15 of the Strangest and Stupidest Inventions of the 1950s

The 1950s were a time of creating and exploration. There were some great inventions, but also terrible ones. Here are the stupidest inventions of the 1950s.

There are many “sides” to any period of human history, and the mid-20th century’s most iconic decade, the 50s, is no exception. The 1950s focused on futurism (a more recent word, admittedly, but the most applicable nonetheless). It was the decade both of the real space age, but also to a host of products, shows, and designs that looked to the near future… and beyond! Some of the things folks came up with were brilliant. Others were not. The inventions of the 1950s are unique.

Here are the strangest and stupidest inventions of the 1950s:

15.) Snail Pacer

snail pacer

AP Photo/Don Brinn

This ten-year-old, Martin Witter, watched two snails from his “team” race around in his home in October 1, 1954. Witter claimed he owned the only snail stable in the country.

The reins were made of string and the small chariot was constructed from a fish-food tin.

14.) Records While You Drive

records while you drive

AP Photo/Peter Hillebrecht

This German record player could be attached to a car’s dashboard in 1959.

The player was fully automatic and you could place a 45rpm record in the slot.

Get a home record player here.

13.) Neck Brush

neck brush

AP Photo/Don Brinn

Tim Gregory wore this brush that could clean his neck. The brush wouldn’t use soap and water so it naturally cleans your neck.

The neck brush was developed in January 1950 by the Los Angeles Brush Corp.

12.) Nuclear Bomb Shelter

nuclear bomb shelter

AP Photo

This shelter was designed by Thomas Villa in 1958. It was 8 feet by 8 feet by 14 feet inches and can hold 8-12 people.

It can be buried into the earth for more protection.

11.) Pain-Free Spanking

pain free spanking

AP Photo/Don Brinn

For any parent that did not want to hurt their child, this brush has rubber brands instead of having the bristles.

The pain-free spanking brush was developed by Los Angeles Brush Corp. in January 1950.

10.) Early Video Chatting

early video chatting

AP Photo/Walter Lindlar

In August 1957, visitors could use a TV telephone to communicate with each other.

The phones were linked to four TV sets and two cameras so each person can see a picture of the person they are talking to.

9.) Hi-Fi Television

hi-fi tv

AP Photo/Dan Grossi

The console is a combination hi-fi television set that was introduced High Fidelity Music Show in New York in 1959. It has a 21 inch TV set and a full hi-fi stereo speaker system.

There is a wing section, they can swivel around, and there is a door that holds all of the equipment. The inventor, Arkay, decided to name the console, “Fantasia.”

8.) Family Drive

family driving

AP Photo/Don Brinn

To keep the kids occupied during long drives, Jack Fletched decided to install three miniature sheering wheels in his car.

In 1955, Jack Fletcher was a designer at 21st Century Home and he had the resources to create this invention.

7.) Power Mower Deluxe

power lawn mower

AP Photo

This lawnmower had a five-foot diameter plastic sphere. The rider sat on a foam-cushioned seat while driving the lawnmower. It was equipped with running lights, a radiotelephone, air conditioning, and a cooling system that gave you chilled drinks.

You could use the lawnmower to mow the lawn, weed it, spray insects, and plow the snow in 1957.

6.) Motorcycle Plane

motorcycle plane

AP Photo

In 1957, Eric Kemp was an aircraft engineer and he tested his motorcycle that flew in the sky!

It was inspired when he created a plane that he wanted to create a combo!

5.) Honegar


All the deliciousness of vinegar mixed with tangy sweet honey? Sign me up for this 1959 treat! Except don’t! The creator, Dr. DeForest Jarvis, was apparently looking for a curative tincture type mixture that would have been a bit more appropriate for a 19th century quack than a guy who was actually a doctor in the 20th century, but there it is for you.

What was Honegar actually good for? Maybe inducing vomiting, but nothing more.

4.) The Cigarette Holder for Two!

cig for two

AP Photo/Ed Ford

What makes this most foolish of habits twice as fun and half as foolish? Why, it’s sharing a single cigarette between two folks at the same time, of course. And thanks to this invention from 1955, there’s no need to waste time passing your slender, easily handled tube of tobacco back and forth.

No, not when you can just jam it into a little nub set in the arc of a large, cumbersome tube. I… have no idea who thought this was necessary. Or even unnecessary but worth enough little 1950s giggles to make it.

3.) Brush and Shine

brush and shine

AP Photo/Don Brinn

For the balding man who wants his remaining hair to look great, his exposed dome to glisten, and who only has about 5 seconds to spare, this two-in-one brush and head shiner is just the thing! It incorporates a sponge-like pad on one half of the surface, a more traditional hairbrush on the other, and even a convenient handle.

Just a few passes of this baby and your scalp and hair will be looking like you just used a bad head shining device and a poorly working hairbrush! Keen!

2.) The Duoped


This lil’ debacle consisted of two small wheels set about 18 inches apart by an axle made of S-shaped metal with two pedals on it, one on each half-loop of the “S.”

The idea was that by using basic walking motions, you could instead roll smoothly forward, incorporating all the ease of pedaling a very small bicycle with the joy of balancing on a precarious platform and garnering the satisfaction of moving forward extremely slowly, and likely knocking out your teeth in a fall!

1.) The Flying Platform, the Rocket Belt, and the Flying Car All Tie for First Place!

flying car

Greg Herrick/Hemmings

For some reason, people in the 1950s were simply not satisfied with a technology that in less than 5 decades had gone from “crazy person’s pipe dream” to “whoa, man, we have jet engines and helicopters!” Inventors of the era were constantly trying to create new flying machines, which they did again and again with reliably disastrous results. Many test pilots died in hover this or flying that; many more thankfully sat almost motionless on the ground as the latest GyroBuggy or Soaring Chair Flapper fizzled out.


It was a heady decade to be sure, friends, a time of fearless inventive spirit! Perhaps one day many of these and other ideas pioneering thinkers for these inventions of the 1950s came up with will finally come to fruition. Click the next button to see the worst traffic jams of all time.

What year was the Slinky launched?  Answer is 1945.  Buy a Slinky here.