45 Past Counterparts Of Modern Devices That We Depend On Every Day

By John A December 29, 2023

This article was originally published on healthandwellnesnews

Technology has immensely evolved over the years. That’s undeniable. There are new and better versions of products available on the market that we use every day. When compared to their counterparts from a century ago, they are almost unrecognizable. Household items and vehicles of the 1900s simply can not fulfill the needs of this modern age and the rapidly growing workforce. This new advancement in technology has made the world much more efficient. It has simultaneously brought a feeling of hope and challenges since it constantly needs to evolve with the times. Let’s take a walk through memory lane as we review how these iconic items became a staple. From rollerblades to play areas, these items changed over the years to fit our busy and ever-so-changing lives.

Market places

Grocery stores have definitely evolved over the years. In the 1900s, people didn’t have many options. This was partly due to the fact money was not a typical luxury for many folks. The stores were small with few items to offer, and only a few customers could afford to buy food other than the bare necessities.

Source: medium.com and fanofretail/flickr

Now, grocery stores are massive. There is a different aisle for every type of item. The sections are also separated to disperse the crowd. They are affordable for everyone to enjoy. Also, every item comes with a specific price tag making it easier for the customer to calculate how much they are spending.

Toilet paper

Initially, toilet paper was invented for proper hygienic purposes, and China was the very first country to use it around 589 CE, so it is quite an archaic item. Afterward, people started to manufacture it in mass quantities in the 14th century as it was in higher demand. A few centuries later, it was produced In Europe in bulk in 1857.

Source: Elya/CC BY-SA 3.0 and Daderot/CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

The shape and design of the toilet paper weren’t like what we’re used to today. Its shape was square like paper sheets. Merchants sold it in bundles in different markets. The toilet paper roll was introduced in England around the 19th century. Today, everyone is familiar with its shape and size.

Visual aids

Glasses are an important accessory for those who have eyesight problems and are sometimes used as a fashion statement. To see more clearly, people use glasses. They were available in the 1900s, but they only came in one shape and design.

Source: nps.gov and otello-stpdc/Shutterstock

Modern-day glasses styles are different and unique and are now made with different materials such as metal and plastic. The glass used in them is of high quality, which often reflects UV rays. Back then, these options weren’t available.


Our furry friends that we love so much and are our favorite domestic pets have also transformed physically over many years. To observe the difference between today’s dogs and those back then that are of the same breed, you can follow old photographs that clearly portray their evolution.

Source: Dogs of all nations (book) and ldelros60/flickr

By utilizing specific breeding methods between different but suitable breeds, people created many kinds of dogs and altered their genes. Some didn’t go over so smoothly, but many newly-created species became the new normal in the sense of physical attributes and personality.


The practice of promising a lifelong bond with someone in the form of marriage, also known as a wedding is a ceremony that has taken place for many centuries. When discussing weddings from the early 1900s, the dress style and decorations are two attributes that stand out to be highly different from the weddings we are used to today.

Source: harvardartmuseums.org and bigpicagency/Instagram

Back then, the dress code was simple and consisted of only two colors: black and white. Over time, people began to branch out and explore different color schemes. Also, various flowers and decor ideas changed drastically to enhance the experience and complement the wedding venue.

Table Lamps

Back then, table lamps were not very attractive or good-looking because they were made of only light bulbs fitted in metal frames without any cover or shade. But today, lamps are considered decorative pieces and a necessity in many rooms. They contribute to an attractive household.

Image courtesy: The Chive

Nowadays, smart lamps adorn many households. They respond to voice commands for turning on and off. This goes to show how far we’ve come from brass and copper lamps. Thomas Edison would have been proud of us for coming this far.


When the thought of relaxing comes to mind, many people head to the bar to have a drink or two. People love going to bar to relax and enjoy their free time. Some go there for drinks, some go to catch up with their buddies, and others go there to get attention from beautiful ladies.

Image courtesy: visit.brussels/The Culture Trip

The bars in the early 1900s were different than what we are familiar with. They did not have that sophistication that we find in modern-day bars, neither did they have music to dance to. Very few bartenders and even customers were women. And, liquor bottles were never to be seen.


The only way to prosper is through education, and people understood this centuries ago. However, teaching methods and practices are not what they used to be. Different subjects and fields are now offered as well. Back then, the classroom was thought to be a boring place made up of blackboards and uncomfortable wooden chairs.

