Twenty years ago, you would have been the coolest kid on the block for carrying a Nokia 3310. But time flies and technological innovation accelerates along with it. Today, we live in a world ruled by touch screens, face recognition, and machine learning, so imagine what the technology was like a century ago, or two.

In order to find out, we’re taking you on a historical roller coaster to see what ancient technologies defined the future a hundred years ago. From motorized roller-skate salesmen in 1961, aka the proud ancestors of today’s hoverboards, to giant mechanical tricycles from 1896 and orgone accumulators of the '50s, these are some of the most interesting retro-historical devices.

Some were truly incredible, others look kinda cool, and the rest… make you think "what on earth were they thinking?"

#1

300 Year Old Library Tool That Enabled A Researcher To Have Seven Books Open At Once, Yet Conveniently Nearby (Palafoxiana Library, Puebla)

300 Year Old Library Tool That Enabled A Researcher To Have Seven Books Open At Once, Yet Conveniently Nearby (Palafoxiana Library, Puebla)

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
2 months ago

The original multi-tab browser interface!

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#2

350 Year Old Pocket Watch Carved From A Single Colombian Emerald

350 Year Old Pocket Watch Carved From A Single Colombian Emerald

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
2 months ago

And I thought they exaggerated in Romancing the Stone

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#3

In 1955, This Tiny Electric Narrow Gauge Train Was Installed In New York’s Holland Tunnel To Monitor Traffic Speed

In 1955, This Tiny Electric Narrow Gauge Train Was Installed In New York’s Holland Tunnel To Monitor Traffic Speed

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

Slow down I the man in the toot toot command you to!

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Three decades ago, smartphones did not exist (the first phone of the "smart kind" was the Simon Personal Communicator, released in 1994,) while just over half a century ago (the first personal-use computer Altair was developed in 1974,) nobody had a computer in their home. Just let this sink in for a little. It feels like technology is accelerating at an immense pace.

According to Ray Kurzweil and his book “The Singularity Is Near,” technology’s quickening pace is not just a feeling, but actually real. It turns out, “the pace of technological progress—especially information technology—speeds up exponentially over time because there is a common force driving it forward.”

In other words, every generation of technology improves over the last as it achieves some kind of rate of progress.

#4

A British Couple Sleeps Inside A "Morrison Shelter” Used As Protection From Collapsing Homes During The WWII 'Blitz' Bombing Raids... March 1941

A British Couple Sleeps Inside A "Morrison Shelter” Used As Protection From Collapsing Homes During The WWII 'Blitz' Bombing Raids... March 1941

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Your Local Lizard
Community Member
2 months ago

I would wake up and hit my head

Joe Reaves
Community Member
2 months ago

Better than having your entire ceiling hitting your head on its way down.

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Spork420
Community Member
2 months ago

Crate training your humans...

Andrew Gibb
Community Member
2 months ago

coincidentally 'The Doors' used to put Jim in one of these when he was having a bad trip

Colin L
Community Member
2 months ago

I have friends who use these... but only with a safeword.

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Jon S.
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

These things are credited as being the best bomb protection during the war. The early communal shelters were death traps. They were concrete slabs propped up on earthen walls and when the bombs hit the walls liquefied, crushing the occupants. The next safety attempt, the Anderson shelter, a half-buried corrugated steel shelter for individual gardens, worked fine. But people were not prepared to sleep outside in them during winter. Finally this cage made sure you would survive your house collapsing, long enough for your neighbours to rescue you.

Petra Christovová
Community Member
2 months ago

Idk if that would help, he could be buried alive if the collapse would be really bad.

Saint Thomas
Community Member
2 months ago

I guess the risk is even greater without the 'cage'. At least the odds are a bit turned in your favor. If you live on the 1st floor of a 10 storey building, it won't do much good.But in a small building or a house, I guess it can still be pretty effective.

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Patti Vance
Community Member
2 months ago

i recently saw some advertisments for similar types of bed for places that have earthquakes.

A Random Panda
Community Member
2 months ago

Claustrophobia activated.

Dorothy Parker
Community Member
2 months ago

Adult diapers were also invented about that time.

Ian Milne
Community Member
2 months ago

Looks like a good place to keep the mother-in-law

Bettye McKee
Community Member
2 months ago

Good idea. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Coco
Community Member
2 months ago

and now idiots complain because they have to use masks

Torchicachu
Community Member
2 months ago

honeslty this is kinda genius

BusLady
Community Member
2 months ago

And Grandpa keeps a lookout over the bed.

C. Mayo
Community Member
2 months ago

This would come in handy in my mobile home during tornado season!

