A Brief History Of Some Of The Things We Take For Granted


Image by: Sarnil Prasad

When was the last time that you stopped to think about what a crazy piece of invention the light bulb is?

After all, the original light bulb paved the way for the means by which entire cities and regions can now be seen from space at night time – that’s quite incredible.

Whilst it’s true that human beings have always been set apart from animals through an ability to create and use technology, it’s difficult to compare the first cave man with their fire to the level of technology based insulation we now live our lives in.

In a bid to educate myself a bit more, I decided to take a whistle stop tour through some of the inventions we all take for granted today.

The Hoover
The dream of liberating man from the endless cycle of dusting and sweeping was one that was taken on by a large number of people in the UK and America in a process widely believed to have begun in 1860 with a man called Daniel Hess.

Hess gained a patent for a device he called the ‘carpet sweeper’ which involved bellows and rotating brushes, but it was an English man called Cecil Booth who first claimed to have invented the motorised vacuum.

It was however another American, one James Spangler, who patented the first portable vacuum that we would recognise today. In one of history’s little known tragedies, Spangler had to sell his idea to William Henry Hoover who quickly named it after himself.

If only James had had a little more money – we would be cleaning our house with Spanglers!

The Mouse Trap

The ubiquitous mouse trap must surely go down as one of the simplest and most enduring ideas in modern human history. Patented by James Henry Atkinson in 1987, the ‘Little Nipper’ has come to dominate the rodent removal market.

The Little Nipper slams down in 38,000ths of a second, and incredibly, this is still the industry record!

An interesting fact about mouse traps: The Patent Office officially handed out around 4400 patents for different variations of the mouse trap design. Despite this, only around twenty types of mouse trap have ever actually made any money and Atkinson’s original model has dominated right from the start.

The Fridge

It is the fridge that has perhaps most altered the way we live our lives in the modern world in recent centuries.

Every house now contains a fridge (usually with a freezer attached); this allows families to keep food fresh for much longer than they would be able to otherwise.

When seen in conjunction with the modern supermarket, it is the fridge that has most contributed to everyday man’s separation from dependence on the regular cycles of nature -frozen food allows us to buy in bulk and eat at leisure.

Like the vacuum cleaner, there is a long line of individuals who contributed to the invention of the modern fridge, but the first widely produced model was first sold in 1927, which really brings home the idea that life for humans in the western world changed dramatically across the course of the 20th century.

Hopefully, all this has given you some food for thought – there’s a lot of wonder in the things we sometimes forget to notice!

Estelle Pageis an interior designer, keen gardener, wife and mother. A lover of functional design, Estelle is constantly trying to find the perfect balance between aesthetics and practicality. It was a recent purchase of some mouse traps from the Pest Control Group that got her thinking about the role of such simple technology in our lives.

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