Umbrellas have been shielding us from the elements for thousands of years, but they haven’t always been in style.

Time-traveling reporter Josie Huang takes Joy Dolo and co-host Bella on a bumpy ride through “brolly” history. We’ll meet the fashion-forward guy who made it cool to carry an umbrella in London, despite the coach drivers who threw trash at him. And we’ll visit the savvy sculptor Slawa Duldig, who created a more portable umbrella design that she had to smuggle out of her home country after the Nazis invaded.

Plus, a visit from resident umbrella trend forecaster Sanden Totten, who shares some futuristic umbrellas that can do everything from uploading photos to the internet, to creating a rain-repelling forcefield of air. You can check out pictures of the Airblow 2050 here.

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BELLA: Excuse me. Excuse me. Madame Mode? Can I ask you a few questions about your newest collection, Downpour?

MADAME MODE: Oui, but of course. What do you want to know, darling?

What was your inspiration? We saw color. We saw shape. We saw a lot of umbrellas.

Sad story. One time, I went to a, how do you say, amusement park, and I stood in front of a water ride, yes? The ride comes down the slide. Doop, doop, doop, and suddenly, I am all wet. So I say to myself, Mode, you need to stop this madness, this sadness, this wet clothingness.

BELLA: Well, your newest collection certainly tries to solve this common problem.

MADAME MODE: Yes, well, I say, why be caught without an umbrella? Why not make your clothing the umbrella?

BELLA: Yes. Tonight, we saw an umbrella watch, umbrella shoes, umbrella belt buckle, umbrella backpack, umbrella kneepads, umbrella shoulder pads. But what about your head?

MADAME MODE: Your head? Why, I didn't-- oh no.

BELLA: I just think--

MADAME MODE: Sacrebleu. I cannot believe I forgot to include an umbrella hat. Launch plan L!

BELLA: Plan L?

MADAME MODE: I have dozens of umbrella hat ideas. Mon dieu, why didn't I think to include them in my epic fashion show? I am ruined.

BELLA: Oh no, what's that?

MADAME MODE: We released dozens of lizards into the audience to distract from the lack of an umbrella hat.

BELLA: I think I should go.

MADAME MODE: Umbrella hat!

JOY DOLO: I'm Joy Dolo, and this is Forever Ago, the show where we start at the beginning. Every episode, we dive deep into the history of one thing, and today is all about my favorite dome-shaped, water-repellent, fold-upable fashion accessory.

BELLA: A.K.A, umbrellas.

JOY DOLO: Yes, and this is my co-host for the day, Bella.


JOY DOLO: Hello. Rain or shine, it's good to have an umbrella handy. You never know when you might get caught in a downpour.

BELLA: Or maybe you just want a break from the sun.

JOY DOLO: Today, we're going to travel back in time to learn about the origin of the umbrella. But first, I want to hear a little more about you, Bella. So are you the type of person that keeps an umbrella with you at all times?

BELLA: Not really. I usually just wear a sweatshirt and pretend like I have an umbrella.

JOY DOLO: It's like, yeah, I left my umbrella at home, you guys. This is the one I have. Have you ever been caught without an umbrella?

BELLA: Yeah, I've been stuck in the rain.

JOY DOLO: Yeah? And what do you do in that case?

BELLA: Well, one time I was at a park, and it started downpouring. But I ran immediately into this tube slide thing. And it stopped raining.

JOY DOLO: That was your makeshift umbrella? That's a smart way to do it. It's funny because here, we have all four seasons. Have you ever used an umbrella with snow?


JOY DOLO: When it's snowing?

BELLA: Have you?

JOY DOLO: No, but isn't that a good idea?

BELLA: Yeah.

JOY DOLO: We should patent that.

BELLA: I've never thought of that.

JOY DOLO: We should write that down copyright Joy and Bella. Well, let's get to the question at hand that we're here for today. Where did umbrellas come from?

BELLA: To find out, we're going to talk to our reporter friend, Josie Huang.

JOY DOLO: Where is she, by the way?

JOSIE HUANG: Hey. Hi, I'm up here.

BELLA: Whoa, she's in the sky holding an umbrella.

JOY DOLO: Wait, what? Josie what are you doing up there?

BELLA: I thought umbrellas were just for keeping dry.

