7 world-changing inventions people thought were dumb fads

Bar Sinister

Executive Branch Member
Jan 17, 2010
8,252
19
38
Edmonton
The constant refusal of some CC members to accept technological change got me to wondering about how many other society changing inventions were condemned at the time of their inception. Well, it turns out that there are quite a few. Here are seven of the more important.



7 world-changing inventions people thought were dumb fads





In 1879, Henry Morton, a leading scientific mind and president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, called one man's tinkering a "conspicuous failure." The man was Thomas Edison. The invention was the light bulb.
That was obviously wrong, and the light bulb turned out to be a solid invention. But Morton's statement was also revealing. Sometimes it's genuinely difficult to know whether new inventions will be duds or hits. Who knows — maybe our grandkids will come to love Google Glass, Segways, and Dippin' Dots.
Related These 7 inventions were supposed to change the world. They failed. Badly.
Morton's pronouncement shows just how hard it is to predict the future. In his case, he didn't doubt that Edison's lightbulb was useful. His main objection was that there was no way to carry electricity long distances and get light bulbs in every home (even Edison couldn't figure that out on his own.) Forecasting the fate of a new invention often means forecasting broad social and technological changes — and that's incredibly hard.
With that in mind, here's a look at seven other important inventions — from the bicycle to nail polish to the answering machine — that had their doubters early on. There's a lot to learn from wrong predictions:
1) Bicycles: "The popularity of the wheel is doomed"


Critical mass, 1890s-style. (Leemage/Getty Images)
Today, we think of bikes as a major source of transportation, but they started out as a trendy fashion statement. That's why some critics were skeptical that they'd stick around (spoiler: they did).
Bikes had a rapid rise: on August 20, 1890, the Washington Post called bicycling a hot fad for fancy ladies and not just for the "bleached-haired, music-hall type" anymore (read: hipsters). The craze was driven by improved technology, as big-wheeled bikes became closer to the ones we use today. The bicycle's growth was so rapid that on February 29, 1896, the Washington Post called bicycling the national sport.
But then the fad faded. On August 17, 1902, the Post called bicycling a passing fancy, and experts declared "the popularity of the wheel is doomed." Critics thought bikes were unsafe, impossible to improve, and ultimately impractical for everyday use. On December 31, 1906, the New York Sun rendered its verdict: "As a fad cycling is dead, and few individuals now ride for all the good they claim to see in the pastime when it was fashion."
The Sun turned out to be wrong. Over the years, bikes acquired better tires, and sturdier frame. America's roads also got smoother. That made bicycles an increasingly practical option — and not just a passing fad.
2) Automobiles: "The prices will never be sufficiently low"


An early automobile racer. (New York Historical Society/Getty Images)
In 1902, the New York Times called the automobile impractical — and they had a few good reasons why. In the wake of the bike fad of the 1890s, reporters and analysts were wary of the "next big thing" in transportation. As one critic put it:
Automobiling is following the history of cycling with such remarkable closeness in almost every detail, both as a sport and an industry, that the question is often asked if the present period of expansion will be followed by a collapse as complete and as disastrous as was that of the cycling boom of a few short years ago.
The Times complained that the price of cars "will never be sufficiently low to make them as widely popular as were bicycles." It didn't help that some of the early proposals for an auto-centric transportation system were outlandish. In 1902, The Steel Roads Committee of the Automobile Club of America was angling for a steel highway system. Bizarre proposals like that made it harder to believe the car would ever make it big.
But it did. Once Henry Ford perfected the mass production of automobiles, the price came down and cars took off, eventually becoming the dominant form of transportation.
3) Liquid nail polish was a "strange and unique fad"


