Mobile PC magazine has drawn up a very US-centric list of the top-100 gadgets of all time. You can find the lsit here
I decided to vet the list and put in comments for or against as necessary:
1/ Apple PowerBook 100 – this set the design for a range of laptops that still are design icons of mobile computing, look carefully at the clipart and stock photos used in many business brochures.
4/ Motorola StarTac – yes this was a style icon, but was everybody seems to forget was that the connections in the hinge used to go before the warranty expired, the aerial snapped off in your pocket and they looked like Quasimodo with the bulbous ‘long-life’ batteries you had to put on them to get semi-decent talk time.
7/ US Robotics Pilot 1000 – despite a naming dispute with Pilot pens, many people still call PDAs Palm Pilots, the impact of the 1000 is the reason why. The Newton kicked the door to digital data on-the-go in, but it was US Robotics/Palm that ran through it
12/ Apple iPod – nice idea, shame about the dead batteries and the easy scratch case. My iPod sits dormant in the back of my kitchen draw as much use as a 200GBP paperweight
18/ Motorola 8000 cell phone – the first cell phone I used was a Motorola and came in a ballistic nylon luggable satchel weighing about as much as a small car battery. Then I got hold of an 8000, it was brilliant you could hold in your hand, tuck it under your chin whilst driving and it was so robust
19/ IBM Thinkpad 701c – I had an Apple PowerBook 165c in college and a Swedish guy on my course had one of these Thinkpads. Despite the fact that it ran Windows, the keyboard and the nipple were cool as fcuk. IBM got rid of this key layout and nobody copied it, so I suspect that it had reliability issues. The list managed to miss off Think Outside’s Stowaway foldable keyboard for the Palm which was a QWERTY revolution
21/ Cartier Santos watch – the first wrist watch. Without this the watch could not have become the style icon it is today as we would still be wearing waist coats and carrying pocket watches
31/ Trek thumb drive – so you want to walk off with a bunch of files thanks to devices like the Trek thumb drive employee intellectual property theft has never been easier
39/ Apple Newton – set the standard in handwriting recognition and functions and PDAs that others followed the Newton was just a little too early. Despite bad media reports, the intrinsic quality of the devices means that 11 years later there is still a thriving underground community catering for the Newton. Unfortunately Apple has cast all the intellectual property aside and let it go fallow.
46/ Speak and Spell – bleeding edge for the time, many voice synthesis products have yet to equal the robotic tones of the speak and spell. Unfortunately UK lemon manufacturer Austin Rover tried to incorporate Speak and Spell like intelligence into their Maestro car, winding up the unfortunate customers to breaking point
50/ Whilst my Etch-a-Sketch kept me entertained as a kid, I can never remember drawing anything that did look anything other than a complete Jackson Pollock
52/ Sony CFS-5000 ghetto-blaster. Whilst the ghetto blaster was an icon of the late 1970s and 1980s, it was the big-ass silver and chrome models by the likes of Sharp that were the most desirable. This Sony model is just plain lame.
68/ Nokia 6100 series. An iconic mobile phone that felt great in the hand, had a great menu system and was designed with love. (If you popped off the removable face the plastic moulding protecting the ear piece had an artfully cut grinning face cut into to it like the stencilised image of an Eastern European puppet.) This was the killer ‘candy bar’ shaped phone, however I was surprised the Nokia 2110 didn’t make the list.
89/ Rubiks cube – a puzzle for dweebs and misfits that briefly swept the world in the 1980s and spawned countless imitations. It also taught 80s designers that black would go with the most garish of colours.
98/ The pez dispenser – this is the sweet dispenser that launched eBay. The auction site was originally developed to allow a guys girlfriend to trade Pez dispensers. Its very American, I guess it must make up for the fact that they don’t have heritage like ‘old Europe’.