We are kicking off with our series of Innovations Throughout the Decades, giving you all of the ‘Did you know?’ facts that will give you nostalgic Chappies vibes.
The flavor for this week?
The era of the housewife and the nuclear family. This decade was not only about the perfect little housewife, but it also gave us inventions that helped them to live a life of sufficiency and an easy family-first-lifestyle. Here are some of the top inventions that came to be and gained popularity in the ’50s.
TV Dinners – 1953
What was the tired housewife and single man’s best friend after a long day of work? The TV dinner was a quick and easy solution to preparing dinner without taking up too much time. Swanson changed the way the world thought about dinner by introducing the first TV dinners in 1953. Just pop them in the oven and dinner is done in a jiffy! Advertisements promoted the benefits of such TV dinners saying that families will have more time to spend with each other – and watching their favorite TV shows of course!
Colour Television – 1953
What goes well with that TV dinner? Television! The first colour television was introduced in the U.S.A in 1953, but because of the high prices, it took a while for it to spread to the wider population. South Africa only got television services in 1976!
Microwaves – 1954/55
The first commercial microwave was manufactured by the Tappan company. In the first year, only 34 units were made and it was an expensive item to have in the home. It was seen to be the wave of the future in modern electrical cooking. It, however, took about another decade for the microwave to become more compact and more affordable so that more and more households could afford it. Microwaves were first marketed to single men because it made cooking easy.
Polio Vaccine – 1955
It’s not just innovations in the home that made the 50’s unique, there was progress in the health industry too. Jonas Salk found a way to prevent the dreaded polio virus that plagued so many children. There were around 28, 985 global cases reported in 1955 and by 2017 the number of cases dropped to 22.
Ultrasound – 1956
The first case of Ultrasound being used for clinical purposes was in 1956 in Glasgow, however, it wouldn’t become common until the ’70s, when hospitals in the U.S.A and Britain got them.
Hard Drive – 1956
The first hard drive was released by IBM and it was the 1000kg refrigerator size IBM 305 RAMAC. It was the first of its kind using magnetic disk storage instead of the commonly used spools of magnetic tape or paper, which would take hours to retrieve specific data. Now data was stored in a particular magnetic orientation, which a mechanical arm could retrieve with ease.
Birth Control Pill – 1957
The pill was first used to treat severe menstrual disorders when it first appeared on the market. A lot of women knew the hidden benefits of this new-found miracle pill as it stopped ovulation, which in turn prevented the woman from getting pregnant. It would take another 3 years for the pill to be approved by the medical board as a contraceptive. Que the sexual revolution of the ’60s.
Jet Airliner – 1958
Boeing introduced the first successful jet airliner, the Boeing 707-120 and it changed mass air travel forever. It had four engines and could carry 181 passengers while cruising at 600 mph for up to 5,280 miles on a full tank. The first commercial flight went from New York to Paris.
Integrated Circuit – 1959
The first general-purpose computer was the, nearly 30-ton, ENIAC built in 1947. It was made up of 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 10,000 capacitors. In 1959 the integrated circuit put all of those innards into one chip. This changed the way data will be stored forever.
Barbie – 1959
The OG blonde bombshell first appeared on shelves across the U.S.A. Did you know that Barbie was originally based on the German doll, Lilli, who began as a cartoon character in a daily newspaper? She didn’t have the squeaky-clean image that Barbie had though. She was seen as a symbol of sex and pornography for the men of Germany.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s fun facts of the ’50s. Stay tuned for the next installment of our Innovations Through the Decades, where we will be traveling back to the swinging 60’s!
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