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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 15 Things Invented for Totally Different Purposes

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Fifteen things invented for totally different purposes.

We used to think everything has its purpose. However, many items we use every day were once used quite differently.

Here's the history of ordinary things to see what purpose they served before becoming what we know them to be.

I bet you can't guess what pillows and high heels were originally designed for.

Number fifteen - Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola has a kind of fascinating history.

Pharmacist John Pemberton, a veteran of the American Civil War, made a concoction out of kola nuts and coca leaves.

He recommended it to soldiers taking morphine for wounds to treat their nervous system.

Later, he got a business going with a soft drink,

but then sold all his shares. The new owners started producing Coca-Cola with coca leaves cleared of cocaine.

Number fourteen - black dress.

Every woman should have a little black dress, right?

Up until the 1920s, black clothes were commonly worn as a symbol of mourning, and for at least two years.

Then in 1926, Coco Chanel sewed her famous little black dress, called

Chanel's Ford by Vogue, in memory of her beloved.

At first it was noted by movie divas, and then the dress became popular worldwide.

Number thirteen - karaoke.

Daisuke Inoue, a Japanese rock musician, played for visitors of a cafe who wanted to sing in between the band's songs.

One evening, he wasn't able to be there, so he gave his colleagues a tape recording with his part.

Then in 1971, he Invented the machine that played music without the vocals,

so the musicians relaxed while the public enjoyed singing to the beat.

Number twelve - Play-Doh.

This substance had initially been used to clean wallpaper in houses equipped with fireplaces that accumulated soot.

With the emergence of vinyl wallpapers easily cleaned with a sponge, the cleanser lost its primary purpose.

Then, a relative of its inventor, a nursery school teacher, gave this putty-like substance to children to play with.

They were overjoyed.

Later, the detergent was removed from the substance, replaced with a colorant, and the thing received its modern name, Play-Doh.

Number eleven - treadmill.

The prototype of a modern treadmill was created by Sir William Cubitt in

1818 to do something with idle prisoners, using their muscle power to mill grain. The prisoners held onto a horizontal

handrail, and walked a sort of endless staircase.

Number ten - post-it notes.

Dr. Spencer Silver was in the process of inventing a permanent adhesive,

but the resulting glue wasn't strong enough, and objects unstuck with ease. Then, his colleague Arthur Fry

proposed using this adhesive to anchor

his book marks in his hymn book. Soon, sticky papers for notes appeared in shops and are still used worldwide

Number nine - bubble wrap.

The famous bubble wrap was invented by engineers Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes in 1957.

It was initially to become a three-dimensional plastic wallpaper,

but the idea didn't quite work out.

Still, the inventors noted that the material could be used for packaging, and soon the patented bubble wrap

became indispensable in various areas.

Number eight - Vaseline.

In the mid 19th century, oil field workers always fought the waxy substance that accumulated in the oil rig pumps.

The British chemist Robert Chesebrough, though, saw an opportunity.

He took a part of this petroleum

jelly, did some research and found that it had useful properties. As a result, the range of its use in those early years

became very broad, from curing wounds to cleaning carpets.

Number seven - Slinky.

Slinky was actually not a kid's toy initially.

Richard T. James, a naval engineer, was once working on a means for suspending sensitive shipboard instruments,

and accidentally dropped a tension spring that crawled away merrily.

That's when the idea for a children's toy was born, and soon Slinky appeared in shop windows.

James Spring & Wire Company has sold more than 300 million of these toys.

Number six - Listerine.

Joseph Lawrence invented this antiseptic in 1879 to clean surgical instruments.

It was even named after surgeon Dr. Joseph Lister.

However, people saw its potential, and started using it everywhere, treating wounds,

dentistry, curing dandruff and fungi, and even as a deodorant. It became wildly popular in the twenties

when the first advertisement came out for Listerine. A girl was turning away from her fiance with bad breath and asking herself,

can I be happy with him in spite of that?

Number five - Viagra.

Pfizer was developing a cardiac disorder treatment,

but the clinical trials showed the new medication was quite useless in this regard.

However, an unusual side-effect was noted: the substance strongly affected the blood flow in the pelvic region.

Thus the famous aphrodisiac was born.

Number four - microwave.

Few people know that the microwave oven as we know it was not invented on purpose. A Raytheon employee,

engineer Percy Spencer, had been testing radar equipment, and noticed that microwaves from an active radar

melted a chocolate bar in his pocket.

Percy saw an opportunity in this and put some corn into the Magnetron and it started to pop immediately.

That was the discovery of the century!

Number three - pillows.

In Mesopotamia, pillows were an attribute of wealthy people, while hard headrests were used to keep bugs and insects out of people's

hair and face.

In ancient China,

it was believed that soft pillows were useless, while hard headrests made of bamboo,

jade, porcelain, wood or bronze gave strength and protection from demons.

Number two - tea bags.

In 1904, Thomas Sullivan, a tea and coffee importer from New York,

decided to sell tea with more style by pouring it into silk bags.

His customers found the novelty appealing,

but for quite another reason. It turned out to be more convenient to brew the tea right in the porous bags. As a result, sales

skyrocketed, and the idea became universally popular.

Number one - high heels.

In ancient Egypt, high heels were a sign of the status of high officials who wore high-heeled footwear to religious rituals.

This included both men and women. Such shoes were also favored by butchers to avoid walking in blood,

while Persian equestrians used high heels to hold on when shooting their bows.

In medieval Europe, high heels were a privilege of the aristocracy, becoming more popular later.

Finally, in the 20th century, the famous stiletto heels were invented.

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