They say “hindsight is 20/20,” and as with some clichés this one couldn’t be more true when it comes to some people’s attitude towards change, especially when it comes to doing something easier, better, or faster. Well, here are 15 modern conveniences that most of us take for granted today, that we couldn’t live, work, or play without. Conveniences that when first proposed some people “never got the memo on,” since they’re such no-brainers now in hindsight, or resisted in some other way. Please keep reading to find out how amazing and outlandish the public’s attitude can not only be today, but was in the past, towards some of the most successful and important ideas, inventions, and innovations of all time.
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10 Vaccinations Were, Well Vaccines
Online bullies call them anti-vaxxers but they were once dubbed “antivaccinationists,” and they’ve been around much longer than covid-19, and obviously, they’re people who oppose vaccinations and vaccines or simply believe “my body my choice” when it comes to vaccination. In spite of the fact that vaccinations are considered to be one of the top ten achievements in the area of public health in the 20th century, and have saved countless millions of lives, still people have opposed it for longer than it has officially been around. Even the process of pre-vaccination called variolation came under similar fire by the public. The public rejected vaccination for many reasons, ranging from opposition in the mid to late 1800s in the United States and England to the smallpox vaccine, and the anti-vaccination leagues that subsequently formed as a result, to the more recent vaccination controversies surrounding their safety. Much of it though, most likely has to do with fear of the unknown—and trust.
9 A Birthday Party Could Ruin A Kid’s Character
The following was taken directly from an online copy of a 1913 edition of Ladies’ Home Journal:
“… The children’s birthday party habit not only affects the moral nature of children in various ways, and sows dangerous seeds for the future in child character and habits, but it also threatens their happiness through the danger to health which such parties involve. Instead of wholesome tiny…sandwiches…such a mixture is set…that the whole physical system is frequently completely upset. …”
As we can see from this very short excerpt , from an exceedingly long rant that appeared in the Ladies’ Home Journal of 1913 , they weren’t too thrilled about birthday parties for kids. The part about the birthday party ‘habit’ not only damaging the ‘moral nature’ of kids, but also a kid’s character, is some pretty heavy stuff. I’m not sure I want to threaten any of my grandkids’ happiness by sowing ‘dangerous seeds,’ and risking their health by throwing them a birthday party, and making them sick in the process. Doesn’t sound like a good time to me, or to be honest, any birthday party I’ve ever been to. So I’m guessing that our family tradition of making a huge chocolate cake, with a lot of chocolate frosting, and giving the entire monstrosity to our one-year-olds, in a sort of competition to see who “destroys it the best and makes the biggest mess,” wouldn’t go over too well with these ladies.
8 The Bicycle Would Cripple You—Or Worse
Back in Victorian times, doctors were totally against people riding bicycles—especially women. So much so, they literally practiced a disturbing form of pseudoscience. Their fears were so misguided that they claimed that riding a bicycle disgraced a woman’s walk by causing it to turn into a “plunging kind of motion.” They also felt that the activity could actually wear a person’s body all the way down to the bones, causing conditions such as “bicycle foot,” and “bicycle hand,” which were very highly feared. These doctors also claimed that bicycle riding could even damage your face by the combination of the strong winds created by the momentum of the bicycle, added with the strain of the effort, causing “bicycle face”—which was allegedly a permanent condition! And as for the daintiness of women, the exertion would most certainly cause their slight frames to become far too masculine, providing they could survive the torture of course. Nope. These doctors never got the memo about the value of exercise.
7 A Refrigerator Cost A Fortune
An American wife in 1920: “Honey. Should we buy one of those new refrigerators, or one of those new automobiles?” He replied, “Well, if we buy a refrigerator we won’t have to take horse and wagon to the market so often, but if we get one of those Fords we can go and get what we need whenever we need it.” She replied, “We could just get both.” He says, “We could too.” Then Grandpa spoke up, “There’s a problem.” The husband asks, “What’s that Dad?” He explains, “That refrigerator you two want will cost you a lot more than the Ford!” He was right.
In the early 1920s a Ford Model-T cost around $260. A bit expensive considering people made about $2,000 a year, but affordable. On the other hand, a refrigerator, say a Frigidaire, would cost nearly twice as much at $450! So if our imaginary couple made the $2,000 a year, they’d need to spend 35% of a year’s income to buy both! And imagine today spending almost twice as much on a refrigerator as a car! Prior to this there were the ice harvesters, and businessmen in the industry, who opposed mechanical refrigeration at first. Their lost income notwithstanding, there can still be no doubt that they eventually had a refrigerator in their kitchens too, and many of those businessmen, such as Birds Eye, would soon become the frozen food giants of today.
