20 Cool Everyday Things That Were Actually Designed for WWI
Tissues seem like an obvious necessity in life, but we wouldn’t have them without WWI. Here’s how the Great War changed the world, from the historical experts at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.
Daylight Saving Time
The idea of fiddling with the clock has been around since antiquity, but it was not until World War I that governments around the globe officially adopted daylight saving time. Why? To conserve resources such as fuel and extend the workday for the war effort. The Germans and Austro-Hungarians did it first, in 1916, and the Allies followed shortly after. To clear up confusion about the concept, the Washington Times used a comic strip to explain the first “spring forward” in the United States in 1918.
Timepieces known as wristlets were sold during the 19th century. However, they failed to take off with men until World War I demonstrated their superiority to pocket watches in battle—particularly for military leaders who were coordinating precision attacks. By the war’s end, an entire generation of young men either had a wristwatch or wanted one for Christmas.
Blood transfusions date back to the 1600s, but doctors rarely performed them before World War I, when they were accomplished by transfusing blood directly from one person to another. Capt. Oswald Robertson, a U.S. Army Reserve doctor consulting with the British army, recognized the need to stockpile blood before casualties occurred. In 1917, he helped establish the first blood bank on the western front. You’ll laugh out loud when you find out these hilarious military code names that were actually used.
With so much of Europe in the line of fire, the European film industry had to scale back dramatically. That opened the door for the Americans. Hollywood was still in its infancy, but its studios soon made fortunes producing wartime propaganda. The war itself provided material for countless movies in the 1920s and ’30s, including Wings, the winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture.
While Charles Macintosh invented weatherproof outerwear about a century before World War I, Burberry and Aquascutum modernized the design to keep British officers warm and dry. Today, many trench coats (yes, that’s why they’re called that) come with flaps and rings that were originally created for securing pistols, map cases, and even swords.
Originally known as a slide fastener, the zipper wasn’t mass-produced until World War I, when the U.S. military requested them for flight suits and money belts, which were a necessity for U.S. sailors because their uniforms didn’t have pockets. Now that you know this, can you pass this U.S. war history trivia quiz that almost everyone fails?
Suffragists had won victories throughout the western United States by 1917, but their support for and involvement in the war effort advanced their cause considerably. With the endorsement of President Woodrow Wilson, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1920.
It’s hard to imagine drones in the skies just 15 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Nevertheless, when the U.S. Navy tested the first Curtis N-9 Aerial Torpedo on March 6, 1918, unmanned aircraft became a reality. (Alas, the nation would have to wait almost a century for drones that could deliver pizza.) These are 22 words and phrases that were also invented in the military.
In 1918, in Cologne, Germany, Mayor Konrad Adenauer applied for a patent for his novel way of preserving meat: mixing sausage with soy flour. Although not strictly vegetarian, the method had staying power. Soy products are now a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States alone.
In hopes of restoring tourism throughout Europe, the League of Nations issued guidelines for uniform passports in 1920. The standard documents were to include a cover embossed with the issuing country’s name and coat of arms—the same basic look they have today in most every country, including the United States. Next, take a look at these hilarious inventions that failed spectacularly.