Source: cornfield/Shutterstock and CC BY 3.0/researchgate.net

Nowadays, kids are more fortunate and comfortable as blackboards were replaced with whiteboards and wooden chairs replaced with comfortable ones. Not just this, but projectors and even smartboards are not standard technology used in modern-day classrooms to enhance student learning.

Carriage Dash

In the 1900s, there were only a few people who could actually afford cars. They were a symbol of luxury and status among the wealthy. Cars were not that common, and people preferred horses to travel to and from places.

Image courtesy: scientificfeed.com

Now, cars are a part of everyone’s lives. Dashboards of 1900’s cars were simple with various buttons for practical usage. But nowadays, the dashboard of cars contains a TV that consists of GPS and different radio outlets, and even air conditioner and seat warmers so passengers can fully enjoy their ride.

Fans and ventilation machines

Over the decades, fans have also evolved to become more economical. Back then, hand fans were popular but were not that reliable. As more people wanted to cool down, the demand increased. Desktop fans were made with two wings at first, and then the number increased as the hunt for better efficiency began.

Source: nps.gov and aliexpress.com

However, the modern-day fan looks and feels much different. The blades are removed, making it more cost-effective safer. They can easily be carried from one place to another. Ceiling fans are a good example as well of how fans have evolved. Any type of fan you see today is a drastic upgrade from the past.

Play Area

It doesn’t matter what century you’re familiar with. Playgrounds were always a thing. It is an essential requirement for children as they love to roam around in an open space. It is their necessity as it’s one of the only places where they encounter other tiny humans like themselves.

Image courtesy: Monovisions/DenverParent

When gazing at this in black and white, the first thing that comes to mind is, why are the swings so high? Another problematic thing is these swings are entirely made of metal. However, the modern-day swings are mostly made of plastic and other composite materials and designed carefully to grab kids’ attention.

Insulin Shots

Insulin shots were one of the most significant discoveries of the past century. Before the invention of these nifty gadgets, diabetic people, including children, suffered and lost their lives because of it. But in 1985, Novo Nordisk invented an Insulin Pen delivery system, but it didn’t necessarily have a pen structure.

Source: Markus.Michalczyk/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons and Ondrej83/Shutterstock

It was big and so complicated that patients had to visit the hospital for assistance. Fortunately, the modern-day insulin pen is easy to use and portable to carry. And, people can easily inject themselves, which makes them free from the trouble of going to the hospital.

Calculate this!

No matter what era you’re from, calculations are hard to figure out in your head. To make mathematics and daily calculations easier, scientists made up a tool known as the calculator. It was helpful then and is also necessary now.

Source: Hannes Grobe/CC BY-SA 2.5/Wikimedia Commons and casio.com

Calculators in the past resembled typewriters and looked extremely heavy. Because of this, they couldn’t be carried easily the way present-day calculators fit in a pocket, for example. They also lacked in complex tasks. We need to be saying thank you for this upgrade!


We can resolve most of our mood swings and anxiety problems by taking a long bath. To feel comfortable during our personal time, showers play an important role. The style of bathrooms has changed drastically. Nowadays, people prefer a larger space to bathe in.

Image courtesy: picgran.com/Pinterest/dovenda.com

The 1900s showers definitely can not beat today’s modern-day showers. These up-to-date showers have different shower hands and features according to one’s personal preference, and the curtains from the past have been replaced with glass to enhance the design.

Not so Smartphones!

No one born before 1970 could have imagined that phones would transform and evolve to this extent! In the past, the importance of phones could only be understood when it was hard to communicate. But now, they are a part of everyday life.

Source: indiamart.com and techadvisor.com

Back then, these phones were produced loads of static and were connected to cables which made them hard for everyone to use. But now, phones take on a whole new form as portable computers that can fit right in our pockets.


People were amazed by the radio in the past. It was hard for them to believe that machines could speak. People used radios at that time for many purposes. Sailors, for example, used them to stay in contact with other ships. It was also a way for people to tune into the news.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/ANI News

The radios in the 1900s were massive and required constant tuning to meet the right frequency. Modern-day people do not use radios compared to those in the past, even though modern radios are portable and do not require antennas.

Headgear for football

Football or a popular sport in America, and many people internationally enjoy watching it. Each team consists of eleven players on the field, which makes it a challenging yet entertaining game. Players get incredibly physical, which requires them to wear protective gear, and a football helmet is one of them.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/Facebook/Sparkman High School

However, the top image reveals that helmets used in the 1900s were not strong enough to protect the face. Using leather material in the helmet was not the best option which might be one of the reasons for many fatalities. Modern-day helmets are secured with a plastic shell, thick padding, and a chin strap.

