If you’ve never seen it, the show stars four really rich people. Then a bunch of ordinary people come on and show off some stuff they’ve invented. If one or more of the rich people like the invention and think they could make a lot of money off it, they give the inventor some money in exchange for a percentage of the inventor’s company.
The best part is seeing all the stuff people invent. The worst part is sitting through the same long introductions of the four really rich people.
Anyway, I think something about that show speaks to the intrepid spirit of the human being. Here we are in the 21st century thinking we’re the cat’s ass with all the stuff we have, and along come these schmoes with completely new stuff that no one has ever thought of before. A lot of the stuff is just goofy, of course, but some of it’s really cool and has made its way into the market (with or without the help of the “dragons”).
But that’s not what this post is about. If you want to see Dragon’s Den inventions, you’ll have to watch the show. Today, I wanted to laugh (and pine) a little at inventions from the olden days that never quite made it off the ground.
Like the jet-pack, gosh-darnit! How many times have we all said – right here on this blog – “WHERE IS MY FRIGGIN’ JET PACK?” This is an actual photo of an actual soldier wearing an actual Rocket Belt invention and saluting John F. Kennedy. They invented this thing in 1961 – why, oh why, are they still not available to the general public?
So, okay maybe there were some design flaws in the jet-pack. What about this Flying Platform, invented in 1956? Look! It’s actually off the ground. And it’s big enough for the whole family and groceries.
Or maybe even this is a Motorized Surfboard, invented in 1948 for people who might not want to fly. (Surfer dudes were pretty formal back then, eh?)
Years later (1962) some guy improved on the motorized surfboard (Hard to believe, isn’t it?) and invented these Sea Shoes for when you wanted to walk to work, but wanted to avoid those pesky bridges. Wouldn’t it be funny if a speedboat came by right about now? Whoa!
Who is this creepy guy? If you guessed L. Ron Hubbard, you’re right! Not only did he invent Scientology, but also this Hubbard E-Meter (electro-psychometer) that could do everything from measure pain in fruits and vegetables to help cure people of stuff like asthma, colitis, manic depression and homosexuality. They actually used this thing, in real life, for ages!
This is a Finnish Portable Sauna invented in 1962. I always thought the Marx Brothers invented these. Didn’t they have one of these in every movie? First a fat society lady would be in it and then Groucho barges into the room and the fat society lady gasps and says something like “Whell! I never!” and then Groucho says something funny and waggles his eyebrows and then some more funny stuff happens and then in the end Groucho is in the portable sauna smoking a cigar. Good times!
The Cup Bra, circa 1949. Yes! Bras without straps — of any sort! How do they support the girls, you ask? They don’t! That’s why even the inventor and his wife are looking really skeptical about the idea.
Who comes up with this stuff? A Curved Barrel Machine Gun, so you can spray a whole room with a hail of bullets without ever having to see who you’ve killed. Is that cool or what?
And speaking of cool, daddy-o, what’s cooler on a date than holding hands with your sweetie and sucking on the same cigarette? (Cigarette Holder Built for Two, 1955)
And finally, my personal favourite, The Baby Cage – 1937. This was designed for families who lived in crummy little apartments with no balconies in the middle of the city and found themselves saddled with a baby. Too lazy to take your kid to the park? Strap this cage into any convenient window and suspend the baby 12 stories in the air so he can jump and play.
Here’s a view from outside. Doesn’t this kid look happy? Wait! I think that might be little John Wayne Gacy. Cute.