Patented: History of Inventions

By History Hit

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Description

This podcast investigates the curious history of invention and innovation. Did Thomas Edison take credit for things he didn’t actually invent? What everyday items have surprising origins? And would man have ever got to the moon without… the bra? 


Each episode host Dallas Campbell dives into stories of flukey discoveries, erased individuals and merky marketing ploys with the help of experts, scientists and historians. 


Expect new episodes every Wednesday and Sunday.



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Episode Date
FORENSICS: Lie Detectors
30:48

What does Wonder Woman have to do with the invention of the lie detector? Does refusing to yank a donkey’s tail make you a liar? Is it folly to believe that a machine can ever peer inside the human mind?


The invention of the lie detector is a strange story full of eccentric characters, fascinating true crime, and some incomplete science at its heart.


These days there are lie detectors based on artificial intelligence and MRI scans and detectors are used in policing across the world. But the fundamental problems at the heart of ‘lie detectors’ have not changed since they were invented a hundred years ago.


Our guest today is Amit Katwala, a senior writer at WIRED and author of Tremors in The Blood: Murder, Obsession, and the Birth of the Lie Detector.


This is the third episode in our mini-series about the invention of forensics. Next week is the fourth and final instalment – DNA Fingerprinting.


Produced by Freddy Chick


Editing and Sound Design by Anisha Deva


Executive Producer is Charlotte Long


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Oct 02, 2022
Space Food
40:44

If humans travel to Mars then by the time they come home all the food they eat will be five years old. Want a bite?


Food often gets overlooked in stories about space flight. Yet space food has a fascinating history and will become an ever-increasing challenge the further we journey into space.


Our guest today is Vickie Kloeris who worked in the NASA food program for 34 years and was head of food systems for both Shuttle and the International Space Station. She takes us on a potted history (or maybe that should be a freeze-dried history) of the history of food in space. From early space flight to life on Mars.


Produced by Freddy Chick


Editing and sound design by Thomas Ntinas 


Executive produced by Charlotte Long


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Sep 28, 2022
FORENSICS: Fingerprinting
41:04

We hear from London’s most inaccessible museum, the Met police’s Crime Museum, and take you back to India in the time of the British Raj. We hear about the first murder case ever to hinge on fingerprint evidence.


No one had to invent fingerprints. They’ve been around for ages…But to be able to use fingerprints in fighting crime required an obsessive colonial administrator, hard science and the invention of an ingenious filing system that would revolutionise policing around the world.


Our guests today are Chandak Sengoopta, historian at Birkbeck University and author of Imprint of the Raj: How Fingerprinting was Born in Colonial India and Paul Bickley, curator of the Crime Museum housed in New Scotland Yard.


This is the second episode in a mini-series we’re bringing you all about the invention of Forensics. Next week it’s Lie Detectors.

 

Produced by Freddy Chick

 

Executive Producer is Charlotte Long

 

For more History Hit content, subscribe to our newsletters here.

 

If you'd like to learn even more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad-free podcasts, and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today!

 

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Sep 25, 2022
Perfume
34:57

First Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel shocked the world’s eyeballs with her fashion designs. Then she shocked its nostrils with a new smell - Chanel No. 5. 


“It’s punk rock but with feather boas and fragrance”. That’s how today’s guest, Suzy Nightingale, describes the impact that Coco Chanel had on society. Coco was at the heart of a revolution that was overthrowing the old world’s traditions and ideas of propriety.


In 1921, in search of a perfume that would capture the smell of the modern woman, she launched Chanel No. 5. It changed perfume forever and now more than a hundred years on remains the most famous perfume in the world.


Suzy Nightingale is Dallas’s guest to talk about all things perfume and Chanel. She is an award winning writer on perfume and co-host of the wonderful podcast On The Scent (https://pod.link/1573786577).


Produced by Freddy Chick


Edited by Thomas Ntinas


Executive Producer is Charlotte Long


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Sep 21, 2022
FORENSICS: the beginning
32:28

Death by tiger bites. Death by prodding. Death from sexual excess. Deaths from over-eating and over-drinking. The opening of graves.


These are a few of the chapter headings in a 13th century Chinese book called ‘The Washing Away of Wrongs’. It is a compendium of grizzly, gory, bizarre murders and deaths.


Its author was Song Ci, a Confucian trained bureaucrat who, like his fellow officials all over China, was responsible for investigating murders in his jurisdiction. According to the Wikipedia page for ‘forensic science’ this book is the earliest written evidence of forensic thinking. Is that correct?


Our guest today is Daniel Asen, a historian of China at Rutgers University.


