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The gadgets and machines of the past 150 years Read more >>

From homes to farms to mines - to the moon. These are the everyday gadgets, utensils, and machines that we've used in daily life plus their inventors and the people who used them.

I know of at least one Boomer (me) who still has trouble remembering that you don't have to go to the library or find an encyclopedia to get answers to your questions. We no longer need to go down to the river, or turn a crank, to wash our clothes. We don't have to hang our laundry on the line to dry it. We don't have to walk 2 miles to school, carry groceries home, or spend days to travel to see relatives. We don't have to peer at a small, blurry, black and white television screen, listen to the radio and imagine our favorite characters, or churn butter. We don't need CDs or records to listen to a music; memorize a phone number; peer at the small print in a phone book; do arithmetic in our heads; look at clock hands; keep boxes of photos; figure out the VCR; cut articles out of the newspaper; use a phone booth; write a letter; or keep our old checks. Even in the past 2 decades life has changed for most of us - due to technology.

In the past 50 years, these are just some of the technologies that have changed our lives:
  • TV remote controls - leading to remotes for almost everything.
  • Jet airliners - making travel faster, cheaper, and (sometimes) more comfortable.
  • Microwave ovens - making heating and cooking easier and faster.
  • Cordless tools - no longer tethered to an outlet!
  • Communications satellites - allowing the world to connect.
  • The calculator - well, you know!
  • The LED - used in almost everything.
  • The ATM - just get your bank business done and you're out.
  • The computer and the mouse - and email and computer games!
  • The internet - how you can read this.
  • Cordless phones . . . and then the cellphone!
  • GPS

