I think that after we use a technology for quite some time, we begin to take it for granted. (Though a broken washing machine, dishwasher, etc. is quick to change that situation.) But with mundane, everyday, "little" technologies, it's easy to forget what life was like before that technology existed and possibly even what situation or problem it was invented to overcome.
Thus my fascination with this post on the Modernmechanix blog about the "new" spiral bound notebook from the September 1934 Popular Science. A flexible memorandum book was an innovation, presumably because rigid notebooks were disadvantageous in some way. (Uncomfortable in the pocket? Can anyone think of other possible disadvantages to rigidity?)
So the next time you pick up a spiral-bound notebook, pause a moment to ponder what innovative soul wouldn't stand for the rigid ones. No, they introduced the innovation of spiral binding for flexibility. This goes for other mundane technologies: paper clips, office "binder" clips, ball point pens, etc., etc. Thank you noble innovators everywhere.
[via BoingBoing, image from Modernmechanix.com]