I'm just going to go ahead and say especially to you DIY-ers that I'm sorry in advance: if you haven't already seen this, you're about to get lost in an internet K-hole.
MAKE recently resurfaced their 2013 video series with Steve Hoefer, "Make: Inventions," in which the designer finds old patents and attempts to recreate lesser known iterations of classic design objects. The exploration is a fascinating one to watch as a designer because the videos not only go into a brief history of the object, but also shows exactly how many predecessors to classic models fail to acknowledge design elements now seen as common sense.
Get your feet wet with a few different episodes, like:
Although canned food was invented even before the Civil War, it seems a dedicated tool to opening the cans actually came about 50 years later (as canned food was invented for war times, suggested tools for opening included bayonets and sharp rocks).
You may have never thought you wanted to know about the history of the Etch-A-Sketch, but once he starts going into the internal pulley system you'll be hooked.
This one is pretty fantastic—Hoefer mixes old technology with new by laser cutting in wood a replica of a telegraph from an 1800s patent sketch.
Sadly this series wrapped up in 2013 after a short lived run, and it's really quite a shame because they are so fascinating—but then again, I guess the limited number makes it easier for us to get back to our lives.