1. The Future According to a Random German Margarine Company, 1930
While humanity has always attempted to predict the future, it's rarely accurate. This illustrated card from a set distributed by a German Margarine company is, surprisingly, more accurate than most -- which is to say, still not very accurate.
We'll give them 5 points for predicting video calls -- however, we're deducting: 3 points for the clunky gear; 3 points for the disgusting jumpsuits; 5 points for assuming we would still tolerate wires; 2 points for overestimating the popularity of what we hope is lemonade; and another 2 points for the ugly hats. Oh, and -15 points for using plastic straws, you monsters.
2. The Average Cost of US Living in 1938
Sometimes it's hard to imagine the past with so little context. This image gives us an idea of what some costs were like close to a century ago. Prices were rather low following the Great Depression and the Great Recession, with unemployment growing to around 19% and the use of those annoying hipster hats to nearly 100%. Probably.
Can you imagine attending Harvard for only $420 per year? Well, if you didn't immediately account for 80+ years of inflation, it doesn't really matter because they'd still never let you in. What is truly surprising to us, however, is the price of movie tickets. Who in their right mind would pay 25 cents to see a 1930s film when they could spend the same amount to have their hands or feet maimed by a large reptile at the California Alligator Farm?
3. Instructions on Telephone Use, 1951
Back in the 1950s, people didn't know how to use telephones. You see, they didn't grow up having one-sided conversations with non-existent people using a piece of yellow Fisher-Price plastic. Telephones were still newfangled contraptions and essentially every box sold included these simple instructions as a guide for the whole family.
Nowadays, our instructions are about a hundred times more complicated and nobody even reads them. So while our first instinct may be to turn up our futuristic noses at the vintage-folk, keep in mind that probably 80% of people currently living would also be unable to operate a rotary telephone.
4. The Inventor of Basketball About to get Dunked On, 1928
You've heard about the future according to a margarine company. You've heard about the cost of living following the Great Depression. But have you heard of a little game called... basketball? Don't worry, even college teacher and known Canadian James Naismith hadn't heard of it before he invented it. Inspired by his rich childhood experiences throwing Canadian rocks at piles of other equally Canadian rocks, he created this intriguing game for his students as an alternative to another little-known pastime called foosball. Or "foot-ball" or whatever it is.
Unlike its modern analog, the original rules of basketball were slightly more complicated and are as follows: two teams of kids would throw balls into a large wall-mounted bucket. Riveting -- and don't feel bad if you need to reread that a few times. Eventually, someone decided to cut the bottom out of the bucket, and modern-day basketball was born. Ish.
5. Just Divorced, Reno, 1934
Everyone's tired of seeing cars with "Just Married" signs, right? Right guys? That's not just us, is it? Well, in the mid-1930s, marriage was serious business. You see, back in the vintage years, it was strangely assumed that when a man and a woman went into a church and had a representative of God join them in an unbreakable holy-union for the rest of their days, that meant more than "like two years."
Unfortunately, there's a little something not even God himself could have predicted -- women gaining the right to voice their dissatisfaction. Yet terminating an unwanted marriage was still rather difficult in most states, if permitted at all. Nevada, however, has never cared much for the rules of the Almighty, and joyfully offered unhappy couples the ability to come down and get "Reno-vated." Divorce is easy now, though, so Nevada mostly focuses on God's other pet peeves: gambling and prostitution.
6. Buzz "Lightyear" Aldrin Snaps First Selfie in the Abyssal Terror of Space, 1966
First off, we need to make sure the magnitude of what is happening in this photo is clear. You know whenever you swim in the ocean and you feel that crushing sensation of doom and horror as you float above an unfathomable, black oblivion filled with unknown horrors? Well, this is worse than that.
In November of 1966, Buzz Aldrin was defying nature on his first real spacewalk. After installing a handrail between the Gemini and the Agena spacecraft, not only did he somehow not have a heart attack, he managed to swivel the camera and snap a selfie. If you look closely into his visor's reflection, you'll notice the Earth actually appears to be round, defying all conventional scientific knowledge.
7. Futuristic 5MB IBM Hard Drive, 1956
This 5MB IBM hard drive was used in IBM's 305 RAMAC computer and weighed over 900kg. It occupied 1.4 square meters and used fifty 24-inch platters which are accessed with its two independently moving arms.
In its day, 5MB of storage held 5 million characters of accounting data, and unlike previous retro contraptions such as tape storage, it did not need to be read from start to finish -- data could be accessed at random. However, this chunky dinosaur cost an annual $35,000 fee and had to be moved around using forklifts.
8. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, 1991
Unfortunately, it's hard to say what year this photo was taken as nerd fashion hasn't really changed in the past 50 years. But here we can see the tech industry "titans" of Apple and Microsoft sitting together, presumably in someone's basement, discussing psychoprocessors and gigacirculizors and whatnot.
At the time this photo was taken did they know that they would be as successful as they became years later.
9. Bill and Hillary Clinton Heading to Their Cult Initiation Ritual c. 1971
Long before their unified evolution into scandal incarnate, Bill and Hillary were a fresh new couple. Bill was both a governor and President of the United States, while Hillary was Secretary of State, First Lady, and also the first woman to somehow lose a presidential election to Donald J. Trump.
