top 200 commentsshow 500

[–]Lemonwizard 6685 points6686 points  (171 children)

The ancient Romans (well, the wealthy ones) had central heating in their homes. You can actually still see the pipes in some of the buildings at Herculaneum!

[–]Judean_peoplesfront 672 points673 points  (12 children)

The Sumerians had AC six thousand years ago. You stick a tunnel through cold rock under your house and have a tall chimney on the roof. The sun heats the chimney and the air inside rises. The displacement then pulls cold air into your house from the rock tunnel.

[–]Gimly 2933 points2934 points  (49 children)

Not only central heating, but also floor heating, the heating from the central heater was circulated under the floor which was elevated.

[–]jcmib 1588 points1589 points  (48 children)

I just chuckled picturing HVAC contractors wearing togas.

[–]KeltronX 4942 points4943 points  (68 children)

The submarine. The first was made in 1620. It had Oars that stuck through leather seals and snorkel hoses for air.

Edit: Technically a submersible. Thanks, u/ScratchinWarlok

[–]Cobbleking32486 1630 points1631 points  (24 children)

The Americans even used one in combat in the Revolutionary War.

[–]OgdruJahad 520 points521 points  (9 children)

Its sad that there are so few videos of it actually being used, ie the Turtle submarine.

[–]TheObstruction 234 points235 points  (1 child)

Youtube wasn't invented until 1848. Just in time for the Crimean War!

[–]egrith 8390 points8391 points  (152 children)

The vending machine, the Greeks invented a water dispenser that you would put a coin in and it would fall onto a lever, opening the seal and giving you some water.

[–]mindoc438 3175 points3176 points  (54 children)

The coin-on-a-string trick probably worked wonders here.

[–]celphirio 289 points290 points  (36 children)

If I'm not mistaken, it was used for religious purposes in a temple. Maybe this was before or after the Greeks, I'm not sure. But I remember watching a documentary on it. Also, automatic doors.

[–]roseyfae 4516 points4517 points  (51 children)

Haven't seen it mentioned yet so, 3D movies. The first one popped up around 1915 and the first major commercial film in the format was The Power of Love in 1922.

If you included stereoscopic tech it goes back to the late 1800's.

[–]lucid808 2025 points2026 points  (89 children)

Air rifles were invented in 1779. The Girandoni Air Rifle was a .46 cal, had a capacity of 22 round balls that were gravity fed into the chamber. It used no gun powder (so no smoke to give away position) and had a high rate of fire, much faster than traditional muzzle loader. The buttstock would hold up to 800 psi of compressed air, which took about 1500 strokes from a hand pump to fill.

It was powerful enough to put a hole through a 1" pine board from 100 yards away, so it could cause significant damage by a skilled marksman. It was used in the Napoleonic Wars, and was famously carried by Lewis and Clark during their expedition across North America.

[–]Blackpixels 780 points781 points  (44 children)

I'm still amazed by how they managed to manufacture an airtight reservoir in that era, let alone that level of pressure.

[–]therealjerseytom 80 points81 points  (14 children)

.46 Cal is a serious air rifle!

[–]Back2Bach 8026 points8027 points  (160 children)

The pipe organ.

Its origins are in the 3rd century BC.

[–]level3ninja 4419 points4420 points  (140 children)

Fun fact: the main pipe organ in the Sydney Opera House took 5 years to build and 10 years to tune.

[–]Fez_Mast-er 3063 points3064 points  (56 children)

right after they finish tuning it


"Goddamn it, out of tune again"

[–]OMGitsKatV 1665 points1666 points  (41 children)

I didn't know Gibson made pipe organs now

[–]carpie101 549 points550 points  (56 children)

Why did it take so long to tune?

[–]That_One_Fellow_Nils 1564 points1565 points  (48 children)

10,244 pipes. All of them unique in voice to those in the same tune and unique in tune to those with the same voice.

200 ranks. Imagine there are 200 pianos spread across a football field, and you need to get them all to be in tune with each other, but to tune some of the pianos you have to climb on a ladder, and move it each time you start tuning a different note.

There’s also the fact that with that many ranks it could have been that there was just one that wasn’t tuned for a long time because no piece called for it.

[–]Mr_frumpish 4159 points4160 points  (67 children)

Billiard balls. First mentioned in 1588.

