What 13 groundbreaking inventions looked like when they first came out

Business Insider SA

Reported by Talia Lakritz

In just a few short years, cell phones have gone from bricks that take 10 hours to charge to an all-encompassing phone, camera, credit card, computer, gaming console, and more. Computers themselves have gone from taking up entire rooms to sitting on our laps or in our palms.

Household items like vacuum cleaners and washing machines have also seen their own transformations and technological advances.

Here's what early versions of these 15 groundbreaking inventions looked like.

It's not clear who first invented microscopes, but they emerged around the 1590s with few of the bells and whistles they have today.

Two different sources are credited with the invention of the microscope: Hans Lippershey, who filed the first patent for a telescope in 1608, and Hans and Zacharias Janssen, a father-son team who wrote about microscopes in the 1590s.

Bicycles were made out of wood when they were first invented in 1817 by Karl von Drais.

Karl von Drais's early bicycle required riders to push the contraption by foot. Other inventors then added pedals in the 1860s.

Before electric refrigerators, "iceboxes" were made of wood and filled with ice.

Corbis/Getty Images

Iceboxes used various materials to keep the ice frozen and the food inside cool, including cork, tin, zinc, sawdust, and seaweed. In 1835, Jacob Perkins patented a refrigerator with a liquid ammonia vapor-compression cycle.

Thomas Edison is often credited with inventing the light bulb in 1879, but other inventors played a part in its creation.

While he did patent the first commercially successful light bulb in 1879, its history dates back to 1800 with Italian inventor Alessandro Volta's first electric battery called the voltaic pile. Humphry Davy also invented the first electric lamp in 1802.

Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876.

Bell placed the first telephone call between New York City and Chicago in 1892. His early phone design consisted of a transmitter to turn vibrations from his voice into an electric current and a receiver.

The first vacuum cleaner was patented by inventor Hubert Cecil Booth in 1901.

Science & Society Picture Library/ Getty

The first vacuum cleaner didn't suck dirt up - it just blew it away with compressed air. Upright vacuum cleaners with bags on a stick followed in 1907, the brainchild of William Henry Hoover.

The first electric washing machine also included rollers to wring wet clothes out.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images

Alva John Fisher invented the electric washing machine in 1908 and patented the design in 1910. It got the name "Thor" from the Hurley Machine Company of Chicago.

The first television set called the Octagon was made by General Electric in 1928.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images

Before it became the center of American living rooms in the 1950s and 1960s, the Octagon only played one show called "The Queen's Messenger."

Microwaves were invented by accident while engineer Percy LeBaron Spencer was testing magnetrons.

Paul Popper/Popperfoto/ Getty

Magnetrons are "vacuum tubes that produce microwave radiation and are used in radar systems," according to LiveScience. Spencer noticed that a chocolate bar in his pocket melted while he was testing them. He invented the microwave by building a metal box around them since microwaves can't pass through metal, and found that the result could heat food faster than ovens. He filed for a patent in 1945.

The first electronic digital computer took up an entire room.

US Army/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was completed in 1946 and cost $400,000 to build. The US government used it during World War II to perform calculations for the construction of a hydrogen bomb.

The first video tape recorder was invented by Charles Ginsberg in 1951.

The first video recorder sold for $50,000 in 1956.

The Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, in 1957.

Sputnik I was about the size of a beach ball and orbited the Earth in 98 minutes. Its launch set off the space race between the US and the Soviet Union.

The first website went live on August 6, 1991.

Designed by Tim Berners-Lee, the site provided information on the World Wide Web project. The URL was

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