Prestigious may not be the right word, but they've definitely come a long way and overcome an incredible amount of adversity.
10. John Lennon of the Beatles Signs Autograph for John-Lennon-Murderer Mark David Chapman, 1980
That was a lot of names, huh? Little needs to be said about The Beatles as a band -- they're the most popular band ever. They're pretty much the most [anything positive] band ever, to be honest. Mark David Chapman thought so, too. At first.
Despite being a Beatles superfan, the born-again Christian had several gripes with Lennon, notably that in a 1966 interview, Lennon stated that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Chapman already coveted the fame that came with murdering a celebrity, and in early December of 1980, he shot Lennon in the back several times before immediately surrendering to Police. He currently resides at Wende Correctional Facility in Alden New York, where he looks exactly like Red Foreman from That 70's Show.
11. Sir Clint Eastwood Skating Around Rome, 1965
One year after the release of A Fistful of Dollars and one year before the release of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Spaghetti Western star Clint Eastwood could have been found on a skateboard, cruising the streets of Rome in traditional Italian skate gear.
Skateboarding was still a pretty new thing in the 60s, and luckily for both Clint and the people of Rome, he experienced the joys of skating while he was still able to open his eyes slightly.
12. Baby Cages Used To Ensure That Children Get Enough Sunlight And Fresh Air When Living In An Apartment Building, ca. 1937
Indeed. There's really no positive combination of any of these 3 words. Think about it. Baby cage. Hanging baby. Even "hanging cage" has a pretty sadistic vibe. We don't like any of this, but it was a real thing in Darwinian 1930s London.
You see, the assertion was that babies, like other small animals, require fresh air (back when they still had fresh air) to "renew the blood" or whatever. If parents didn't have secure exterior spaces and also didn't necessarily want an "outdoor baby," they only had one reasonable course of action to foster their baby's well-being; a rickety wire-suspension cage hung precariously off the side of a building. #Parenting
13. Pasta "Factory" in Napoli (Naples), Italy, c. 1955
Like any normal, sane person, you probably eat a decent amount of pasta. And like most normal, sane people, you likely find yourself unable to enjoy pasta to the fullest because you aren't sure exactly how it's made.
Uh. Well, let's just say they make a dough out of wheat and water and then cut it into shapes. It was first done by hand, then by machine. Now, it's probably done with lasers and nanobots. Regardless, this retro "factory," as they want to call it, would hang these pasta-shapes out to dry in the open air (air was healthy back then).
14. Henry Ford Shows Off his First, uh, "Automobile"
It was in the year 1896 that Henry Ford created his first gasoline-powered automobile -- a full decade after Karl Benz had invented his own automobile. In a perfect world, perhaps Benz would be on this list, but alas, life isn't fair.
Cobbled together from whatever was lying around like Frankenstein's Go-kart, his contraption included an iron frame, leather transmission belt, and one seat. Prototypes, you understand. Ford later sold his mechanical deathtrap for a king's ransom -- $200 vintage dollars -- which, unsurprisingly, he used to create another and then one of the biggest car companies in the world.
15. Three-Year-Old Peggy Kennedy, Duckling Therapy,1956
This is three-year-old Peggy Kennedy, as you should know by the title which you're assumed to have read as per our agreement. And yes, these strange animals are known as "ducklings." That's their Latin name. We're sure you have other questions.
No, that's not sweet futuristic chest-armor. As a person affected by polio, Peggy was being treated with a cuirass ventilator which helped her breathe. The ducklings were there to keep her entertained while she went through treatment.
16. His Excellency Willis Carrier, Inventor of Air Conditioning, 1915
"Canonization" is the declaration by the Church that a deceased person is officially a saint. Just throwing that out there. Anyway, in 1902, Willis Carrier invented modern air conditioning. Just take a moment to respect that. He later founded a corporation that further developed heating and ventilation systems and also had the most luxurious nose in modern history. Basically the guy is a legend.
Although air conditioners do heat up the planet more than they cool it down due to that entropy whatsit, they allow us to cool down the places we care about -- which is good since climate change is making the Earth itself really uncomfortable lately. Say a prayer for St. Carrier, patron saint of favorable ambiance.
17. The Original Ronald McDonald, 1963
By now, we know that all the cool kids have a crippling existential fear of clowns. While they're most certainly the incarnation of supernatural terror, there seems to be some confusion about who the real overlord is.
Little known fact: over 90% of human heart attacks are probably caused by clowns, and there are two ways they get you. The most obvious being spontaneous thoughts of clowns which literally scare you to death. The other method is far more insidious -- atherosclerosis. That's right. This is the original Ronald McDonald, the Clown Prince of Cholesterol.
18. Boris Karloff and Frankenstein's Makeup, 1931
The iconic 1931 sci-fi horror film "Frankenstein" features the story of mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein and his hideous assistant, Igor, who together exhume human corpses and join them into one body, giving it life using the magic of electricity. Spoiler alert, by the way -- don't read that last part if you haven't seen the movie yet.
