10 Remarkable Inventions And Technologies That Were Lost To Time


Tesla Oscillator

Known as the Earthquake Machine, Tesla built an oscillator that resonated at such a frequency that is shook the buildings around him, and he had to use a sledgehammer to destroy the machine as it wouldn’t shut down. Whether or not it could truly induce an earthquake is up to speculation. The guys at Mythbusters tested out this experiment with an oscillator of their own, but couldn’t reproduce the results, and they determined it ‘busted’ but did concede that buildings in Tesla’s time weren’t built to withstand the vibrations that today’s structures are, and that maybe it could happen.



Violins These are the most famous and rare violins in the world, and that’s for a very good reason. No one knows how these violins make their unique resonance. The technique for building Stradivari instruments was a family secret known only by patriarch Antonio Stradivari and his sons, Omobono and Francesco. Once they died, the process died with them, but this hasn’t stopped some from trying to reproduce it. Whether it’s a specific wood density or a type of fungus in the materials, it’s an enduring mystery.


The Telharmonium

Recognized as one of the worlds first electronic instruments, the Teleharmonium was an organ-like device that used wheels to create synthetic tones and transmitted them over wires. Builtin in 1897, it was the largest electronic instrument in the world, weighing 200 tons and taking up an entire room. It was a system of keyboards and foot pedals and could reproduce other instruments. The original intention was to play music that could be broadcasted over telephone lines to the masses, but the idea took too much energy from the grid and the idea was scrapped, and it was destroyed. To this date, nothing remains of the original teleharmoniums, not even recordings.


Teleforce (aka death Ray)

Another Tesla invention, this unbuilt device from the 1930’s could apparently shoot death beams that could destroy anything in it’s path for 200 miles. It could also generate a ‘power wall’ to defend itself. Even though he never made it, never proved it existed, people still tried to steal it from him. The design was lost to history, and it’s probably a good thing.



An extremely old recipe of 65 herbs, this remedy was supposed to cure any kind of poisoning. The inventor, in the 1st Century BC, actually tried several different poisons to kill himself, and was unable to. Soon after, he was stabbed to death by soldiers (some say it was his request, as he couldn’t die from poisoning), and his recipe was translated and altered until the true recipe was lost.


Viking Sword Ulfbehrt

This is truly a mystery that has no explanation. When archeologists found these swords, dated back to 800-1000 AD, they couldn’t explain them. The swords seemed to have been fashioned using techniques that would not be available until 800 years later during the industrial revolution. From the metal’s composition, to the heat required to forge the blade, there’s no way the sword should have existed in that time.

Recently a blacksmith tried to recreate it using methods only used during the Middle Ages, and found it exceptionally difficult to do without resorting to modern tech.


Apollo/Gemini Space Program

Technology Not all of the lost technology is from antiquity and the early part of the century, sometimes it’s a bit more recent. Case in point is the Gemini and Apollo missions. The race to get into space before the USSR meant that NASA was doing everything it could to develop rockets, modules and mechanisms to get into space. A lot of that old technology is around, but the schematics and original components are so disorganized and scattered that now current NASA staff is trying to reverse engineer the original tech. At the time, they used independent contractors worked on specific parts, and took their work and schematics with them, that no one has a holistic vision of how it all worked together.



This was one of the earliest wonder drugs in the Roman empire, and it was mainly used as a cure all, especially when it came to fertility. When used correctly it was a contraceptive. Roman women would drink Silphium juice every few weeks and it would keep them from getting pregnant. Some scholars have even said that drinking the juice could even terminate an existing pregnancy. This plant was so valuable to the Romans that it was on several pieces of their currency.

The plant was so popular that scholars believe it was so rare and so over harvested that it died out and became extinct.


Roman Concrete

What we know now as concrete was only invented in the 1700’s, but the Romans, Greeks, Persians and Egyptians were using concrete for centuries. The Romans, especially, had a secret and persistent recipe that they used on the the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the aqueducts, and the Roman Baths. When you think of it, the Roman structures have endured for centuries, while modern projects crumble after decades. What they did differently was lost in the dark ages and no one knows the secret. There are theories that the stonemasons took the recipes to their graves, while other scholars hypothesize that the ancient Romans added in milk or blood to the mixture. Talk about putting yourself into your work.


The Antikythera Mechanism

This is one of the most mysterious of all lost archeological discoveries. A device, which is a series of gears, levers and dials, used to chart the astronomical positions of the sun, moon, and other planets. It was discovered in a shipwreck in the 1900’s, with the materials on the ship dating back to 1st or 2nd Century AD. The true purpose of the device is not known, as it’s a mystery as to how it was constructed. Some theorize that it’s an early analog computer, and the fact that it’s been put together with such precision, means that there must have been more out there, but none have been discovered of this age. The next time this device is mentioned in historical record is in the 1400’s, but what happened in the time between? Why was it lost for so long?



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