Nail polish shame: where it began. (Library of Congress)
In 1917, Cutex invented the closest thing to modern mass-market liquid nail polish. But it took a while for nail polish to hit the mainstream. In 1927, the New York Times reported on it as a "London fad," and the year before, writer Viola Paris took to the pages of Vogue to assess the new invention. "There seems to be some doubt," she wrote, "in the minds of a great many women as to whether nail polish is in any way harmful or, at least, not so good for the nails as the powder or paste polish."
As late as March 31, 1932, the Atlanta Daily World questioned how long colored fingernails could possibly stick around. "Dame fashion, whimsical and wayward as the wind," the paper snarked, "has so many strange and unique fads that her latest vagary, that of tinting the fingernails...has become quite popular."
Ultimately, nail polish wasn't just a passing fancy. Better manufacturing processes, a new age of mass marketing, and clear advantages over powders and pastes helped it stick around.
4) Talkies: "Talking doesn't belong in pictures"


Joseph Schenck, pondering the future, silently. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In 1928, Joseph Schenck, President of United Artists, seemed confident about one thing: talking pictures were a fad.
He told The New York Times that "talking doesn't belong in pictures." Though he conceded that sound effects could be useful, he felt that dialogue was overrated. "I don't think people will want talking pictures long," he said, and he wasn't alone.
In 1967, actress Mary Astor recalled the mood when the silent era drew to a close. She wrote, "The Jazz Singer was considered a box-office freak," and that talkies were "a box-office gimmick." In an early talkie screening, she and her colleagues thought "the noise would simply drive audiences from the theaters... we were in an entirely different medium."
In the end, however, talkies proved out to be more compelling than the old mediums. Audiences adjusted, audio-recording technology improved, and a new generation of Hollywood bigwigs embraced dialogue.
5) Cheeseburgers: "Typical of California"


Actress Gwen Lee eats a burger in California in 1930. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Most sources credit Lionel Sternberger with inventing the cheeseburger in 1934, though there's a lot of debate. Regardless of who came up with it, the notion of beef and cheese was initially regarded as a crazy California novelty rather than as a revelation.
The first time the New York Times wrote about cheeseburgers in 1938, they ranked the burgers as a Californian eccentricity, putting them third in a list along with nutburgers, porkburgers, and turkeyburgers. In 1947, a Times writer actually deigned to try a cheeseburger, albeit skeptically:
At first, the combination of beef with cheese and tomatoes, which are sometimes used, may seem bizarre. If you reflect a bit, you'll understand that the combination is sound gastronomically.
[FONT=Alright Sans, sans-serif]In the end, plenty of people agreed that the cheeseburger was "sound gastronomically." And once fast food chains — like McDonald's — included it on their menus, it was guaranteed a place on the American plate.[/FONT]
6) Answering machines: "In the beginning, it was pure yuppie."


In 1970, this machine was slick. (Science and Society Picture Library/Getty Images)
It didn't take long for people to see how answering machines could be useful. But when they were first introduced, it seemed like the telephone companies would squash them in favor of their own hardware and services.
In 1973, a story about the bourgeoning voicemail phenomenon noted that answering machines weren't even allowed in most homes. Robert Howard, a spokesman for the New York Telephone Company, claimed that illegally installed machines posed a hazard to line repairmen. Since the 1940s, most companies had banned them, and AT&T said "there is no need for the device."
Even once answering machines moved from quasi-legal purgatory in 1975, thanks to an FCC decision, the devices were still seen as a niche yuppie annoyance. That might be why it took until 1991 for the New York Times to reluctantly accept answering machines with a telling headline: "For Yuppies, Now Plain Folks Too."
The answering machine made it big because technology, laws, and telephone culture changed. Answering-machine technology became easier to manage and answering services faded away.
7) Laptops: "Was the laptop dream an illusion?"


1987's laptops were a work in progress. (Science and Society Archive/Getty Images)
In 1985, the New York Times reported on the tragic demise of a once promising trend — laptops, the newspaper said, were on their way out. From now on, airplane tray tables would hold beers and cocktails instead of computers.
The Times doubted the potential of laptop technology, and with good reason: they were heavy, pricey, and had poor battery life, all of which made it hard to imagine them becoming mainstream.
It was a reasonable complaint, but short-sighted:
The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.
Laptops took a few more years to become practical, but technology improved enough that the laptop became lighter, more durable, and easier to use.
 
