Perusing this gallery of candid photos from 1890s Oslo, Norway, by Carl Størmer (1872-1957), again I found such a curious image, yet was unable to verify the existence of any portable music player back then.

According to Wikipedia,

Over several years starting in 1894 the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi built the first complete, commercially successful wireless telegraphy system based on airborne Hertzian waves (radio transmission).

That device looks awfully small, though; could it be a brush? Was brushing your hair in public without a mirror common then?

1890s lady with a device that looks like a cellphone

Are these things from 1928 movie The Circus by Charlie Chaplin and 1938 Dupont Massachusetts factory footage the same kind of device?

1938 devices that look like cellphones

I was only able to find others with the same question: What are those things?


1 Answer 1


According to The Atlantic they are hearing aids, patented in 1924. So was Norway ahead of its time in technology, or behind in fashion? Neither; the 1890s photo most likely depicts an ear trumpet:

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