What's laughable today was considered a technological marvel back in the day. Look at this "Dynasphere" wheel from the 1930s. It looks like a silly giant hamster wheel, but it was actually dubbed "a remarkable invention in 'spherical locomotion'" that would "revolutionize modern transport." Crazy, right?
Created by Dr. J. H. Purves, the Dynasphere was a motor-driven 10-foot "hoop" made out of iron latticework. Popular Mechanics called it the "car of the future." It was gasoline-powered (there was also a smaller electric model) with two-and-a-half horsepower and weighed 1000 pounds.
Click on the image below for ome alternative views of the Dynasphere aka "Jumbo" as seen in Popular Mechnics:
It's hard to tell from the video, but the Dynasphere was capable of speeding along at 30 miles per hour on virtually any coarse terrain such as ice and sand. Steering was handled by leaning left and right and aided with the turning of the steering wheel ever so slightly.
So impressed was Dr. Purves, he believed he had "reduced locomotion to the simplest possible form." He envisioned highways of these wheels. Imagine that!
I love this kind of stuff. The Dynasphere is a fine example of how imaginative we used to be as inventors. It's great that these days, technology is mostly about software, but it's precisely stuff like the Dynasphere that make me wish I was born in another era, where machines were beasts and not just lines of code.