JOSIE HUANG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Usually, they are. Umbrellas are a testament to how we humans try to protect ourselves from the elements. They're like tiny, portable roofs, but when you have a super special magical umbrella like me, it can also be a form of transport. Like let's say a parachute.

I'm coming in for a soft landing. See? Ow, that hurt! All right, I'll admit it. I am no Mary Poppins. Do not try this at home. Owie.

JOY DOLO: So, Josie, what can you tell us about umbrellas?

BELLA: Yeah, how long have they been around?

JOSIE HUANG: Oh yeah, OK. Well, umbrellas, they go way, way back. Ancient Egyptians had this hieroglyph that looks like an umbrella, and this was thousands of years ago. But it's really actually easier for me to show you. So here, you guys. Each of you take an umbrella.

BELLA: What for?

JOSIE HUANG: Well, umbrellas are not just great for travel. They're great for time travel.

JOY DOLO: Wait, I don't think that's right.

JOSIE HUANG: Hold on tight. We'll be traveling 3,000 years back in time to Egypt. Just a warning about these umbrellas, they go at warp speed, OK?

JOY DOLO: All right, I'm holding on.

BELLA: Me too. Wait. Whoa. Whoa!

JOSIE HUANG: And we're here. You guys doing all right?

BELLA: I think so?

JOY DOLO: I'm feeling a little dizzy. I see a ton of desert. Lots of palm trees but no rain.

JOSIE HUANG: Oh, yeah. The earliest umbrellas, they weren't made for rain protection.

SUBJECT 1: Good morning, Alexandria, Egypt. It's another scorcher here in the Pearl of the Mediterranean. You can expect a whopping 109 degrees today. So stay out of the sun, and if you do get burnt, make sure you rub on some maize salve from Pharaoh's finest where you can find any sundry goods under the blazing hot sun. This weather report brought to you by Pharaoh's finest.

JOSIE HUANG: To create shade, Egyptians used feathers and palm leaves. That umbrella hieroglyph I was telling you about? It meant shadow or shade, and in many ancient civilizations, shade was reserved for monarchs and nobility. Like in Egypt, kings were treated as these divine beings.

SUBJECT 2: It's not easy being me, a King God.

JOSIE HUANG: And the umbrellas represented the Heavens covering the kings.

SUBJECT 2: I vanquish my enemies on the battlefield I mete out justice for my people. I rule over countless lands. Get that sun off of me. Where's my umbrella?

JOY DOLO: So the first umbrellas were for sun protection. When did folks start using them to keep out the rain?

JOSIE HUANG: Well, in some parts of East Asia where it can be much wetter, they've been making umbrellas for thousands of years out of thin paper and cloth. In China, they rubbed oil over umbrellas to waterproof them. European travelers to the East who saw these handy, water-repelling umbrellas, they brought the idea back home with them, and that jumpstarted umbrella production in the early 1700s in Europe.

Now, where in Europe do you think they could really use umbrellas?

BELLA: Maybe where that Mary Poppins lady is from?

JOY DOLO: Yeah, England. Always looks cloudy in pictures there.

JOSIE HUANG: That is so true. In England, it rains over 100 days a year. So yeah, they really need umbrellas over there. They actually have their own name for them, and they're called brollies. Speaking of which, grab onto your brollies, we're headed to merry old England.

BELLA: I got this. Whoa. This is going to take some getting used to.

JOSIE HUANG: So you guys, it might be hard to believe, but for the longest time, the English would have rather gotten soaked to the bone than actually carry an umbrella.

BELLA: That doesn't make sense.

JOY DOLO: Agreed.

JOSIE HUANG: Well, here's the thing about umbrellas. Their status has waxed and waned over the years, and that's why it brought us here to London. 1750 London to be exact. The United States wasn't even a country back then, and it wouldn't be, not for another 26 years. It was still the 13 colonies of Great Britain ruled by King George.

And it was during this time that umbrellas hit this low point. They just weren't cool to use, even though umbrellas would have helped to keep a whole bunch of wig-wearing English people dry. Men associated them with women's parasols, the kind that shade people from the sun, and the upper classes? They thought umbrellas were for servants who covered their master's heads when they walked from their houses to their horse-drawn carriages. Can you imagine how people tried to stay dry without umbrellas?

BELLA: Maybe a coat with a hood?

JOY DOLO: Maybe they went old-school, and they used newspapers. That's what I use nowadays.

