The Core 77 website has this gallery on this amusing device from 1920, the Plus Fours Routefinder, a gizmo which you wore like a watch that provided "user-advanceable mapping information at a glance" -- in other words, step-by-step instructions on getting from point A to point B.
The central design difficulties are obvious: A separate scroll was required for each point-to-point trip, which allowed no deviation. It was also unidirectional, meaning you'd have to load a new scroll for the return journey.
The device was on display as part of the British Library's "Weird and Wonderful Inventions and Gadgets" exhibition several years ago. The Mail Online theorized that the device never saw mass uptake not because of its flaws, but because it was invented too early; that there were reportedly not enough motorists in the 1920s to support mass manufacture. I'm not sure if I buy that -- you'd think that if the device had merit, one patient businessperson or another would've trotted it back out as the number of motorists rose.
|The Things a Web Developer From the 90s Will Remember|
|Music History Using Daft Punk|
|1969: Concorde flies for the first time|
|Lessons from Geocities' death|
|A Brief History of the Confederate Flag|
|“We estimate the dynamical lifetime of the Tesla to be a few tens of millions of years.”|
|"What if plant cells could be grown for food by regular people."|
|“Facebook is a declining power.”|
|The 24 Carrot Cake|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|"Automation will disrupt millions of Canadian jobs, not far in the future, but in the next dozen years."|
|“What happens when anyone can make it appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did?"|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|Fake Name Generator|
|“Can a platform be 'cool' if your aunt, grandfather, and third grade teacher all use it?”|