Europe may be home to CERN—the birthplace of the internet—but it’s also where numerous less-than-stellar inventions were developed and subsequently abandoned. That said, technological advancement is never without its setbacks, and the modern marvels of this day and age make the small missteps along the way seem trivial.
Here are the top 11 European technology failures of all time.
11. Concorde Planes
The Concorde was a supersonic aircraft jointly developed and manufactured by the French and British (Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation) for trans-Atlantic flights. They were decommissioned due to a myriad of technical issues and structural failures.
10. Flying Tanks
Flying tanks were invented by the Soviets and Americans in the 1930s for transporting heavy weaponry behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, flying around all that heavy machinery made them extremely prone to overheating and therefore unreliable in battle.
9. Vespa 150 Tap
The Vespa 150 Tap was a scooter developed for French paratroops during the 1950s. Unfortunately, sporting an oversized gun meant that it had to stop every time the weapon was fired.
8. Phone-answering Robot
The phone-answering robot was invented in 1964 and became an immediate failure for obvious reason: it picked up the phone, but wasn’t capable of speaking.
7. Vacuum Beauty Helmet
The beauty helmet or “Glamour Bonnet” was created in 1941 for improving the complexion of the wearer. It also was an immediate flop.
6. Robot Readamatic
The Robot Readamatic was a contraption created to help slow readers improve their reading speed by automatically revealing one line of a book’s page at a time. The poor man’s version of this device: a ruler and human hand.
The monowheel was a single-wheel vehicle similar to the unicycle; in this case, the rider was seated inside the wheel, instead of on top of it. Once considered a serious mode of transportation, these vehicles are primarily used these days for entertainment purposes.
4. Cigarette Umbrella
Cigarette umbrellas were widely used by Englishmen in the 1930s to ensure that their cigarettes remained lit—even in the pouring rain.
3. The Isolator
This device was invented by science fiction writer Hugo Gernsback to do exactly what its name advertises: isolate the wearer from the outside world, presumably so one can write better.
The Cyclomer was an amphibious bicycle used in France during the 1930s. Design and structural limitations led to its eventual abandonment.
1. Puckle Gun
The Puckle Gun was invented in the 1700s by James Puckle, an inventor, lawyer and writer from London. It was decommissioned early on because of its low firing rate and lack of investor interest.
As you can see, technological failures are as numerous as they are comical, but one thing is for certain: without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. In this sense, the above 11 mishaps are not so much mistakes as they are stepping stones to better technology.