[–]pjabrony 1591 points1592 points  (49 children)

But the limited supply of elephant ivory led to some of the first plastics.

[–]heroesarestillhuman 821 points822 points  (40 children)

gum cotton was one of the earlier attempts at a substitute, iirc; but had a bad habit of igniting during play, from being struck by other balls.

[–]european_impostor 586 points587 points  (18 children)

I had to double check myself but it's gun cotton not gum cotton

[–]TheLordJesusAMA 258 points259 points  (16 children)

Yep, aka nitrocellulose. They used it in old film too, which is one reason that a lot of old silent era movies are now "lost".

[–]G33Kinator 10.9k points10.9k points  (295 children)

3D printers have been around since the '80s, but it wasn't until the late 2000's that patents began expiring and small companies could introduce more affordable and less industrial printers to the general public.

[–]HammerOn1024 15.8k points15.8k points  (222 children)

Roller blades are from the 1700's.

[–]C0RV1S 8674 points8675 points  (162 children)

The idea of George Washington on roller skates makes me chuckle

[–]_pelvic_sorcery_ 6269 points6270 points  (119 children)

Tony Hawk: Pro Skater 1776

[–]937482 2381 points2382 points  (77 children)

Anyone else remember Tony Hawk Underground 2 where you could skate around as Benjamin Franklin?

[–]LouSazzhole 846 points847 points  (46 children)

Fun fact: Ben Franklin invented that grabber thingy so you don't have to bend over or so you can get things off of a high shelf.

[–]Noblesseux 1329 points1330 points  (26 children)

I imagine him hitting a sick combo off of a bunch of British ships and sinking them all at once.

[–]Noblesseux 756 points757 points  (15 children)

While listening to hobastank.

[–]TAU_doesnt_equal_2PI 1196 points1197 points  (11 children)

Most people don't know they didn't add the second O till 1950. Kudos.

[–]ChemicalMurdoc 9359 points9360 points  (228 children)

The first lighter was invented in 1823, 3 years before matches in 1826. A lot of people assume matches were made first, and usually assume they are much much older.

[–]scaaaarface 2622 points2623 points  (187 children)

But how did they make fires before then?

[–]ScizorSci 9898 points9899 points  (173 children)

The Romans gave each other the middle finger.

[–]Dremestrydr 1991 points1992 points  (54 children)

Diogenes was the first recorded person to flip somebody off as an insult. He did it to Demosthenes when he got tired of arguing or something lol

Edit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_finger

[–]LOOOOPS 1328 points1329 points  (22 children)

The wiki page for that is priceless.

The gesture communicates moderate to extreme contempt, and is roughly equivalent in meaning to "fuck off," "fuck you," "shove it up your ass," "up yours," "go fuck yourself," or "eat a big fat fucking dick, you dumb stupid asshole."

[–]Jalapeno_on_a_waffle 316 points317 points  (10 children)

Also,“Historically, it represented the phallus.” Clicking on the phallus link will show you that means penis with some funny pictures.

[–]busdriverbuddha1 356 points357 points  (6 children)

Good to know that if I ever go back in time, I'll know how to pick a fight.

[–]hunkmonkey 12.0k points12.0k points  (427 children)

Eyeglasses were invented in 1290. Amazing.

[–]Fisher9001 2170 points2171 points  (63 children)

Wasn't some Roman emperor using polished crystals as glasses?

[–]WORD_559 3320 points3321 points  (60 children)

Emperor Nero, I think. He would use a polished emerald to correct his vision.

[–]why_a_duck 844 points845 points  (33 children)

Urinary catheters they were "used as early as 3000bc" https://www.urotoday.com/urinary-catheters-home/history-of-urinary-catheters.html

[–]StarkRG 369 points370 points  (20 children)

That must have been extremely unpleasant...

[–]thoawaydatrash 16.0k points16.1k points  (1014 children)

The modern headphone jack was invented in 1878 and has only really changed in size.

[–]Bran_Solo 5493 points5494 points  (363 children)

The original 1/4" design is still standard on electric guitars.

[–]Pinwurm 3506 points3507 points  (330 children)

Synthesizers, microphones, digital signal processors, drum machines, monitoring speakers/headphones, amplifiers - anything you'd find in a music studio.