JOSIE HUANG: Actually, that is a really good idea. But actually back then, if people had to be out in the rain, they'd wear this cloak made of oiled cloth, or they would put on extra layers of socks. Or, get this, extra underwear.

JOY DOLO: Wet underwear?


JOY DOLO: That does not sound like the best solution.

JOSIE HUANG: No, not at all, but things began to change in the 1750s because of a guy in London named Jonas Hanway.

JONAS HANWAY: At your service.

JOSIE HUANG: Jonas was this man about town.

JONAS HANWAY: Who's the cat with the most style?

JOSIE HUANG: Jonas was a well-known philanthropist in his day, but today, his big claim to fame is being the first well-known gentleman to carry an umbrella. He most likely brought umbrellas back from his travels to the Middle East, but back home in London, people made fun of him. And you know who were the meanest?

JOY DOLO: The fashion police?

JOSIE HUANG: Maybe, but I know for a fact that the coachmen were really, really brutal.

BELLA: You mean the people who drove horse-drawn carriages? Why would they care?

JOSIE HUANG: Well, in bad weather, people would pay for a carriage ride to stay dry. But if they had an umbrella over their head--

BELLA: They wouldn't need a ride.

JOSIE HUANG: Exactly. Coach drivers got so mad about losing business that people say they threw trash at Jonas, or, as they say in England, rubbish. And according to one account, one driver tried to run him over.

JONAS HANWAY: Are you trying to kill me?

SUBJECT 3: You're killing my business, so yeah.

JOSIE HUANG: Jonas is said to have fought back with his umbrella.

JONAS HANWAY: Jab, left hook, left hook, jab. Take that, coachman. You may take my life, but you will never take my umbrella!

JOSIE HUANG: Jonas carried around his umbrella for 30-some years, and you know what? By the time he died in 1786, umbrellas had become this commonplace sight. Suddenly, everybody, rich or poor, woman or man, they all had the means to stay dry. Can you imagine how umbrellas changed people's day-to-day lives in a rainy place like London?

JOY DOLO: It's probably easier to get around when you don't dread going outside with the weather. You can combat the weather with this new tool, right?

BELLA: Yeah.

JOY DOLO: What do you think?

BELLA: They'll stay dry from their clothes, and their coats, and all their gear will stay dry with the umbrella. They won't have to come to work wet.

JOSIE HUANG: Totally. Umbrellas were this great democratizer. It meant everybody could stay dry, whether they were rich or not rich. They also paved the way for other inventions in rainwear, too. There were modern raincoats and galoshes, but up until now, umbrellas haven't really changed much since the earliest designs.

They had this sleek, symmetrical shape like an upside-down raindrop. And that is actually a very efficient way to keep rain off of you, but that doesn't mean we don't keep trying to improve on the old design.

JOY DOLO: Which we'll hear about in just a little bit.

BELLA: But now, it's time for first thing's first.

JOY DOLO: It's the game where we try to guess the order of three inventions.

BELLA: Like did microscopes or telescopes come first?

JOY DOLO: Does lasagna pre-date ravioli?

BELLA: Or was it the other way around?

JOY DOLO: Bella, do you want to read today's three things?

BELLA: Yup. It's rubber rainboots, weather forecasts, and windshield wipers.

JOY DOLO: Well, what do you think? Which is the oldest, and which is the newest?

BELLA: I think that weather forecasts was the first, windshield wipers was the second, and rubber rainboots was the third.

JOY DOLO: That makes sense because I think, weather forecasts, we've probably been doing that forever. Since the beginning of time, and I wonder. Windshield wipers, I don't even know when those were invented. They're for cars.

BELLA: I feel like they could have been invented when cars were invented. They could have been added right away.

JOY DOLO: I think that order makes sense. They seem like they'd be the newest version because it took us so long to figure out when umbrellas would be useful. So rubber rainboots were probably invented a couple of years ago in 2016.


JOY DOLO: But I agree with you [? Verda, ?] too. I think the oldest is weather forecasts, and windshield wipers, and then ending with the rubber rainboots. All right, brace yourselves for some more extreme weather coming up.

BELLA: Forever Ago will be right back.

SUBJECT 1: Did you know that the residents of one of the rainiest cities in the US consider it decidedly uncool to use an umbrella?

