Blast from the Past: 10 Timeless Gadgets Even Today


If you think the iphone or Blackberry is cool, wait until you see these gadgets from many years ago.




Medieval Steel Gauntlets

This is my personal favorite – the Medieval Steel Gauntlets which are made by ThinkGeek. Try and hold an Iphone with those. At least when you bang your fist on the table, people might listen.

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Today’s soldier carries around 70 lbs of gear. The knights in the Middle Ages had armor and weaponry, too. This included a helmet, armor, a sword and a lance. also conveniently lists books that you can buy from to make your own 14th century armor. As tactics changed, the gear also changed. Here is a suit of armor from the Crusades from They will sell you this today for around $5,000. The reason weapons are also gadgets is because, just like with today’s technology, people were always trying to improve their fighting skills against their enemies. This was the best technology they had at the time.

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Antikythera Computer

The Antikythera Computer was discovered in 1900 by Greek sponge divers in a shipwreck which was dated from the first century BC. According to the Guardian, the clock may be even older than previously thought. It could have been built in the second century BC.

Image Courtesy of

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Baghdad Battery

The Baghdad battery (so called because it was found just outside of Baghdad) is though to be around 2000 years old. According to Smith College,  it ‚Äúis composed of a clay jar with a stopper made of asphalt. Sticking through the asphalt is an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. When filled with vinegar – or any other electrolytic solution – the jar produces about 1.1 volts.‚Äù  Image courtesy of the Smith College Museum of Ancient Inventions

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The Turk

The Turk was a fake, wooden life size version of a person, dressed in Turkish clothing, constructed in the 18th century by Wolfgang von Kempelen. A human could get inside the figure through the cabinets and control it so it would appear the person would be able to play chess, but nobody knew that it was a hoax until the 1820s. For more information on the Turk, see Wikipedia

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‚ÄúThe abacus, also known as a counting frame, was used in Asia to perform arithmetic processes,‚Äù Wikipedia says. You can see a picture of the counting frame here.  Today, this device, which used to be made of stones, can be used to help children learn how to count from 1 to 100. If you just want the computer software, click here.

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Wooden Wheel

Although the wheel is so much a part of our every day life – from the wheelbarrow, to the car, to the carriage at the grocery store – nobody knows who invented the wheel. The oldest wheel ever found was in Mesopotamia and is believed to be over 5,500 years old.

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From Wikipedia: “The ard or scratch plough is a type of simple plough. It consists of a frame mounting a nearly vertical wooden spike, which is dragged through the soil by draught animals.” Ploughs are used for agriculture and turning over crops. According to TripAtlas, they were initially pulled by humans, oxen and horses. This was before the invention of the tractor. Below is a horse-drawn plow. Image courtesy of

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The Coso Artifact

According to the Epoch Times, in 1961, Wallace Lane,Virginia Maxey, and Mike Mikesell came across this rock formation while hiking in California‚Äôs Coso Mountains. They thought it was a technology from 500,000 years ago. However, in 1999, the President of Spark Plug Collectors of America (SPCA), Chad Windham, said it is a 1920 Champion spark plug, which was found in the Model T Ford.  The debate continues.

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Samurai sword

‚ÄúAccording to legend, the Japanese sword was invented by a smith named Amakuni Yasutsuna (c.700 AD), along with the folded steel process. In reality the folded steel process and single edge swords had been brought over fromChina through trade. The Samurai sword as we know it today started to take shape throughout the Heian period (794 to 1185 AD) ‚Äì says‚Äù Remarkably, a samurai sword was used to slay a robber who broke into the residence of a Baltimore resident in September 2009. According to the Baltimore Sun, the resident, John Pontolillo, 20, of Wall, N.J., was released the following afternoon. ‚ÄúGuglielmi (a spokesman for the Baltimore police) said it would be up to the state’s attorney’s office to determine whether he will be charged in the incident.‚Äù

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As you can see, technology and having an edge against a competitor in ancient times was just as fierce as today’s technology. The only question is, what will we come up with next?

James Zipadelli is a Connecticut-based freelance journalist who writes on technology and social media. He could be reached on the Web at or on Twitter @redsoxlive.

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