Laundry Machines

Washing clothes has always been a headache for all of us. It requires both time and effort. People in the 1900s had to go through a lot of trouble to clean their clothes. Washing machines back then definitely weren’t fast functioning and required a lot of manual effort.

Image courtesy: Piximus

Fortunately, today, people are lucky to have machines that do not require an immense amount of physical effort. Modern-day machines have built-in engines and can wash up to 12kg of clothes in a single go. They also clean the clothes in a third of the time.


One of the best inventions of humankind is the camera. Cameras in the 1900s were enormous in size, and controlling them properly was rather impossible, which made handling them a tricky job, and only a few people could afford this luxury.

Image courtesy: Pexels/PhotoBlog

Modern-day cameras are not only portable, but they suit many different price ranges making it possible for everyone to buy according to their needs. They are less bulky to carry around and have different kinds of lenses, which helps them focus better and capture the best possible shot.


The greater the number of cars that are sold and used, the more gas stations we need. In the 1900s, when fewer people were unable to gain access to cars, the demand for fuel was less. There were only one or two gas stations in a given area, and they only had two fuel dispensers.

Image courtesy: Onedio

In today’s fast-moving world where millions of people own cars, motorbikes, and more, more stations are needed on every corner. That’s the reason gas stations nowadays have more than two fuel dispensers and work 24/7 to fulfill this need.


Many people around the globe love driving motorbikes. However, they were not that sophisticated in the past as we so often see now. The thrill and joy are now doubled as the parts of motorbikes have evolved. Motorbikes in the past seemed more like a bicycle.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Motorcycle Latest

The new advancements allowed for increased speed and a more sleek look. With different horsepower engines, motorcycle demands have increased. But, the risk factor of injuries has also doubled. To avoid it, bikers need to follow a set of rules for their own safety.


To maintain optimal physical health, we should know what we are eating. Did you always think that bananas were always the same? Think again. In ancient times, our ancestors used to crossbreed bananas for better taste and smell. By looking at the next picture, we should be happy with how far we’ve come.

Image courtesy: Science Alert/Time.com

Bananas nowadays are remarkable. Even the picture makes one’s mouth water and accelerates an immediate craving. We can’t say the same about the top photo. The modern variety is much easier to produce anyway, and the final product is so worth it.


Initially, sunglasses were invented to protect the eyes from brutal sunlight reflected off snowy terrains and mountains. Over the years, their purpose and appearance and have changed. Nowadays, shades are an essential accessory in the winter and on sunny days as well.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/harterjlin/toryburch.com

By replacing the lenses with polarized ones, they assist you to fully protect your eyes in an otherwise massive ultraviolet atmosphere. Engineers spent many years modifying the designs of sunglasses which led to a huge increase in demand among every age group of people.


Socks were first worn in old Egypt, and they look like a pair of gloves or any handwear for feet. In other words, it was hard to distinguish whether they were made for the hands or feet. The reason for this is because people back then liked to wear them with sandals.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/ThoughtCo

Today socks are a staple clothing item and are usually worn with shoes and boots. They are also compatible with other footwear. Socks help give a sense of comfort, which is why there are so many kinds made out of different materials.

Drilling machines

Drills are necessary to build modern structures. The ancient Romans used them manually, which required a lot of physical effort. Slaves and workers back then were made to drill during construction. The shape, structure, and mechanism are drastically different from the ones you know of today.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/housebeautiful.com

Nowadays, people drill with automatic machines which makes the work less time-consuming and more efficient. Their shape and design have also evolved with time. This equipment is modified with a lot of additional functions such as flashlights and different speed functions.

Life Jackets

If a disaster occurred on a cruise ship or a vessel, life jackets were a crucial tool to aid in survival. Now, it’s still a required item on boats and even planes. Back then, however, they looked vastly different than what we’re familiar with.

Image courtesy: TheBalance

Nowadays, they are much smaller mostly and come in bright colors like red, yellow, and orange. Air fills the jacket, and sometimes a whistle is added. They fit very comfortably on the user. According to maritime law, it is a highly crucial precautionary measure.


We see them almost every day and everywhere in places like playgrounds, parks, and roads near beaches- people cruising by and enjoying the wind in their hair. Rollerblades are not an ancient item but rather a recent invention. Firstly, they were used by ice hockey players for training.