This is the first episode in a mini-series we’re bringing you all about the invention of Forensics. Next week it’s Fingerprints.


Produced by Freddy Chick


Edited by Pete Dennis and Anisha Deva


Actors were Lucy Davidson and Tristan Hughes


Executive Producer is Charlotte Long


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Sep 18, 2022
PowerPoint
30:18

We take PowerPoint for granted. It's as much a fact of life as concrete. Or rainy afternoons. But it hasn’t always been here. It has a story. And once you’ve heard it, you’ll never look at PowerPoint the same way again.


Those old enough can remember the world before PowerPoint. A world where presentations were done on overhead projectors or 35mm slideshow carousels. In 1985, in the US alone, people made over 600 million 35mm slides and more than 500 million overhead transparencies. Large companies had departments dedicated to producing them.


Robert Gaskins, the inventor of PowerPoint, had a vision of how computers could produce these slides and transparencies more efficiently, and eventually consign them to the dustbin of history.


Russell Davies is our guest today and author of Everything I Know about Life I Learned from PowerPoint. He’s here to tell us that the inventor of PowerPoint, Robert Gaskins, is the tech hero we should all have.


Produced by Freddy Chick


Edited by Anisha Deva


Executive Producer was Charlotte Long


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Sep 14, 2022
Virtual Assistants ft. the real Siri
31:41

We talk to the real life Siri in this episode. Susan Bennett was the original voice of Siri back in 2011, although she didn't know it at the time...


But before that it's a conversation with Dallas's friend Ali Maggs (from Chaos Created) about the history of virtual assistants - everything from a mechanical dog that jumps out of its kennel, to that helpful digital paperclip Clippy, to the incredibly smart assistants of today and tomorrow.


Produced by Freddy Chick


The Executive Producer was Charlotte Long


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Sep 07, 2022
Contact Lenses
28:00

The Contact Lens. The humble Contact Lens. Oh boy, do we have a rip-roaring episode for you about the humble contact lens.


Nazi villains, arrests by secret police, chance encounters on trains and fear of Soviet invasion. And in the middle of it all, an unlikely hero: a Czech chemist called Otto Wichterle.


On Christmas Eve 1961, Otto Wichterle created the world’s first soft contact lens at his kitchen table with the help of his son’s toy mechanics set.


Who was Otto?


How did he manage to create the world’s first contact lens behind the Iron Curtain, despite political opposition?


Why is his story not better known?


Our guest today, Riikka Palonkorpi, works at the University of the Arts in Helsinki and wrote her PhD thesis on Otto Wichterle back in 2012. As part of her research, Riikka met Otto’s wife and visited their home, so naturally is the perfect person to help us answer these questions as we unravel Otto’s story.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick.

The editor was Anisha Deva.

The senior producer was Charlotte Long.


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Sep 04, 2022
Sports Bra
34:56

REAL LIFE INVENTOR ALERT!!!


Two jockstraps cleverly sewn together. That was how the very first sports bra was made in 1977. The product built out from this prototype, the “Jog Bra”, went on to change women’s athletics forever.


Today we’re talking to Lisa Lindhal who, together with her friends Polly and Hinda, unleashed the sports bra on the world. 


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick.

The editor was Anisha Deva.

The senior producer was Charlotte Long


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Aug 31, 2022
Cryptocurrency
48:35

If you feel confused and left behind by cryptocurrency then this is for you. We're taking you on a journey through the strange history of cryptocurrency. Why and how does it exist?


It turns out this history isn’t so much about clever codes as good old-fashioned politics.


Our guide is Finn Brunton, author of Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency.


Get ready for a rip-roaring tale of Bletchley Park codebreakers, the wild west early days of the internet, dystopian visions of the future, and a man with a fortune buried somewhere in a rubbish dump in Wales.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick.

The editor was Thomas Ntinas.

The senior producer is Charlotte Long


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Aug 28, 2022
Home Security System
27:19

The patent for the Ring doorbell cites this as the starting point. A Heath Robinson looking design with peep holes, sliding cameras and radio controlled alarms. An invention, and an inventor, ahead of their time.


Marie van Brittan Brown was an African American nurse living in Queens in New York in the 1960s. In 1969 she and her husband received a patent for what is the first modern home security system. It had many of the same fundamental features as the smart doorbells of today. But after the patent and some positive press coverage, nothing happened. No big companies swooped in to help build the system. Marie never became a millionaire.


Who was Marie van Brittan Brown? What was her invention? And why didn’t it take off?


