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The urbane Thomas Jefferson is alleged to have invented everything from the Folding Bed to Macaroni and Cheese, while his pragmatic gentleman scientist counterpart, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with the invention of a multitude of items from the Odometer to Swim Fins. None of these were actually pioneered by them, however Franklin did invent both Bifocal Glasses and the Lightning Conductor and it was Jefferson who ironically invented the geekiest device of all, the disk cipher. George Washington, on the other hand, lent his skills to farming and invented the splendidly bucolic 16 Sided Threshing Barn.

15 Founding Father Invention Myths

Although crash test dummies are iconic, there are a variety of different types, dating back to the fifties. There are ones for different genders, age, size and more recently, weight, with fatter dummies to represent the growing trend of obesity. There are different ones for cars, trains, planes, motorbikes and even those used for pedestrian impacts. Here are a dozen interesting examples.

12 Types of Crash Test Dummy

Despite the uninteresting name, these rectifiers are one of the most beautiful gadgets ever made. As a result they are often seen if films and are quintessential elements of mad scientist labs, yet few people could name them or know what they were used for. Invented at the beginning of the 20th Century, Mercury Arc Rectifiers were like spectacularly large versions of the Tubes in pre-transistor era electronics. They were used to convert electricity from alternating to direct current.

mercury arc rectifiers

This is a list of the worlds most beautiful airport terminals, based upon architectural merit rather than crude size, high tech bravado or structural gymnastics. For that reason the beautifully simple Dalaman terminal in Turkey makes the list, for example, but the design compromised Heathrow Terminal Five, does not. Vote for your faves.

most beautiful airport terminals

Dueling pistols are strange, beautiful and ironic. Gadgets to shoot each other in the face with, crafted with the delicacy and decorative extravagance of expensive jewelry.They appeared in the 18th C, as faster firing versions of flintlock guns replaced swords. Their use dwindled in the 19th C, while duels were still fought in the Western US states where the less rich would engage in gouging, similarly prearranged combat, with the aim of plucking out the opponent’s eyes.Dueling pistols were designed for the upper classes, for the preservation of honor, used illegally by generals and poets (Pushkin was killed in a duel), several US presidents (even Lincoln accepted a challenge to a duel)and even presented, with no sense of irony, as diplomatic gifts.

12 pairs of dueling pistols

Futuristic megastructures are ironically a thing of the past. An architectural style dubbed supermodernism that flourished in the late 60s and early 70s. Despite the seemingly tongue in cheek nature of projects by Superstudio which threatened to engulf Manhattan in a giant concrete snake or Archigram who proposed plugin and walking cities, these projects have had an enormous impact on architecture. They are the inspiration for both fictional and real projects, from Blade Runners Off-world, to the Pompidou center and continue to influence master-planning projects today.

futuristic megastructures

A bottle opener is a very simple thing, to change it is re-inventing the wheel. but because its so simple there are endless versions of products (flip flops, rings, bicycles, keys, hammers) that incorporate a bottle opener.It is the archetypal form of gimmick, something that has an extra feature irrespective of the true purpose. Vote for which you think is the biggest gimmick.

15 biggest gimmick bottle openers

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Design elegance: How USB took over the world.

April 20th, 2009 #link

Belkin released a trivial looking gadget today which demonstrates how USB has become the universal standard interface. It turns the car cigarette lighter, which in turn had morphed into a universal charging interface, into a USB one.

There are many features which made USB a successful standard but there are 2 which stand out and made it truly elegant:

1. software and drivers could be stored in peripherals themselves, and transferred, finally removing the headache of configuring external devices.

2. both data and power are carried across USB allowing things such as external drives to have one less cable and a lot less fuss.

6 Responses to “Design elegance: How USB took over the world.”

  1. Design elegance: How USB took over the world. | oobject - Daily … Says:

    [...] Here is the original post:  Design elegance: How USB took over the world. | oobject – Daily … [...]

  2. Ryan Says:

    Could do with a rethink, they are large and prone to damage and failure.

    But wooo! Go USBs.

  3. c-dub Says:

    From a formal point of view, the USB is a flawed design from the get-go. Having a connector with bilateral symmetry is daft: there’s no clear and obvious way to determine which way the connector should be oriented when plugging the device in. It’s Design 101: the orientation of any connector to its receiving socket should either be A) immediately intuitive, or B) immaterial. Considering the amount of creative thinking that went into the design of the USB, I can’t imagine how that was overlooked.

  4. admin Says:

    @c-dub. That’s a fair point, the symmetry is definitely poor from an ergonomics perspective.

  5. Ganderpoke Says:

    Guys, Gals, there is a suggested spec for USB plugs…. the USB logo goes on the Upper or outer side when its printed or embossed on a cable line plug. as for USB drives, the little thumb thingies, the side with the holes goes upwards and outwards. Or it SHOULD if the guys building the connectors followed the rules too. You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it wear a bathing suit.

  6. c-dub Says:

    Ganderpoke, you made my point for me. If you need a paragraph to explain how the parts mate, the design is inherently flawed.