than 36 functions. Its six interactive functions included time, calculator, date/calendar, timer/stopwatch, alarm, and memory. It was considered a luxury item, with the selling price equaling that of a Rolex at the time.
Sadly, it didn’t quite take off. In all likelihood, the wide availability of far superior LCD displays probably had a lot to do with it. Plus, you didn’t really need to spend a great deal of money on a calculator watch when pocket calculators were cheap and easy to come by. Fortunately, HP has had some crazy success with some of its other crazy innovations such as the HP Jet Fusion 3D printing.
It may not have been the first calculator watch to have ever hit the market, that honor goes to Pulsar with their Time Computer Calculator 901 model back in 1975, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable with its array of functions and impressive technical details. These days, the HP-01 watch is a bit of a collector’s item and can fetch you anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000.
Remember when electric doormats were all the rage? Neither do we. Yet, back in the 80’s this German invention hit the market with the intention to save you from having to wipe your shoes yourself. With anti-tripping technology, all you had to do was walk over the mat, and the moving bristles would brush the dirt off your shoes.
It’s not the only self-cleaning doormat design out there, as we can see fromthis patent filed back in 1945. The idea behind the invention is about more than just making the action of wiping your feet redundant; this inventor thought about the bigger picture.
The shoe sole-cleaning machine would be used in large buildings with high footfall, removing the dirt from the shoes of those entering the building before it had the chance to hit the floors. This would help preserve the floors and save janitors the added labor of cleaning all that dirt.
While the idea is nice in theory, it’s all a little unnecessary. After all, the low-tech version of the doormat does a pretty good job of wiping your shoes without all the added bells and whistles.Amphicars
Our desires toown a flying car don’t appear to have gone anywhere just yet, but what about a swimming vehicle? The Amphicar; part car, part boat, was “the sportscar that swims,” and was said to be inspired by the amphibious version of the World War II Volkswagen Kubelwagen.
The amphibious passenger automobiles were produced by a West German firm from 1960 to 1968, with just over 3,800 being built, and nearly all of them imported to the U.S. Performance of the vehicle was modest and making the transfer from road to water was fairly straightforward. You just drove the car into the water and engaged the two propellers. The wheels acted as stabilizers, and you could just steer as usual.
While the Amphicar did receive initial favorable reviews, it didn’t quite manage to take off, either as a car or a boat. In the end, what stopped production altogether was that the vehicles were no longer being imported when they failed to meet new safety and emissions regulations. Still, if you fancy a go on one of these, you can always visit Disney Springs for anAmphicar Tour.
While we can see the charm and appeal of these inventions, it’s not surprising they never quite took off. Sometimes, it’s best to keep things simple and do it the old fashioned way!