When you ask people what technologies they can't live without, they typically name cars, the Internet, and indoor plumbing as essentials to living comfortably. But after suffering through relentless heatwaves this summer, we're ready to rank air conditioning as our most indispensable luxury. While central air is less historically significant than the aforementioned technologies, we can't imagine living, working, and sweating through mid-July without ducking into buildings chilled to Arctic temperatures.
Despite the ubiquity of air conditioning, less than a century has passed since people dealt with summer temperatures the old-fashioned way: by sipping mint juleps out on the porch. Out of curiosity, we glanced through a few summer issues in our archives to find a number of gadgets that, however strange, managed to work far better than even the iciest summer cocktail.
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