SUBJECT 4: Oh my gosh, Becky. Did you see Sally walk in here with an umbrella this morning?

SUBJECT 5: Wow. Is she even from Seattle?

SUBJECT 4: How embarrassing. That's what hats are for.

SUBJECT 1: Not all Seattleites spurn the umbrella.

SUBJECT 6: I don't see what the big deal is. Raincoats, hats, umbrellas. They all get the job done.

SUBJECT 7: Have you ever heard of accessorizing? It's called fashion. Look it up, sweetie.

SUBJECT 1: But the voice of the anti-umbrella movement is a loud one.

SUBJECT 5: If one more person bonks me in the head with an umbrella today, I swear. My eye!

SUBJECT 1: So, folks, what'll it be?

SUBJECT 6: Umbrellas are useful!

SUBJECT 4: Umbrellas are rude.

SUBJECT 7: Anna Wintour wears an umbrella.


SUBJECT 1: Or you could just move to the desert. Not a drop of rain in sight.

JOSIE HUANG: Excuse me, sir, I think you could probably use an umbrella to protect you from the sun's harsh rays.

SUBJECT 8: I think you mean a hat.

JOSIE HUANG: No, umbrella.

SUBJECT 8: No, hat.

JOSIE HUANG: Umbrella.

SUBJECT 1: Oh, dear.

JOY DOLO: Welcome back to Forever Ago, the show where we go way, way back.

BELLA: Today, we're traveling in style--

JOY DOLO: Like Mary Poppins.

BELLA: --to find out how umbrellas got their start.

JOY DOLO: Before we brave the elements again, it's time to finish our game of first thing's first where we guessed the order of three inventions.

BELLA: It's time to reveal the answers.

JOY DOLO: Today's three things were rubber rainboots, weather forecasts, and windshield wipers. And Bella, do you remember what we guessed?

BELLA: We guessed weather forecasts, windshield wipers, and then rubber rainboots.

JOY DOLO: We were both on the same page for that. Do you have the answers, Bella?

BELLA: Yep. Here's the envelope.

JOY DOLO: This is always the most exciting part when you rip it open. Oh man, I have a feeling we were right. In my heart, I feel like we were right. Here we go. No way. We were not right. The very first one was rubber rainboots.

BELLA: That was our last one.

JOY DOLO: And it was the first one invented. 1853 was when it was invented. An American named Hiram Hutchinson makes these rain-ready boots out of a special rubber invented by a rubber-obsessed guy named Charles Goodyear.

BELLA: I can't believe that one was first.

JOY DOLO: Yeah, yeah. Do you know the Goodyear tires? Have you heard of those?

BELLA: I don't think so.

JOY DOLO: Yeah, it's a huge brand of tires for cars. So they also make rubber boots. Hutchinson was the first to make rubber rainboots, but there's evidence that long before that, Amazonian people were dipping their feet in rubber from plants and baking them over a fire to make durable foot covers. Would you ever do that? Would you ever dip your feet in rubber and then put it over a fire?

BELLA: No, I would just suck it up.

JOY DOLO: Sounds easier. I think my feet are just going to be wet. So rubber rainboots was first, and then next up was weather forecasts. That was second, and that was in 1861. The word forecast was actually coined by British-born Admiral, Robert Fitzroy. In 1861, people looked at the behavior of frogs in jars or bulls in a field to predict the weather.

BELLA: Well, my grandma says, sometimes when dogs start eating grass, that means it's going to rain.

JOY DOLO: Also when the storms are coming up, and dogs bark, and cats run all crazy. So there might be something there with the animals. Fitzroy thought he could do better with science. He used thermometers that measured temperature and barometers that measured atmospheric pressure to break-- to predict weather in England. And people were skeptical at first, but Fitzroy's predictions started beating the frogs and bulls, and he became famous. So there we go. Rubber rainboots, weather forecasts, and then, finally, windshield wipers.

BELLA: Now that makes sense.

JOY DOLO: That they were the newest one?

BELLA: Yeah.

JOY DOLO: These ones were in 1903 by an American woman, Mary Anderson. Yeah, women. She was visiting New York City on a snowy day and riding a streetcar when she noticed that the driver had to keep stopping to clean off the windows, which seemed super annoying. So she was inspired to create a device that cleaned the windows for you, and she patented it.

BELLA: That's cool.

