Bad Ideas from history that turned out great, eventually

"Bad" Ideas from history that turned out great, eventually

It is truly remarkable how time alters our perspective on fairly major events. History is replete with examples of inventions and concepts that were considered bad, or at best sketchy ideas at the time they were introduced; but turned out good enough to become staples in our society. For some of these game-changers, public perception was quick to come around, but other ideas took years or even decades to gain traction and appreciation.

Take a look at this list of 10 major developments or inventions from history that were once dismissed as unrealistic, impractical, dangerous or unnecessary. You are sure to be surprised by how many things that are a part of our normal lives might not exist today if their inventors had paid too much attention to public perception. Keep reading to find out how these seemingly bad ideas ultimately turned out good.


Coffee was suspect

There are plenty of legends about the precise origin of this delicious drink, but it is widely believed to have been first harvested on the Ethiopian plateau by a goat farmer. He noticed that the beans found in the forest made his goats incredibly energetic after they consumed them. It did not make its way to Europe until the 17th century. When the mysterious drink was first introduced to some early drinkers, it was met with grave suspicion and was even referred to as the drink of Satan in some circles. Pope Clement VIII had to ultimately grant his approval of the dark drink in 1615 so that it could be consumed in Venetian coffee houses. A few decades later, it became the breakfast drink of choice throughout Europe.


Electricity killed a lot of early adopters

Thomas Edison is credited with creating the modern light bulb. However, electricity was not widely accepted at first because it was thought to be too dangerous to use. In the early days of electricity, many people were electrocuted in their homes and factories.


Umbrellas were goofy

Parasols were first recorded as being used in ancient Egypt more than 3,500 years ago. However, this tool was never used as a shield from the rain because of the dry climate. It wasn't until the 17th century that they developed into the form that you would recognize today. Only women were traditionally inclined to use an umbrella until about the 1790s. At that point, men began to embrace them as a way to stay dry in the rain. The pocket-sized version that is popular today was not invented until around 1928.


Vaccines were dubious (still are, apparently..)

Our modern-day concept of vaccination is most directly traced back to the inoculation against smallpox in 1798 by Edward Jenner. Some historians claim that the original concept of vaccination was developed in the 10th century in China. The unconventional method of attempting vaccination that Jenner developed involved exposing a young boy who had not yet developed smallpox to a cowpox vesicle on a milkmaid's arm. Two months after exposure, the boy did not develop smallpox, which was a miraculous feat. Even though Jenner was sure that he had stumbled upon a revolutionary concept, he was unable to prove the effectiveness of his method until years later because contamination of his test subjects with smallpox was virtually unavoidable. Jenner was eventually able to demonstrate sufficient success that the method caught on and was the starting block for Maurice Hilleman to develop additional vaccines.


Computers were considered unnecessary

The typical PC today looks and functions nothing like the earliest version of a computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator Analyzer and Computer, which was developed to assist with ballistics calculations during World War II. This massive machine weighed more than 30 tons and required 2,000 square feet of floor space to operate. It cost more than $500,000, which was an incredible sum for that time. Early computers were prohibitively expensive and cumbersome to operate until the invention of the microprocessor by Ted Hoff in 1971.


Bicycles were considered dangerous

The early form of the modern bicycle originated in the 19th century. Early versions of the bicycle were made almost completely of wood. They were mostly found in Western Europe and America. Bicycles were derided by many after they first started appearing in cities because they were blamed for an increased number of accidents. Some city authorities went so far as to attempt to ban bicycles entirely. It was widely viewed as a dangerous toy for reckless men and was not acceptable for the average man or woman to use for decades later.


Penicillin was an accidental discovery

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. It was not used on patients until 1942. The discovery of this widely used group of antibiotics was a lucky accident. Fleming noticed that a Petri dish was accidentally left exposed to mold that started to grow. The mold ring prevented bacterial growth, and Fleming realized that a substance in the mold was responsible for inhibiting bacterial growth.


Post-it notes was an attempt to salvage the initial idea

Post-it notes were first developed in 1968 by Dr. Spencer Silver during his stint as an engineer for 3M. He was actually trying to create an incredibly strong adhesive, but his experiments resulted in a low-tack adhesive that could be applied using pressure. The reason why Post-it notes are known for their iconic yellow color is that Dr. Silver happened to only be able to find yellow paper in the printer he was using in the lab.

Post-it notes were first used by Dr. Silver's colleague to mark his page in a hymn book at church. It wasn't until 1977 that 3M decided to try marketing Post-it notes as a reusable bookmark to customers in bookstores across the country. It took until 1980 for customers across the country to start buying Post-it notes in droves. That same year, 3M started rolling out Post-it notes in Europe and Canada.


Potato chips was born out of rage

George Crum invented the potato chip in 1853. He got the idea for this tasty treat while working as a chef and hearing complaints from restaurant patrons that French fries were too thick. He tried to reduce the thickness of the fries, but Crum still could not please his pickiest customer. In a fit of rage, Crum sliced the potatoes so thin that he thought they would irritate his difficult customers. Instead of making them upset, the chips were a major hit.


Women's suffrage was frowned upon

Women did not have the right to vote in the U.S. until August 26, 1920. The campaign for womens suffrage began before the Civil War and was initially at odds with supporting the end of slavery and the right of African Americans to vote. Suffragettes even originally had to argue that women did not deserve the right to vote because they were equal to men. The argument that won over enough women to solidify the movement was that women deserved to vote because they were different than men and could contribute a sense of morality to national politics.


Purveyor of Ideas,

Sunil Thankamushy, Los Angeles