Mark Kelly
Community Member
2 months ago

Why not make it a bit taller?

Selina Ali
Community Member
2 months ago

Might wanna put the dishes in a box too?

Cip IESAN
Community Member
2 months ago

Also good against rats!

BusLady
Community Member
2 months ago

Or if a bear breaks into the house.

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Triv
Community Member
1 month ago

I would use something like that to protect myself from my animals' nocturnal wanderings. Throw mosquito netting around the outside and you're insect- & arachnid-safe, too.

Jane W.
Community Member
1 month ago

Truthfully, I wouldn't mind having something like that here in California for those times that are a'shakin'.

El Dee
Community Member
2 months ago

Sensible idea..

Mama Panda
Community Member
2 months ago

Imagine if you had to tinkle and had to get out of this in a hurry!

Purr·maid
Community Member
2 months ago

If their home did in fact collapse, they would most likely have a difficult time getting out.

Oskar vanZandt
Community Member
2 months ago

These folks probably didn't have a cellar or room in the backyard for a shelter... and were too far away from a public air raid shelter.

Max Schlimgen
Community Member
2 months ago

That just seems like a fire hazard. What if you leave the key outside?

DogMatic
Community Member
2 months ago

Why would you lock it?

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jevais
Community Member
2 months ago

It's better to hit one's head than have the ceiling fall on you. It was horrible war that destroyed so many lives like all wars.

Peter Kelly
Community Member
2 months ago

What's so astonishing? That was life in the UK during the war, if you lived in a city.

Jean-paul B.M.
Community Member
2 months ago

terrifying

wyatt hollingsworth
Community Member
2 months ago

So claustrophobic! Imagine the roof collapsing and now your just trapped in a cage!

Clever Dog
Community Member
2 months ago

better that than the roof collapsing on your head!

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
2 months ago

I've seen stories about these

Marvin HoG
Community Member
1 month ago

I've always worried about that with tornadoes and earthquakes being a distinct possibility here. I should get me one of these.

Amanda Hunter
Community Member
1 month ago

Send them to CA, we need them.

ArhomR
Community Member
1 month ago

So many people slept under the kitchen table if they couldn’t get to a bomb shelter.

Mary Maney
Community Member
1 month ago

Just sad.

Thomas Ewing
Community Member
1 month ago

Doesn't look strong enough if the roof fell in...

Jean Thompson
Community Member
1 month ago

Strange, but it saved a lot of lives.

Jenna
Community Member
2 months ago

God that is so sad and terrifying to think of.

Donna Cheung
Community Member
2 months ago

Well. They look just like the "cage homes" many poor live in nowadays. And we're not having a war at the moment, so.

Panda with Heart
Community Member
2 months ago

Wow

Biljana Malesevic
Community Member
2 months ago

Not for claustrophobic.

Zophra
Community Member
2 months ago

Crated for the night?... just stop chewing on the furniture.

Katie Lutesinger
Community Member
2 months ago

Imagine sleeping in a rabbit hutch...

A Méndez
Community Member
2 months ago

😳

Sue Knerl
Community Member
2 months ago

Jesus, I'd hate to get trapped in that thing.

Sasha Kuleshov
Community Member
2 months ago

We haven't invented the triangle of life yet :)

Bacony Cakes
Community Member
2 months ago

...Who do you think you're kidding, Mr. Hitler?

Shull GaRett
Community Member
2 months ago

Imagine waking up in the night in need of going to toilet... opening that being half as sleep would wake me up so much

Randy Klefbeck
Community Member
1 month ago

They won't be crushed but still could be buried and suffocate.

hoRSefAce
Community Member
1 month ago

I love reading about WWII and I have never heard of this before but I sure hope that it's made of metal otherwise it would most likely break.

My O My
Community Member
2 months ago

For some reason I like it

Sara Lopez
Community Member
2 months ago

i dig it

Jelly the Bean
Community Member
2 months ago

But what if the house fell down around you? Would you be able to get out?

DogMatic
Community Member
2 months ago

If not, attempts would be made to dig you out of the rubble once the bombs stop flying.

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Anton Kider
Community Member
2 months ago

Try to get out when hour home catches fire ...

DogMatic
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

They're not locked in there!

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Marilyn Holt
Community Member
2 months ago

Actually a really good idea in those circumstances.

Mark Serbian, PK&RG,W
Community Member
2 months ago

Some people pay extra for that ...

