25 Weird Inventions That Never Took Off

Published November 27, 2017
Updated June 22, 2020

From baby cages to glowing tires to bicycle roller skates, these weird inventions of decades past simply never made a splash.

Weird Inventions Blizzard Mask
Bizarre Photos History Amphibious Car
Chain Smoker
One Wheel Motorcycle
25 Weird Inventions That Never Took Off
View Gallery

If, as the old proverb states, necessity is the mother of invention, then the contraptions in the gallery above were orphans right out of the workshop -- at least to the public at large.

From lamps dispensing beef stock and coffee to phonographs optimistically installed in the dash of '55 Chryslers, these daffy doodads were met with near-total apathy by the innovation-loving masses.

But these unloved weird inventions and ungainly machines are not, however, void of all charm. Enjoying their endearing uselessness is indeed their most suitable application.

It's hard not to love, after all, the devil-may-care bravado of a pipe used to suck down an entire pack of cigarettes at once, or the big picture thinking that goes into a crude wire shovel installed on the front of your car to more benignly scoop up pesky pedestrians.

That's not to say the collection above is nothing but gags. The poison gas-proof baby carriage, for example, as an invention, was close to being many a mother's necessity; the full-sized piano you play in bed would have been a boon for disabled pianists in the pre-keyboard age.

But most of the weird inventions above failed for good reason, many ultimately replaced by considerably less goofy, dangerous, or impractical alternatives. Outdoor urinals became porta-potties; TVs you strap to your face became VR headsets; and baby cages mounted precariously to high-rise windows ceded, swiftly, to common sense.

The remaining oddities are a mixed bag of misguided genius, old-fashioned American hubris, and, in one peculiarly Canadian case, haute couture outerwear. Sure, none of the above curiosities ever caught on, but they live on in eerie black-and-white, a reminder that one man's necessity is another's whimsy.

Want more weird innovations? Explore some of mankind's most useless inventions. Still curious? Learn about famous inventors who got credit for the wrong thing. Finally, have a look at the most incredible inventions ever made by Leonardo da Vinci.

Kellen Perry
Kellen Perry is a veteran writer on topics including television, history, music, art, video games, and food. His work has also appeared on Grunge, Ranker, and Looper.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Perry, Kellen. "25 Weird Inventions That Never Took Off." AllThatsInteresting.com, November 27, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/weird-inventions. Accessed April 21, 2024.