Are there any people on the planet who don’t love a great gadget? Gadgets make life easier and sometimes they are just fun! Remember when the “clapper” came out and everyone got the simple joy of turning a light or appliance on and off just by clapping their hands? It made us feel like we had super powers.
Over the years, we have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of gadgets come and go. But some of them were practically overnight successes and may remain in our lives forever… or at least until the next best thing comes along.
We have gathered a list of 17 of our favorites – some old and some fairly new. Which ones do you enjoy the most?
The successful premier of the iPod was anticipated by those inside of Apple, Inc. But those outside weren’t sure the little device could take over the way music was delivered. The concern was that users would not take the time to learn how to download and transfer music onto the iPod with their computer. It was not that simple, as there had not been anything like it. But Apple, with their unwavering marketing plans, held steady and created a groundbreaking trend for the industry.
Using the iPod, however, couldn’t be more simple so once the user learned how to use the iTunes store, it was all uphill. Apple was even smart enough to create iTunes so it could be used with Windows OS computers as well.
16. Cell phone
Once cell phones came down in price they were an overnight success. And, of course, it has become a global success. Did you realize there is almost no where in the world where mobiles have not taken over? Even in the rural floating villages of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam you will see locals with cell phones as a common occurrence.
15. Hot Rollers
The mid-60s is when hot rollers were invented and women everywhere finally had the option of a quick-set instead of sleeping on curlers and empty orange juice cans all night. They were affordable, durable and allowed for a good night’s sleep without sacrificing beauty.
14. Television Remote Control
The first television remote control was invented by Zenith Radio Corporation in 1950. It was called “Lazy Bones” (if they could see us now!) and was not wireless. The first wireless remote was developed by a man named Eugene Polley in 1955 and was called “Flashmatic”.
13. MP3 Player
Streaming audio and storage was such new technology, it required its own device. So in 1995, the Fraunhofer Institute developed the MPEG-1 Audio Layer, which was an audio coding format that could handle digital audio.
12. Electric Hand Mixer
This may not seem like a whiz-bang gadget, but before electric hand mixers, manual hand mixers were the fashion. Convenience is the mother of invention in this country, so this should be no surprise that the hand motion of the earlier mixers needed to be replaced. Electric mixers were one of the first electric appliances to be used in a kitchen and came into play in the mid 19th century.
11. Foreman Grill
Robert Johnsons and Michael Boehm invented this healthy machine made to reduce fat from meat, speed up the cooking time and provide a stick-free surface on which to grill. It was launched in 1994 under the George Foreman name and continues to be popular.
10. Refrigerator Ice Cube Maker
What a great invention, automatic ice cube makers are commonplace in most refrigerators being sold today. Just think – what started with chipping and breaking a big block of ice, is now making itself into cubes and flaked ice for our drinking pleasure. Ice cube trays were common before this invention, however the automatic feature is much more convenient. Americans are crazy about ice – much more so than any country in the world.
When VCRs were first invented, they were cost-prohibitive for the average consumer but they were so exciting, it was only a matter of time before lower-cost versions were manufactured. The first videocassette recorder was developed in 1956 and cost around $50,000. Television networks were the first users, and then by 1963 the Sony Company took the Ampex-created idea and developed consumer-priced models that started at around $1,000.
The miracle fabric fastener – Velcro – has been around since 1948 and was invented by George de Mestral, an electrical engineer from Switzerland. According to a story in Time magazine, Mr. de Mestral thought up the fabric after taking a walk in the woods and noticed the burr that attached itself to his slacks. Velcro is the actual brand name that became commonly used for the two strips of fabric that attached to one another.
7. Dot Matrix Printers
Although dot matrix printers were invented in 1968, they did not become consumer-popular until much later. Once the price came down and they were introduced as small business machines, they found their way into every home and small business office. Larger companies could afford expensive laser printers for more finished-looking output while smaller businesses would have to go to their local printer to achieve the same quality.
6. Garlic Press
The garlic press invention was not attributed to any one inventor, however, it became a common household tool when gourmet cooking in the home because popular. Some professional chefs advise against its use, as it promotes a different flavor than hand-minced garlic. Regardless, it’s an easy and quick way to handle the bulbs.
5. Food Processor
Pierre Verdon was the inventor of the food processor in 1971. His consumer product was called Le Magi-Mix. He had previously developed a restaurant version called Robot-Coupe. The Cuisinart was the machine that became popular after Carl Sontheimer developed, which was a refined version of Verdon’s creation. When it was first exhibited in 1973, it became the rage and years later it is still a popular appliance in gourmet kitchens everywhere.
4. Wii Game Console
We’ve seen hundreds of video game consoles and units, but when the Wii came out in 2006, game-lovers were enamored with the remote controller, which was three dimensional. Other game manufacturers followed suit and almost each year another more advanced version is released. The Wii is on its seventh generation version and is as popular as ever.
3. iPad Tablet
Of course, Apple came out with this magical tablet computer in 2010 with glowing success. It was really nothing more than a larger iPod, but due to its size was considered a more computer-user-friendly version. Keyboard docking stations allowed it to charge while having many of the same functions as a computer. Today, Apple has released several upgraded versions and the competition has brought down the price and availability of the tablet device.
2. Electric Razor
Some type of straight edge razor has been in existence since 18,000 BC, according to historians. But in the 18th century, electric razors were invented to take the mess and time out of this daily routine that most men were using to eradicate facial hair. The first electric razor was patented by Col. Jacob Schick and a refined version was followed up by the Remington Rand Corporation in 1937. Professor Alexandre Horowitz, from the Philips Laboratories is responsible for coming up with the rotary heads on the more modern models. This bathroom appliance continues to be updated and some can even be used wet or dry.
1. USB Flash Drive aka Memory Stick or Thumb Drive
These ingenious little devices took the place of having to transfer files via floppy or CD. They are perfect for data storage and transfers and are so small they can fit on a key chain. Plus they are rewriteable and can be used over and over. When they first premiered, they were introduced by Trek Technology and IBM in year 2000. The capacity was huge compared to a floppy, at only 8 MB. Now these little devices can hold much more, some more than some computer’s hard drives.