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DaSleeper

Trolling Hypocrites
May 27, 2007
32,537
629
113
Northern Ontario,
We all accept technological changes you dummy
just because we are not so gullible as to fall for the global warming religion / taxation scheme.......
I was one of maybe even the first one to use a portable gps when they first came out in this town, and use it for hunting!
 

taxslave

Hall of Fame Member
Nov 25, 2008
32,473
748
113
Vancouver Island
We all accept technological changes you dummy
just because we are not so gullible as to fall for the global warming religion / taxation scheme.......
I was one of maybe even the first one to use a portable gps when they first came out in this town, and use it for hunting!

Not the Luddites that think we can just stop using fossil fuels.
 

darkbeaver

the universe is electric
Jan 26, 2006
41,039
196
63
RR1 Distopia 666 Discordia
The constant refusal of some CC members to accept technological change got me to wondering about how many other society changing inventions were condemned at the time of their inception. Well, it turns out that there are quite a few. Here are seven of the more important.



7 world-changing inventions people thought were dumb fads





In 1879, Henry Morton, a leading scientific mind and president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, called one man's tinkering a "conspicuous failure." The man was Thomas Edison. The invention was the light bulb.
That was obviously wrong, and the light bulb turned out to be a solid invention. But Morton's statement was also revealing. Sometimes it's genuinely difficult to know whether new inventions will be duds or hits. Who knows — maybe our grandkids will come to love Google Glass, Segways, and Dippin' Dots.
Related These 7 inventions were supposed to change the world. They failed. Badly.
Morton's pronouncement shows just how hard it is to predict the future. In his case, he didn't doubt that Edison's lightbulb was useful. His main objection was that there was no way to carry electricity long distances and get light bulbs in every home (even Edison couldn't figure that out on his own.) Forecasting the fate of a new invention often means forecasting broad social and technological changes — and that's incredibly hard.
With that in mind, here's a look at seven other important inventions — from the bicycle to nail polish to the answering machine — that had their doubters early on. There's a lot to learn from wrong predictions:
1) Bicycles: "The popularity of the wheel is doomed"


Critical mass, 1890s-style. (Leemage/Getty Images)
Today, we think of bikes as a major source of transportation, but they started out as a trendy fashion statement. That's why some critics were skeptical that they'd stick around (spoiler: they did).
Bikes had a rapid rise: on August 20, 1890, the Washington Post called bicycling a hot fad for fancy ladies and not just for the "bleached-haired, music-hall type" anymore (read: hipsters). The craze was driven by improved technology, as big-wheeled bikes became closer to the ones we use today. The bicycle's growth was so rapid that on February 29, 1896, the Washington Post called bicycling the national sport.
But then the fad faded. On August 17, 1902, the Post called bicycling a passing fancy, and experts declared "the popularity of the wheel is doomed." Critics thought bikes were unsafe, impossible to improve, and ultimately impractical for everyday use. On December 31, 1906, the New York Sun rendered its verdict: "As a fad cycling is dead, and few individuals now ride for all the good they claim to see in the pastime when it was fashion."
The Sun turned out to be wrong. Over the years, bikes acquired better tires, and sturdier frame. America's roads also got smoother. That made bicycles an increasingly practical option — and not just a passing fad.
2) Automobiles: "The prices will never be sufficiently low"


An early automobile racer. (New York Historical Society/Getty Images)
In 1902, the New York Times called the automobile impractical — and they had a few good reasons why. In the wake of the bike fad of the 1890s, reporters and analysts were wary of the "next big thing" in transportation. As one critic put it:
Automobiling is following the history of cycling with such remarkable closeness in almost every detail, both as a sport and an industry, that the question is often asked if the present period of expansion will be followed by a collapse as complete and as disastrous as was that of the cycling boom of a few short years ago.
The Times complained that the price of cars "will never be sufficiently low to make them as widely popular as were bicycles." It didn't help that some of the early proposals for an auto-centric transportation system were outlandish. In 1902, The Steel Roads Committee of the Automobile Club of America was angling for a steel highway system. Bizarre proposals like that made it harder to believe the car would ever make it big.
But it did. Once Henry Ford perfected the mass production of automobiles, the price came down and cars took off, eventually becoming the dominant form of transportation.
3) Liquid nail polish was a "strange and unique fad"


