9 of the Most Interesting Failed Inventions from the Past

While failure can be good, some past inventions failed in pretty spectacularly ways, like causing people's jaws to fall off, check them out.

9 of the Most Interesting Failed Inventions from the Past

Failure is what teaches us about how things work, and it enables us to do better and greater things. While failure can be beneficial, some past inventions failed in pretty spectacularly ways, like causing people's jaws to fall off. Check out our list of 9 of the most interesting failed inventions of the past.

Radioactive Health Products

9 of the Most Interesting Failed Inventions from the Past
[Image Source: Wikimedia]

When radium was first discovered, people generally had no idea about its harmful effects and looked upon it as a magical health substance. Doctors and companies put radium in everything, from water to toothpaste, with all the products claiming to make you healthier, more attractive, or even give you a greater libido. It wasn't until a man who was taking Thor-radium powder, one that was marketed to increase his sexual prowess, that questions appeared. He ended up drinking 1,400 bottles of the stuff (I guess he thought he needed a lot of help) and his lower jaw fell off. It was at this point that people started thinking that radioactivity probably wasn't the best for you.

Flying Tanks

flying tanks[Image Source: Wikimedia]

The use of these tanks probably aren't quite what you were thinking, but they still proved useless and unnecessary. The original plan was to tow these flying tanks behind aircraft, then glide them into battle to support infantry troops. Troops would be airdropped in and then the tanks would glide in afterward, at least, that was the plan anyway. The project was abandoned after there wasn't any aircraft powerful enough to tow the crafts, and also due to the significant amount of effort required to land just one tank.

Inventions and Machines

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Bonnet Hair Dryers

bonnet hair dryer[Image Source: Wikimedia]

So, this invention didn't technically fail as Amazon still sells a model of it for US$24.99 here, but it sums up invention craze in the 1950s. Everyone was obsessed with coming up with the best ways to speed up daily lives, or maybe just make them feel like they were living in the future.


Dymaxion Round House

dymaxion house[Image Source: Wikimedia]

This bizarre chrome house was created by inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller in the 1930s. The goal was to create a fast, easy to put together a house for everyone. The Dymaxion house could be shipped on a single truck and assembled in under 2 days. The dome was selected because it provided greater strength while still allowing for speedy assembly. Ultimately, this house failed because the interior could not be customized or expanded, and it only offered two bedrooms with tiny bathrooms. Not to mention that it is impossible to find furniture that properly fits in a round-walled home.

Car Boats / Boat Cars

car boat[Image Source: Wikimedia]

Boat cars are still around today, but many in the mid-1900s thought that they were going to be the future, and judging by the lack of boat cars on the roads, that doesn't look like it happened. For now, this invention has been relegated back to novelty collectors, or those who just want to spend their extra cash on the floating car.


Cinerama Movies

cinerama[Image Source: Flickr]

Cinerama was the predecessor to the modern day IMAX screens, but it was a whole lot more complicated. To project the movie, it required three, perfectly synchronized projectors all aligned with each other. This was in the age before digital technology, so it meant that three very skilled projectionists have to sit in the projector boxes to make everything work. Most theaters didn't want to shell out the money to upgrade, nor did they want to have to pay more staff to play a movie. Ultimately, few movies were ever recorded in this format, and this invention soon died.


intellivision[Image Source: Wikimedia]

The Intellivision is Mattel's video game console creation released in 1979 in order to compete with the Atari 2600. The console wasn't exactly the worst thing in the world, but it ended up failing and almost bankrupting the company.


Portable Record Players

portable record player[Image Source: Wikimedia]

Back when records were at the peak of musical sound, many companies tried to produce portable record players to allow people to take their music with them wherever they wanted to go. If you know anything about how a record works, you may already see the problem. If you wanted to play a record, you would have to find a level spot to set the player and make sure nothing bumped it, otherwise you could say goodbye to that brand new album. Record sales are on the rise again today, but this invention will likely never return.

Robotic Speed Reader

readamatic[Image Source: Ebay]

Patented in 1966, the Readamatic was the solution to help school children, or even adults, read faster. A mechanical plate would slide down the page, letting you know where to read in order to make a certain pace. The problem was that the device was quite loud, and the metal plate would scrape across the pages like chalk on a chalkboard. Ultimately, these distractions killed off the Readamatic.


What do you think was the worst failed invention of the past? Let us know in the comments.

Written by Trevor English

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