15 Original Versions of Everyday Items We Use Today

Wikipedia – T.K. Naliaka/Wikipedia

Ever wondered what your favorite gadgets and everyday items looked like when they were first invented? Some are so different from the modern versions that they’re nearly unrecognizable! Intrigued? Then check out this list of 15 everyday items in their early forms. Some of them will make you think about how far we’ve come in terms of technology.



The first toothbrushes date back thousands of years to ancients such as the Egyptians, Chinese, and Greeks. These early versions were made from twigs, animal hair, and even bird feathers—a far cry from the modern plastic toothbrushes we use today. It was later in the 18th century that the first first modern-looking toothbrush was made.

Source: Today’s Focus of Attention



Today, we have multiple options for hair removal. However, our ancestors had to use this scary-looking tool to get a good shave. This is an early version of the safe and convenient disposable razor blades we use today.

Source: Bright Side


Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki/Wikipedia

Printing technology dates back to ancient China, where woodblock printing reproduced text and images. In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the first mechanical printing press. Currently, sleek, compact home and office printers are a huge step up from these hulking, labor-intensive machines.

Source: History



Public address systems and early radio broadcasts used large, cumbersome speakers as their first instruments. It wasn’t until the 1910s that smaller, more portable speakers became available for home use. The modern wireless Bluetooth speaker is a far cry from these early models.

Source: ThoughtCo

Kitchen Stove


Early cooking methods involved open fires, wood-burning stoves, and even hot stones. The first cast-iron kitchen stoves emerged in the 18th century, gradually evolving into the current gas and electric models.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine


George B. Grant Co/Wikipedia

The earliest calculators were mechanical devices that utilized gears and levers to carry out basic arithmetic operations. The first handheld calculators, introduced in the 1960s, were large, bulky machines. Today’s slim, powerful calculators are a far cry from their predecessors.

Source: EdTech Magazine

Vacuum Cleaner


Introduced in the late 19th century, the first vacuum cleaners were large, cumbersome machines powered by steam or gasoline engines. These early models were often too heavy and unwieldy for household use. The modern, lightweight vacuum cleaner we know today didn’t emerge until the early 20th century.

Source: Business Insider

Clothing Iron

Tranby House/Wikipedia

Before the invention of the electric iron, people used heavy, solid-metal irons that had to be heated over a fire or stove. They were difficult to use and required constant reheating. The first electric irons from the late 1800s were a significant improvement but still lacked the convenience and ease of use of today’s models.

Source: National MagLab



The first headphones were bulky, uncomfortable devices used by telephone operators in the late 19th century. When the 1910s rolled around, smaller, more portable headphones became available for personal use. Modern wireless earbuds we use today are a far cry from these early models.

Source: LSTN Sound Co

High Heels

Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikipedia

High heels have a long and fascinating history, dating back to the 10th century. Men wore the earliest versions, and they were primarily used for practical purposes, such as helping riders stay in their stirrups and avoiding dirt. Women didn’t start wearing high heels until the 18th century.

Source: Study.com

The Microwave Oven


Originally introduced by Raytheon in 1947, the Radarange microwave oven was a massive appliance weighing over 750 pounds and standing over six feet tall. It wasn’t just big in weight but also in price, sold at $5,000. Today’s microwaves are compact, affordable, and feature a range of cooking presets and safety functions.

Source: KitchenAid



Pens of the past were made from reeds, quills, and other natural materials and used for writing on papyrus, parchment, and paper. With smooth ink flow and a retractable design, the modern ballpoint pen wasn’t patented until the 1940s.

Source: Business Insider



Although the lightbulb concept has existed since the early 19th century, Thomas Edison patented the first practical, long-lasting incandescent bulb in 1879. LED and fluorescent bulbs of now are far from those early, fragile Edison bulbs.

Source: Business Insider



Before the invention of modern refrigeration, people used iceboxes, which were essentially insulated chests filled with ice to keep food and drinks cool. The first home electric refrigerators, introduced in the 1910s, were large, bulky, and expensive. Today’s sleek, energy-efficient models are far from those early prototypes.

Source: Whirpool

Cell Phone


The first handheld phones, introduced in the 1970s, were large, heavy devices with limited functionality. It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that smartphones began to emerge with their touchscreens, internet connectivity, and app-based ecosystems.  

Source: Bright Side


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