Old School Technological Breakthroughs

old school tech breaktroughs

We live in an age of facial recognition, machine learning, and touch screens. These are the advanced technology of today but what was considered amazing technology in the last century or earlier? Let’s take a trip back in time and look at the Kodak K-24 Camera, Snow Cruiser, Morrison’s Hideout, and 5 other inventions.

1. Police electric car for tunnels

old school tech breaktroughs

Until 1955, the Holland Tunnel was patrolled on foot by six road workers. To reduce the number of employees to four, a special vehicle was developed. This electric car with a transparent plastic body moved along the rails located on a special podium. Thanks to the swivel seat, the patrolman could move in any direction at a speed of 10 or 20 kilometers per hour. The power unit was an electric motor with a capacity of 3 horsepower.

According to The New York Times, the patrol car operated in Holland Tunnel until spring 2011, but a more modern model was used.

2. Next level All-terrain Snow Cruiser

old school tech breaktroughs

Thomas Poulter invented this Snow Cruiser after getting stuck during an expedition to Antarctica.
The Antarctic Snow Cruiser was a vehicle designed from 1937 to 1939 under the direction of Thomas Poulter, intended to facilitate transport in Antarctica during the United States Antarctic Service Expedition (1939–41). The Snow Cruiser was also known as “The Penguin,” “Penguin 1” or “Turtle” in some published material.

Poulter had been second in command of Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition, launched in 1934. From his time in the Antarctic, Poulter had devised several innovative features. However, the massive Snow Cruiser generally failed to operate as hoped under the difficult conditions (the tires, notably smooth to avoid becoming snow encrusted, would not grip the ice) and was eventually abandoned in Antarctica. Rediscovered under a deep layer of snow in 1958, it later disappeared again due to shifting ice conditions.

3. Rail Zeppelin
old school tech breaktroughs

The Schienenzeppelin (German: [ˈʃiːnənˌtsɛpəliːn]) or rail zeppelin was an experimental railcar which resembled a Zeppelin airship in appearance. It was designed and developed by the German aircraft engineer Franz Kruckenberg in 1929. Propulsion was by means of a pusher propeller located at the rear: it accelerated the railcar to 230.2 km/h (143 mph) setting the land speed record for a petrol powered rail vehicle. Only a single example was ever built, which due to safety concerns remained out of service and was finally dismantled in 1939.

4. The first alarm clocks
old school tech breaktroughs


Candle clocks have long been used in China. Knowing the burning speed of a candle made of a certain material, it was marked with divisions corresponding to the units of time measurement. To turn this device into an alarm clock the creator would drive a stick in near the desired measurement and attach a metal ball, when this fell it would create a ringing sound. Sounds complicated and not very accurate but this was among the first iterations of the alarm clock.

5. Motorized rollers

old school tech breaktroughs

In 1905, an inventor named Constantini presented self-propelled roller skates at an exhibition in Paris. They were equipped with one-and-a-half power motors, and there was a battery and a switch on the skater’s belt. A few years later, his colleague Mercier attempted to improved the motorized skates (see photo).

old school tech breaktroughs
Can you imaging fueling up your skates?
old school tech breaktroughs

6. Kodak K-24 camera

old school tech breaktroughs

In 1942 Eastman Kodak created the British F24 camera, which was developed in the 1920s specifically for military aerial photography and made it possible to obtain images of quite high definition from a great height. The K-24 is the largest handheld camera. It was mainly installed in reconnaissance aircraft; few people used it in manual mode. The guy in the photo above was simply unlucky – he was tasked with shooting something to the side of the flight path, and the object was far away, so a good picture was required.

7. “Morrison’s Hideout”

old school tech breaktroughs

The box in the photo is called Morrison’s hideout or “Morrison’s table”. It was invented to protect civilians during enemy bombing during the Second World War. Designed by engineer John Baker and named after UK Secretary of Homeland Security Herbert Morrison. It is a box made of metal plates with metal bars. It was assumed that during the German bombing, residents of a typical British two-story house, where there were no cellars and basements, would seek rescue in it. The picture is dated March 1941 and appears to be a demonstration.

8. Book wheel

old school tech breaktroughs

Making reading more fun. This thing is 300 years old and we like to consider it the ancient ancestor of browsers online. You can open several books at a time and nothing freezes.

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