My guest today is Shontavia Johnson, vice president for entrepreneurship at Clemson University and patent lawyer in a former life. Shontavia has been helping to revive Marie’s remarkable story as we will hear, thus allowing us to explore what Marie’s story teaches about who gets to be an inventor.


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Aug 24, 2022
Play-Doh
28:33

Find out what Play-Doh has to do with sooty walls. And how we have a nursery teacher called Kay Zufall and a TV presenter called Captain Kangaroo to thank for it.


Our guest is Chris Bensch from the Strong Museum of Play, surely the world’s funnest museum. Chris takes us for a jaunt down memory. Along the way we sniff deeply from a tub of everyone's favourite modelling compound.


If you could spritz yourself with a Play-Doh scented perfume, would you?


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick

 

The editor was Anisha Deva

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long


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Aug 21, 2022
Cloud Seeding & Climate Engineering
33:51

Pyres on the Appalachian mountains. Planes spraying chemicals into clouds. Mirrors in space. “I can make it rain, I can make it rain, I can make it rain…by waggling my stick”.


For more than a century, scientists, soldiers and charlatans have tried to manipulate the weather, wildly exaggerating what is possible.


Does any of it actually work?


And even if we could control the climate, should we? Whose hand would be on the thermostat?


Today we’re joined by James Fleming, a leading historian of meteorology and climate change and author of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control.


James helps us chart the dubious history of attempts to control the weather from the 19th century meteorologist dubbed the ‘Rain King’, to Cold War efforts to drench opposing armies, to cloud seeding at the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick

 

The editor was Anisha Deva


The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Aug 17, 2022
Vantablack: the darkest material on earth
31:04

!!!REAL LIFE INVENTOR ALERT!!!


Usually we talk about dead people on this podcast. It is history after all. But this week we’ve got living, breathing Ben Jen on talking about his invention Vantablack.


Vantablack is so dark, so black, that all details of the objects it covers dissolves. 99.965% of light that hits it is absorbed. It is no longer possible to tell what you are looking at. All you see is a black hole in space.


It was created by Ben and his colleagues at his company Surrey Nanosystems. They produced it for the space industry who had asked for something really, really good at absorbing light.


But this darkest of materials has gone on to have a life of its own causing outrage in the art world and provoking emotional responses in everyone that sees its strangeness.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Aug 14, 2022
Pyramids
36:47

The Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest building in the world for nearly four thousand years…until it was beaten by Lincoln Cathedral.


This week Dallas is joined by Egyptologist and friend Chris Naunton for a crash course in pyramid construction and the mysteries that surround them.


Discover where pharaohs were buried before pyramids came along; find out who is believed to have designed the very first pyramid; and learn why they wanted to build giant triangles in the desert in the first place.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick


Edited by Thomas Ntinas

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Aug 10, 2022
Transistors & Telecommunication Satellites: Bell Labs
32:29

The transistor; solar panels; the first telecommunications satellite; cell phone networks; UNIX code; information theory. All these and more were invented in one place: Bell Labs.


Bell Labs was where the future, which is what we now happen to call the present, was conceived and designed. It was the research and development arm of AT&T, which had monopoly control of the American phone system for much of the 20th century, and had more than ten thousand employees in its heyday.


Why is Bell Labs not a household name?


How did the transistor chip come to be?


Which genius rode a unicycle around the office while smoking a cigar?


Our guest today is Jon Gertner, author of The Idea Factory as we explore the secret to Bell Labs’ success.


With thanks to AT&T Archives and History Center for the archive recordings.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Aug 07, 2022
Shipping Containers
29:29

90% of everything you own arrived by sea.


And there’s one invention to thank above all else – the humble shipping container.


Today on Patented we’re joined by Rose George - journalist and author of the book Deep Sea and Foreign Going about her experience of spending five weeks on board a container ship.


Who do we have to thank for the modern shipping container?


Which country provides a quarter of the world’s merchant seamen?


Batten down the hatches and man the riggings as we set course for another edition of Patented.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick & edited by Joseph Knight

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Aug 03, 2022
Barbie
29:29

Barbie. What is it about Barbie? Love her or loathe her this 11 ½ inch doll gets a big reaction.


Which is strange in a way because she’s over sixty years old. Few things have managed to stay relevant so long, surviving seismic cultural change.


This week it’s the story of how the doll that changed childhood for millions came to be.


Our guest is Tanya Stone author of The Good, the Bad and the Barbie


And we meet Tristan Piñeiro and some of his more than 600 barbies.


Find out what Barbie has to do with a 1950s cartoon hooker…And what Teen Talk Barbie said that so incensed the world…


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick & Seyi Adaobi.

