Does the current pace of technology wear you out? For my opted-out father on my side and my befuddled mother-in-law on my wife’s side, it’s exciting and scary both. (the former has never owned a computer or used the web, the latter needed me to set up her Kindle). But hasn’t it long been this way?

If you haven’t seen the movie Midnight in Paris, it’s definitely worth checking out. Not just because it shows the beauty of such a popular tourism destination, but because of one theme that we always look back on another time as the Golden Age. The main character looked to Paris in the 1920s. The woman he meets there wants to go back to the Belle Epoque. The men there look more fondly at the Renaissance.

Someday others will look back at this one right now as the magic time. A few decades or more from now, people will say something like, “Can you imagine growing up when laptops, the Internet, MP3 players, digital cameras, the iPhone first came out? How exciting! That would have been the best time ever to start a company too!”

We’ve had a lot of periods like this before though. I was recently leafing through an out-of-print reference book I keep in my office, Writer’s Companion. One section lists when products we use now were first available in stores or catalogs. There’s one period that really jumps out: the two decades at the end of the 19th century. Check out this list of what came out between 1880 and the end of 1899.

John Boyd Dunlop, inventor of bike with inflatable tires

Baby powder
Bathtubs with hot running water
Batteries (dry cell)
Bicycles with tires
Breakfast cereal
Cardboard boxes
Chewing gum
Home cleansers
Packaged cigarettes
Fishing reels
Garden hoses
Harmonicas
Mass-produced underwear
Aluminum pots
Lawnmowers (manual)
Mouthwash
Paper book matches
Milk chocolate
Ready-mixed paints
Paper bags
Fountain pens
Phonograph players
Upright pianos
Roller skates
Soft drinks/soda pop
Toilet paper
Flush toilets
Typewriters
Vaseline

So, if you’re looking back to a golden age you wish you could go back and live in, you might want to make it start in at least 1900. Then you’d get a proper bathroom at least…