50 Inventions That Are Way Older Than You Think

11Vending Machines

Vending Machines

The first vending machine was invented 2000 years ago in 1st Century Roman Egypt and it sold Holy Water. When a coin was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever which let some water flow out. A counterweight snapped the lever up and turned off the valve once the coin was tilted off the pan. Coin-operated machines that dispensed tobacco were being operated as early as 1615 in the taverns of England.

12Pipe Organs

Pipe Organs

Pipe Organ is one of the oldest instruments still used in European classical music that has commonly been credited as having derived from Greece. Its earliest predecessors were built in Ancient Greece in the 3rd century B.C. Greek engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria is credited with inventing this organ.

13Video Games

Video Games

Video games became popular with the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games in 1978 and the release of Atari 2600 in 1977. But video games had existed long before this. The earliest example of a video game is from a patent that was filed in 1947 named a “Cathode ray tube Amusement Device.” It was inspired by radar display technology. It consisted of an analog device that allowed a user to control a vector-drawn dot on the screen to simulate a missile being fired at targets, which were drawings fixed to the screen.

14Digital Distribution of Video Games

Digital Distribution of Video Games

Platforms like Steam and Xbox Marketplace have changed the way games are delivered and consumed by gamers. These have made it easier for consumers to play games without the exchange or purchase of new physical media. The first example of the digital distribution of video games was seen in 1981 with Gameline, a service which allowed Atari 2600 owners to use a specialized cartridge to connect through a phone line to a central server and rent a video game for 5–10 days. Also, computers of the 80s were capable of saving and loading games to/from cassette tapes in a tape recorder. This basically worked by interpreting the audio data as game data. This prompted some pirate FM radio stations in the 1980s to broadcast games right over FM radio every weekend.

15Central Heating

Central Heating

The ancient Romans (the wealthy ones) had central heating in their homes. They used a system called 'hypocaust' that produced and circulated hot air below the floor of a room, and also warmed the walls with a series of pipes through which the hot air passed. The earliest example of such a system was the temple of Ephesus that was built in 350 B.C. Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro in what is now Pakistan have unearthed what is believed to be a hypocaust lined with bitumen-coated bricks. If it fulfilled a similar role, the structure would pre-date the earliest Roman hypocaust by as much as 2000 years.

16Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments

The oldest known musical instrument is a 43,000-year-old flute that was carved from a bear femur. This is older than the extinction of Neanderthals, domestication of animals, the extinction of Ice Age mammals, and the invention of the wheel.



Ancient Romans used a mixture of limestone, water, and volcanic ash to make concrete. This mixture and its curing technique produces a stronger and more environmentally friendly concrete than modern Portland cement. By 25 B.C., Romans had even developed a recipe for concrete to be specifically used for underwater work, which is essentially the same formula we use today. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the technology to make concrete was lost for nearly 1000 years before it was found again in the 14th century.



The first submersible of whose construction there exists reliable information of, was designed and built by a Dutchman named Cornelis Drebbel in 1620. It had Oars that stuck through leather seals and had snorkel hoses for air. The first military submarine was the Turtle which was built in 1775. It was a hand-powered acorn-shaped device designed to accommodate a single person. The Turtle was used during the American Revolutionary War.

193D Movies

3D Movies

The earliest confirmed 3D film shown to an audience was ‘The Power of Love,’ which premiered in Los Angeles in 1922. Even before this, in 1915 audiences were presented with clips of random scenes shot in 3D at the Astor Theater in New York City.

20Billiard Balls

Billiard Balls

The earliest known written reference to ivory billiard balls is in the 1588 inventory of the Duke of Norfolk. By the mid-19th century, elephants were being slaughtered for their ivory at an alarming rate, just to keep up with the demand for high-end billiard balls.