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Jul 31, 2022
Contactless Payment
32:46

*tap* *tap* *tap*


That’s the sound of physical cash being consigned to the dustbin of history by us tapping cards/phones/watches instead.


Contactless payments are growing so rapidly that it seems a safe prediction that a cashless future is not far away.


In the UK contactless payments rose 52% between 2019 and 2021. Some shops already don’t take cash. And it’s a similar picture in countries across the world.


We’ve been using hard cash as the primary way to pay for things for millenia. How has this new technology crept up on us so fast?


Today we find out how contactless payments began, how they work, and who really benefits from them. Joining us today are guests Natasha de Teran and Gottfried Leibbrandt.


The episode was produced by Emily Whalley


The editor was Peter Dennis

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Jul 27, 2022
Air Conditioning
29:11

No summer blockbuster. No Las Vegas and no skyscrapers in Dubai. No chocolate bars when the weather gets hot. Air conditioning is one of those things we take for granted but that has transformed the world around us, for good and for bad.


There are 1.6 billion air conditioners in the world today and they consume an estimated 10% of all electricity. Both these figures are likely to rise dramatically as the climate changes.


But when air conditioning first appeared people were slow to adopt it. People were so used to suffering extreme heat that it's as if it was hard to believe this godsend was real. Now it is hard to imagine life in many parts of the world without it.


Who do we have to thank for this transformative piece of technology?


How did Queen Victoria keep cool?


And what is the connection between Hollywood's summer blockbusters and air conditioning?


Our guest to explore this world-changing technology is Salvatore Basile, author of – Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything.


The episode was produced by Emily Whalley

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Jul 24, 2022
Baby Formula
29:35

The United States has been suffering from a baby formula shortage for months now. It’s shown how reliant we are on this one commodity. People need it to feed their babies. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.


But we managed without baby formula for a very, very long time. So when did the United States along with large swathes of the rest of the world become so dependent on baby formula?


Learn the real origins of Baby Formula and its rise and rise on Patented with our guest Dr Jacqueline Wolf.


The answer will surprise you.


The episode was produced by Emily Whalley

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

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Jul 20, 2022
Measurements
35:00

A pint might be Britain’s most beloved measurement. But what’s the name for the distance a reindeer can walk before it needs to pee?


The way we measure things changes the way we see the world. Measurements have shaped our history and are bound up in ideas of statehood, power and control.


“Measurement is as important to human civilization as language or mathematics.”


That’s the view of today’s guest James Vincent, journalist and author of Beyond Measure: The Hidden History of Measurement.


The episode was produced by Emily Whalley

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

Edited by Freddy Chick

 

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Jul 17, 2022
Sign Language
32:30

Imagine knowing no language at all…


*wordlessness*


…and then giving birth to one.


This is what happened amongst the children at a school for the deaf in Nicaragua in the 1980s.


 And my guest today was there to witness and document it.


Judy Shepard Kegl is a linguist who specialises in sign languages. Back in 1985 she had recently completed her PhD when out of the blue she was invited down to Nicaragua’s then relatively new school for the deaf.


What she saw tells us something about the nature of languages - regardless of whether they’re signed or spoken -  and about how each and every one of us learn our mother tongue.


The episode was produced by Freddy Chick


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Thomas Ntinas


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Jul 13, 2022
Mummies
30:02

When the ancient Egyptians mummified their dead they were trying to stop time, to preserve the body so well that it would last throughout eternity.


They succeeded (sometimes). There are mummies that when we look at their faces today it’s as if they’re about to wake up and say hello.


How did they do it? What chemicals were involved? How many mummies even are there?


We speak to Egyptologist Salima Ikram. Salima works to unpick the mysteries of mummification both by analysing ancient mummies and by having a go at making some new ones herself!


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley and Freddy Chick

 

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

 

Edited and mixed by Aidan Lonergan

 

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Jul 09, 2022
Cryonics: Living Forever?
43:57

Often mistakenly called Cryogenics, Cryonics is the speculative practice of preserving and storing recently dead bodies at very low temperatures — all in the hope we may one day be able to bring them back to life.


Crucially, the technology to execute that final step, reanimation, doesn't exist. At least not yet. Individuals who sign up to a Cryonics service today are betting on people of the future to solve that particular problem.


Despite these scientific roadblocks, the concept of cryogenic preservation has certainly captured our imaginations with references littering pop culture — from rumours about Walt Disney's Head, to characters like Austin Powers and Futurama's Fry.


So, what attracts us to the idea of living into the future? And what is the technology that could possibly get us there?


