Inventions from bygone days can illustrate chapters in the human experience. Many of these antediluvian items, things dating from the distant past, were revolutionary in their time period. 


What brought this to mind was a recent article: “Fifty-five Things Literally Everyone Used To Have In Their Home Thirty Years Ago That No One Has Anymore.” When I saw the first thing on the list, a giant TV that weighed about five hundred pounds, I was sure what followed would be a trip down memory lane. 


Those of you with a few miles on your life odometer will recognize most of the items. “A set of Revere Ware cookware that you probably got as a wedding gift. A literal book you'd have to bring to the bank with you. A container that could only be opened with a knife or a spoon (like Nestle's Quick). A bottle of very painful mercurochrome. And a wall phone you'd have to come barreling down the stairs to answer in time.” These are amusing now, but common and even essential in their era. 



This led me to another list: “20th-Century Inventions That Changed the World.” This five item list included four things you might expect (the internet, the airplane, television, the computer). However, the number one entry is humble but important – the electric refrigerator. 


“Today the electric refrigerator is commonplace. When it was first invented in 1913 this appliance completely changed the way people lived. The new kitchen staple transformed nearly every aspect of the way Americans bought, stored, and shipped food. Today, electric refrigerators can be found in 99.5% of American homes, allowing people to eat foods from all over the world, pretty much whenever they want.” (


One thing about inventions is that they usually signify change. However, some things never change and we wonder why this is the case. One such dilemma involves pockets in women's clothes. “Garments made for women are often sorely lacking in pockets. According to one study, the disparity is even more severe than you might expect: On average, the pockets in women’s jeans are 6.5 percent narrower and 48 percent shorter than those on men’s jeans.” 


It's not like women don't want pockets. “Women have long entreated the fashion industry to elevate function to the same level as form. It wasn’t until World War II that this really happened en masse — and even that was only because women were performing jobs that had previously been the sole province of men. Once the war ended things went back to the way they were. Small steps have been made since then, of course, but by and large women are still forced to deal with tiny pockets.” It's a head scratcher, eh? (


Even language has moved from one stage to another. For example, the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, had a preference for the greeting to be used when someone answered a phone. “Bell proposed using 'ahoy' as a suitable introduction for phone calls going forward.”


Unfortunately for Bell, “ahoy” never caught on. “Bell’s contemporary Thomas Edison proposed an entirely different word for answering phone calls: 'hello.' This relatively new term was first published in 1827, and Edison believed that 'hello' was the perfect way to begin a phone call because it was easily distinguishable from other words. Bell’s 'ahoy' suggestion fell by the wayside, while Edison’s 'hello' was adopted as the industry standard.” (


As phone terms go, this is an arena that is now constantly evolving. “Young people are spending more time than anyone else on their phones. As a result, they have to convey the wide range of human experiences in text-based communication.”


So, remember LOL (laughing out loud)? That's been replaced. “There's a new way to describe something funny on social media: IJBOL (I just burst out laughing)."


If this is too much change for you, don't worry. IJBOL won't last. Why? “When internet trends become too mainstream, Gen Z stops finding them cool.” (


New inventions wait for no man. Time marches on. This is evidenced by a brand new product by Gatorade, It could be revolutionary! “Gatorade’s newest beverage doesn’t look or taste like its other neon-bright drinks. In fact, it’s just water.”


Water? Really? Chuckle if you must, but check out the projected numbers. “It’s a major bet that the brand can tap into the growing 'functional water' category (i.e. water that is perceived to have additional health benefits) that’s projected to reach $18 billion in sales in the next two years. Hitting shelves early next year, Gatorade Water is an electrolyte-infused, unflavored water that’s filtered with a 7-step filtration process. Water is the latest addition to Gatorade’s growing portfolio.” (


Ahoy! Eighteen billion dollars is a huge chunk of change. A quote attributed to a former U.S. Senator applies here: " A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.” 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and