Betty White is a national treasure. She has become America’s sweet grandmother. Her personality shines through every role she takes. She has worked in the television industry longer than anyone else.
White paved the road for countless other women in the television world. Not only has she been in the entertainment world longer than anyone else, but she has also been on earth longer than many things that we use every day.
So, in celebration of Betty White’s upcoming 99th birthday, we are looking back at how much the world has changed since January 17, 1922. Here are ten things that she is older than.
10. Betty White is Older Than Television
Betty White has a longer television career than anyone working today. She is also older than television. Not just the broadcast system that allows us to view shows. White predates the invention of the device. The first electronic television was successfully demonstrated in 1927. It would take years before the device would become the mainstay that it is today.
9. Ballpoint Pen
Betty White is older than the ballpoint pen by over twenty years. The first commercially available ballpoint pen hit the market in 1945. At the time it cost $12.50. In modern money, that would be in the neighborhood of $180. Currently, you can pick up a ten-pack of pens for less than three bucks.
Today, ballpoint pens are pretty much free. Unless it’s a really nice pen, you probably wouldn’t worry too much about losing one. Betty White, on the other hand, just gets better with time.
8. Electric Can Opener
Betty White was nine years old when the first electric can opener was introduced. The device went on sale in 1931 but failed to catch on. It wasn’t until the mid-fifties that the devices really caught on. This means that there’s a good chance that White was in her thirties before she ever used an electric can opener.
7. Electric Guitar
Betty White was nine years old when the first patent was granted for an electric guitar in 1931. However, the instrument would go through several changes over the coming years. It wasn’t until 1950 when Fender introduced the first mass-produced electric guitar. A few years later, Les Paul released his model through the Gibson guitar company.
6. Country Music
We love country music here at Outsider. Personally, I don’t want to imagine a world without Hank Williams, George Jones, and all the other greats who have provided such a great American soundtrack. For the first few years of her life, Betty White lived in a world without country music.
While the genre has its roots in Appalachian music that goes back to the beginnings of the United States, most historians agree that it was in 1927 that country music was born. This is the year that Victor Records signed The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.
Betty White’s hair is always on point. There’s a good chance that she keeps it in place with some hairspray from an aerosol can. However, the essential beauty product wasn’t invented until the late 1940s. People in the beauty industry heard about troops using aerosol cans to deploy insecticide in WWII and decided it was a great way to dispense hairspray.
Whether you call it a cooler or an ice chest, you’ve probably got at least one laying around. They’re great for days at the lake or cookouts in the back yard. It seems like the simple insulated box that keeps your drinks cold has been around forever. Betty White has been around longer. The first patent for a cooler was granted in the early fifties.
3. The Zippo Lighter
The Zippo is old school cool. Back when puffing on coffin nails was the “in” thing, Zippos came along and made it even cooler. The clink of the lid and the smell of the burning fuel are familiar to millions of people. Betty White is about 10 years older than the first Zippo.
2. The Pop-Up Toaster
In 1919, a mechanic named Charles Strite designed the first automatic pop-up toaster. Two years later he received the patent for the appliance. However, his initial concept was meant for restaurant use. It wasn’t until 1926 that the first pop-up toaster was available to the public.
Before the pop-up toaster, hand-sliced bread had to be placed on a heating element or held over a stove’s burner. It was a tedious process and more often than not would end in unevenly toasted bread or, worse, burnt toast.
And yes, it was hand-sliced bread because
1. Sliced Bread Is the Best Thing Since Betty White
We’ve all heard the old expression that something is “The best thing since sliced bread.” Well, Betty White was here first. The first commercially available loaves of sliced bread hit the shelves in the summer of 1928. They came out of a bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri.
The local newspaper even ran a story about the new development in baked goods. In the article, the writer gushed about the greatness of sliced bread saying that upon experiencing pre-sliced bread, “…one realizes instantly that here is a refinement that will receive a hearty and permanent welcome.”
We feel the same way about Betty White.