JOY DOLO: Yeah, yeah. Unfortunately, car makers didn't buy her design, and car windows remained wiperless for about another 20 years.

BELLA: Well, everyone, she'll be driving by with her windshield wipers wiping her car, and everyone will be like, we have to wipe those ourselves.

JOY DOLO: Exactly. Where did you get those from? Well, thanks for playing with me, Bella.

BELLA: Any time.

JOY DOLO: Before the break, reporter, Josie Huang, was taking us on a slightly bumpy ride through umbrella history.

BELLA: Agreed.

JOSIE HUANG: Yeah, sorry. I guess I haven't been taking you guys to the places with the best weather.

BELLA: You were telling us about how the umbrella caught on in England?

JOSIE HUANG: Yeah, so by the mid-1800s, stores in England had finally started selling umbrellas, and they were often seen as these luxury items like walking sticks. And this went with the look of the era when men wore top hats and long jackets. I don't know. Think Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.

JOY DOLO: Mr Bah Humbug.

JOSIE HUANG: That's right. That's a very good bah humbug.

JOY DOLO: Thank you. It's strong.

JOSIE HUANG: Around this time, inventor types began to think of ways to make umbrellas lighter and cheaper, and they were a bit unwieldy because folding umbrellas did not exist yet. These smaller improvements came first. They went from whalebone frames to steel frames, which were lighter. And then from oiled cloth to lightweight and water-resistant alpaca hair.

BELLA: Alpacas are like llamas, right?

JOSIE HUANG: That's right. They're the shorter cousins of the llama. Anyways, inventors eventually came up with synthetic materials to replace the alpaca hair and make umbrellas even lighter, but they also set their sights on getting umbrellas to be smaller and more convenient. So let's go see how, shall we? Grab onto your umbrellas again.

JOY DOLO: OK, here we go!

BELLA: Oh, man, it's raining again.

JOY DOLO: Where are we?

JOSIE HUANG: So we are in Vienna, the capital of Austria. It's 1929, and this was when radio was a new invention. You could hear people playing music from their homes, and trendy young women of this time, they were called flappers. And they had short hair, and they danced in short dresses.

This was also when daredevils were starting to fly airplanes. Charles Lindbergh had become the first pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean by himself, and this was just a couple of years earlier. But as for the umbrella, people were having trouble perfecting the design. Hey, do you guys see that woman over there?


BELLA: Yeah.

JOSIE HUANG: Standing over by the brick building shaking her umbrella? That's Slawa Duldig

SLAWA DULDIG: I hate this big, clunky thing. Why can't someone invent a small umbrella? Something that I can fold? Something I can put in my bag? That someone should be me.

JOSIE HUANG: Slawa was a trained sculptor, so she had these mad design skills. She built this prototype using watch parts, and she wanted to keep her project a secret. So she made sure to buy the parts from different shops, so no one could figure out what she was doing.

SLAWA DULDIG: Come on, what would you do? This idea is too good to risk someone stealing it.

JOSIE HUANG: Now, others had already tried making foldable umbrellas, but her design was described as particularly elegant and simple. It had this telescopic shaft made up of these different sections that slid into each other to save space. Her work was actually put on display at the 1931 Spring Fair in Vienna, and news reports called it the magic umbrella of the sculptress.

One company began a line of umbrellas based on her design and called it the flirt. Things were going awesome for her. Slawa was making good money from her umbrellas.

But then, the Nazis invaded Austria. Slawa's family was Jewish, and they were persecuted by the Nazis. So she fled the country with her husband and baby daughter, and they eventually made it to Australia. And she'd been pressured by the Nazis to sell her umbrella design to a German company, but she managed to hide the prototypes from them.

SLAWA DULDIG: These creeps aren't getting their hands on my designs. My prototypes are coming with me down under.

JOSIE HUANG: So Slawa would go on to live the rest of her days in Australia. She ended up sculpting and teaching art to girls, and it's sad to say, but her umbrella-making days? They were over, but she forever left her mark on the world with her design.

Today, we see variations of her small, collapsible umbrella pretty much everywhere. Have you ever had one like that with that telescopic function?

BELLA: I have. It had a little Minnie Mouse on it.

JOY DOLO: Cool. Yeah, it's a great invention. They fit in your backpack. You can buy it pretty much everywhere like at the grocery store, the pharmacy.