Nail polish shame: where it began. (Library of Congress)
In 1917, Cutex invented the closest thing to modern mass-market liquid nail polish. But it took a while for nail polish to hit the mainstream. In 1927, the New York Times reported on it as a "London fad," and the year before, writer Viola Paris took to the pages of Vogue to assess the new invention. "There seems to be some doubt," she wrote, "in the minds of a great many women as to whether nail polish is in any way harmful or, at least, not so good for the nails as the powder or paste polish."
As late as March 31, 1932, the Atlanta Daily World questioned how long colored fingernails could possibly stick around. "Dame fashion, whimsical and wayward as the wind," the paper snarked, "has so many strange and unique fads that her latest vagary, that of tinting the fingernails...has become quite popular."
Ultimately, nail polish wasn't just a passing fancy. Better manufacturing processes, a new age of mass marketing, and clear advantages over powders and pastes helped it stick around.
4) Talkies: "Talking doesn't belong in pictures"


Joseph Schenck, pondering the future, silently. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In 1928, Joseph Schenck, President of United Artists, seemed confident about one thing: talking pictures were a fad.
He told The New York Times that "talking doesn't belong in pictures." Though he conceded that sound effects could be useful, he felt that dialogue was overrated. "I don't think people will want talking pictures long," he said, and he wasn't alone.
In 1967, actress Mary Astor recalled the mood when the silent era drew to a close. She wrote, "The Jazz Singer was considered a box-office freak," and that talkies were "a box-office gimmick." In an early talkie screening, she and her colleagues thought "the noise would simply drive audiences from the theaters... we were in an entirely different medium."
In the end, however, talkies proved out to be more compelling than the old mediums. Audiences adjusted, audio-recording technology improved, and a new generation of Hollywood bigwigs embraced dialogue.
5) Cheeseburgers: "Typical of California"


Actress Gwen Lee eats a burger in California in 1930. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Most sources credit Lionel Sternberger with inventing the cheeseburger in 1934, though there's a lot of debate. Regardless of who came up with it, the notion of beef and cheese was initially regarded as a crazy California novelty rather than as a revelation.
The first time the New York Times wrote about cheeseburgers in 1938, they ranked the burgers as a Californian eccentricity, putting them third in a list along with nutburgers, porkburgers, and turkeyburgers. In 1947, a Times writer actually deigned to try a cheeseburger, albeit skeptically:
At first, the combination of beef with cheese and tomatoes, which are sometimes used, may seem bizarre. If you reflect a bit, you'll understand that the combination is sound gastronomically.
In the end, plenty of people agreed that the cheeseburger was "sound gastronomically." And once fast food chains — like McDonald's — included it on their menus, it was guaranteed a place on the American plate.
6) Answering machines: "In the beginning, it was pure yuppie."


In 1970, this machine was slick. (Science and Society Picture Library/Getty Images)
It didn't take long for people to see how answering machines could be useful. But when they were first introduced, it seemed like the telephone companies would squash them in favor of their own hardware and services.
In 1973, a story about the bourgeoning voicemail phenomenon noted that answering machines weren't even allowed in most homes. Robert Howard, a spokesman for the New York Telephone Company, claimed that illegally installed machines posed a hazard to line repairmen. Since the 1940s, most companies had banned them, and AT&T said "there is no need for the device."
Even once answering machines moved from quasi-legal purgatory in 1975, thanks to an FCC decision, the devices were still seen as a niche yuppie annoyance. That might be why it took until 1991 for the New York Times to reluctantly accept answering machines with a telling headline: "For Yuppies, Now Plain Folks Too."
The answering machine made it big because technology, laws, and telephone culture changed. Answering-machine technology became easier to manage and answering services faded away.
7) Laptops: "Was the laptop dream an illusion?"


