Like a Lion in Zion

When iron was first discovered, back in the Bronze Age, it didn’t seem much of an improvement over the then-traditional copper-tin alloy. Iron was twice as hard, but this benefit quickly vanished once it started to corrode -which it did a lot faster than bronze. Iron has a not-so-secret boner for oxygen, and that feeling is mutual, so the two …

The Multi Blower that Multi Sucked

The Philips HK 4250 Multi Blower was invented in the late 1960s, when consumerism had hit its first ceiling: every household in the First World had bought every variety of appliance they could ever possibly need. With World War II and its hardships still fresh in people’s minds, nobody was willing to replace things before they broke down. Sure, the …

Reinventing the Wheel

The device we call a labeller or label maker today, was initially presented to the Swiss patent office in Bern as a ‘travel typewriter’ -and variations of this name in French, German, Italian and Rhaeto-Romance- from 1961 to 1963. Its inventor, Giancarlo di Saronno Originale, was a creative genius, but not a very practical one. And it was precisely the …

Fossil Fuel

When the first blue metal canisters -some filled with gas, others punctured and empty- were discovered near Marseille in 1971, paleontologists were baffled. The mysterious objects were found deep underground, in layers that had to be at least 30 million years old. And what’s more, in that same layer were found fossils of dinosaurs -which were thought to have been …

Right Here, Right Now, Back Then in 1977

When Instagram was founded, back in 1977, the company seemed destined for failure. Mainly because founder John ‘Clawless Koala’ Jonstontownson (nicknamed so because he once fought a clawless koala*) liked to do things differently. Idiotically, really. But don’t blame John Jonstontownson. Remember, he was a child of his era and many things went topsy-turvy in the 1970s: ugly became the …

Walkie-Talkie Etymology

Although the origin of the word ‘walkie-talkie’ seems straightforward enough, there’s still much debate amongst etymologists. According to one source (the one you’re currently reading) the story goes as follows. It all began in the 1890s, with the first moving pictures. At the time, these were called walkies, as most early films involved people or animals walking. People required little …

Rolling in the Deep

According to most historical sources, skateboarding was invented around 1950 by American surfers who needed additional ways to waste their time in the absence of waves. But in actual fact, the idea was introduced by the Society for Innocent Boring Citizens. Their aim was twofold. First of all, they wanted Innocent Boring beachgoers to be able to frolic in the …