Tzippora Gold
Community Member
2 months ago

i would not like thatttttt

DKS 001
Community Member
2 months ago

how romantic

Definitely not a person
Community Member
2 months ago

Dats wat I keep my dinner in

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#5

Robo-Vac, A Self-Proppeled Vacuum Cleaner Part Of Whirlpool’s Miracle Kitchen Of The Future, A Display At The 1959 American National Exhibition In Moscow, 1959

Robo-Vac, A Self-Proppeled Vacuum Cleaner Part Of Whirlpool’s Miracle Kitchen Of The Future, A Display At The 1959 American National Exhibition In Moscow, 1959

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

My roomba’s great grand father

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#6

This Car Is A French 'Delahaye 175s Roadster', Introduced At The Paris Motor Show In 1949. Only One Was Ever Made. It Was Recently Sold At Auction For Around Five Million Dollars.

This Car Is A French 'Delahaye 175s Roadster', Introduced At The Paris Motor Show In 1949. Only One Was Ever Made. It Was Recently Sold At Auction For Around Five Million Dollars.

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Sori
Community Member
2 months ago

This is so sexy

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When taking two separate innovations from different eras, from the birth of the first modern car in 1886 to the beginning of the self-driving car era in 2012, every step of progress speeds up from one version to the next.

The Singularity Hub explains that the more effective technology is, the more attention it receives, and the more efficient flow of new resources it has. “Increased R&D budgets, recruiting top talent, etc. are directed to further improving the technology.”

With that in mind, we can suspect that technological innovation will look very different in a couple of decades' time from now. It may not be the flying cars as we’ve seen in retro-futuristic movies, but it may well be an AI friend who talks to you like a real person. Oh, wait, we don’t need to wait that long, since that already exists.

#7

Philco Predicta Television From The Late 1950s

Philco Predicta Television From The Late 1950s

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
2 months ago

Nice design, though

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#8

The World's Oldest Surviving Diving Suit: The Old Gentleman, From 1860

The World's Oldest Surviving Diving Suit: The Old Gentleman, From 1860

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

No thank you this looks like it came out of a horror movie

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#9

Motorola Vice President John F. Mitchell Showing Off The Dynatac Portable Radio Telephone In New York City In 1973

Motorola Vice President John F. Mitchell Showing Off The Dynatac Portable Radio Telephone In New York City In 1973

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Aleksandra Elias
Community Member
2 months ago

And when it stops working, you can use it to put under an unsteady table or wardrobe

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#10

Kodak K-24 Camera, Used For Aerial Photography During Ww2 By The Americans

Kodak K-24 Camera, Used For Aerial Photography During Ww2 By The Americans

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Steve Barnett
Community Member
2 months ago

He's so tiny.

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#11

The Old "Telefontornet" Telephone Tower In Stockholm, Sweden, With Approximately 5,500 Telephone Lines C. 1890

The Old "Telefontornet" Telephone Tower In Stockholm, Sweden, With Approximately 5,500 Telephone Lines C. 1890

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

Imagine what that sounded like on a windy day!

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#12

A Rail Zeppelin And A Steam Train Near The Railway Platform. Berlin, Germany, 1931

A Rail Zeppelin And A Steam Train Near The Railway Platform. Berlin, Germany, 1931

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
2 months ago

This looks pretty futuristic even for nowadays, though

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#13

Helen, An American Indian Telephone And Switchboard Operator, Montana, 1925

Helen, An American Indian Telephone And Switchboard Operator, Montana, 1925

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UncleTrash
Community Member
2 months ago

"First Nation" "Native" "Native American" "Indgenous" "Aboriginal" Come on man, anything but "Indian"....ffs

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#14

A Thin TV Screen (Only 4 Inches Thick) With An Automatic Timing Device To Record TV Programs For Later Viewing Is The Wave Of The Future As Shown At The Home Furnishings Market In Chicago, Illinois, On June 21, 1961

A Thin TV Screen (Only 4 Inches Thick) With An Automatic Timing Device To Record TV Programs For Later Viewing Is The Wave Of The Future As Shown At The Home Furnishings Market In Chicago, Illinois, On June 21, 1961

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
2 months ago

They weren't wrong!

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#15

Soviet Peasants Listen To The Radio For The First Time, 1928

Soviet Peasants Listen To The Radio For The First Time, 1928

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Saint Thomas
Community Member
2 months ago

That's the original "What sorcery is this"-stare right here !

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#16

Motorized Roller-Skate Salesman In California, 1961

Motorized Roller-Skate Salesman In California, 1961

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Whovian
Community Member
2 months ago

Imagine skating normally when the fuel finished...... so slow

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#17

FBI's Fingerprint Files, 1944.