BELLA: Yeah, I feel like everyone has the same kind of umbrella.

JOSIE HUANG: Yeah, foldable or not, the umbrella is just so iconic in its design. It's given us a way to defy the weather and to stay dry when the skies are pelting the rest of the world with rain. That's magical when you think about it. How would it affect you if umbrellas had never been invented? Is it rainy where you guys are?

BELLA: Yeah, it rains sometimes, but mostly snow. A lot of snow.

JOY DOLO: Here, we get all four seasons equally, and with all the seasons, it rains in all of them. So we get a little bit of it a lot.

JOSIE HUANG: Well, guys, my friends, I think it's time for me to Mary Poppins my way out of here.

JOY DOLO: Before I forget, here's your time-traveling umbrella back.

BELLA: Oh yeah, here you go.

JOSIE HUANG: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You guys, I want you guys to keep them.

JOY DOLO: Really?

BELLA: Really?

JOSIE HUANG: Yes. Yes, I found a great deal online. You buy two flying, time-traveling umbrellas, and you get the third one free. I totally knew this would come in handy.

JOY DOLO: Yes! Thank you so much.

JOSIE HUANG: Oh yeah, no problem. All right, I'm headed back to Egypt. I really need some sun and some vitamin D after all this rain. I'll catch you later.

JOY DOLO: And as fast as she came--

BELLA: She was gone!

JOY DOLO: It's hard for me to imagine improving on the modern umbrella. I hold it over my head. It keeps me dry. End of story.

BELLA: And thanks to Slawa Duldig we can fold them up too, now, to make them extra portable.

JOY DOLO: Yep. I say, stick a fork in it. Done.

BELLA: But--

JOY DOLO: Wait, there's a but?

BELLA: Yeah. What if there was an umbrella that had apps on it that you could play on while you were waiting for your bus stop or Uber ride, just like an Apple Watch?

JOY DOLO: I love that idea. And then maybe you could also order food off of it, too.

BELLA: Oh yeah.

JOY DOLO: You could play your game, and then while you're there, you can order a pizza. I think we just invented something.

BELLA: Well, I wasn't the only one who thought the story of umbrellas isn't quite done.

JOY DOLO: We asked our listeners for their ideas, too, and here's what they had to say.

SUBJECT 9: When someone doesn't have an umbrella, you click a button or that, it shoots out another umbrella.

SUBJECT 10: You would have an umbrella, and it'd probably be really small. Then you just press a button, and it pops out. And then

SUBJECT 11: You open the umbrella, and it's see-through. But you can't see the person.

SUBJECT 10: You can just press one button, and it would just close.

SUBJECT 12: You could do that Kingsman Secret Service where they push the button, and it becomes a big shield. And then, when people try to hit you, you can just block it with the umbrella. So awesome.

BELLA: Inventors are always coming up with new designs and new materials, all in hopes of creating the next big thing.

JOY DOLO: But will any of these umbrellas break through to become the umbrella of the future?

SANDEN TOTTEN: Like the weather, it's hard to predict.

BELLA: Hey, Sanden. Hi.

JOY DOLO: Sanden Totten is one of our producers and an umbrella enthusiast?

SANDEN TOTTEN: An umbrella trend forecaster, to be exact.

BELLA: What exactly does that mean? Is that even a thing?

SANDEN TOTTEN: It's totally a thing. My business card says so. It has to be a thing. I stay in the know on all the most exciting umbrella technology. Some of it already exists. Some of it's just in the idea stage. Would you like to hear what the latest umbrella technology is?

BELLA: Sure.

JOY DOLO: Oh, yes, I'm all ears.

SANDEN TOTTEN: Get ready to have your minds blown.

JOY DOLO: Ready.

BELLA: Yeah.

SANDEN TOTTEN: Here's a little something that's still in development. It's called the forecast umbrella. So this umbrella comes with a built-in Wi-Fi receiver to track the weather and blue lights in the handle. So the more likely it is to rain, the brighter the handle glows. What do you think? Useful? Far-fetched?

BELLA: Good for 2018 since everyone's always on their electronics.

JOY DOLO: That is perfect. And now you can light up, so you know when people are using it, too. Five out of 10.

SANDEN TOTTEN: Well, here's another one-- the Kjaro. Don't you hate it when you come in from a rainy day, and your umbrella, it's just covered in water? It's dripping everywhere. The Kjaro umbrella comes with its own custom sheath that collects the water, so you can pour it out later. Maybe water your plants or something. Ready to buy today.