Today on the show, we speak to two guests to explore the past and future of Cryonics — from its origins in 1970s California to today, and a possible tomorrow.


First, I speak with Haley Campbell, journalist and author, about her visit to The Cryonics Institute, a facility founded by the the “Father of Cryonics” Robert Ettinger, whilst reporting her latest book.


Then, I am joined by Tim Gibson from Cryonics UK. He walks us through how they actually conduct procedures, how much services cost, and the legal status of cryonics.


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Emily Whalley and Pete Dennis


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Jul 06, 2022
Video Games
35:11

A whistle stop tour of the 50 year history of video games — and all the innovations along the way, from our TV sets to virtual reality.


  • Why are the roots of gaming in universities and labs?
  • What technology helped gaming spread and grow?
  • How do you explain the console wars of the 1990s?


Find out all that and more today on the show with our guest John Wilis, the Director of the Centre of American Studies at The University of Kent and author of Gamer Nation: Videogames and American Culture.


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley and Freddie Chick


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Stuart Beckwith


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Jul 03, 2022
Drone Delivery
23:41

The drones are coming. In twenty years there’s going to be a hundred times more flying planes, taxis, parcels in the airspace than today thanks to drone technology. Assuming we don't try to stop them first...


Today on Patented we're handing over the mic to the incredible Jacob Goldstein (former host of Planet Money) and his new podcast ‘What’s Your Problem?’. Jacob explains the problems that really smart people are trying to solve right now. And how they’ll change the world if they succeed.


In this episode he’s joined by Keenan Wyrobek, co-founder of Zipline (they make drones) to discuss the obstacles that lie between us and flying pizza deliveries.


Thanks to Pushkin Media for giving us this episode to share with you.


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Jun 29, 2022
Warships with Dan Snow
31:11

Today we are talking warships: from the revolutionary Tudor ships to modern aircraft carriers, and all the innovations along the way. 


Our guest is History Hit’s own Dan Snow. 


Dan, a self-confessed Martime history nerd, gives Dallas a whistle stop tour of nearly 200 years of history — from the rise of wooden warships, to how these feats of engineering were built and how they transformed the world, forever. 


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Seyi Adaobi


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Jun 26, 2022
Special Effects
35:13

The history of Special Effects — from stop motion to motion capture.


In just over a century, we special effects have been subject to rapid innovation. What were the biggest breakthroughs? How did the digital revolution transform the industry? And, what does the future hold?


Today on the show, we speak to film historian Julie Turnock who answers all that and more, revealing the biggest technological secrets behind movie magic.


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Stuart Beckwith


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Jun 22, 2022
The Invention of Sex Toys
23:34

_CW: This episode is a bit saucier than normal with explicit sexual references and some swearing. If that isn’t your cup of tea or are listening with kids, please check out one of our past episodes instead_. 


It is fair to say, Sex Toys aren’t the taboo they once were. The stats show they are incredibly popular — over 52% of women in the US have used vibrator, and many men - 1 in 3 - use them too. And we are more comfortable than ever talking about them. 


But where did it all start and how long have they been around? 


So today on the show, sex historian Kate Lister joins us to chart their — from ancient myths, to victorian quackery through to the decline of euphemistic marketing and societies embrace of the sex toy. 


Listen to more from Kate on the History Hit podcast _Betwixt The Sheets_.  


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Stuart Beckwith


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Jun 19, 2022
Lunar Rover
30:55

The success of the Apollo Missions relied on hugely imaginative engineering. There is perhaps no better example of this than the first off-planet electric car, The Lunar Rover.


Today on the show we ask: Why did we send a car to the moon? How did we design something for an environment we knew nothing about? How did we get it up there?


Dallas is joined by by Eddie Alterman, the longtime editor at Car and Driver and host of new Puskin's new podcast, Car Show!.


You can listen to Car Show! with Eddie Alterman, from our friends at Pushkin Industries, here.


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This episode was produced by Emily Whalley.

The senior producer is Charlotte Long.

Edited and mixed by Stuart Beckwith.




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Jun 15, 2022
Plastic Surgery
36:53

As a result of all the military and medical advancements of World War One there were more seriously injured and disfigured soldiers surviving the battlefield than ever before. And so World War One also lead to a huge leap forward in plastic and cosmetic surgery.


In this episode Dallas is joined by award winning historian and author Lindsey Fitzharris to talk about the birth of reconstructive surgery, and the Grandfather behind it - Harold Gillies. Repairing missing jaw bones, gunshot wounds to the face, and leading the way on the first phalloplasty in 1949 - who is Harold Gillies, and why is he so important to the modern medical community?