1987's laptops were a work in progress. (Science and Society Archive/Getty Images)
In 1985, the New York Times reported on the tragic demise of a once promising trend — laptops, the newspaper said, were on their way out. From now on, airplane tray tables would hold beers and cocktails instead of computers.
The Times doubted the potential of laptop technology, and with good reason: they were heavy, pricey, and had poor battery life, all of which made it hard to imagine them becoming mainstream.
It was a reasonable complaint, but short-sighted:
The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.
Laptops took a few more years to become practical, but technology improved enough that the laptop became lighter, more durable, and easier to use.



Your examples are nothings but reinventions which reverse engineering would indicate advanced rock work as example, these relics are CNC REPLICATIONS. Anywho, in the past solar minimums necessitated dwellings in several meters of rock, this helped a bit, these ruins litter the world, and we are here because of those humans. The rock work that litters this planet indicates a different mechanism than numerical progression.

 
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Jinentonix

Executive Branch Member
Sep 6, 2015
7,828
664
113
Olympus Mons
I remember years ago when some said bottled water was the most ridiculous idea ever.
It is. 1) Considering the VAST majority of North Americans have access to better quality drinking water from their taps.
2) It is an absolute essential for ALL life and has been turned into a commodity.
3) Taking potable water and putting it in plastic bottles actually de-values the water.
4) Bottling water greatly reduces the available supply for local populations and wildlife as well as having negative effects on various waterways.
It is a truly stupid idea. Except for emergency needs.

... and they charged four times the price if gasolene for it.


EVIAN : NAIVE
I know, it used to crack me up listening to morons whine about paying $1/L for gas but didn't bat an eye about paying $1.50 for a half liter of something they can get for virtually free from their taps at home.
 

Danbones

Hall of Fame Member
Sep 23, 2015
22,818
947
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Harvard Professor: Fluoride Toxic to Children, Linked to Autism

Practically overnight, fluoride joined the likes of lead, arsenic, methylmercury, toluene and other chemicals known to damage brain tissue, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).

"In light of the new classification of fluoride as a dangerous neurotoxin, adding more fluoride to American's already excessive intake no longer has any conceivable justification. We should follow the evidence and try to reduce fluoride intake, not increase it," said Paul Connett, PhD

In the March 2014 journal Lancet Neurology, the highly prevalent chemical was reclassified as a developmental neurotoxin by medical authorities.

The authors, Dr. Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Icahn School of Medicine write, "A meta-analysis of 27 cross-sectional studies of children exposed to fluoride in drinking water, mainly from China, suggests an average IQ decrement of about seven points in children exposed to raised fluoride concentrations."

The majority of these 27 studies had water fluoride levels of less than four milligrams per liter, which falls under the allowable level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Developmental neurotoxins, which are capable of causing widespread brain disorders such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities, often cause untreatable and permanent damage.

Grandjean and Landrigan write, "Our very great concern is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies, perhaps most seriously in developing countries."
https://www.ecowatch.com/harvard-pr...-to-children-linked-to-autism-1881865558.html

Yes, brain damage on tap...yay. Oh hell, it's only children.
;)
its also in the bottled water too.

I've always had a well or double osmosis.
 

gopher

Hall of Fame Member
Jun 26, 2005
21,513
64
48
Minnesota: Gopher State
Jinentonix,

It is a truly stupid idea. Except for emergency needs.


Because of my age and health issues, I nearly had a seizure due to excessive heat and sunlight just the other day. My trusty bottle of cold water gave me the relief I needed to reach my destination safely. Thus, my trusty bottle met the standard you created.
 
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Bar Sinister

Executive Branch Member
Jan 17, 2010
8,252
19
38
Edmonton
It is. 1) Considering the VAST majority of North Americans have access to better quality drinking water from their taps.
2) It is an absolute essential for ALL life and has been turned into a commodity.
3) Taking potable water and putting it in plastic bottles actually de-values the water.
4) Bottling water greatly reduces the available supply for local populations and wildlife as well as having negative effects on various waterways.
It is a truly stupid idea. Except for emergency needs.

I know, it used to crack me up listening to morons whine about paying $1/L for gas but didn't bat an eye about paying $1.50 for a half liter of something they can get for virtually free from their taps at home.


I've told my wife that if I ever buy bottled water then it is time to shoot me.
 

