Some crazy ideas that were patented have turned out to be a boon to mankind and civilization. Other ideas have been patented that are equally crazy, but so far have not come to fruition. Given time, of course, who knows. After all, who would ever have thought that the filing of a patient for a little ball that you fit onto your car’s antenna could have created an entire industry, millionaires and the day when you could actually see a car driving by with balls on their antenna that look like a Mexican wrestler?
One of the oddest ideas ever patented was one patented in 1987 by a couple of crazy Brits. Imagine this scenario: You need to know what time it is, but you don’t have a watch and your cell phone battery died about an hour ago. What do you do? What do you do? If Chris Coles and Alan Jefferson have their way with their patented idea, you could merely look upward to the sky and get the time of day. Of course, the time would be Greenwich Mean Time so you’d need to know how to calculate your local time. The crazy patent—or maybe not so crazy—was for a device known as a space chronometer. What in the name of Tesla is a space chronometer? Power by the sun, it was a mammoth clock made up of three hands formed from aluminum. The space chronometer would orbit around the earth so that no matter what your position, you would have the opportunity to look up and find out the time seven different times a day.
A patent idea perhaps even more crazy—and certainly a thousand times more stupid—than the space chronometer is a little device that its inventor calls the Beerbrella. You know those little toothpick umbrellas served in alcoholic concoctions that real men don’t drink? Think that, but big enough to cover your beer bottle or beer can or mug of beer. The idea was to keep the harmful effects from the sun warming up your beer to the point that only an Englishman could possibly enjoy it. Beerbrella. And I suppose they could get Jane Fonda to recreate her role as Barbarella in the commercial: Barbarella Meets Beerbrella. That music you hear is The Bongos singing their classic 80’s hit, “Barbarella.”
Hop into the wayback machine and you get an idea of just how truly crazy some patent ideas were. Take this…thing…patented by Charles Hess. It consisted of a piano from under which a bed could be pulled out. The piano frame also housed considerable storage space. You could quite literally get out of bed, change from your pajamas into your clothing, comb your hair and play Beethoven without needing to go more than two feet from in any direction to accomplish all these things.
Subliminal glasses. (Read all my articles.) Subliminal glasses work (read all my articles) by projecting blink-rapid subliminal messages encouraging you (read all my articles) to lose weight or quit smoking or accomplish any goal you set for yourself. You’ve got to wonder what kind advertising would (read all my articles) would also be flashing subliminally as you drive down fast food alley.
If you thought that the piano bed was crazy patent idea, wait until you hear what the wonderfully-named Quimby Backus patented as the 19th Century was drawing to a close. It’s a Fireplace/It’s a Bed…It’s a Fireplace Bed. Can’t you use see this commercial following those pet pillow commercials? The bed was a Murphy bed type that pulled down right over the burning fire. Since it was lined with asbestos, you could actually fee free to sleep while the fire continued burning. Just don’t breath in too heavily.