[–]DongLaiCha 1180 points1181 points  (302 children)

Is there a technical reason for this like durability, or is it just legacy/tradition?

[–]popstar249 3135 points3136 points  (270 children)

It's simple and it works. There's no reason to change it. The large size allows for more current and a stable secure plug that won't easily break.

[–]chilidoggo 601 points602 points  (15 children)

Speakers and other sound equipment were actually invented before most people think. A way to record and play back sound was invented after the telephone.

[–][deleted] 9375 points9376 points  (589 children)

What’s that?

— Sent from my iPhone 7

[–]PM_ME_AVERAGE_TITS 4915 points4916 points  (491 children)

What's a computer?

[–]iisdmitch 7813 points7814 points  (357 children)

That fucking commercial. I have an iPad pro from work, I love it, but come on, Apple, you literally make computers. Tablets aren't PC/Mac replacements. Maybe one day but not now.

[–]crashonthebeat 336 points337 points  (20 children)


  • Sent from my Pixel 2

[–]Antonskarp 2547 points2548 points  (67 children)

Color movies! Color movies actually predates audio movies. However, color film was more expensive to buy and develop than black and white, but people weren't willing to pay extra for color so it wasn't economically sound to shoot in color. Hell, not even the wizard of Oz turned a profit. There are actually a few color silent films out there, but since people actually were willing to pay extra for audio movies that seems like it was invented earlier. It wasn't, it just got popular earlier!

EDIT: Some examples.

I'm not talking about black and white film being hand painted in a variety of colors. I'm talking about actual colors being captured by the camera. Here's a short clip by pioneer Edward Raymond Turner from 1902. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V0Vc5iRoLY Can you imagine that this clip is from the same year as A Trip to the Moon? Granted, it doesn't amazing, but it looks real.

Here's a clip from a 1926 silent film with intertitles and all starring Douglas Fairbanks, but shot in glorious Technicolor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwa2578IxkM

[–]foolio805 17.9k points17.9k points  (625 children)

Canned food was invented in the 1770s, decades before the can opener in the 1850s

[–]thoawaydatrash 8620 points8621 points  (189 children)

It was also invented long before Louis Pasteur figured out what canning was actually doing to prevent spoilage.

[–]paiute 3458 points3459 points  (71 children)

For 80 years the mountains of unopened cans grew

[–]KalessinDB 1684 points1685 points  (51 children)

Hey that's nothing compared to the 40 million years that wood wasn't biodegradable for!

[–]mywan 305 points306 points  (35 children)

But it only took those buggers at most 40 years to biodegrade nylon.

[–]Pseudonymico 1964 points1965 points  (86 children)

Well I mean it would have been weird if it was the other way round.

[–]Original_name18 2303 points2304 points  (73 children)

"Hey guys! I made this thing. It's like scissors, but for opening hollow metal canisters and shit!"

"Fuckin, what hollow metal canister has anything useful in it? idiot."

[–]DonLaFontainesGhost 169 points170 points  (7 children)

I've always been fond of the Bob Newhart skit about Sir Francis Drake explaining tobacco to the Royal Court:

"So there's this plant - it grows everywhere over there. One takes the leaves of this plant and dries them out until they are brown. Then you shred the dried leaves and wrap the shreddings in another dried leaf to make a small cylinder."

"And what do you do with this cylinder?"

"Uh, well - you put it in your mouth and set it on fire..."

[–]BasilVal 666 points667 points  (69 children)

And the food in the first cans was still edible when hey could finally be opened.

[–]ruptured_pomposity 730 points731 points  (66 children)

However, the first cans were made of lead. Edible but poisonous food.

[–]autism_vro 894 points895 points  (55 children)

Well actually, the first cans (in France at least) weren't cans at all - rather, they were glass bottles that were sealed to the outside. This is part of the reason why the can opener wasn't a necessity right away.

[–]fart_shaped_box 7845 points7846 points  (260 children)

Digital distribution of video games. It has been around since the Atari 2600, where the method used was a telephone line the Intellivision in 1981, where the games could be downloaded from a cable TV channel.

Edit: I have been corrected. While the Atari 2600 was the earliest released console to support this, the Intellivision's PlayCable was the first service.

