Why did vibrators look like egg whisks? And why did people go swimming in smocks?
Pugs had relatively long noses in the early 1900s, but since then they, French bulldogs, and similar breeds have been selectively bred to have very short muzzles, short legs, and squat torsos, to the extent that quite a lot of them suffer from breathing difficulties. Lots of other dog breeds look totally different now too: You can see a full list here.
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Columbia University / Giphy
The mammoth camera above was built in 1900 by American commercial photographer George R. Lawrence to take a photo of an equally large train, and weighed 1,400lbs. The second camera is a wafer-thin, flexible sheet camera developed by the engineering department of Columbia University in 2016. It could definitely take a photo of a whole train.
It’s a common misconception that people were strait-laced 100 years ago. Almost as soon as cameras were invented, people started taking strange nude photos like this and selling them as postcards (discreetly, of course). Many showed penetrative intercourse as well. You certainly wouldn’t want to accidentally post any of them to your mum.
Yes, these really are swimsuits. Victorian and Edwardian women wore long, heavy woollen dresses with capped sleeves to swim in, as well as bloomers and stockings. In contrast, the other photo is a 2017 solar-powered bikini by New York designer Andrew Schneider, which can charge your iPhone once you’re done sunbathing. Handy.
Early vibrators like this hand-cranked model were widely touted as a health aid to help cure “female hysteria”, as well as suspected cases of “wandering wombs”. Some were also advertised as face massagers to improve your skin. Today’s high-tech vibes (like the Lelo Tiani couples vibrator pictured) are rechargeable, so you won’t get a sore wrist.
6. Vacuum cleaners
On the left is the Siemens Dedusting Pump, invented in 1906. It sat on a large trolley that needed to be pushed around a room by a maid, weighed 300 kilos, and had a noisy, 1-horsepower petrol motor. On the right is a 2017 Philips intelligent robot vacuum cleaner, which pushes itself, and you don’t have to pay it a wage.
7. Cruise ships
This photo shows the gigantic 2016 MS Allure of the Seas next to the Titanic, which was the largest ship ever made when it set sail in 1912. The Titanic had a maximum capacity of 2,435; Allure can take 6,296 and has a theatre with 1,380 seats, a dance hall, swimming pools, an ice rink, seven distinct “neighbourhoods”, and a Starbucks. Oh, and it didn’t immediately sink: bonus.
The Butler Petrol Motorcycle (the first recorded use of that term) was built in the late 1800s by the Merryweather Fire Engine Company in the UK. It had a petrol engine and three wheels. The legal speed limit at the time was just 2 mph in cities, and 4 mph in the countryside. The bike on the right is a 2017 robotic, self-driving motorcycle from Honda. Truly, we are living in the future.
Early attempts at flight can be summed up as “just put more wings on and hope for the best” as with this Phillips Multiplane. The first successful flight by the Wright Brothers took place in a plane with just two wings, which was the correct number. The other pic shows a modern jet breaking the sound barrier, which this multiplane definitely couldn’t do.
Camouflage was in its earliest stages during the first world war, and it was pretty basic. This black and white striped version was known as “dazzle” camouflage, designed to make soldiers harder to target rather than hiding them completely. The camouflage we’re more familiar with today (countershading, pictured right) didn’t really take off until World War II.
11. Phone towers
Remember life before wireless technology? No? Well this is what it looked like. The Old Stockholm Telephone Tower had 5,500 phone wires coming out of it leading to various homes and businesses, and it blocked out the sun. It’s a far cry from today’s dainty mobile phone masts.
The very first stroller was invented in 1772 by William Kent. Before that, children were transported in slings or strapped to a cradleboard and carried. Strollers quickly became increasingly ornate, like this wicker model from 1899. They were definitely status symbols, much like the 2017 Aston Martin one (right) that retails for around $3,000.
The earliest wristwatches (like the early 1900s trench watch pictured above) were created for soldiers fighting in the first world war. They had only a small area of glass, to avoid breakage, and the numbers were painted on the surrounding metal. The “watch” on the right is a FlexEnable OLED wearable smart device developed in 2016. Ooh.
Dogs aren’t the only living things that have changed substantially in 100 years. Advances in various fields (including nutrition and medicine) mean modern men are, on average, 11cm taller than their Victorian counterparts. Everyone’s feet were much tinier too, and the average waist size for an uncorseted 1917 woman was just 20 inches. We’re evolving, people!