Of course, in true ugly-assistant fashion, Igor imbues Frankenstein's giant patchwork monstrosity with the brain of a murderer and hilarious antics ensue. Here we see Jack Pierce during one of his four-hour makeup sessions turning actor Boris Karloff into the iconic, brick-headed freak now ignorantly referred to as "Frankenstein."
19. Young Liza Minnelli, 1969
First off, we personally guarantee that "Minnelli" and "topless" are two words you never thought of in the same sentence until this moment. That may be because you don't even know who she is. It may also be because you know exactly who she is. Either way, really.
She's not only known for her film/theater work, dancing, and her incredible mezzo-soprano singing voice -- she's also the daughter of Wizard of Oz child-actress Judy Garland. One thing she's definitely not known for, though, is taking sultry photos like this one. So don't bother Googling more. No, seriously. That's not doublespeak, either.
20. Young Elvis Presley with his Human Parents, 1938
Before Elvis was a king or an alien, he was a baby. Allegedly. If that's true, this picture offers us some insights into the question on everyone's mind -- "what was Elvis Presley's home life like when he was a very young child?" It's kept you awake at night. We know.
While we still don't know how Elvis arrived on Earth, both Vernon and Gladys Presley have maintained that he is indeed their biological human child. While we won't indulge fallacious claims in a respectable and impartial article such as this, the photo was supposedly taken at Lee County jail in Tupelo, Mississippi -- exactly the kind of place two farmers might bring an alien child. Or maybe they're aliens as well; even real human farmers don't look THAT much like farmers.
21. Eiffel Tower, Sticking it to Big Art, 1889
They say history is written by the victor -- and it must be true. You see, today, the Eiffel Tower is a globally adored cultural icon. You can literally buy Eiffel Tower souvenirs in every major city on Earth. However, before and during its construction over a hundred years ago, a large group of France's leading artists (or artistes) formed a collective to denounce and protest it.
This group felt pretty confident that the Eiffel Tower wouldn't really jive with the Paris vibe. And honestly, you should never doubt an artist's opinion. It's not as if there's a global cabal of snooty frauds valuing random splats of paint at exactly the amount of taxes their friends owe. The truth is, if you disagree with an artist it's because you're an uncultured yokel with no sense of nuance. Despite all that, the Eiffel Tower was definitely completed and now stands as "like, the main thing" that anyone knows about France.
22. Practice Run for the First Olympic Marathon, 1896
Did you know that marathons are called marathons in honor of the ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides, who allegedly ran from the town of Marathon all the way to Athens, 40km away to deliver word of victory? Seriously, did you know that? Doubtful. Anyway, the first Olympic marathon attempted to use the same route Pheidippides is believed to have taken.
Of the twenty-five runners who entered, only eight actually completed the race. Vintage Greek runner Spyridon Louis (really) took first place with a time of 2:58:50, and while that record has undoubtedly been shattered by half the population of Kenya, it was pretty impressive for 1896. Honestly. There were literally still cowboys in the US at that time. Shootouts. Snake oil. Consumption. Wyatt Earp was still alive, dang'it. For like, 30 more years or something. Can you believe that? Keep scrolling if so, and if not, scroll down.
23. Jimi Hendrix Plays Guitar During Army Service, c. 1961
Before Hendrix was one of the greatest guitar legends in the history of all music ever, he was in the 101st Airborne of the U.S. Army. Before that, he was involved in some car thefts -- which is how he ended up in the army. This isn't a picture of Hendrix posing with his guitar, it's just a photo of Private Hendrix who absolutely could not put the thing down at all.
Hendrix admittedly did not enjoy his time in the army, where he was known as the guy who constantly disappeared, the guy who kept everyone awake all night playing music, and the guy who couldn't get any work done because he was "thinking about his guitar." Haters were a thing back then, too.
24. Björn Borg and John McEnroe, Rivals 4 Life, 1981
Björn Borg (Sweden) and John McEnroe (USA) are two of the greatest tennis players of all time, and their rivalry was perhaps the most infamous. They faced each other a total of 22 times, becoming known as "fire and ice" due to their opposing personalities. We think Beowulf and Grendel would have been even better.
McEnroe was notorious for his temper and mid-game tantrums, while Borg was known for his emotionless composure. In their tour final, McEnroe lost to Borg in what was described as the greatest Tennis match ever by people who enjoy Tennis. Everyone else just kinda shrugged.
25. Audrey Hepburn and Pippin, the Actual Faun, 1958
Remember the entry about Sophia Loren and the Mona Lisa? You have been reading all these, right? Anyway, we said that Sophia was *one of* the most beautiful actresses of the 20th century. Well, we're in the big leagues now -- this is Audrey Hepburn, perhaps the most objectively beautiful actress of all time, as evidenced by her ability to literally charm nature itself.
During the filming of the movie Green Mansions which you've never seen or heard of, Audrey starred alongside an actual baby deer. In order to build a sincere bond, she was encouraged to feed her, cuddle her, and spend all her waking (and sleeping) time with her. Here the pair is pictured checking the ingredients list on this box of Honey Grahams to make sure they're vegan (they're not).