5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes

It turns out that when you trace some of the things we use every day back to their origins, you find that, while necessity may be the mother of invention, sometimes her baby daddy is serendipity.
5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes

Normally, one glance is all it takes to figure out why a thing was invented. Cars came about because we needed a better way to get from here to there, guns were created because we needed a more efficient way to wreck shit once we got there, Lysol was concocted because all these vaginas aren't going to clean themselves, and ... wait, what?

Yep, it turns out that when you trace some of the things we use every day back to their origins, you find that, while necessity may be the mother of invention, sometimes her baby daddy is serendipity. For example, did you know that ...

Chainsaws Were Invented To Give Vaginas Nightmares

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes
rankomm/iStock/Getty Images

The chainsaw is a tool with myriad uses. There's cutting down trees. There's murdering hormonal teenagers at summer camp. There's murdering hormonal teenagers as a food source. There's using one as the world's most badass prosthetic.

Yeah, so "myriad" in this case means "four," three of which are only applicable in either a prison for the criminally insane or that section of the video store that always made your mom slap her hand over your eyes.

Those that were able to sneak a peak saw the fifth use: Having your giant battle robot use one as an attack penis.

The Original Purpose:

There's really no way to pussyfoot around this: The earliest models of modern-day chainsaws were designed to chop into women's nether regions during childbirth.

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes
Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images

"You're going to feel a little pinch."

See, just like the horse and buggy or stepping outside of your house ever, giving birth in the 18th century had the potential to murder you horribly. This was particularly a problem for women with smaller frames or those suffering from the common deformities caused by rickets, since such conditions could lead to obstructed labors (thereby leading to high death rates for the child) or C-sections (thereby leading to high death rates for the mom). To help move things along, the best option at the time was a "division of the symphysis pubis," which is a combination of sciency words used to distract a woman from the fact that a doctor was about to agonizingly saw through her pelvic bone to give the baby a wider path through which to shoot out.

Two Scottish doctors, John Aitken and James Jeffray, are credited with inventing the medical chainsaw around the mid-1780s. Their design looked like this:

Grimshaw, Saws, Remsen and Haffelfinger via Google Books


It used a long, curved needle to snake the chain around the bone, then handles were attached to either end and the doctor proceeded to live out his wildest lumberjack fantasies. And in case you haven't completely emptied your bladder yet, in 1830 German orthopedist Bernhard Heine came up with this improved model:

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes


His operated more like a modern chainsaw, with a hand crank that caused the chain to rotate around a central guide bar. Of course, seeing as how this was still a good half century before widespread availability of the internal combustion engine, the "WAH WAAAAH!" sounds had to be provided by mouth.

Chickens Were Domesticated Not For Food But For Fighting

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes
luxiangjian4711/iStock/Getty Images

Chickens taste good. Damn good. And eggs? Oh boy. It's no wonder that, ever since a caveman first saw a prehistoric dino-chicken get struck by lightning and considered it a tasty gift from the sky-giants, we've been incessantly salivating over the most delicious of man's domesticated feathered friends.

And today's chicken is clearly a human invention -- these are creatures that, like cows, were bred over the centuries purely to be better food. They're just a walking set of parts designed to be separated and deep-fried.

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes
Kondor83/iStock/Getty Images

And yes, corn oil counts as a vegetable.

The Original Purpose:

For the longest time, no one wanted to eat chickens, because chickens were first domesticated strictly for the schoolboy-delightingly named sport of cockfighting.

Evidence of feathered deathmatches goes back thousands of years, with ancient cockfighting rings having been discovered from Egypt to Greece to Rome to India, where kicking a cow would get you reincarnated as a dung beetle but forcing chickens to slash the absolute shit out of each other with metal spurs was all in good fun. Chickens have even been worshiped as divine creatures by the Syrians, hailed as symbols of victory and crowned as the national sport of the Greeks, and regarded as valuable fortune-telling devices by the Romans, who observed their fighting to predict the outcomes of major battles and remind their men that they should be "perpetual imitators of the cock." That's one ancient Roman lesson that seems to have survived all the way down to modern-day politicians.

jim pruitt/iStock/Getty Images

But, just to be safe, all fiddles are still banned in the capital.

Proving that reverence falls somewhere below mild hunger on the list of human priorities, Romans were also among the first to try a bite of their battlecocks. They enjoyed eating them so much, in fact, that a law was enacted to prevent Roman citizens from eating so much chicken. When Rome fell, so did all the chicken munching, and chickens wouldn't become a staple food again until the 20th century -- right around the time people figured out they could raise massive numbers of the birds indoors. And that, boys and girls, is how one plummets from the lofty height of "noble battle creature" all the way to the depths of "pre-McNugget."

On a similar note ...

Braille Was Invented As A Form Of Military Communication

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes
Close-Up Of BrailleClose-up of brailleDownloadJupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Every once in a while, humankind takes a break from being terrible so it can invent a way to help the less fortunate. Like Braille -- the written language specifically developed so blind people could read books and other text. That was a nice thing somebody did, just out of the goodness of their heart! Good going, humanity!

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty

You get a free atrocity for that one!

Wait, we're about to find out that Braille was originally created to help soldiers more effectively murder the shit out of each other, aren't we?

