50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years

PC World has released its list of the 50 greatest gadgets of the past 50 years. Here’s my take on the ones I know something about.

45. Sony Mavica MVC-FD5 (1997)

Absolutely deserves to be on this list and probably higher. My first digital camera, after I fell in love with one owned by my brother-in-law. We still have it around here somewhere. It took digital photos directly onto a floppy disk.

43. Polaroid Swinger (1965)

I remember being utterly amazed that you could take a picture and it would print immediately while you waited. This was some amazing technology. Cassidy asked Santa Claus for a polaroid camera for this Christmas, so the technology is still around.

40. Connectix QuickCam (1994)

Another gadget I learned about from my brother in law. I have one of its great grandchildren attached to my computer right now. This was a great step forward in terms of internet connectivity.

36. Iomega Zip Drive (1995)

Yes, everyone owned one. The stock was a day traders’ dream back in the day. But the technology was crappy then and it’s crappy now.

32. Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer (1999)

Everybody had one, yes. But it wouldn’t make my list.

27. Commodore 64 (1982)

Absolutely, positively deserves to be on this list. Probably higher.

17. Texas Instruments SR-10 (1973)

The first TI calculator I ever had was a 1/2 pound Christmas present that seemed at the time like a dream come true. Definitely made math and Chemistry easier.


14. BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld (1998)

This was the first Blackberry I carried around. I replaced it with the newer phone-form model, but this was truly amazing technology at the time.

7. Atari Video Computer System (1977)

My friend Andy Rogers’ brother had Mattel’s Intellivision competitor to this, and it was a groundbraking thing to be able to play video games at home. I still remember beating Andy’s butt at Intellivision Football for hours on end. I had two plays- roll out right and roll out left. And I was unstoppable!

5. Sony CDP-101 (1982)

CD Players changed the world and made me have to repurchase my music collection for a third time: LPs, cassettes and then CDs. I remember the first CD I ever bought: Hot Rocks by The Rolling Stones (I’m not a fan of greatest hits records, but there wasn’t a wide selection to choose from back then).

3. (Tie) ReplayTV RTV2001 and TiVo HDR110 (1999)

I’d actually pick all of the TIVOs and give them the number one place on my list, as I would have in my 10-year list as well. My love for TIVO is what makes me angry and sad as I watch it die a painful death.

2. Apple iPod (2001)

I’ve never owned an iPod, but as a stand-in for all portable MP3 players, it should be high on this list. But number 2 is a little too high.

1. Sony Walkman TPS-L2 (1979)

I had several incarnations of the Walkman line, and they were great products. Number 1 is too high, however. Maybe top 10, but you’ve got to put the stand-in for personal computers number 1. I’d put TIVO number 2. After that, maybe a tie between the Walkman and the iPod.

Here are some other people’s takes on the list (I’ll update as people send me links):


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