JOY DOLO: Well, what do you think about that one, Bella?

BELLA: That one isn't as cool as the built-in Wi-Fi for the 2018 generation.

JOY DOLO: Yeah, it doesn't even light up. I'm going to have to say three out of 10.

BELLA: Two out of 10.

JOY DOLO: Bella, you're so harsh, girl.

SANDEN TOTTEN: Well, here's an umbrella for the social media savvy. The Pileus can take pictures while you're walking and upload them to the web for you. It also projects pictures on the underside of the umbrella, so you can see what your friends are up to while you're out and about. Would you use something like this?

BELLA: Well, if you want to get wet every time you upload a photo.

JOY DOLO: I would give it six out of 10.

BELLA: Seven out of 10.

JOY DOLO: All right, one-up me.

SANDEN TOTTEN: All right, guys, all right. We're getting closer to something you might actually buy. What if you forgot your umbrella at home, and you're waiting for the bus in a rainy street? You're standing by a street lamp. You better hope it's equipped with a lamprella.

This invention sits on the streetlights, and when it senses rain, it expands to become a large umbrella. And several people can stand under it at the same time. Do you think this could catch on?

BELLA: If you wanted to walk there and get to the pole without being wet, it wouldn't work.

JOY DOLO: I think this one has a lot of thinking through we still need to think about.

SANDEN TOTTEN: Any ratings?

BELLA: Six out of 10.

JOY DOLO: I would say 5.5.

SANDEN TOTTEN: We're getting into decimals here. I saved a real wild one for last. It's called the air blow 2050. What if, instead of fabric, you blocked rain with air? The air blow 2050 is a shaft that sucks up air from the bottom and shoots it out at the top. When it rains, hold this device up, and a force field of air will simply blow the droplets away. Could you imagine trading in a traditional umbrella for one of these babies?

JOY DOLO: Oh, yeah.

BELLA: That is awesome.

JOY DOLO: That is incredible. It's like a force field around your body to stop you from getting wet. I think that's genius.

BELLA: I give it 9.5. I'm getting into decimals, too.

JOY DOLO: I would definitely give it a 9.5 as well. This might be something that I would definitely buy.

SANDEN TOTTEN: Well, I hate to be the one to have to rain on our rainy day parade. But this one was actually put into Kickstarter, and a lot of people funded it. And it disappeared. Apparently, holding a large, electronic stick in the water while it's raining is a little dangerous. So this prototype failed hard, and we're not sure if we're going to see it come back any time soon.

JOY DOLO: All right. Well, thanks for that futuristic umbrella forecast, Sanden.

BELLA: Yeah, thanks.

SANDEN TOTTEN: Sure thing. Whatever the weather, the future is looking bright. See you.


JOY DOLO: Phew. I think we've had enough weather today for a lifetime.

BELLA: Yeah, we went from scorching hot ancient Egypt to rainy London.

JOY DOLO: We visited Slawa Duldig in Vienna, Austria.

BELLA: And some very opinionated people in Seattle.

JOY DOLO: Yes. Do you have an idea for an umbrella that will change the course of history?

BELLA: Head over to and tell us about it.

JOY DOLO: Forever Ago is brought to you by Brains On, an American Public Media.

BELLA: It's produced by Alyssa Dudley, Molly Bloom, Mark Sanchez, and Sanden Totten.

JOY DOLO: We had engineering help from Eric Strom Stat and Drew Jostad. Production help comes courtesy of Lauren D. Our fact-checker is Ryan Katz. We'd also like to thank Eric Wingham, Christina Lopez, Taylor Kaufman, Jonathan Shiflett, James Kim, Misha Youssef, Arwin Champion-Knicks, and Tom Kelly. Is there anyone you want to thank today, Bella?

BELLA: Anyone that made umbrellas.

JOY DOLO: Thanks, Rihanna. All right, it's time for us to get out of here.

BELLA: Hey, how about we use our new favorite mode of transportation?

JOY DOLO: Some sunshine would be nice.

BELLA: And maybe a change of scenery, too.

JOY DOLO: I guess I could deal with a little motion sickness if we got to go to the Bahamas.

BELLA: Done. Hold on tight. Bye.

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