Johnnny

Frontiersman
Jun 8, 2007
9,219
27
48
Third rock from the Sun
I buy the cheap cases of bottle water and I rarely ever drink from the tap.

You can taste the chlorine or whatever they add in the tap water and it kinda tastes awful.
 

darkbeaver

the universe is electric
Jan 26, 2006
41,039
196
63
RR1 Distopia 666 Discordia
The constant refusal of some CC members to accept technological change got me to wondering about how many other society changing inventions were condemned at the time of their inception. Well, it turns out that there are quite a few. Here are seven of the more important.



7 world-changing inventions people thought were dumb fads





In 1879, Henry Morton, a leading scientific mind and president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, called one man's tinkering a "conspicuous failure." The man was Thomas Edison. The invention was the light bulb.
That was obviously wrong, and the light bulb turned out to be a solid invention. But Morton's statement was also revealing. Sometimes it's genuinely difficult to know whether new inventions will be duds or hits. Who knows — maybe our grandkids will come to love Google Glass, Segways, and Dippin' Dots.
Related These 7 inventions were supposed to change the world. They failed. Badly.
Morton's pronouncement shows just how hard it is to predict the future. In his case, he didn't doubt that Edison's lightbulb was useful. His main objection was that there was no way to carry electricity long distances and get light bulbs in every home (even Edison couldn't figure that out on his own.) Forecasting the fate of a new invention often means forecasting broad social and technological changes — and that's incredibly hard.
With that in mind, here's a look at seven other important inventions — from the bicycle to nail polish to the answering machine — that had their doubters early on. There's a lot to learn from wrong predictions:
1) Bicycles: "The popularity of the wheel is doomed"


Critical mass, 1890s-style. (Leemage/Getty Images)
Today, we think of bikes as a major source of transportation, but they started out as a trendy fashion statement. That's why some critics were skeptical that they'd stick around (spoiler: they did).
Bikes had a rapid rise: on August 20, 1890, the Washington Post called bicycling a hot fad for fancy ladies and not just for the "bleached-haired, music-hall type" anymore (read: hipsters). The craze was driven by improved technology, as big-wheeled bikes became closer to the ones we use today. The bicycle's growth was so rapid that on February 29, 1896, the Washington Post called bicycling the national sport.
But then the fad faded. On August 17, 1902, the Post called bicycling a passing fancy, and experts declared "the popularity of the wheel is doomed." Critics thought bikes were unsafe, impossible to improve, and ultimately impractical for everyday use. On December 31, 1906, the New York Sun rendered its verdict: "As a fad cycling is dead, and few individuals now ride for all the good they claim to see in the pastime when it was fashion."
The Sun turned out to be wrong. Over the years, bikes acquired better tires, and sturdier frame. America's roads also got smoother. That made bicycles an increasingly practical option — and not just a passing fad.
2) Automobiles: "The prices will never be sufficiently low"


An early automobile racer. (New York Historical Society/Getty Images)
In 1902, the New York Times called the automobile impractical — and they had a few good reasons why. In the wake of the bike fad of the 1890s, reporters and analysts were wary of the "next big thing" in transportation. As one critic put it:
Automobiling is following the history of cycling with such remarkable closeness in almost every detail, both as a sport and an industry, that the question is often asked if the present period of expansion will be followed by a collapse as complete and as disastrous as was that of the cycling boom of a few short years ago.
The Times complained that the price of cars "will never be sufficiently low to make them as widely popular as were bicycles." It didn't help that some of the early proposals for an auto-centric transportation system were outlandish. In 1902, The Steel Roads Committee of the Automobile Club of America was angling for a steel highway system. Bizarre proposals like that made it harder to believe the car would ever make it big.
But it did. Once Henry Ford perfected the mass production of automobiles, the price came down and cars took off, eventually becoming the dominant form of transportation.
3) Liquid nail polish was a "strange and unique fad"