Image courtesy: Online-skating.com

Back then, the designs of rollerblades were far from perfect, and many of them were impractical and unsafe. Finally, a suitable design was invented and became extremely popular and easily accessible to teenagers. Because of these, people can enjoy skating rinks!

Broiler Chicken

Modern, profitable techniques of farming and agriculture have altered the physical traits of broiler chicken. Now, they are much fatter and meatier due to extra hormones and weight-bulking steroids. Some advocacy groups that are against this argue that this results in health complications in humans and is immoral.

Image courtesy: cafeland.vn/livestockmiddleeast.com

Others argue that his method justifies this technique by saying that this method provides food security and increases the productivity of chicken meat for meat-eaters. They also say that as far as these animals are concerned, they are cared for in control sheds.

Baby Monitors

Baby monitors are electronic devices that help you keep tabs on your baby by listening in on your baby if you are not in the same room and provides audio and sometimes video output to parents. They are especially useful if you are sleeping in separate rooms.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/Vintage Penny Lane/Amazon

Just by the looks of it, the devices from the old days look like something from a dungeon! They were mechanical and operated like volume enhancers for the baby. These days, however, these devices are very sophisticated thanks to our ever-growing technology.


There are many fundamental human rights, and one of the most important of these would be the availability of healthcare services. That is the reason that one of the most common and vital infrastructures in any locality is the hospital building.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/RMF 24

If we see some pictures of hospital rooms and wards from the start of the 19th century, we can easily see that evolution in the health sector has taken place. The way the hospital beds are placed today and also the lack of medical technology are the polar opposite of today’s modern hospitals.


Tractors are the most important equipment in farming, and they’re primarily used on agricultural fields and farms. Tractors that were usually used for plowing and sowing on fields in the 1900s were complex and different from the modern models we see nowadays.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/Facebook/Wilts and Glos Standard

The most apparent differences to take note of are the size and design of tires, which play a vital role in the efficient movement of tractors and safe operation. Due to the advancements in tractors, farming is now much more comfortable.

Car Keys

Almost a century ago, metal was primarily used to make car keys, and only the car company logo was depicted on keys. Car keys that we see after a century are much more sophisticated and attractive, with a pretty big handle for better grip.

Image courtesy: Kindpng

Today, keys are generally more intelligent. In other words, car keys are now designed to automatically lock and unlock the doors, trunks, and sometimes hood of the car without physical force. All automobile companies have different designs for their car keys.

Beer wagons

Like other vehicles, beer wagons have also been through many changes. The significant difference between old wagons and new wagons is that the old wagons did not have a covered cargo bed to protect the beer and goods, meaning the beer was vulnerable and exposed to different elements.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/AB Mack

On the other hand, modern beer trucks have protected cargo beds. The products are closed off and safe all the time during travel. They needed the advanced technology to preserve the quality and taste of the beer while also protecting the product.


Among all the means of traveling, flying by air is the easiest and fastest, and airplanes nowadays are secure and comfortable. However, back in the day, the structure of airplanes was more compact and less luxurious than what we are used to today.

Image courtesy: Linda W. Bell/Pinterest/tokkoro.com

Also, the passenger’s heads were exposed! Modern-day airplanes are massive in size and can accommodate hundreds of people in a single flight. These airplanes come in different types, purposes, and sizes. Some people even own their own private jets.

Vacuum cleaners

It would be interesting for some people to understand the purpose of inventing vacuum cleaning was only limited to cleaning rugs and carpets. The evolution that happened within the span of time led to its modification which can clean many kinds of surfaces.

Image courtesy: Flickriver.com/NYMag

In today’s time, vacuum cleaner manufacturing companies have upgraded the devices in many aspects by adding many accessories and extra functions. The technology related to this specific device has been impressive as robot vacuum cleaners are invented and installed in many places.


The purpose of speakers in recent times is to emulate and listen to songs already recorded. In the early 20th century, it was then called “Edison cylinder player reproducer.” This device was made with a horn placed on it which produced the sound and was relatively larger in size.

Image courtesy: Freepikpsd/Americainclass

Nowadays, the speakers are much advanced and very different from old models. They are available in many sizes, shapes, and designs and can even be portable. These modern speakers are primarily wireless, and Bluetooth supported, enabling you to play songs directly from your phones and other connectable sources.

