This Is What 14 Everyday Objects Looked Like 100 Years Ago

Let’s take a walk back in time to the early 1900s—what did everyday things look like back then?

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Four young women in matching beach wear
Photo: Underwood Archives/UIG/REX/Shutterstock

Bathing suit

Today, you’ll rarely see a woman swimming in a dress (unless she forgot her swimsuit!), but in the 1910s, bathing suits were just hitting the market. In the coming decades, handfuls of women began to push the envelope with the development of the bikini.

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President Taft's "Pierce Arrow," a luxury auto with 6 cycle, that reached speeds near 50 mph. Photo from 1909.
Photo: Everett Historical/Shutterstock

Luxury car

Cars weren’t nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. Henry Ford’s Model T automobile had just been introduced in 1908, and even by the 1910s, only the wealthy had access to it. But, would you really want to risk it out on the roads when nobody was even trained in driving yet? Yikes.

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An Early Refrigerator
Photo: Historia/REX/Shutterstock


Refrigerators in the 1910s were sprawling appliances that took up a good part of the kitchen, with multiple different compartments. They looked more like a set of cabinets than the fridges we know. Today, our refrigerators are much more compact, and some of them can tell us what’s inside without us even having to open the door.

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1900s pen
Photo: Historia/REX/Shutterstock


This early fountain pen looks a lot different than the Uniball you probably have on your desk right now. These pens had internal ink cartridges, compared to years prior when you had to use an inkwell.

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Old-fashioned telephone
Photo: Julian Makey/REX/Shutterstock


The first telephone was invented in 1876, so by the time the 1910s rolled around, it was a pretty well-known device. There was a speaking piece and a listening piece, and it certainly wasn’t portable. The telephone has seen perhaps the most drastic transformation in the past century––now we have them in our pockets and can do virtually anything with them.

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Old-fashioned women's boots
Photo: Historia/REX/Shutterstock


These lace-up women’s boots hurt our feet just looking at them. The narrow heel paired with the tiny toe and tight laces remind us of the corset (which was also popular in this time). Would you like a petticoat with that? Thankfully, walking around in casual sneakers is socially acceptable nowadays.

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1900s boy with toy
Photo: Historia/REX/Shutterstock


Can you imagine rolling a hoop down a hill with a stick and calling it fun? Well, 100 years ago, the hoop was one of the most popular toys. The first computer game wasn’t even in the works until the 1960s. Did this strange toy really exist? We hate to admit it.

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Woman listening to music with gramophone

Music playing device

Pause your iPhone for a minute and check out the original music playing device: the gramophone. This early record player looks more like a tuba than anything else, and it stood stationary in the home, unlike the very portable music devices we use today. But record players and boom boxes seem to be making a comeback…

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Old-fashioned razor
Photo: History Archive/REX/Shutterstock


This terrifying, torture device-looking invention is actually an early model of the Gillette razor. And this was considered a “safety” razor at the time! But it was one of the first razors that had a replaceable blade.

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Bicycles surprisingly don’t look too much different now than they did in the early 1920s, but that could be because vintage-style bikes have made a total comeback. For more seasoned cyclists, notice the lack of gears and strong brakes––going up a steep hill would be merely impossible.

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1900s camera


The camera was one of the most groundbreaking inventions of its time; being able to capture still moments was a feat few had predicted. By the 1920s, inventors had just developed a camera model that could be handheld while taking a photo—around this time, the Kodak camera was booming.

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Old-fashioned sewing machine

Sewing machine

One hundred years ago, the concept of a portable, electric sewing machine was not even a thought. Sewing machines were attached to their own table, with pedals connected to the base to control speed. Sewing machines were also very ornate in style, in comparison to the streamlined versions of today.

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Washing Machine
Photo: Nara Archives/REX/Shutterstock

Washing machine

Washing clothes in the early 1900s was an ordeal. Whereas now we just throw our clothes into the machine, add some detergent, press a button, and go, people 100 years ago had a very complicated machine (it did have a spin cycle, though) that took hours.

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Photo: Historia/REX/Shutterstock


The classic vacuum structure looks relatively similar to the vacuum of today (minus the visible vacuum bag). These older models were still motor-driven, but certainly much less effective than your household Dyson.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest