Monday, August 18, 2008

Ideas Whose Time Should Have Come A Long Time Ago

I was just reading a very funny post over at Finslippy about the discovery of kitty litter. (Yes, that's what I said - go read it, you'll understand. And read the comments too, they're all hilarious).

It made me think, however. Of course, kitty litter was not a discovery but more of an invention. Before kitty litter there were shredded newspapers. No kitty litter. I guess a lot of people used to let their cats out in the old days so it wasn't as much of an issue.

But if you think about it, the idea of kitty litter was an idea that was just lying around on the ground waiting for someone to trip over it and discover it. You know, like in the cartoons where a light bulb appears over someone's head to indicate a brilliant idea. So in a way it did have to be discovered - because it was something that could have been thought of years before, but just wasn't.

Surely someone who watched their cat scratching in the dirt and gravel in their yard must have thought "Hey, if my cat needed to go in the middle of the night, wouldn't it make sense to have something like that in a box for her to use?" And maybe that person brought in some sandy dirt or something to do that, but never thought to make it a "product" that people would go buy - until one genius did.

It made me think about a lot of other things that should have been thought of sooner than they were. One that comes to mind is (sorry guys) stick-on sanitary pads. I had to use those ridiculous BELTS when I was a young teen! Surely this is an idea whose time could have come sooner than it did?

Or one-cup coffee makers - those little drip things you can put over a cup and make a real cup of brewed coffee for just one person. They had Drip-o-lators since the 1920's but nobody thought of making a one-cup version until much later. The invention of instant coffee might have been avoided altogether.

And disposable diapers! This was something that could easily have been invented a lot sooner than it was. I remember when I used to babysit back when I was a teenager, we had to use real diapers, pins (which often as not came undone and stuck the baby and made him or her cry) and those awful rubber pants that never prevented leaks very well.

I know there are more - can you think of other inventions like these, that are such obvious ideas, but nobody thought of them until more recently?


Fran said...

I am too tired to come up with an invention but I did love that litter post at the other blog, a blog I'd never seen before!!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Man, I know when I close out this page I'm going to think of half a dozen.

Oh yeah, Post-It Notes. Those were a freaking accident. I couldn't live without Post-It notes.

Your stick-on sanitary pad is a great example.

Anonymous said...

The gadget for getting jar lids off. How many people wished for something like that, reached for pliers or something equally dangerous and voila! Now there's a tool!

Anonymous said...

Anti-lock brakes on cars is an idea that could have been used alot sooner than it was. We've had anti-lock brakes since WW2, but the technology didn't make it into vehicles until the late 1970s.

Another invention I nominate is the pooper scooper. I'm owned by a dog... I'm just sayin...

D.K. Raed said...

The absolute must-have invention that changed civilzation: INDOOR PLUMBING! The Romans had it, but then came the dark ages, so the world lived with gross outhouses & even grosser cesspits for another 1700-yrs. A needless misery ... and one of the main reasons I am not interested in time-traveling to the past.

Oh, add toilet paper and soft kleenex to the shoulda-happened-along-time-ago list (biodegradable of course). I know we used cloth hankerchiefs before kleenex, but I don't even want to think of what preceded t.p.

Christopher said...

I wish I'd invented the microwave.

We were talking about the microwave the other day -- really after watching the brilliant Billy Wilder film, The Apartment, and Jack Lemmon comes home from work and pulls a tin dish containing something out of the fridge and puts it in the oven to heat for dinner.

I said to Jim, "Imagine having to turn on the oven to heat leftovers? You'd have to wait a half hour."

Whoever invented and owns/owned the patent for the microwave has got to be a billionaire!

Comrade Kevin said...

The Xerox machine, which allowed easy copies of originals without having to use the purplish ink of the ditto machine or the even-more incoherent mimeograph machine.

FreakyNick said...

Blogging, of course.

Mariamariacuchita said...

The little plastic thing they put on the end of the loaf of bread made the inventor a millionaire.

Freida Bee said...

Electric cars....

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