Nail polish shame: where it began. (Library of Congress)
In 1917, Cutex invented the closest thing to modern mass-market liquid nail polish. But it took a while for nail polish to hit the mainstream. In 1927, the New York Times reported on it as a "London fad," and the year before, writer Viola Paris took to the pages of Vogue to assess the new invention. "There seems to be some doubt," she wrote, "in the minds of a great many women as to whether nail polish is in any way harmful or, at least, not so good for the nails as the powder or paste polish."
As late as March 31, 1932, the Atlanta Daily World questioned how long colored fingernails could possibly stick around. "Dame fashion, whimsical and wayward as the wind," the paper snarked, "has so many strange and unique fads that her latest vagary, that of tinting the fingernails...has become quite popular."
Ultimately, nail polish wasn't just a passing fancy. Better manufacturing processes, a new age of mass marketing, and clear advantages over powders and pastes helped it stick around.
4) Talkies: "Talking doesn't belong in pictures"


Joseph Schenck, pondering the future, silently. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In 1928, Joseph Schenck, President of United Artists, seemed confident about one thing: talking pictures were a fad.
He told The New York Times that "talking doesn't belong in pictures." Though he conceded that sound effects could be useful, he felt that dialogue was overrated. "I don't think people will want talking pictures long," he said, and he wasn't alone.
In 1967, actress Mary Astor recalled the mood when the silent era drew to a close. She wrote, "The Jazz Singer was considered a box-office freak," and that talkies were "a box-office gimmick." In an early talkie screening, she and her colleagues thought "the noise would simply drive audiences from the theaters... we were in an entirely different medium."
In the end, however, talkies proved out to be more compelling than the old mediums. Audiences adjusted, audio-recording technology improved, and a new generation of Hollywood bigwigs embraced dialogue.
5) Cheeseburgers: "Typical of California"


Actress Gwen Lee eats a burger in California in 1930. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Most sources credit Lionel Sternberger with inventing the cheeseburger in 1934, though there's a lot of debate. Regardless of who came up with it, the notion of beef and cheese was initially regarded as a crazy California novelty rather than as a revelation.
The first time the New York Times wrote about cheeseburgers in 1938, they ranked the burgers as a Californian eccentricity, putting them third in a list along with nutburgers, porkburgers, and turkeyburgers. In 1947, a Times writer actually deigned to try a cheeseburger, albeit skeptically:
At first, the combination of beef with cheese and tomatoes, which are sometimes used, may seem bizarre. If you reflect a bit, you'll understand that the combination is sound gastronomically.
In the end, plenty of people agreed that the cheeseburger was "sound gastronomically." And once fast food chains — like McDonald's — included it on their menus, it was guaranteed a place on the American plate.
6) Answering machines: "In the beginning, it was pure yuppie."


In 1970, this machine was slick. (Science and Society Picture Library/Getty Images)
It didn't take long for people to see how answering machines could be useful. But when they were first introduced, it seemed like the telephone companies would squash them in favor of their own hardware and services.
In 1973, a story about the bourgeoning voicemail phenomenon noted that answering machines weren't even allowed in most homes. Robert Howard, a spokesman for the New York Telephone Company, claimed that illegally installed machines posed a hazard to line repairmen. Since the 1940s, most companies had banned them, and AT&T said "there is no need for the device."
Even once answering machines moved from quasi-legal purgatory in 1975, thanks to an FCC decision, the devices were still seen as a niche yuppie annoyance. That might be why it took until 1991 for the New York Times to reluctantly accept answering machines with a telling headline: "For Yuppies, Now Plain Folks Too."
The answering machine made it big because technology, laws, and telephone culture changed. Answering-machine technology became easier to manage and answering services faded away.
7) Laptops: "Was the laptop dream an illusion?"


1987's laptops were a work in progress. (Science and Society Archive/Getty Images)
In 1985, the New York Times reported on the tragic demise of a once promising trend — laptops, the newspaper said, were on their way out. From now on, airplane tray tables would hold beers and cocktails instead of computers.
The Times doubted the potential of laptop technology, and with good reason: they were heavy, pricey, and had poor battery life, all of which made it hard to imagine them becoming mainstream.
It was a reasonable complaint, but short-sighted:
The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.
Laptops took a few more years to become practical, but technology improved enough that the laptop became lighter, more durable, and easier to use.