I sometimes find myself thinking that think I’ve run out of ideas for this blog. Then something comes to me out of the blue! This time I’m looking at inventions. When I looked at various websites for information on things which were invented in the 1950s and 60s I was amazed how many there were. Many of them are things which are now commonplace. Quite a few of them weren’t seen in normal households here in Britain until later. Microwaves, for example, were invented in 1955 but I know I didn’t see one until 1970 and that was in a café. I think it was a good few years later that my parents bought their first one. Some are life enhancing rather than life saving such as superglue and Velcro. Some have been hugely significant medically like pacemakers, antihistamines and the discovery of the structure of DNA.

When putting this post together I decided to choose just one from each year so several have been missed out. Here is my selection.

1950 Antihistamines were invented by George Rieveschl and are now some of the commonest over the counter drugs and make a huge difference to people suffering from allergies.

1951 In 1942, Dr Harry Coover was attempting to create crystal clear, plastic based gun sights during world war two. It was during one of his earlier attempts that the plastic he produced did not work well for creating the sights, but worked excellently at bonding things together. It would be a further 9 years later, in 1951, before Dr Coover’s second accidental discovery led to the creation of modern day super glue. 

1952 Bar codes were invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver and were based on the Morse Code. It was twenty years before the invention became a commercial success. The very first bar code scan in America was in 1974 with Britain trailing a few years behind with the first in 1979.

The first barcode patented was in the shape of a bull’s eye as seen in the diagram above.

1953 The discovery of DNA’s double-helix by James Watson and Francis Crick marked a milestone in the history of science and gave rise to modern molecular biology, which is largely concerned with understanding how genes control the chemical processes within cells.

DNA - Wikipedia
The scientific explanation is: ‘Two complementary regions of nucleic acid molecules will bind and form a double helical structure held together by base pairs’.

1954 Non stick pans and TV remotes. I know I said I’d choose one for each decade but I couldn’t resist putting both of these everyday household objects in.

1955 Microwaves

As I said in the introduction, it was a while before these became common household objects.

6 vintage microwave ads show the evolution of nuking your food
Examples of early microwaves. So much more expensive then in relation to average earnings!

1956 Tippex/ Liquid Paper. This is not quite as much of a home/ school/ office essential now that we are largely digitized. But what a revolution this must have been when it was invented!

1957 Velcro. I clearly remember the first dress my mum made for me which had Velcro down the back instead of a zip or buttons. We thought it was amazing! I was eleven years old which was five years after the invention of Velcro. It travelled faster than most other inventions and is now found on many more things than just clothing.

1958 Hula hoop. Several things were invented in ’58 including the computer modem and stereo sound recording. I’ve chosen the hula hoop because the craze originated in the US and had swept across to Britain by the early 60s. My sister and I absolutely love hula hooping and spent hours doing it. I can still hula hoop and always taught the children in my classes to do it when I was a class teacher.

1959 Internal pacemakers. Life-savers for so many people! The original ones were external so this invention was hugely important.

1960 – 1968 I don’t like my blogposts to be too lengthy and this was beginning to get that way. So here’s a summary of the inventions of the 1960s. Halogen lamps, cordless tools, satellite TV, the lava lamp, the Flymo, contact lenses, astroturf, fan assisted ovens, the computer mouse.

The Evolution of the Computer Mouse | WIRED
Douglas Engelbart | American inventor | Britannica
We often don’t realise how much things change and evolve until we see photographs of earlier ones.

1969 seems to have several notable first so here are a few.

  • First Concorde test flight is conducted In France
  • Seiko sells the first Quartz Watch
  • The Harrier Jump Jet enters service with the RAF
  • The first automatic teller machine ATM or Cash Machine is installed in the United States
  • Creation of ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet
  • The Boeing 747 jumbo jet 
From the archives: the ATM is 50 | Barclays
A very early cash machine/ ATM/ ‘hole-in-the-wall’.

Credit to Google images and Wikipedia.

I make every effort to avoid infringing copyright. If, however, any reader sees an image they would rather I didn’t use please contact me and I will remove it immediately.

12 thoughts on “Inventions

  1. Thanks, Liz, for a lovely comment which was both positive and extremely speedy! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I learn so much every time I research for a post – and especially this time. I was fascinated to learn that barcodes were derived from the Morse Code! I could have included a lot more information about all the inventions and discoveries but I have to try and keep a balance between interesting and boring. It’s a fine line!


  2. It seems that during times of war, inventing is around 50 times what it would be during peace-time, and many of the things we use today stem from WW2. You mention super glue, a sticky subject, and further to microwaves, my son tells me that they stemmed from the development of Radar.
    I remember a programme in the 70s called Tomorrow’s World and an expert saying that the electronics industry had moved on so fast that if the car industry had kept pace, you could have bought a Rolls Royce for 1 and a half pence!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A wonderful reply and I agree with every word of it! I remember Tomorrow’s World. Many things they showcased didn’t make it but a lot did. Often it was decades later when we’d had time to forget what was predicted!


  3. This is such an informative post. Imagine the accidental discovery of modern day glue. In fact I used to think a lot of those things were probably invented much before. But not everything is that old.

    Liked by 1 person

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