FBI's Fingerprint Files, 1944.

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Stephanie Did It
Community Member
2 months ago

How long did it take to find a match??

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#18

The Open Side View Of An Old Calculator

The Open Side View Of An Old Calculator

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

Oh I thought that was mark zuckerberg‘s face with out its fleshy mask

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#19

One-Wheel Motorcycle, Germany, 1925

One-Wheel Motorcycle, Germany, 1925

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

How do you get out without tipping over?

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#20

The Hindenburg Takes Shape, 1932

The Hindenburg Takes Shape, 1932

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

I would not trust those wheel ladders I’d be like nope I’m out

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#21

The First Public Demonstration Of A Computer Mouse, Graphical User Interface, Windowed Computing, Hypertext And Word Processing, 1968

The First Public Demonstration Of A Computer Mouse, Graphical User Interface, Windowed Computing, Hypertext And Word Processing, 1968

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
2 months ago

Looks very cool to me

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#22

TV Glasses Decades Before Google Glass, 1960s

TV Glasses Decades Before Google Glass, 1960s

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

og virtual reality

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#23

Orgone Accumulator, A Device Sold In The 1950s To Allow A Person Sitting Inside To Attract Orgone, A Massless 'Healing Energy'. The Fda Noted That One Purchaser, A College Professor, Knew It Was "Phony" But Found It "Helpful Because His Wife Sat Quietly In It For Four Hours Every Day."

Orgone Accumulator, A Device Sold In The 1950s To Allow A Person Sitting Inside To Attract Orgone, A Massless 'Healing Energy'. The Fda Noted That One Purchaser, A College Professor, Knew It Was "Phony" But Found It "Helpful Because His Wife Sat Quietly In It For Four Hours Every Day."

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

Four hours?! “Honey sit down in this box while I got to the bar here is some books to keep you entertained”

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#24

Bikes For Your Feet

Bikes For Your Feet

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

How to be the coolest kid on the block Step one: get a pair of these bad boys Step two: there is no step two

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#25

Jay Ohrberg's 'Double Wide' Limousine. Built By The Man Who Also Created The 'American Dream' Superlimo

Jay Ohrberg's 'Double Wide' Limousine. Built By The Man Who Also Created The 'American Dream' Superlimo

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Cip IESAN
Community Member
2 months ago

If it rains it becomes a "pool-on-wheels"! You can also put some sand inside, to keep the kids quiet.

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#26

A 5mb Hard Disk Drive Being Loaded Onto A Plane, In 1956

A 5mb Hard Disk Drive Being Loaded Onto A Plane, In 1956

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wandile dludlu
Community Member
2 months ago

I take a single picture that is more than 5mbs now

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#27

The 'Isolator' , By Hugo Gernsback: A Helmet For Insulating The Senses Against Distraction; From The Journal Science And Invention, Vol. 13, No. 3, July 1925

The 'Isolator' , By Hugo Gernsback: A Helmet For Insulating The Senses Against Distraction; From The Journal Science And Invention, Vol. 13, No. 3, July 1925

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Radar Doi
Community Member
2 months ago

looks like a good tool for open offices nowadays :))))

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#28

Using A Two-Horn Listening Device At Bolling Field In Washington, D.c., In 1921 Before The Invention Of Radar, To Listen For Distant Aircraft

Using A Two-Horn Listening Device At Bolling Field In Washington, D.c., In 1921 Before The Invention Of Radar, To Listen For Distant Aircraft

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Caffeinated Hedgehog
Community Member
2 months ago

And then his friend would prank him by farting in front of the device.

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#29

1911: Chester Mcduffee And His Ads Diving Suit, Aluminum Alloy Weighing 485 Lbs/200 Kg

1911: Chester Mcduffee And His Ads Diving Suit, Aluminum Alloy Weighing 485 Lbs/200 Kg

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Brett
Community Member
2 months ago

Steam punk before steam punk was cool

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#30

A Man With A Punt Gun, A Type Of Large Shotgun Used For Duck Hunting. It Could Kill Over 50 Birds At Once And Was Banned In The Late 1860s

A Man With A Punt Gun, A Type Of Large Shotgun Used For Duck Hunting. It Could Kill Over 50 Birds At Once And Was Banned In The Late 1860s

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plush n puppet shenanigans
Community Member
2 months ago

punt guns were so powerful that they had to be shot from a boat called a punt hence the name punt gun to absorb the recoil, they were usually 2 gauge in caliber and they were used for putting food on the table (though not necessarily your table as it was used to supply large amounts of birds to markets)

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Note: this post originally had 84 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

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