The ability to make controlled fire in the Early Stone Ages marked a decisive moment in the evolution of man, especially since from that point on humankind has known a dramatic development. In fact, some might say that the numerous advantages brought by fire is what helped man become the master of this planet. In spite of the fact that our ancestors have made the greatest discovery in human history, unfortunately most of us still look down on them and view them as primitive.
After all, we have something that simplifies our lives a great deal: technology. However smugly man might feel these days due to the numerous technological advancements, it is necessary to mention that they were invented a lot earlier than we thought. In short, some of contemporary innovations are actually old discoveries. Therefore, while you might adhere to the following misconceptions, the historical facts say otherwise.
1. The car originates from the late 19th century
While these days most people have a romanticized perception of the classic horse and buggy means of transportation, back in those days some people were sick and tired of depending so much on the mares and stallions. To be more precise, the first prototype of the automobile can be dated back to 1769 in days of Napoleon. While the “car” had a steam powered engine and all, the truth is that the vehicle didn’t pass the “safety” examinations and crashed directly into a wall when tested for the first time. And, since the inventor didn’t have the funding to improve the car, not to mention the fact that nobody believed in his idea, the world didn’t hear about the car until the late 19th century.
2. Automatic doors were conceived by Lee Hewitt and Dee Horton in 1954
With religion slowly losing ground in the ancient city of Alexandria, one Greek engineer – symbolically remembered as Hero – decided to spice things up and invented the very first “automatic” doors around 50 BC. Cleverly integrating a complex system of fire and water mechanisms, this rudimentary automatic door system created the impression that the breath of the Gods actually opens the altar’s door. You can only imagine the hysteria of the believers back then, when he added a trumpet sound to this mechanism.
3. The computer appeared around WWII
The only thing that was invented in the Second World War was an improved version of an antiquated computer model dating from more than 100 years before. It’s all thanks to a man who absolutely hated the idea of mathematical mistakes, Charles Babbage. With the funding he received, he didn’t manage to create an analytical engine that could be programmed to do various math functions, as he always dreamed off. Nonetheless, the finished version of Babbage’s model inspired the countess of Lovelace to create the very first program.
4. Video games are directly linked to the launch of Pong in 1972
Even though not as catchy as Pong, the title for the first two video games was invested approximately 30 years earlier to the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device (1948) and the NIMROD (1951). While they weren’t really fun to play and were very expensive, Pong designers owe their resounding success to these two games.
5. iPod was invented in 2001
Actually, the idea of building a portable music player can be traced back to the 1979, more exactly to the IXI Systems invented by Kane Kramer and James Campbell. Overall, it was a nice though with a major impediment, namely the fact that the unit was capable of storing only 3:30 minutes of music. While the initiative is admirable, considering that wasn’t exactly the age of computers it obviously didn’t work out. Well, at least it paved the way for the terminals in music stores.
6. The heat ray beam was discovered by the US Army in 2007
Granted, the US Army couldn’t miss an opportunity of showing off its “latest” inventions. However, in reality the idea of heat rays dates back from before 400 BC and the ancient battle to defend the city of Syracuse. While popular TV shows reduced Archimedes’ heat ray to the myth status, not everyone agrees with the “evidence”. In fact, when tested in 1973 by Ioannis Sakkas the experiment proved successful.
7. Flamethrowers are an 1901 German discovery
Although many view the “flammenwerfer” as a prophetic symbol predicting the atrocities that would befall Europe in the 20th century, the idea existed from the 7th century A.D. Back then, it went by the name of “Greek Fire” and it was incredibly efficient for setting ships and people on ablaze. Oh, since setting things on aflame was so effective, later on the Byzantine Greeks came up with the idea of a mobile version of the device.
8. Submarines emerged during WWI
Back in the days, the idea of a submarine was inescapably linked to Jules Verne and his awesome novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. However, the concept actually dates back to a time we love to call the Dark Ages, when an innkeeper – William Bourne – found a way for ships to increase/decrease their capacity in order to modify their density. While not a resonating success, the first “submarine” was built in 1623 by Cornelius Drebble who obtained the impressive achievement of descending his ship to a depth of 15 feet.
9. Batteries were uncovered in 1800 by Alessandro Volta
If you are a fan of the conspiracy theories, then you probably heard of the famous Baghdad Batteries. While wrongfully included in the obscure category of archeology, the truth is that the 200 B.C. invention was actually functional in spite of its simplistic appearance. However, sometimes it’s much easier to dismiss the things you can’t explain as myths, rather than find an answer to the complex questions these ancient accumulators raise.
10. The vending machine appeared in early 1880s
The enigmatic Hero of Alexandria was not only good at “convincing Gods to partake in human religious ceremonies” or at least majestically open the doors. He also wanted to be sure that the believers remained faithful to the Egyptian gods and that they are the first divine figure to turn to when disaster strikes. Consequentially, he created a device that dispersed holy water once you insert a coin in it, a concept oddly similar to the vending machines that awed London and New York in the 1880s.