Razor blade

Shaving norms were established long ago in order to be considered acceptable by society, and as a result, people have been using razors for many years. A century ago, people were shaving with metal-handled razors with sharp-edged heads which weren’t disposable.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/zacharyekjones1/ETSY

Razors today have plastic bodies and are convenient to use. Some of them are electronic, and they cut smoothly. These razors are much cheaper and safer than the old ones. You can change their blades after a while, and you can keep the same handle for a few months. Nowadays, it is a product with massive marketing campaigns and sponsors.

Women Swimwear

Both genders’ bathing and swimming suits were vastly different compared to a century ago. The most significant difference we can see is that back then, the swimwear covered more skin than it covers today, and also, they were more loose and free flowingly.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Parade

The most recognizable modern swimwear for women is the bikini which exposes a lot of skin. It covers only the private parts of the body and exposes most of it, whereas the one-peice swimsuits shown in the bottom photo are less revealing but still tight and stretchy.


The business of coffee reaches every corner of the globe and reaches a massive market of people, which makes it a revenue-generating business. In the 1900s, it was only a booming business that led to the invasion of the steam-based coffee machine.

Image courtesy: Catawiki/Amazon

Due to technological advancements, the electronic coffee maker was invented and is much faster and better than the old steam-operated machine. Nowadays, these appliances are in every home because it prepares the coffee in a few minutes and comes out tasting fresh.

Traffic Signals

The first-ever traffic light was revealed in London in the 1860s and was inspired by railroad controllers. Railroad controllers used red gas lights to stop the rail, whereas the green signal was used to allow it to pass. To control the traffic and provide a better driving experience, they adopted this idea.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/IReen Weiss/Wikimedia Commons

However, traffic lights back then always needed human maintenance. At night, they used gas to increase visibility, and during the day, they used semaphore hands. However, modern-day signals are much practical as they are programmed. In some countries, they are remotely controlled as well.

Currency Register

These vintage cash registers of the 1900s were a remarkable invention during that time. It was mostly made of brass which made it difficult to lift. However, it had only a few functions to perform, but it was expensive to afford since it was a unique item of that time.

Image courtesy: Uniwell/Used.forsale

Nowadays, they look like a completely different invention. A drawer holds the cash, and the addition of receipt paper records the transaction. Nevertheless, the ancient cash register cannot be compared to the modern-day, intuitive cash register as far as efficiency goes.

Ironing clothes

Before and even after the invention of iron, people did not bother to iron their clothes. They used to carefully fold their clothes and place them under the pillow, which somehow seemed to work if they sat there long enough. The invention of the iron made life easier and saved people time.

Image courtesy: pholder.com/jaykirsch/Tefal

As far as it is necessary many people find it an additional task in their daily routine. 1900’s irons were heavy to be lifted. Ironing clothes was a time-consuming task because first, you had to heat them on the stove, and then it needed coals to function. Modern-day iron is lighter in weight and gets heated quickly with the help of an electric current.

Data Storage Systems

Data storage was not an easy task in the 1900s. People used to record information on paper cards instead of using a modern-day hard drive. As you can see in the image, data storage cards were more like a punch card. People in the past used specific terms and codes to store data.

Image courtesy: ricomputermuseum.org/PNG All

It’s no doubt that technology brought ease to the modern world. It only takes a few seconds to store data and transfer it from one device to another. Data storage is more like a semiconductor card and a rotating disk containing gigabytes and loads of information.

Army camouflage

The disguise used by soldiers of any army is not a very ancient technique to stay hidden. Natural objects taught us the art of camouflage and how to blend in. This method was primarily invented from wars between humans during the 19th century and perfected during the Great War.

Image courtesy: Pinterest/facepaintinglessons.club

Nowadays, armies operate with modern and complex techniques and methods to disguise the troops to their best abilities. It had proved to be very effective, which made it much more difficult for enemies to distinguish between nature and soldiers.

Men’s swimwear

Before the 1900s, people used to bathe naked. However, women were supposed to cover themselves with some piece of clothing. In the 1900s, this concept totally changed, and as you can see in this picture, men then had to wear a full one-piece bathing suit.

Image courtesy of outplaybrand.com/pasteurinstituteofindia.com

But, by the looks of the suit, it doesn’t seem like any of the men admired wearing it. However, modern-day bathing suits only require free-flowing shorts or even short, tight ones according to one’s preference. This style is more freeing than in the past.

Disclaimer: This article was first published on Daveswallet.com and is published here with approval.