[–]Alacritous 3558 points3559 points  (134 children)

Hell, I remember typing in blocks of code while my friend read the code out from a magazine. Thousands of characters in data statements that once you were done transcribing and ran it it would compile itself into a binary image that you could then save to tape. And then you could play the game or whatever it was.

[–]Nasturtiums_and_Beer 1036 points1037 points  (23 children)

Pirate radio stations were popular in some countries that played sounds that could be recorded to tape, then loaded as a game. Saving on all that typing.

Edit: This article sums up the practice, save for the illegal aspect which has been confirmed by a Chilean in one of the replies: http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2014/10/13/people-used-download-games-radio

[–]Soundteq 135 points136 points  (8 children)

What would this be called? Like was there a name for this type of game distribution or whatever?

[–]LilMissGuided 292 points293 points  (5 children)

You’re listening to the Datarama show on Radio West and partaking in the UK’s first attempt to send a computer program over local radio. Joe Tozer, who co-hosted the show, recalls how it all began: “I think it was just one of those ‘ping!’ moments when you realise that the home computer program is just audio on a cassette, so why not transmit it over air? It just seemed a cool idea.”

Amazingly, sending the program was as simple as pressing play at radio station: “to be honest it was all pretty straightforward,” says Joe. “The data rates on cassette at the time were so low, maybe a few hundred bits per second, it just worked.” The listeners loved it, and pretty soon Joe and Tim were transmitting all kinds of programs that they’d written for the show, including minigames and an application that translated keyboard inputs into Morse code. Initially they just sent programs for the BBC Micro and ZX81, but later on they expanded this to include Commodores, Dragons, FORTH-based micros and “pretty much anything that was around at the time”.


[–]Desert_Kestrel 139 points140 points  (3 children)

To think, I'm about to fire up a 30 something gigabyte game I just downloaded. You guys are fucking wizards in my book!

[–]pervyfun77 1508 points1509 points  (80 children)

I had stacks of Compute! And Gazette that we used to code silly games out of in basic.

When I was a kid, we had to code our own games! And they always had bugs!! And we played them anyways!!!

And we only had ONE BUTTON!!!

[–]bearonsphone2 450 points451 points  (57 children)

Even in the 90s we had Sega channel.

[–]pjabrony 1487 points1488 points  (66 children)

The cheque is older than cash.

[–]tossinthisshit1 1045 points1046 points  (25 children)

and credit predates the cheque (it predates writing, really).

a lot of people think the barter system was the entire way that people traded goods and services for thousands of years: it was not. people traded in various ways, sometimes using things like beer, salt, cowry shells, and gold as de facto currency. currency was not a necessity for most of these communities. however, much of the time, payment was not made up front.

instead, an agreement was drawn up and overseen by an arbiter (who would hold people accountable). usually the arbiter was some 3rd party who had no stake in the deal. it rarely went past an 'iou', but these iou's were very important. going against an iou often meant penalties dished out either by the legal systems of the time... or by the poor fella you tried to fuck over.

it was a primitive form of credit, but it was still credit. not to mention, your creditworthiness was determined largely by your reputation in a given town. eerily similar to how your credit score is determined by your activities, what people would lend you was based on what people knew about you. if you were trusted in the community, people would be more willing to give you bigger loans.

not only that, there was often a fee prescribed for later payment, often related to the size of what's being lent. aka, interest. even the code of hammurabi outlines rules for interest.

read a bit more here

[–]gymger 2805 points2806 points  (99 children)

I was watching a show yesterday about ancient inventions, and it turns out automatic doors were invented in ancient Greece (though they were mostly used in theatrical and religious ceremonies).

[–]Thomas0182 1072 points1073 points  (92 children)

May I ask how on earth they worked?

[–]JackXDark 3270 points3271 points  (46 children)

Fires were lit underneath containers of water that acted as counterweights. When the water boiled off this released a larger weight on a pulley that swung the door open.

They weren’t so much automatic in the sense that you walked up to them and they opened, but they could be set to open at a reasonably accurately estimable amount of time after the fire was lit, giving the impression of magic when used in temples or theatres.

[–]PM_me_ur_small_dick 137 points138 points  (4 children)

Neat. Terry Pratchett talks about about a similar door in his book Small Gods.

