Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Bizarre and Unusual Inventions From the Past

Photo Credit: Keystone-France / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Keystone-France / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

Inventing has been a human practice from ancient civilizations to the modern era. While many things have become essential parts of everyday life and beyond, some inventions were too bizarre to make it mainstream. They serve as fascinating windows into the minds of their creative inventors.

Morrison Shelter

A table with a cage underneath.
A Morrison shelter set up in a dining room, 1941. (Photo Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

During the Second World War, a major concern for people was having their houses collapse on them during nighttime air raids. To try and protect themselves, many had a Morrison shelter in their homes. It was a covered “bed” that could prevent a sleeping person from being crushed. An added bonus was that it could also serve as a table!

Rail Zeppelin

A railcar with a propeller.
The Rail Zeppelin on the rails. (Photo Credit: George Rinhart / Corbis / Getty Images)

Designed and developed in 1929, the Rail Zeppelin was a unique railcar that held the world’s speed record on rail. It travelled a whopping 143 miles per hour and could make the 160-mile trip between Hamburg and Spandau, Germany, in just one hour and 36 minutes!


A man riding a strange-looking bicycle.
The Cyclomer being ridden on land. (Photo Credit: Nationaal Archief / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Bicycles have taken on many different shapes and forms, but what makes the Cyclomer unique is that it was intended for use on bodies of water. Introduced in 1932, the Cyclomer was designed with floaters and a peddle propeller to allow it to both float on water and move forward. It is considered the world’s first amphibious bicycle.

Horizontal Reading

A woman laying reading with horizontal glasses.
Horizontal glasses to help readers enjoy their stories in bed. (Photo Credit: Peter Johnson / BIPS / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Designed to make reading in bed easier, Hamblin glasses were first developed in 1936. Through the use of a periscope, these glasses allow people to lie on their backs and read without having to strain their necks. Despite being invented almost a century ago, many avid readers still use this invention today!


A woman sitting in a modern kitchen, a robot vacuum going by.
A robo-vac doing its job in a modern kitchen. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

While the Roomba may feel like a modern invention, these little vacuums were actually invented decades ago. Patented back in 1957, you could control the robot vacuum with a remote, practically hands-free. It was part of the Whirlpool Miracle Kitchen of the Future, promising to make chores a breeze.

Radio Pram

A child in a pram with a radio on the side.
A child plays with the radio dials on the side of their pram. (Photo Credit: KEYSTONE-FRANCE / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images)

Before there was streaming of music on cellphone devices, people relied on the radio to listen to their favorite music or hear the latest news. It was such a staple of daily life that people began putting radios in everything, including their baby strollers. While walking with their children, mothers could make their daily walks more entertaining by bumping some tunes.

Family Bicycle

Four people driving a single bicycle.
Charles Steinlauf and his family take a ride on his four-person bicycle invention. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Tandem bicycles have been around for a long time, but none have ever looked as extreme as this puppy. Featuring two spots for pedaling, a seat up front for a passenger, and even a sewing station on the go, this bicycle gets the whole family out of the house together. However, as you can imagine, the bicycle never really took off.

Baby Cages

A woman looks at her baby in a cage out the window.
A nanny supervising a baby suspended in a wire cage attached to the outside of a window. (Photo Credit: Reg Speller / Fox Photos / Getty Images)

While there is absolutely no way this kind of thing would fly today, people used to have cages fixed outside of their apartment windows to put their babies in. By doing so, they felt they were giving their babies fresh air and healthy sun exposure. Thankfully, the practice eventually fell out of favor.

Shaving Machine

Several men sitting with shaving cream waiting to be shaved by a machine.
The mass shaving machine, a nineteenth-century invention that can shave a dozen men at the same time. (Photo Credit: Ken Howard / BIPs / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

There are some things in life that mechanical devices can make easier, like pencil sharpeners or tire pumps, but one thing that gives us hesitation is a shaving machine. However, a machine that could shave the faces of multiple men at once was a very real thing. The invention never took off, and it’s probably for the best, as we aren’t sure how safe it could really be.

Spinning Pasta Fork

A hand-crank spinning fork with spaghetti on it.
A windup spaghetti fork in operation, 1955. (Photo Credit: Evans / Three Lions / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Pasta enthusiasts should get excited for this next one. Frustrated with struggling to twirl his spaghetti on his fork, Russell E. Oakes invented a spinning pasta fork to make the job easier. A hand crank at the base would twirl the fork, and all that was left was to lift the fork to your mouth – genius!

Joined Shoes

Shoes joined at the toes.
A pair of joined-up shoes specially designed for ballroom dancing, 1981. (Photo Credit: Howard Owens / BIPs / Getty Images)

Many people claim to have two left feet when it comes to dancing, using it as the reason not to dance. However, this next invention renders that excuse null and void. Joined at the toes, dance partners can swing in unison with ballroom shoes. Although, if you weren’t in perfect unison, things might have gotten a little clumsy.

Read more: Things That Happened in the 1970s That People Have Likely Forgotten

So, there you have it—those quirky and downright bizarre inventions from the past. It’s wild to think about the crazy ideas our ancestors came up with, isn’t it? These oddball creations may seem outlandish, but hey, they’re a reminder that our journey through time is filled with surprises, weird twists, and the occasional head-scratching innovation.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!