Warning this episode contains graphic discussion of war injuries and surgery.



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Jun 12, 2022
Daylight Saving Time
31:31

Introduced just over 100 years ago, Daylight Savings have always been divisive.


So, why are people for and why are people against — and how have those arguments changed over time?


We find out with today's guest, Dr Kristin Hussey - a science historian currently based in Denmark who is working on a book about the history of circadian rhythms.


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley.


Edited and mixed by Aidan Lonergan.


The senior producer is Charlotte Long.


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Jun 08, 2022
Coronation Chicken
21:13

Chicken, mayonnaise, curry powder - and wait, sultanas? What exactly is Coronation Chicken and what does it have to do with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II?


Created by students, beloved by many, how does this iconic sandwich filler fit into British culinary history?


In this Jubilee Special, Dallas is joined by food historian Annie Gray to talk all things TV chefs, supermarket sandwiches, and whether this creamy delight was ever really served to the Queen.


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley.


Edited and mixed by Seyi Adaobi.


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


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Jun 05, 2022
Coffee
35:21

A cup of coffee was once a luxury. Now it is quick, cheap and widely available — a daily essential for many. How did this happen?


Today on Patented, Jonathan Morris walks us through the evolution of coffee: from how people first figured out its psychoactive properties, to the transformations in roasting, processing and preparation that resulted in a coffee shop on every high street.


Listen to the History of Coffee podcast here: A History of Coffee


Find Jonathans book, Coffee: A Global History here.


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Seyi Adaobi.


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Jun 01, 2022
Tattoos
34:58

“As ancient as time, as modern as tomorrow.’


Why have tattoos been reinvented in so many cultures - and with so many different meanings - throughout history?


And yet, tattooing is constantly portrayed as a new ‘thing’, when tattoos were just for criminals or sailors.


Far from truth, tattoos and the art of painting ones skin is as old and as fascinating as humankind itself.


On this episode we focus on the evolution of tattooing with Dr Matt Lodder. A Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, and Director of American Studies at the University of Essex.Dallas and Matt explore the inventions that led the way to modern tattooing from 17th century pilgrims in Jerusalem getting religious iconography inked on their skins, through to the first tattoo parlour in the late 1880s, and to King George V.


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley


The senior producer is Charlotte Long


Edited and mixed by Thomas Ntinas.


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May 29, 2022
The Telescope
33:25

The telescope marked, arguably, the first invention to truly transform a human sense. For the first time it allowed our eyes to observe the universe beyond the bounds of our Earthly home.


But how did this groundbreaking instrument first come about? Today on the show we find out who really invented the telescope (it wasn't Galileo, actually), why it was embraced by some and shunned by others, and explore its lasting impact on how we see our own world.


Our guest is Susan Denham Wade, author of A History of Seeing in 11 Inventions. You can find out more about Susans book here: https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/a-history-of-seeing-in-eleven-inventions/9780750997164/





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May 25, 2022
UFOs
31:13
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? A UFO maybe? Or is it some reflective Lichen? Where does the idea of an Unidentified Flying Object come from and are they real? Spoiler alert - probably not. In this episode Dallas is joined by journalist and author David Clarke to discuss all things unidentified. From the exact moment the term flying saucer was coined, to two befuddled policeman's interaction with some shiny rocks - where exactly did UFOs come from, and how have they become intertwined with modern day science?

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May 22, 2022
The Aeroplane
40:06

On 17 December 1903 the Wright Brothers successful completed the first manned, controlled and sustained flight in human history.


They made it 'just' 120 ft in that first attempt. From there, aeroplane technology took off at a pace. Only 16 years later came the first non-stop transatlantic flight, and just six years after that the first round-the-world flight touched down without stopping.


Today we revisit one of the most iconic and impactful invention stories with the help of Peter Jakub, Senior Curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.


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May 18, 2022
The Bicycle with Tim Harford
38:00

Invented in the mid-1800s, bicycles have had enduring popularity. Across cultures, they have been embraced, promising freedom and mobility at a low price point. 


Today on the show we are joined by Tim Harford, host of the podcasts Cautionary Tales and The BBC’s 50 Objects That Defined The Modern Economy. 


Tim and Dallas discuss the history of the bike, from the invention story through to bicycle booms, the C5 Sinclair and the rise of dockless bike sharing schemes. 


Listen to the episode of Cautionary Tales about the Sinclair C5 here: https://timharford.com/2022/04/cautionary-tales-the-false-dawn-of-the-electric-car/



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May 15, 2022
Prozac
37:03

How — and why — did Prozac become the best-selling antidepressant of all time? 


