1. Iron lung, 1953
The ’50s was the Jet Age: we’d conquered the skies and space was next. Back on the ground, the nearest most poor saps got to the chrome-and-glass dreams of the future was this: an iron lung. Polio was epidemic in Britain, and beautiful pieces of technology like this saved lives. The disease was eradicated by the ’80s. If this all seems a bit downbeat, think: Bond villain.