6 Coffee Was Satan’s Drink
When one ponders coffee, lush tropical hills may come to mind, or the aroma of it brewing first thing in the morning. A 16th century pope may come to the minds of many historians and coffee aficionados though. He was Pope Clement VIII, and is said to be the party responsible for the popularity of the aromatic bean circumventing Europe and the rest of the globe. In the 16th century coffee was so popular throughout the Ottoman Empire, that Sultan Murad IV thought of chopping the heads off of anyone found drinking the brew, but even that horrific threat didn’t stop coffee lovers from indulging. Since the Islamic world drank coffee it was dubbed “Satan’s Drink” by Roman Catholics and Christians. Eventually though, coffee made it to Rome, and after a steaming cup was placed in the Pope’s hand he allegedly said after drinking it, “This Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.” He then gave it his blessing. So, the next time you enjoy a cup of Joe, you might want to say a prayer of thanks to Pope Clement VIII.
5 Taxis Were Deemed Necessary (By One Man)
Being resistant in a different sense, in 1907, a legend of life in the Big Apple was born, when a soon-to-be, world-renowned icon rolled onto the city streets—the first metered taxis—and they were green…and red. Since these colors were so hard to see they were soon painted their iconic garish yellow so they could be spotted from a distance, and so it wasn’t long at all before 700 New York City taxis could never be found when you really needed one. The legend of the New York City cab began after Harry N. Allen was slammed by a $5 fare (that’s 130 bucks today) for a quarter mile ride in a horse-drawn cab! Now that is rough. But soon after getting fleeced by the cab driver Harry resisted in spades by creating the New York Taxicab Company. Allen had 65 gas-powered, French cars shipped over, painted them green and red, put drivers in them, sent them out, and an icon was born. That’s giving it to them Harry!
4 The Umbrella Was Persecuted
The first English man to carry an umbrella, or “brolly,” was Jonas Hanway. The French invented the folding version in use today. There both sexes used umbrellas, but in Britain they were thought to be highly feminine, so when Jonas showed up on the streets of London with his umbrella the jeering and taunting soon began. Londoners were quickly laughing and yelling insults and names at him, calling him “effeminate” and worse, and some even called him “Frenchie,” the ultimate insult in 17th century England. This also upset the cab drivers who figured that a man with a “brolly” wouldn’t be wanting a ride in the incessant London rain, so maybe neither would anyone else if “brollies” caught on, so they took to throwing rotten fruit at the man. It got worse over the years, but Jonas held on, and the rest is history. He thought of the idea during his travels to Persia where they used huge parasols to get out of the hot sun. His thoughts were that they might work for rain as well. Who calls this guy, dry holding an umbrella, an “idiot,” while standing drenched in a downpour, right?
3 The Airplane Was A Toy
In 1911, a very influential person made the profound comment, “Airplanes are interesting scientific toys, but they are of no military value.” The strange thing about the resistance here is the pedigree of the person resisting. I mean the fact that a French general, who was also an Allied commander during World War I, would say something so naive seems mind boggling. That French general was none other than Ferdinand Foch. How could he not see the potential of a machine that flies for at least aerial reconnaissance is beyond this writer. The Wright Brothers had already been making headlines with successful flights for eight years, and only eight years after he made this this statement, a Curtiss seaplane made the first successful Atlantic crossing from Newfoundland to Portugal. I guess the General never got the memo.
2 The Laptop Would Die
“Laptops Are Dead—Or Will Die,” could’ve been a headline in the New York Times back around 1985. At least that’s what the tech writers were saying in the paper about that new trend in personal computing. Quite often, those who write about new technology, never get the memo, and don’t see which direction it may be heading, because according to the tech experts of the time, at the Times, laptops would eventually bite the dust for a couple reasons; one was they’d be too expensive to build, and the other was that nobody would want a portable computer in the first place. They were predicting that “…no matter how inexpensive the machines become…[they just couldn’t] imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing.” In other words, if you were fishing, you wouldn’t want a computer, because you were outdoors. In their defense, there is the fact that the World Wide Web, Internet, and WiFi didn’t exist then, so our digital world wasn’t even near their radar. The irony of this is the fact that Nikola Tesla had already invented cellular technology more than a half of a century earlier. Hmm?
1 The Light Bulb Was Unworthy
In 1878, the British Parliament had a jolly bright idea when they formed what was apparently a scientific committee charged with creating a report on Thomas Edison’s idea for the incandescent lamp. The committee’s final determination, was that what was to become famous world-wide as the “light bulb,” was “good enough for our Transatlantic friends, but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.” Would that be “English scientific men?” Seeing how the incandescent lamp in question was on the other side of the Atlantic, maybe they should’ve tried it? Or if they did, given it a bit more of a chance maybe, or something. Then possibly the British could’ve seen the future in somewhat of a “better light. ”
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