As it is Mental Health Awareness Week, we are diving into this fascinating story that speaks to a greater shift in psychiatry and attitudes towards mental health since the invention of the first antidepressants in the 1950s. 


We’ll also look at how depression was treated before drugs, types of antidepressants, why Prozac was so revolutionary, and what its long-term impact of it has been. 


Today's guest is Dr. Mark L. Ruffalo - a psychotherapist in private practice in Tampa, Florida who teaches widely about the history of psychiatry.


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If you'd like to learn even more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad-free podcasts, and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today!


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This episode was produced by Emily Whalley

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

Edited and mixed by Seyi Adaobi



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May 11, 2022
LSD
35:39

How did LSD go from accidental discovery to the counter cultures go to drug?


On April 19th 1943 Albert Hoffman had the first ever LSD trip in Basel, Switzerland. He was testing a substance of his own making, that he had initially developed 5 years previously and been thinking about ever since...


Today on the show are joined by Tom Shroder, author of Acid Test: Lsd, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal, who takes us through this incredible invention story, how the uses of LSD changed through the 20th century and

what the future holds.


You can find more about Tom here: (Home - Tom Shroder)


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If you'd like to learn even more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad free podcasts and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today!


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This episode was produced by Emily Whalley

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

Edited and mixed by Seyi Adaobi



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May 08, 2022
Small Inventions, Big Impact
33:14
Staples, paper clips, and washers - small inventions that improve our everyday lives and have even saved lives. In this episode Dallas is joined by author Helen Pilcher to talk about the origins of these tiny, lifer altering inventions and the impact felt still. From the use of ant heads to stop bleeding, paperclips as a symbol of defiance, and the washer helping to win the Battle of Britain - tune in for stories of how these small inventions have had huge impacts across human history.

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May 04, 2022
Robots
34:20

Many of us became familiar with robots through science fiction — R2D2, C3PO, Rosie from the Jetsons, Marvin the Paranoid Android. In comparison, it can feel like the robots we actually interact with today fall a bit short of this imagined future.


In this episode we are joined by Dr Beth Singler, Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence at Cambridge University, to discuss the invention and evolution of the robot, as well as the gap between our popular imagination and the technology scrambling to keep up.


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May 01, 2022
Wheeled Suitcase
26:02

We put man on the moon before we invented the wheeled suitcase. 


Why did it take so long? 


Find out in todays episode with guest Katrine Marçal, whose research has revealed a hidden chapter in invention story of rolling luggage. 


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Apr 27, 2022
Tanks
28:16

Tanks defined 20th century conflict — they conjure to mind images of Tiananmen Square or the Soviet Army rolling into a liberated Berlin. But over the past couple of weeks, we have began seeing them again on our TV screens during the current fighting in Ukraine. 


Today on Patented, we are joined by war historian James Holland to explore where the idea of the tank came from, how they have been used through time, and what role they play in future conflicts. 


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Apr 24, 2022
The Origin of Zero
23:09

Nada, naught, nil, zip, zilch, zero. Whatever you call it, it's hard to imagine the world without it. Zero is the basis for all modern computing and engineering, including trigonometry, algebra, and binary code. So, pretty important. But despite how integral it is to our lives now, there was once a time when zero never existed. Today we are joined by statistician and author Timandra Harkness, who is going to take us back in time to the invention of zero as a mathematical concept. Tune in to find out how it was discovered, the impact it had, and if we could possibly imagine a world without it today.


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This episode was produced by Emily Whalley

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

Edited and mixed by Seyi Adaobi



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Apr 20, 2022
The First Motion Picture: Conspiracy, Murder, and Movies
29:51

In 1890, the man who shot the first ever motion picture boarded a train in Paris — and was never seen again.


Shortly after his disappearance, another inventor showcased a camera with uncanny similarities. Is it coincidence or conspiracy?


Today on the show we are joined by author and filmmaker Paul Fischer who tells the extraordinary story of Louis Le Prince, his untimely disappearance and the scandal that followed. 


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Apr 17, 2022
The Treadmill
24:54

Before they found their way into gyms, treadmills had a much darker history. In the 19th Century, they could most commonly be found in prisons. 


In contrast to their modern track record of improving health, the Victorians saw treadmills as a way to explicitly inflict pain and punishment. A tool for ‘grinding men good’ through gruelling hours of physical activity. 


What were the moral rationalisations of this corporal punishment? Who was the inventor responsible for these machines? And what cautionary tales can we learn from this punishing chapter of penal history? 


