16. Bubble wrap started as wallpaper and no one wanted it.
In 1957, two engineers were attempting to make a textured wallpaper out of plastic. Literally everyone said no thank you. What a dumb idea. Wallpaper sucks. Then IBM needed some way to move their delicate computer hardware from place to place, and bubble wrap became the best solution. Don’t give up on your dreams! But also, no more wallpaper.
17. The dustbuster was made for cleaning up spaceships, not your dirty couch.
Space missions often give us lowly ground-dwellers some ancillary benefit. The reason baby formula exists is because NASA needed a way to get astronauts their nutrients. During the Apollo Mission, they needed a way to keep the instruments on the shuttle clean, and the dustbuster was born. Thank a nerd today.
18. Your computer keyboard has the letters in that order so you type slower, not faster.
The QWERTY format keyboard that I’m using right now to write this sentence was designed to keep typists from moving so fast that the typewriter letter bars would get jammed together. The reason the letters are where they are in all word processors is to stop that from happening, even though that’s no longer an issue.
19. Paper US dollars can only remain in circulation for about a year and a half.
That’s how fast the paper wears out. 18 months.
20. Aglets are the name for the tips of your shoelaces.
There was an old SNL sketch with Seinfeld where they asked “what do you call those things? They don’t have a name?” They do. It’s from the French word aiguillette, meaning “needle.”
21. The computer mouse was originally called a “turtle.”
It’s small and has that little tail of a cord, so it makes sense you’d call it a mouse eventually, but the designers originally had a more fitting name: “turtle.” They named it because there was a hard shell on top and moving softer parts below. I like that name more! But turtles are slow and the mouse is not.
22. IKEA’s founder is dyslexic so he wanted to use something other than numbers to make products easy to find.
It may seem entirely random, but all those names are geographical places for one section, male names in another, female names in the next. Remember that next time you feel lost there. At least you’re not simply looking at numbered chairs and tables.
23. Tesla invented the remote control decades before the television was invented.
Nickola Tesla, who Edison successfully edged out of the electricity game, also invented the first wireless remote for his various devices. In 1898. That was decades before TVs entered people’s homes.
24. The first CDs held 74 minutes of music because that’s how long Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony lasted.
The originals were slightly smaller, but the Sony Vice President’s wife insisted they hold 74 minutes because she was a Beethoven fan who didn’t want the symphony coming as a two-disc set.
25. The microwave was invented by accident.
The scientist doing experiments on the microwave noticed that a chocolate bar began melting in his pocket when he was near it. No word on whether or not it gave him cancer. The second thing he tried was popcorn, which is all I use mine for today.
26. Duct Tape doesn’t work on leaky ducts.
Scientists tried using the household panacea on an actual duct and found it was easily the worst thing you could use. Better grab the Flex Tape.
27. That tiny pocket on your jeans is for a pocket watch.
I use that tiny pocket for guitar picks and loose change, but apparently they were for cowboys to have a place to put a pocket watch.
28. 27,000 trees must be chopped down every day so you can wipe your butt with paper.
According to National Geographic, a single tree can go a long way, but 7 billion people pooping at the same time is no match. It takes a lot of trees for us to wipe.
29. Movie trailers used to run at the end of the movie.
I want to go back to that time. I was to only see the news when I go to the movies, and then a cartoon, and then the main event, and then some trailers.
30. Garden decor stretches back as far as Roman times.
Romans put statues honoring the God Priapus in their gardens… this eventually led to people placing garden gnomes all over.
31. T-shirts were invented because men hate sewing buttons.
The military made them first, then they took off in the general public during the turn of the century. Mostly, because no buttons meant there were no buttons to replace. We did it. We made convenience more important than style.
32. Barcodes are a form of morse code.
That’s why some are thick and some are slim. It’s reading the longs and shorts. They’ve only been around since 1952. It took awhile for them to take off but now they’re everywhere.
33. No one is sure who invented the fire hydrant.
The patent office that said who invented it… burned down.
34. Matches were invented after the lighter.
Lighters, which seem technically more advanced, actually came before the strike-able match. The first lighter was made by a German chemist in 1823, and the first match was made in 1826.
35. The guy who wrote Wonder Woman (complete with lasso) also helped invent the lie detector test.
Is Wonder Woman really an everyday item? It is in my house. The guy who concocted a female superhero who could force you to tell the truth also invented a way to test blood pressure quickly and it’s still used in polygraphs today. Do you think I’m lying? PROVE IT.