[–]MadCritic 2898 points2899 points  (18 children)

Touchplate and redstone obviously

[–]Jehovahscatchrag 1596 points1597 points  (44 children)

The still most effective spring loaded mouse traps were invented in France 427 years ago

[–]Atfay-Elleybay 2909 points2910 points  (212 children)

The Fax machine was invented in the mid 1800s.

[–]knightofkent 2031 points2032 points  (167 children)


Edit: apparently using a pound sign on reddit makes the text big and bold. TIL.

[–]FunkyDaJunky 1794 points1795 points  (124 children)

Can’t see it anywhere in the comments so here I go.... The digital camera was a viable technology in the 70s, but was held back by Kodak. One of their engineers created the first digital camera but the story goes that film cameras were such big business the Kodak company stopped it.

I wonder what the MP count would be on a 1970s digital camera?

[–]jkmhawk 534 points535 points  (76 children)

I think the main problem was memory/quality/ubiquity of computer screens

[–]aotus_trivirgatus 761 points762 points  (35 children)

The quadratic formula is roughly 4,000 years old. It appears at about the same time in Egyptian writings and Babylonian cuneiform tablets.

[–]Palana 6261 points6262 points  (281 children)

Musical instruments. The oldest know musical instrument is a 43,000-year-old flute, carved from a bear femur. Wiki.

[–]ancientflowers 1773 points1774 points  (117 children)

This is maybe the one that got me most. That's an incredibly long time ago.

[–]Jesst3r 1644 points1645 points  (67 children)

For me too, especially when you put it in context. The oldest flute found is dated to about 40,000 years ago which older than the extinction of Neanderthals, domestication of animals, the extinction of Ice Age mammals, and the invention of the wheel.

[–]SupahSang 1270 points1271 points  (84 children)

I'm going to counter this claim by saying that our ancestors probably made percussive music way before that!

[–]K3R3G3 297 points298 points  (8 children)

Anyone who reads the link, it's a fragment and its validity as an part of an instrument is contested. But a vulture bone flute that's 35,000 years old is without question. So I'd take that number confidently before the 43,000.

[–]_Goose_ 7560 points7561 points  (125 children)

First video game was invented in the 50s

WWII and video games are separated by only 13 years.

[–]makerofshoes 424 points425 points  (12 children)

Not seeing it in the comments, so I’ll say ice cream. According to Wikipedia, ancient Greeks were making a flavored ice treat way back when, and ancient Chinese also made a frozen dairy treat back in BC times. Even if you look for a more modern version then there were popular “flavored ice” treats in the 17th century in Europe as well, maybe those were more like modern ice cream. I also read somewhere that ice cream was George Washington’s favorite food.

It’s amazing to me that before electricity and basic sanitation, you could still get a sorbet.

[–]creamboy2623 6593 points6594 points  (215 children)

The Nintendo company was founded in 1889.

[–]Flaveurr 3962 points3963 points  (130 children)

Nokia was founded 24 years before that, in 1865

[–]ukulelej 3047 points3048 points  (109 children)

The cymbal company Zildjian was founded in 1623

[–]nurdboy42 1832 points1833 points  (72 children)

The Kongō Gumi construction company was founded in 578.

[–]GeneralDogsbody 1064 points1065 points  (7 children)

Sounds like the make some good foundations.

[–]execthts 129 points130 points  (3 children)

Yeah, but someone fucked it up in the end and got liquidated in 2006.

[–]StezzerLolz 59 points60 points  (0 children)

"The damage is not too bad. As long as the foundations are still strong, we can rebuild this place. It will become a haven for all peoples and aliens of the universe."

*Gets Liquidated*

"Oof. No, those foundations are gone. Sorry."

[–]BrowsOfSteel 564 points565 points  (32 children)

“Coleco” comes from Connecticut Leather Company

Tandy was also a leather company. They bought RadioShack in 1963.

[–]wowjerrysuchtroll 216 points217 points  (2 children)

The first X-ray was taken/discovered on November 8, 1895.

[–]-eDgAR- 8814 points8815 points  (302 children)

Contact lenses. Leonard da Vinci had the idea of contact lenses in 1508 and the first successful contact lenses were made in 1888.

