11 unassuming products that changed our lives

As I sit and peck away at the keyboard, my washing machine is busy churning a full load of clothes. When you think about it, the washing machine and its sibling, the dryer, have really made our lives much, much easier.

My grandmother washed clothes by hand and dried them on a clothesline. What I can do in a couple of hours likely took her a half day — or more — with considerably more effort.

The washer and dryer combo is one of many items that have significantly improved our lives, but are often taken for granted. Here’s my list of other under-appreciated time and work savers.

Refrigerators
Can you imagine life with an ice box? Someone delivered blocks of ice that kept your food cold.

Old DrillPower tools
As a youngster, I’d watch my dad do carpentry work using hand tools. He cut everything with a handsaw — 2x4s, planks, and even plywood. His old hand-powered drill is pictured here.

Microwave ovens
Warm up last night’s leftovers in a couple of minutes. Sure beats putting in the oven for 15 minutes.

Gas-powered lawnmowers
The self-powered, manual mowers are better for the environment and can give you a great workout, but they’re difficult on hilly or bumpy lawns, and nearly impossible to use on large lawns.

Aluminum
Strong, lightweight, and flexible, it’s used in everything from beverage cans to baseball bats.

Automobiles
Baby Boomers were the first generation to truly experience the family car (note that I said car, not cars). Before that? Walk, bike, or take the bus. Though I must confess that my younger self enjoyed tugging the pull bell to let the bus driver know we wanted to get off at the next stop.

Airplanes
If you watch the opening of the old Hawaii Five-O series you’ll see images of airplanes and their engines. Likely because in the mid-60 most Americans had never seen a plane in person. Fast forward to 2014 and I’ll wager that 95 percent of your Facebook friends have flown on a plane.

Mobile phones
Your mobile device does so much, starting with the phone function that has given us a 24/7 communication tool, from almost anywhere on Earth.

Computers
Has anything changed our lives more than the humble PC (or Mac)? As kids we were excited to get calculators. Now, the calculator is just one utility of these powerhouse machines.

Your turn. What do you think is quietly making our lives much better and easier?

 

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