Inventions we can do without

The first and foremost purpose of inventing something is based on the idea that the product or device in question will either enhance our lives or make our work easier. X-Rays, MRI’s, and CAT scans have provided doctors with a far easier way to diagnose certain medical conditions without having to either guess or perform invasive exploratory surgery. Word processors are much more user-friendly than the old, antiquated typewriters that preceded them. E-mails enable us to correspond with anyone on the planet within a matter of minutes as opposed to handwriting letters, stamping them, putting them into a mailbox, and then likely waiting weeks for a reply. All of the above are examples of inventions that have benefitted our lives in one fashion or another.

Then there are those inventions that are all but worthless and provide no redeeming value to our overall well-being. Put simply, they consist of poorly thought-out ideas and hence become things our society as a whole can do without. Here is a list of a few that arguably fall into this category.


Why were Phillips screws invented? They require a completely different screwdriver to turn. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if all screws were made the same? Wouldn’t it make far more sense to simply rely on just one screwdriver to tighten or loosen every screw that holds objects together? Have you ever noticed that when something needs to be assembled or taken apart, the screws will be the exact opposite of the type of screwdriver that can easily be found in that kitchen drawer? As a result, you spend the next 20 minutes looking for the type you need!


Some of you who enjoy bowling may not remember the days when we kept score by hand. Learning to do this takes less than five minutes, and is far easier than depending on the automated machines that have now been recording our actions for the past 35 years or so. For starters, it takes longer to enter each player’s name into these things than it does go through five frames the old-fashioned way! Moreover, at the end of each game, you have to start the whole process over. They are innacurate as well, because they don’t recognize pins that may fall at the last split second. Thus, your first throw may be nine pins, but the machine will score eight. This in turn incorrectly records your score, so now you must take the time to edit it! Let’s suppose somebody has to use the restroom or goes to get a soda. The entire team or group of open bowlers must wait until that person returns. You can’t bowl out of turn, because the names have been entered in a specific order. Before these useless scoring machines came onto the scene, pencils and scoring paper were used. In league play, scores were recorded on reuseable plastic sheets with grease pencils that were projected onto a screen for all to see. The bottom line? Manual scoring was much more efficient!


This relatively new craze baffles me. Cellular phones are great. They enable a person to call just about anyone at any time; depending on range. So, if you have access to a telephone whenever you’re out and about, what is the purpose of text-messaging? Why don’t people simply call whomever they wish to communicate with? If you wish to send a written message, why not wait until you can E-mail him/her? What earth-breaking news is so urgent that it can’t wait until you get home to your computer? If there IS an emergency, wouldn’t you rather call someone anyway? Enough said.


Have we forgotten how to use maps or to simply ask for directions? Why would anyone want to add thousands of dollars to the price of a new car to have a navigation system installed? For that matter, why even buy an aftermarket example at Best Buy when a map will cost all of $5.00? How about a Road Atlas of the entire country for $10.00 or less? Better yet, type in the address of your preferred destination on MapQuest. That’s free! Some will argue that even restaurants, shopping, and motels in unfamiliar locations can be located with these devices. So what happened to simply reading signs out on the Interstate? Perkins, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Holiday Inn, Motel 6, Next Exit. Sorry, but nobody needs a navigation system!

These are just a few examples of worthless inventions we can certainly live without. As our collective society becomes lazier, we can be assured that many, many more will be forthcoming. And that’s quite sad in itself.