What crazy ideas did you have that turned out to actually exist?

When I was younger I used to dream up wacky ideas to entertain myself. I guess the main motivation for this was being wrapped up in a fad-driven middle-school culture, and wanting to think of something nobody had thought of yet so I could brag about being in on it “all along”.

One idea I had as a hobby was remote-controlled warships. I imagined the concept of having ships firing BB’s at each other, and the ships covered with sensors that would react to hits, so bits of the ships would explode/pop off/smoke and sufficient damage would cause the ships to sink. I imagined tiny cameras mounted on the ships. Then I got really carried away and dreamed about scale remote-controlled aircraft carriers with tiny planes that really flew/shoot tiny BB’s. I imagined ‘teams’ of 50 people on each side doing fleet actions/recreating famous WWII naval battles. I thought the whole idea was just a silly pipe dream. I mean, tiny little ships that shoot? HA!

Well, imagine my shock when I was reading a WWII magazine and I saw a little article for…remote control battleships! They didn’t have remote cameras or tiny fighter planes/torpedoes but the ships really do shoot BB’s and sink when damaged. :eek:

I was once eating with a spork (spoon/fork) on an airplane, and I thought of an idea for a different combination: a fork with a serrated edge like a knife. I was at a cook-out a few days later and much to my chagrin, they were already invented.

1970: Electronic push button combination lock

1971: Automatic digital telephone dialer

1972: Digitally controlled polyphonic music synthesizer

1973: High lead color television screens

1974: High density laser LED flatbed scanner / plotter / copier

1975: Digital bicycle speedometer

1976: Digital scale

Don’t get me started …

I used to wonder why no one had invented a retractable garden hose because I sure as hell hated having to roll the damned thing up every day.

I thought of having elections by lottery. No voting just have each person assigned a number and then drawing 400 or so numbers and those people are put in government. This would remove the need for political parties, and expensive campaigns. I thought it was quite neat till I found out that this is exactly what they did in ancient Athens. Bah.

They’ve always had them hanging from the ceiling in professional mechanics’ garages.

In 1976, while on vacation in the US, I dreamed about a hand-held console, on which was a screen. There were little buttons at each side of the screen, and on the screen were little spaceships. I dreamed that you had to gently make a little spaceship dock with a bigger spaceship. (In my dream, the spaceships were manipulated behind the screen by clockwork.) I woke up thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if you could carry round little games like that with you?”

Have they? I’ve never noticed them here…but then again I have never driven a car in my life. My sister’s husband used to be a mechanic for Audi…I’m going to pick his brain about that.
The first time I ever saw retractable garden hose was about 8 years or so ago, and I thought, “About time too”. It’s so much easier just stepping on a pedal and letting the thing roll itself up.

As a young teenager I had the idea of a computerized system that enabled me to see all the books in all the libraries in the world through a TV screen. Now - 25 years on - we have the Internet.

Back in the 80s I had the idea that you should be able to create a actual 3D display by creating a cube of clear material with emmitters on three sides. Wherever the three beams crossed you woul get a pixel. I read a year or two ago that somebody had exhibited a test of such a device and it is now in development.

As a kid in the mid-1960s, I basically invented ski brakes.

At that time, skis were tethered to your boot or leg by a strap so that they wouldn’t go careening down the hill at a high rate of speed, impaling hapless skiiers downslope.

Later on, straps were made of nylon and got a quick-release fastener that made it much easier to put on and take off, but when I was a kid, most retaining straps were made of leather and had a belt-buckle type fastening that was almost impossible to fasten or unfasten when it was cold, to say nothing of while wearing mittens. (It could have been worse – my older brother and sister used longthong bindings, where a six foot strap was wrapped multiple times around the leather(!) boot to provide an illusion of support. God, we’ve come a long way!)

I remember describing to my dad a spring-loaded device which would drop two prongs down either side of the ski when your binding released, thereby stopping the ski.

An essentially identical device was introduced in the early 1970s, and by the end of the decade, the safety strap was completely obsolete (during the 1990s safety straps made a comeback on snowboards and other non-ski snow sports equipment).

If I’d only been a little older and could have developed and patented the concept…

Persciption lenses in diving masks for people who need glasses.
There are others but I can’t remember them at the moment. (I currently have an engine idea kicking around in my head and if this one has been done as well my brain will explode.

Butt wipes for grown-ups.

And most of what is on it is porno. :smiley:

In 1995 I wrote a story in which the Qedartions home planet, Qedar, had been polluted beyond habitation. They were planning on invading Earth, but my hero stopped them by putting a virus into their weapons system. Two years later, Independence Day came out. Theives. :smiley:

I also had a theory when I was 5 or so that our lives were one big dream that we were dreaming. I’m 20 here, but I could be 86 in real life or 2. Not exactly The Matrix, but similar.

I used to think that the undead ate at Denny’s. Then I went there once at midnight.

One day I thought to myself that traffic lights should be coordinated with emergency vehicles so that the emergency vehicle gets all greens.

Then that turned out to already exist.

Last week, I came up with the idea of a “urinal game” – an electronic doohicky that would convert mens’ urinals into a video game of sorts. The idea was that this invention could be sold to places like sports bars, where cheap laughs are always welcome.

I found out the other day that it’s already been invented at MIT.

I invented the lightning rod when I was six.

My mother tells me that I was so disappointed that someone else had thought of it already.

How about an idea you thought of that others told you was stupid so you didn’t pursue it? When cell phones were first coming out in the 80s, they were only available in black and I told my wife…

“Women are so fashion conscious and buy different shoes and purses to match their outfits…I would think interchangable faceplates for phones would be a huge success with women who carry one of those things around .”

Every woman I asked told me I must think women are pretty shallow and no one would buy something so stupid. Now at every mall, there is a push cart selling them…

In the movie department, I always thought they should have made a movie (possibly in the Alien series) where an alien gets brought back to Earth as a biological weapon, gets released on an enemy nation, goes out of control and affects everyone in every country, and all the nations of the world have to come together to kill it, putting aside their differences and finding a lasting peace. Big epic battle scenes in the deserts of Africa, the snow of Northern Europe, and everything in between with Jews and Arabs, Irish and English fighting side by side against a common enemy. That was basically used by ID4 and a number of other films in various ways…