From family heirlooms to antiques shops to museums, many Americans share an obsession for things that are extremely old. This includes man-made artifacts such as a 130,000-year-old piece of jewelry and natural relics such as the fossilized remains of a Nyasasaurus found in Africa believed to be the oldest dinosaur fossil on Earth.
We offer you a glimpse at 50 of the oldest things in the world. We compiled a diverse list, drawing from modern invention such as automobiles to the oldest known star, which predates our own planet by billions of years.
While history books can remain abstract, these relics give us a tangible peek into another time. The early cave paintings, like the 40,000-year-old ones in El Castillo, Spain, lack some of the later-developed perspective techniques and drawing tools. Thousands of years later, we see the earliest example of panel paintings, which are the precursor to classic work from painters like Picasso and Van Gogh.
In other cases, mankind’s first attempts at art, photography, architecture, and music can be either beautiful in their simplicity or impressive in in their ingenuity. The earliest known photograph, Nicéphore Niépce’s “View from the Window at Le Gras,” isn’t a beautiful landscape or a poignant look at a subject. But capturing the first image paved the way for entirely new ways for people to express themselves.
Of course, many of the oldest items on Earth do not invite any artistic analysis because they were either here long before humanity was around or because they are naturally created. This includes the oldest tree, which is over 5,000 years old, and the oldest known rock, which is slightly older than that — by about 230 million years.
We reviewed scientific journals, record collecting organizations, newspapers, and other sources to identify the oldest known item in each of a number of categories. Often, there is less than a historical or scientific consensus as to which is the actual oldest item. These are not necessarily the first item made in a particular category, rather, they are the oldest surviving version.
Photography has influenced society since its inception in the 11th century. The oldest photographs depict fascinating details about life before pictures were common. From historical war photos to amazing images of space, the earliest surviving pictures known to humans have a profound and engaging aura.
The very first camera was invented by an Iraqi scientist in the 11th century. Called the “camera obscura,” the device only projected images onto other surfaces, and upside down at that. However, in the early 19th century, photography as we know it was born. French photographer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used a portable version of the 11th-century device “to expose a pewter plate coated with bitumen to light.” This became the first incarnation of permanent photography.
The images in this list are some of the oldest photographs, and most of them are the first of their kind.
These images capture the development of permanent photography throughout the course of the 19th century!
With the advent of social media, recreating vintage photos to share with the world has become a popular pastime. Recreating old photos is a great way to shed light on just how much the world has changed. Among families, placing pictures from the past and present side by side illuminates the power of genetics. This collection of people who have recreated their grandparents’ photos, oftentimes in the exact same locations, poses, or even clothing, show just how powerful heredity and the bonds of family can be.
These modern versions of grandparents’ pictures feature people from all different walks of life, from soldiers who trained at the same base as their grandfathers to women who could be their grandmother’s twin had they been born in the same era.
This heartwarming journey through history honors the grandparents who helped shape their grandchildren into the people they are today!
History doesn’t have to be just black-and-white.
Dynamichrome is a project dedicated to digitally reconstructing historical photos in color, offering a brighter glimpse into the past.
One photo even shows the Eiffel Tower in its original reddish-brown color. It’s been painted multiple times since then.
Dynamichrome’s director, Jordan Lloyd, teamed up with Retronaut website founder Wolfgang Wild to create a book featuring 124 of these photographs. The stunning photographs can be found in “The Paper Time Machine,” which is now on sale.
Check out some of the reconstructed historical photos below.
Introduced in 1956, the IBM 305 RAMAC (Random Access Memory Accounting System) was an electronic general purpose data processing machine that maintained business records on a real-time basis. The 305 RAMAC was one of the last vacuum tube systems designed by IBM, and more than 1,000 of them were built before production ended in 1961.”
The 305 was a flexible, electronic, general purpose data processing machine that enabled businesses to record transactions as they occurred and concurrently reflect each entry in affected accounts. It maintained records on a real-time basis, provided random access to any record, eliminated peak loads, and could simultaneously produce output by either print or punched cards.
The 305 system consisted of the IBM 305 Processing Unit (containing the magnetic process drum, magnetic core register and electronic logical and arithmetic circuits), the IBM 370 Printer (an 80-position serial-output printer with tape control carriage), the IBM 323 Card Punch (similar to the IBM 523 Gang Summary Punch, providing for 80 columns of output punching), the IBM 380 Console (containing the card feed, typewriter, keyboard and indicator lights and control keys), the IBM 340 Power Supply (supplying power for all components except the motors in the 350 disk storage unit), a utility table adjacent to the console, and the IBM 350 Disk Storage Unit.
The 350 Disk Storage Unit consisted of the magnetic disk memory unit with its access mechanism, the electronic and pneumatic controls for the access mechanism, and a small air compressor. Assembled with covers, the 350 was 60 inches long, 68 inches high and 29 inches deep. It was configured with 50 magnetic disks containing 50,000 sectors, each of which held 100 alphanumeric characters, for a capacity of 5 million characters.
Disks rotated at 1,200 rpm, tracks (20 to the inch) were recorded at up to 100 bits per inch, and typical head-to-disk spacing was 800 microinches. The execution of a “seek” instruction positioned a read-write head to the track that contained the desired sector and selected the sector for a later read or write operation. Seek time averaged about 600 milliseconds.
In 1958, the 305 system was enhanced to permit an optional additional 350 Disk Storage Unit, thereby doubling storage capacity; and an additional access arm for each 350.
A day at the beach in the 1940s.
Before the 1977 Instagram filter existed to give your vacation pictures a rosy glow, actual pictures from back in the day had a magic all their own.
Some vintage vacation photos show just how much a destination has changed over the years, while others could have been taken in this decade.
Here are 21 vintage photos of famous US travel destinations:
Testing cars on the roof of the Fiat factory in 1929.