15 Products People Regret Laughing At Because They’re Everywhere Now

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Innovation often faces skepticism and scoffs, yet history shows us that some of the most transformative inventions were once dismissed as impractical or absurd. Visionary inventors had to persevere against public disbelief, industry resistance, and even outright derision. Their resilience not only proved the naysayers wrong but also brought about innovations that have profoundly shaped our daily lives. Here are 15 genius inventions that overcame ridicule to become indispensable in the modern world

The Telephone

Bell, Alexander G./Openverse

Alexander Graham Bell successfully made the first telephone transmission, saying, “Mr. Watson, come here; I want to see you.” This success, showcased at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, transformed communication forever. Working with his assistant Thomas Watson in Boston in 1876, they faced skepticism as they toiled to create a device for transmitting vocal sounds electrically. Critics laughed at Bell, claiming nobody would use a device to communicate when letters sufficed, and even Western Union dismissed the invention as impractical with the statement, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?” 

The Incandescent Light Bulb


Although there were other delicate, short-lived light bulbs, Thomas Edison, in Menlo Park, New Jersey, introduced the practical incandescent light bulb in 1879 after extensive experimentation. A British Parliament committee doubted the practicality of Edison’s invention, famously stating that it was “good enough for our Transatlantic friends… but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.” However, he proved them wrong, demonstrating a light that could last a record-breaking 14.5 hours, which was a dream at the time.

The Automobile


Local newspapers mocked the first automobile as a “noisy monstrosity,” and he struggled to gain traction. Karl Benz built the first gasoline-fuelled automobile in Mannheim, Germany, in 1885. His invention, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, was met with jeers from those who preferred horse-drawn carriages, calling his vehicle a noisy and unreliable novelty. Then, Benz’s wife, Bertha, took the car on a long-distance drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim without her husband’s knowledge, demonstrating its practicality, which led to its acceptance.

The Airplane

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The Wright brothers’ invention story was one of sheer determination. In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew the powered airplane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Many experts derided the Wright brothers, asserting that human flight was impossible. The New York Times famously and skeptically noted in an editorial titled “Flying Machines Which Do Not Fly” that it would take one to ten million years for humans to fly. Ignoring the doubts, the brothers meticulously studied aerodynamics and engine design, leading to their historic December 17, 1903 flight. 

The Ballpoint Pen

Miles Aircraft Company; Miles Martin Pen Company Limited; Bíró László József/Openverse

In 1938, Hungarian journalist László Bíró invented the ballpoint pen in Budapest. Faced with constant ink smudges and leaks from traditional fountain pens, Bíró sought a more reliable writing tool. Initially, skeptics, including manufacturers, mocked his invention, dubbing it a “mechanical pencil that writes with ink.” Determined, Bíró perfected his design with his brother, and their big break came when the British government ordered thousands of pens for the Royal Air Force during World War II.

The Zipper

The ZipperWoodbine9/Openverse

People scoffed at Whitcomb Judson’s invention of the zipper, calling it a “gadget of dubious value.” Initially calling it a ‘clasp-locker’ for shoes, Judson was persistent, and his breakthrough came when he teamed up with businessman Colonel Lewis Walker, who saw the potential and helped refine the design. Nowadays, zippers, which were said to be too complicated and unreliable, are an essential fastener in the majority of clothing and bags.

The Microwave Oven


The first design of the microwave oven was a 6-foot, 750-pound, water-cooled machine called Radarange, invented by Percy Spencer, an engineer at Raytheon, in 1945 in the United States. While working on radar technology, Spencer discovered microwaves could quickly heat food. Initially, the idea of cooking with “radar waves” was met with sneers and amusement, with some calling it a novelty for lazy cooks. Spencer’s breakthrough occurred when he successfully demonstrated the technology by popping popcorn and melting chocolate. 

The Automatic Answering Machine

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Going beyond ridicule, the invention of the automatic answering machine in 1935 by Willy Müller, a Swiss inventor,  faced a ban and went into legal limbo. Critics dismissed it as an impractical gadget,  with some calling it “impersonal” and fearing it would deter genuine communication, and others like AT&T saying “there’s no need for it.” Müller persisted, and his breakthrough came when the devices began to be used in office environments to manage increasing call volumes. An FCC decision saved it from its pseudo-legal purgatory.

The Internet


In the late 1960s, ARPANET, the precursor to the internet, was developed by a team led by Lawrence Roberts under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense. Many dismissed the idea of a globally connected network as impractical and overly ambitious. In the 1970s, Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn developed the TCP/IP protocol but were still mocked by critics, most popularly David Letterman in a popular interview with Bill Gates. Undeterred, this standardized communication became the breakthrough that made the network more accessible. 

Movies With Soundtracks and Voices


Despite acknowledging the potential of sound effects in 1928, Joseph Schenck, President of United Artists, famously dismissed actors talking in movies as a passing trend. He told The New York Times that “talking doesn’t belong in pictures,” emphasizing his skepticism about dialogue’s appeal. Actress Mary Astor echoed these sentiments in 1967, saying one of the talking movies, The Jazz Singer, was a box office freak. More refinement in mic technology ultimately revolutionized the movie industry, cementing talking in films as a standard in filmmaking.

Personal Computers


Initially perceived as niche gadgets for hobbyists, personal computers faced push-backs from critics and established computing companies. They were viewed as a chore, “another thing to learn and master,” with many questioning their necessity in households. Even Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, famously remarked in 1977: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” However, pioneers like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak persevered, refining designs and introducing user-friendly interfaces. To make the case in point, an average of 247 million units of PCs were sold in 2023.

Nail Varnish


In 1917, Cutex developed one of the earliest forms of modern liquid nail varnish, but its journey to mainstream acceptance was gradual. Initially dismissed as a passing trend, The New York Times labeled nail polish a “London fad” in 1927. Vogue expressed concerns about its safety, questioning whether nail polish might be harmful or less beneficial for nails compared to traditional powder or paste polish. Despite these reservations, innovations in formulation and increasing endorsements from fashion magazines propelled nail varnish into widespread popularity. 


Paula Satijn/Openverse

Umbrellas have a long history; they were originally used for sun protection and were known as parasols for women fashion sun protection. Mainly practical for protection from the sun, adopting them for rain wasn’t so easy. In the mid-1700s, Jonas Hanway faced derision when he brought an umbrella from France to England, enduring insults and trash hurled at him on the streets. Samuel Fox’s 1852 patent of the steel-ribbed umbrella significantly improved its durability and usability, eventually winning over the public. 



The cheeseburger, a staple of American cuisine, was reportedly invented by Lionel Sternberger in the 1920s at his father’s Pasadena, California, sandwich shop, The Rite Spot. Initially, the idea of adding cheese to a hamburger was met with resistance, as purists viewed it as an unnecessary alteration to a classic dish and said it was a “crazy Californian novelty.” The New York Times first mentioned cheeseburgers in 1938, acknowledging them as “gastronomically sound” but doubting they would catch on. Today, cheeseburgers have become a beloved classic worldwide.


Лев Рогожников/Pexels

The modern table fork, with multiple tines, faced significant resistance upon its introduction to Europe, despite its earlier popularity in the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East by the 10th century. Two Byzantine princesses, Theophanu and Maria Argyropoulina, are credited with introducing the fork to the Western world after their marriages to European nobility. Theophanu’s use of the fork shocked onlookers, while the Church ridiculed Argyropoulina for using it instead of her hands. Over time, the practicality of forks has prevailed.


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