We answer all these questions and more on the show today with the help of Rosaline Crone, a Senior Lecturer in History at the Open University who specialised in nineteenth-century criminal justice history. 


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Apr 13, 2022
The Ear Trumpet
30:42

Ear Trumpets are seen as old fashioned and clumsy, mostly deployed in pop culture for comic effect as a snarky shorthand for how old and out-of-touch a person is.


But during the Enlightenment there was a wider embrace of this new technology as a means of increased participation.


This episode we are joined by medical historian Dr Ruben Verwaal to explore how the popularity and stigma of the ear trumpet tracks with attitudes towards deafness, and where our cynicism towards the ear trumpet came from.





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Apr 10, 2022
Monks: Medieval Masters of Invention
35:25

In medieval times it was monks who were the masters of invention. They were the most educated members of society who saw scientific and philosophical investigation as a way to get closer to god. However, any experimentation had to be carefully balanced with religion, the threat of being labelled a heretic looming large. 


Today Dallas is joined by Matt Lewis, co-host of our sister podcast Gone Medieval, who explains how monks navigated this balance and tells the story of one man in particular: Roger Bacon. A friar and incredible polymath, Bacon has been credited with designing the magnifying glass but also predicted cars, powered ships and manned flight.


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Apr 06, 2022
Spacesuits
34:21

Creating a successful spacesuit was one of the biggest challenges in man's quest to land on the moon. And, it required borrowing skills from some surprising places to pull it off.... namely, women's underwear.


With the help of Ryan Nagata, artist and replica spacesuit maker, we chart the evolution of the spacesuit from the Wiley Posts, to the iconic Apollo suits and beyond.


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Apr 03, 2022
Breakfast Cereal
43:35

Kellogg's Cornflakes are arguably the most iconic breakfast cereal, and for good reason. It was this product that launched breakfast cereal as we know and love today. But as with all good invention stories, it isn’t quite as simple as a good idea at the right time.


The invention of Cornflakes is wrapped up in 20th Century health fads, transformations in labour and the mother of all family feuds. Today Dallas is joined by food historian Sarah Wassberg Johnson to get the full story.


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Mar 30, 2022
The Atomic Bomb
29:31

In a world at war, and with no end in sight, the atomic bomb was positioned to be the one weapon that could end the conflict for good.


In this episode Dallas is joined by Dr Campbell Craig, who argues that it may have put an end to World War Two — but also laid the foundations for the Cold War that was to define the second half of the 20th century, as well as continued anxieties to this day.


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Mar 27, 2022
Condoms
38:30

As today’s guest puts it, there have been condoms for as long as there have been penises. But, how did condoms as we know them — thin, latex and single use — come about?


This episode, Dr Jessica Borge, author of Protective Practices: A History of the London Rubber Company and the Condom Business, explains it all through the story of the world's most popular contraceptive brand, Durex.


Find out more about Jessica's work here: www.londonrubbercompany.com.


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Mar 23, 2022
Military Drones
36:17

Drone technology has transformed the way we wage war today. They have been key in every major conflict since at least 2008, including the current war in Ukraine. But military drones have a much longer history than you might imagine, dating all the way back to the First World War.


In this episode Dallas is joined by James Rogers, host of History Hit's very own Warfare podcast, who walks us through the century-long history of military drones.


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Mar 20, 2022
Steam Engines and Transport Innovators
34:19

The revolution in speed ground to a halt in the 1960s. The previous half-century saw great leaps in how quickly people could get from place to place: high-speed railways, cars, intercontinental flight. In our lifetime transport may have become safer and comfier — but we aren't getting anywhere any faster. 


How did these great leaps happen? What grove this focus on transport innovation and where does collaboration come into play? And why has the focus shifted? 


In this episode, we talk to Matt Ridley, author of How Innovation Works, about the acceleration of transport innovation from the steam engine to space travel. 


This episode was produced by Emily Whalley

The senior producer is Charlotte Long

Edited and mixed by Seyi Adaobi



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Mar 16, 2022
Genetic Engineering
53:00

Over the course of only half a century, genetic engineering has developed from an intellectual concept to a medical reality. Yet the ethical and moral questions underpinning it remain unanswered.


Genetically modified crops, illegal human experimentation, and a handy hip-hop analogy - Dallas is joined by Dr Adam Rutherford (The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, BBC R4) to help dig into the story of this invention, that is still very much in progress


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Mar 16, 2022
Welcome to Patented: History of Inventions
1:31
Stories of invention and innovation through history hosted by Dallas Campbell.

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Feb 28, 2022