There have always been people who fear new technology and those who embrace it. When electricity was first introduced, people were scared of being electrocuted in their own homes! And yet, we adapt and thrive. These are the photos of how we used to do things and of new technologies (at the time) that changed our lives. Such changes in such a short span of human history! << Read less
A photo of Lilian Catherine (Rae) Aitchison
People in this photo:
Lilian Catherine (Rae) Aitchison
Nov 10, 1893 - Sep 20, 1987
New Zealand
Albert William Webb with his steamroller: Albert was the husband of my great aunt Eva Wass. There was a cab on the back which they lived in while he was working on the roads, Eva travelled with him and their son William was nearly born in the cab until a kind person took pity on Eva and took her into her house to give birth. I believe Albert was one of the workers to tarmac the A1. Albert was born in Worcestershire and Eva was born in Ripon in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
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A photo of Pascual Martel Jr.
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Shared on Aug 24, 2014 by:
A photo of Fay Patricia (Hope) Byrnes
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Shared on Jul 25, 2014 by:
Dorothy Harris' Aunts: Typical wash day, about 1905-10...not sure who is who in photo.
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My Aunt June Hickey (Lilly's - Lillian Maude Smith's granddaughter) used to love to churn butter, which is what she is doing in this photo taken in Saskatchewan, Canada
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Shared on Jan 19, 2014 by:
A photo of Nicholas J Keller
People in this photo:
Nicholas J Keller
Dec 15, 1942 - May 18, 1998
Bristol, RI
Shared on May 22, 2013 by:
Taken by Harry W. Van Noy, at the Edison Estate. Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) was a well-known inventor and perhaps even a better businessman. He had 1,093 patents in the United States and many patents in Europe. But he not only had patents, he focused on mass production of his inventions and bringing them to the population at large (the light bulb, phonograph, and movie camera, for instance). His most famous quote is "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." And he certainly proved that!
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Thomas Alva Edison
Feb 11, 1847 - Oct 18, 1931
Frances Crawford, Lakeland Florida, USA. 1938
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Shared on Jan 3, 2013 by:
Elizabeth Persons, Lakeland Florida, USA. 1939
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Norman Kuegler, Athens Ohio, USA. 1938
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Bill was a quiet & shy child who was mostly interested in reading. He attended public school until his parents sent him to the private Lakeside School in Seattle Washington where he was introduced to computer programming and met Paul Allen, his later partner in founding Microsoft.
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Bill Gates
Born: Oct 28, 1955
Bill Hewlett-Packard turns the first shovel of soil at 201 S Market Street during the ground breaking ceremony for the San Jose Tech Museum in 1996. Originally called the Technology Center of Silicon Valley located on West San Carlos in 1990, the museum renamed itself the Tech Museum of Innovation in 1991, and just recently again in 2019 as the Interactive Tech Museum.
A photo of Elizabeth (Morrissey) Waeltz
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A photo of Robert Howard's sons Larry and Richard.
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A photo of a machine operated by Henry Thomas Drewry.
A photo of a steam shovel operated by Henry Thomas Drewry.
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Henry Thomas Drewry
Jan 16, 1855 - Mar 15, 1942
Steam shovel operated by Henry Thomas Drewry.
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Henry Thomas Drewry
Jan 16, 1855 - Mar 15, 1942
This is Walter Ransom Gail Baker, Watching television in 1938, as vice-president of General Electric. He is watching one of the first televisions. The cathode ray tube was so long that it was mounted vertically, and the image was viewed in a mirror reflection.
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A photo of Roy Bigcrane, Flowing Waters
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This photo is of the tv room, one of Elvis Presley’s favorite rooms in Graceland. Elvis was an early adopter of technology and in fact had TVs in just about every room. This room had three in one location because Elvis found out the President watched three news networks at one time and Elvis wanted the same.
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Elvis Aron Presley
Jan 8, 1935 - Aug 16, 1977
A photo of Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde on their wedding day, 1965. Stephen was 23, Jane was 21. They met at college - Stephen had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - ALS - but despite the risks they decided to marry. They were married for 30 years and had 3 children. They divorced in 1995 and Stephen soon remarried and divorced again in 2006. In the intellectual field, Stephen was a shining star. He was a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. Widely honored as one of the most brilliant intellects of all time, he wrote the book "A Brief History in Time" - explaining physics concepts in a way that the general public could understand. His explorations into and theories about cosmology were groundbreaking. He also appeared several times on the tv show "The Big Bang Theory"! Jane remarried in 1997, earned a PhD in medieval Spanish poetry in April 1981, and survived her first husband. Stephen - according to his family - "died peacefully" at his home in England in the early morning hours of "Pi Day" - March 14, 2018.
People in this photo:
Stephen William Hawking
Jan 8, 1942 - Mar 14, 2018
A photo of the founders of Intel in 1968 - the year that Intel was formed. Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Andy Grove
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Gordon Moore
Born: 1929
A photo of Elbert Julian
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Elbert Julian
Nov 16, 1913 - May 1983
Indianapolis, Indiana
A photo for that new convenience - the electric stove! A standalone unit, it was the newest thing for the home when it was introduced.
A photo of the G.E. Monitor Top refrigerator from the 1930's. It was advertised as being a little bigger than a hat box - an appeal to women. Today, that wouldn't be a selling point at all. The bigger, the better!
I’ve “rescued” an old photograph identified as that of Benjamin E. MEREDITH which was taken at the Taber Studio in San Francisco, CA and dated August 1882. Benjamin is listed as 18 years old at the time. Someone has also written “Wire Chief, Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, New Mexico” and “Manager Deming, New Mexico Local Office of Western Telegraph Company” on the back of the photograph. I’m hoping to locate someone from this MEREDITH Family so that this wonderful old photograph can be returned to the care of his family. If you are a member of this family, or you know someone who might be, please contact me. Thanks, Shelley
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A photo of Alva Kyle Phillips
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Alva Kyle Phillips
Nov 15, 1910 - Jan 9, 1975
le roy, il, us
Thomas Milsom is in this photo. Sorry, I do not have anymore details.
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A photo of the computing staff at Harvard University's astronomy department in the late 1800's. Edward Pickerig (far left) thought that women were "better suited to such repetitive drudgery" as computing numbers. He hired his maid, Williamina Fleming to supervise the work. She later became the preeminent woman astronomer in the U.S.
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Edward C. Pickering
Jul 19, 1846 - Feb 3, 1919
A photo of Mary (Winston) Jackson, a mathematician and engineer at NASA.
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Mary (Winston) Jackson
Apr 9, 1921 - Feb 11, 2005
A photo of Mabel Roy Mouton who was Assistant Chief of Research Programs at NASA's Trajectory and Geodynamics Division in the 1960s.
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Mabel Roy Mouton
1929 - Jun 25, 1990
A photo of Katherine Johnson who worked for NASA and was responsible for computing the trajectories, launch windows, and emergency back-up return paths for many flights. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
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Katherine (Coleman) Johnson
Born: Aug 26, 1918
A photo of Dorothy Vaughan. Dorothy was the acting head of the West Area Computers at NACA (later NASA) and later became a computer programmer. She is featured in the 2016 film "Hidden Figures."
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Dorothy (Johnson) Vaughan
Sep 20, 1910 - Nov 10, 2008
A photo of Jacqueline "Debbie" Jiler (Christie)
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A photo of a flu mask touted by Popular Science Magazine during the 1918 pandemic. It has a hole for smoking - but not for exhaling the smoke. Popular Science was satirizing the use of masks, which they said were scientifically ineffective.
This young child is shown demonstrating two prosthetic legs in 1900.
My Grandfather, John Mort is the person to the left of the person on the pole. His brother, Billy is looking over his shoulder. Working on Telegraph Lines.
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A photo of Edward W Prendergast and Albert Einstein
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Edward W Prendergast
Sep 27, 1898 - Jun 19, 1994
West Los Angeles, CA, United States
A photo of my 4th Great Aunt, Mary Elizabeth Cranston Choate (1833 - 1909) in one of her homes, in W. Somerville, MA - Intersection of Dresden Circle and Butter Avenue - Reading by the light of a Spermacetti oil Lamp.
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A photo of L. Edward Carter working on the linotype, 1952. He worked his way through school working in the University of Oklahoma Daily back shop.
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Lorenzo Edward Carter
May 6, 1929 - Oct 22, 2005
Norman, OK, United States
A photo of Herbert Akerberg
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Herbert Akerberg
Jun 25, 1897 - Nov 6, 1964
Scottsdale, AZ
A photo of Theodore Wilhelm Roos Farming
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Theodore "Ted" Wilhelm Roos
Feb 4, 1891 - Jun 6, 1958
A photo of Grandma Molnar who was the most superb cook in the world! (At her coal stove)
A photo of Evelyn D Lote (1924 - 2002)
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Evelyn D Lote
Apr 18, 1924 - Aug 20, 2002
Irving, TX
A photo of Harry G Maze
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Harry G Maze
Jun 11, 1933 - Jan 18, 2007
Interlachen, FL
A photo of Tom and Dennis Murphy on Farmall tractor. While vacationing in Maine my father thought this would make an interesting shot.
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A photo of Irving Strobing
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Irving Strobing
Mar 24, 1920 - Jul 24, 1997
NY, United States
A photo of Orno Sloan, Steam Engine powering lumber milling equipment. Sloan Milling was established April 4 1910
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Orno Raymond Sloan
Nov 21, 1891 - Oct 3, 1964
Caulfield, MO, United States
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