Yesterday's Failed Ideas Are Today's Great Inventions

A look back at when today's technologies were way ahead of their time

1 min read

Randi Klett is the Photo Director at IEEE Spectrum.

Photos: Left, Franco Sestili/BIPs/Getty Images; Right, Daimler
The Urbania—a seat-rotating Italian automotive novelty—was the smallest functioning car in 1964. Its soul lives on in the Smart car.

When a new idea comes along, people often don’t know what to make of it. That's why so many inventions begin as light diversions and reach the development stage only much later, when applications finally suggest themselves. In this view, though necessity is still the mother of invention, whimsy is just as assuredly its father.

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