[–]DanaMorrigan 8063 points8064 points  (215 children)

Well, in fairness, Leonardo da Vinci had the ideas for everything long before the rest of us.

[–]Number127 5222 points5223 points  (138 children)

It must've been really frustrating to have all these ideas centuries before the materials and industry existed to make them practical. :(

[–]DanaMorrigan 1846 points1847 points  (76 children)

Damn, I never thought about it like that. Wow. :(

[–]0101111000101010 2528 points2529 points  (62 children)

There's an episode of star trek about exactly that, basically holographic da Vinci gets 'kidnapped' off the ship and when they pick him he doesn't want to leave because he finally has the resources to actually invent his ideas in the real world

[–]Etonet 444 points445 points  (1 child)

There's an episode of Futurama where Da Vinci is an alien who went back to his home planet to build a doomsday machine b/c everyone on that planet is smarter than him but he ends up killing himself with the machine

[–]PM_ME_AVERAGE_TITS 2263 points2264 points  (25 children)

He was great in The Wolf of Wall Street.

[–]northbowl92 1167 points1168 points  (14 children)

Not a single wolf in the whole film though! Sad!

[–]nickkom 846 points847 points  (5 children)

380 years of people testing eye-destroying hell-disks on each other.

[–]AlabasterNutSack 496 points497 points  (20 children)

1888 contact lenses? Did they have lead in them?

[–]Imperious23 547 points548 points  (16 children)

How do you think they made the mold of your eye?

[–]Original_name18 454 points455 points  (15 children)

They fuckin poured hot wax on your eyeball to get the shape of it and would make a corrective lens.

I stand corrected. It was a room temperature blob of wax filled with water. Saucey

[–]phlossyphloop 822 points823 points  (9 children)

any temperature of wax on my eyeball is not allowed

[–]Hollsey9 10.7k points10.7k points  (496 children)

Vibrators were created in the 1880s. It was believed that "female hysteria" could be cured by giving women orgasms and the vibrator was created so that doctors wouldn't have to treat them anymore.

[–]wendymechel 7863 points7864 points  (110 children)

It's not that the docs didn't want to do it, their poor hands were cramping from all the treatments they gave women.

[–]tio_no_no 8734 points8735 points  (19 children)

The spirit was willing but the flesh was spongy and bruised.

[–]jurvekthebosmer 1384 points1385 points  (26 children)

Elizabeth is complaining of hysteria for the 7th time this week

[–]lynx_and_nutmeg 1250 points1251 points  (20 children)

There's a movie Hysteria about that. That's exactly how it goes, basically... Especially when they hired a new young hot doctor, there was literally a queue to his office every day, mostly middle-aged and senior women (who probably weren't getting sex from their husbands anymore).

[–]jagermo 220 points221 points  (0 children)

That movie was surprisingly entertaining.

[–]Leohond15 750 points751 points  (66 children)

Some antique ones are on display at the sex museum in NYC. Horrifying looking things really.

[–]Christoferjh 768 points769 points  (18 children)

I still remember the sign there, "do not touch or lick any of the exhibits".

[–]123wtfno 303 points304 points  (27 children)

I own one of these: http://manonthelam.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Good-Vibrations-Antique-Vibrator-Museum-San-Francisco-California-2473.jpg

Been looking to sell it actually but surprisingly enough the market for ancient hand-cranked vibrators is a little narrow. Maybe after the apocalypse.

[–]RockFourFour 69 points70 points  (0 children)

That's not a vibrator. The sign clearly labels it as a blood circulator. Duh!

[–]AlderaanPlaces69 298 points299 points  (18 children)

Harsh vocals, resembling those used in death metal, were invented sometime before the 10th century. An Arab merchant visited Slesvig and said their music sounded like ravenous, untamed dogs, barking.

[–]Earthmens-9 1666 points1667 points  (41 children)

Animation. The cave paintings in Lascaux were made in such a way that flickering oil light would create the illusion of motion on the cave-painted animals. So, that's 21,000 years old. Look it up, or start here:


[–]ProtanopicMidget 176 points177 points  (0 children)

“In 20000 BC, Stone Age man attempted to draw movement on cave walls by drawing mammoths with multiple legs. The artists worked until their eyes went bad, they got no pay, they got no credit, and they were eventually eaten by wild animals. Animation was born.” - Drawing the Line: The Untild Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson

[–]Troubador222 2602 points2603 points  (78 children)

If you guys are into this subject, check out the old TV series called “Connections”. It’s done by a journalist who was the BBC correspondent for the Apollo missions, named James Burke. Even though it was done In the late 1970s it’s still very relevant today. You can find it on line.