The Original Purpose:

Back when Napoleon had his sights set on forcibly teaching the entirety of Europe the joys of croissants and uncomfortably revealing pants, he tasked Charles Barbier, a captain in his army, with developing a system by which soldiers could communicate silently, day or night. The system Barbier devised became known as "night writing," a code consisting of cells of up to 12 raised dots symbolizing every letter of the French alphabet and then some. The French military promptly told Barbier that his fancy dot-writing was so much merde, because the French language was already ridiculous enough without having to encode all those extra squiggly bits into something that looked like it could get you burned at the stake for being some kind of devil-writer.

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes

Then again, this is the language that has its own immigration department, so it's not that surprising.

So Barbier harrumphed prodigiously, twirled his skinny mustache, and whisked his encoding system away to the National Institute For The Blind in Paris to see if blind folk had any more luck with it than soldiers did. It was there that he met a 15-year-old boy by the name of Louis Braille, who proceeded to shit all over Barbier's code. Braille transformed it into something that was actually workable by reducing the number of dots into a two-by-six cell that neatly fit beneath a single fingertip, thereby creating the first viable system allowing the blind to read ... not to mention etching his name directly over top of Barbier's in the history books.

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes

TNT Was Originally A Yellow Dye

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes
fergregory/iStock/Getty Images

Some inventions are obvious from the concept stage. A hammer is clearly only good for smacking things, blades are for stabbing, and TNT was clearly designed for unsuccessfully blowing the holy hell out of road runners.

Seriously, just order some KFC.

WWI-era Germany was intent on living out the Looney Tunes universe in real life, judging by its explosive love affair with TNT. By the beginning of the war, Germany lorded over damn nigh all of the world's TNT production, and by the time the war ended an estimated 2.5 million tons of the explosive had resulted in over 10 million casualties that, unlike those experienced by Wile E. Coyote, were depressingly permanent in nature.

The Original Purpose:

Trinitrotoluene was first mad-scienced in 1863 by German chemist Joseph Wilbrand. J-Willy wasn't looking to explode anyone's shit, however -- he had the 100 percent innocent intention of making things prettily yellow. His yellow dye was used for decades before anyone even noticed its explosive properties, presumably after an epidemic of girls in sundresses turning their Sunday schools into smoking craters. And even after someone did realize it, no one considered TNT much of a danger because of its relative stability and less-than-earthshaking explosive yield.

British Army

"It only explodes a little."

But a few decades later, they realized that having to pretty-please TNT into detonating actually made it perfect for use in shells that would penetrate a target and only explode once they were deep within said target's bowels. By the time World War I rolled around, other countries had followed suit, and entire factories were pumping out scads of TNT-stuffed shells for the war effort. The women working these production lines were nicknamed "canary girls," due to the fact that handling the TNT would turn their hair green and their skin yellow.

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Imperial War Museum via Daily Mail

You'll have to take our word for it.

And it wasn't just the workers who were being transformed into half-ass Oompa Loompas. According to people who were born in the U.K. while all this bomb-stuffing was taking place, it also led to pregnant workers delivering yellow "canary babies." You can decide for yourself whether it's weirder to think that's true, or that someone would just make it up.

Speaking of making things up ...

TLC Was Originally An Honest-To-Goodness Educational Channel Distributed By NASA

TILIC a brand nen ertertainmen channel launches 3oth April

It's a long-running joke that TLC is a self-contained contradiction. Much like KFC, the network shortened its name from The Learning Channel as a way of distancing itself from a term commonly viewed as detrimental to society (in this case, "learning"). Actually, on second thought, TLC could only validly be compared to KFC if, rather than Kentucky fried chicken, KFC started serving charbroiled horse turds on a stick.

TLC's particular brand of stick-based excrement comes in the form of an incessant stream of "reality" shows that you flip to whenever you need to feel better about your own sad, sad life -- shows such as Long Island Medium, 17 Kids And Counting, 18 Kids And Counting, 19 Kids And Counting, and What The Vagina-Pummeling Fuck, Duggar Family?!

9kids TLC &Counting

At this point, it's really more of a water slide than a birthing canal.

The Original Purpose:

The Learning Channel began as a government-sponsored endeavor established by the Department Of Health, Education, And Welfare in 1972, and back then it wasn't a misnomer -- the network's sole mission was to slap some knowledge into the brains of legions of smarts-starved ingrates. It was a mission fully supported by NASA, who took an extended break from launching men to the moon to distribute the channel via its network of satellites in hopes of launching dumbassery to somewhere in the general vicinity of M83.

5 Modern Things Created For Totally Different Purposes

Maybe Honey Boo Boo will make the Yeerks decide that we're just not worth their time.

The first nail in TLC's brain-coffin came in 1980, when the channel was privately acquired by the Appalachian Community Service Network and became officially known as The Learning Channel (presumably it was just "That Channel No One Watches" before that). However, it would continue its virtuous mission with shows like Learn To Read and Battles That Changed The World for more than a decade ... up until its acquisition by Discovery, a point in its history that can be directly compared to that moment when a housefly buzzed into Jeff Goldblum's teleporter in The Fly.

What followed was a slow and horrific mutation, beginning somewhat innocently with home improvement shows but growing into the TLC we all know today, a network from which we can only hope to learn how immeasurably fast the human thumb can change a goddamn channel.


Who could have predicted this outcome?

Dennis Fulton can be found on Twitter giving expert advice on proper chainsaw vaginal insertion techniques and legal advice to people who followed his previous advice.

For more history of innovation, check out 25 Seemingly Minor Inventions That Totally Changed Your Life and 6 Geniuses Who Saw Their Inventions Turn Evil.

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