Edit: I have mentioned Connections before on Reddit but evidently not in the right context. It is nice to see that so many of you know about it and have seen it. I have also seen The Day the Universe Changed but many of you have mentioned other works Burke has done that I was not familiar with. Thanks for those and I will be checking them out!

[–]meat_popsicle13 269 points270 points  (12 children)

Yeah, that was an interesting show. I second the recommendation.

[–]trollcitybandit 737 points738 points  (44 children)

The first photo was taken in 1826, and the first image of a human was captured in 1837.

[–]Niplets 1863 points1864 points  (102 children)

Backgammon is over 5,000 years old, chew on that.

[–]1994nissannavara 1578 points1579 points  (80 children)

Firearms. Some of the first things resembling guns were built over 1000 years ago.

[–]herminipper 177 points178 points  (5 children)

Carry-able cannons basically

[–]Original_name18 1176 points1177 points  (44 children)

Rockets are just about as old. Unlike guns, rockets haven't really changed much, simply put propellant in a tube and point the whole bastard away from yourself.

Also, your username sent me down a rabbit hole watching Russian YouTube videos tryin to figure out who tf Miss Anna Vara is...

[–]xXCurry_In_A_HurryXx 869 points870 points  (19 children)

1994 Nissan Navara

[–]Original_name18 368 points369 points  (11 children)

Yeah. The Russian chick looks better. Probably less mileage too...

[–]1994nissannavara 241 points242 points  (7 children)

Has she got a lift kit, bull bar and tray for carrying anything you need? No, I do.

[–]--Doom-- 1628 points1629 points  (71 children)

Vaccines. First ever vaccine was a smallpox vaccine in 1797

[–]foreveralone323 456 points457 points  (20 children)

The Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine (podcast where a doctor and her layperson husband talk about medical stuff) episode on vaccines was really interesting. Apparently the history of how we got to the point of that first true, modern vaccine goes way back. I would highly recommend it!

[–]man-rata 5304 points5305 points  (226 children)

Concrete, Romans had concrete, and they were very good at it, it’s fairly recent we have figured out how they made ocean resistant piers.

[–]stellvia2016 337 points338 points  (21 children)

I think why most people underestimate ancient civilizations, is they try to equate our current hectic pace and rapid innovation cycle with ancient times.

What I mean is: Some of these logistical issues you had people spend their entire lives refining. Sometimes many generations all in the same trade honing the same processes or coming up with elegant and not-so-elegant solutions to issues with those processes.

Similar to comments of "How the hell did they build X?!" And often the answer is: Very slowly and carefully over multiple decades or centuries.

For example, some wonder how they could have made the pyramids bases so level? Off the top of my head, I'd say you make a trough the length of the foundation/wall you're building and fill it with liquid (oil, water, w/e). The surface of the liquid should always be level bc of gravity. AKA there are simple and elegant solutions that don't require lasers or computers ;)

[–]Pleberal 175 points176 points  (16 children)

Imagine what we could build today with that mindset.

Cathedrals are more recent and common example. You would start one and your grandson would finish it.

[–]yazid87 158 points159 points  (5 children)

The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was started in 1882 and is optimistically due for completion in 2026.

[–]HyperSpaceSurfer 150 points151 points  (3 children)

It's so large it will probably be in a perpetual construction cycle because they have to fix the old construction.

Once a large church is finished the first step is restoring it.

[–]Pulsar_the_Spacenerd 111 points112 points  (4 children)

A space colony, probably.

We can’t go 4 years without changing our mind between moon and mars.

[–]JetSet_Brunette 2000 points2001 points  (83 children)

Hedy Lammar patented what became the backbone of our wireless digital comms, such as wifi and cellular service, in 1941.

EDIT: Folks, I used the word 'patented' and not 'invented' for a reason.

[–]PussySharts 915 points916 points  (125 children)

The credit card system that communicates from the merchant to the bank and back to determine whether your card was accepted runs on COBOL code written in the 80s.

[–]14agers 409 points410 points  (105 children)

And a big issue with that today is no-one is learning those old languages and as such legacy systems managers are scrambling to get people who know it.

[–]Brickie78 166 points167 points  (12 children)

My wife responded a few years ago to a newspaper ad asking "do you want to learn COBOL?".

She now works for a big US firm operating banking mainframe software...

[–]skeletordavis 282 points283 points  (11 children)

Roombas were basically invented in the 1950's... Whirlpool created their automatic steering vacuum in 1959: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c0/ba/3f/c0ba3f31684c1699dd3fa04d9d401753.jpg

[–]im_dead_sirius 221 points222 points  (9 children)

There is a set of steps/staircase with wooden treads fastened to wooden risers, in a cave visited in prehistoric times.


A 3,000-year-old wooden staircase has been found at Hallstatt in northern Austria, immaculately preserved in a Bronze Age salt mine. "We have found a wooden staircase which dates from the 13th century BCE. It is the oldest wooden staircase discovered to date in Europe, maybe even in the world," said Hans Reschreiter, the director of excavations at Vienna's Natural History Museum. "The staircase is in perfect condition because the micro-organisms that cause wood to decompose do not exist in salt mines," he added.

[–]SassySalad 1360 points1361 points  (70 children)

Way back in Carthage they had invented a sewer system

[–]alekzander01 1139 points1140 points  (44 children)

The Indus Valley civilization in what is modern Pakistan had sewers too, way back in 2000 BC.

[–]SassySalad 191 points192 points  (4 children)

Didn't know that, thanks for the education dude

[–]Martijngamer 133 points134 points  (16 children)

Around 2500 years ago Pythagoras  first posed that the Earth was round, and around 2300 years ago this had become a well-known fact among pretty much every 'modern' society.

[–]Wackyoctopus1021 128 points129 points  (1 child)

Solar panels. They were invented in 1839.

[–]Skitty_Skittle 2870 points2871 points  (57 children)

Chocolate, I remember when they first invented chocolate.

[–]RedWarrior42 1391 points1392 points  (15 children)

Sweet, sweet chocolate. I ALWAYS HATED IT!

[–]Camcamcam753 475 points476 points  (6 children)

Oh, but this chocolate's not for eating! You-

[–]Random-Rambling 746 points747 points  (56 children)

The food that later became known as "macaroni and cheese" (Kraft Dinner to the Canadians) is a LOT older than I originally thought.

The first known mention of this dish (or something VERY similar) was found in a 14th-century cookbook titled Liber de Coquina. It mentions a cheese-and-pasta casserole named "makerouns".

[–]SoapyRibnaut 101 points102 points  (1 child)

Oh great, so we've now got Macaroons, Macarons, AND Makerouns. I look forward to confusing the fuck out of myself at the next dinner party.

[–]Plobis 267 points268 points  (6 children)

Short-selling stocks was first done in the early 1600s with shares of the Dutch East India Company.

[–]McRedditerFace 954 points955 points  (27 children)

The screw was invented by 400BC by Archytas of Tarentum (428 BC - 350 BC)... this was long before even metal nails became ubiquitous.

Granted, it was originally wooden screws, used for pressing grapes and then pumping water after Archimedes figured that out a couple hundred years later.

But the screw that's in your iPhone was invented in 400BC... think about that.

[–]Wschmidth 56 points57 points  (4 children)

Elevators date all the way back to pre-200 BC. You originally pulled yourself up and down with a rope.

Edit: to clarify, you stood on a platform attached to a rope pulley system, it wasn't just rope climbing.

[–][deleted] 53 points54 points  (4 children)

the steam engine, the ancient greek had them already, but they used them as toys and didn't realize the practical use they had

this is what it looked like

[–]only_male_flutist 832 points833 points  (98 children)

The first computer was invited in 1812 by Charles Babbage as a way to mathematically calculate logarithms.

[–]NeverBob 311 points312 points  (8 children)

The original usage of the word "computer" referred to a person who carried out calculations or computations. 

So computers were named after people.

[–]BucolicUrbanite 1202 points1203 points  (98 children)

Stories like Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood, in their original forms, may well go back nine or ten thousand years.