For those of you who were lucky enough to make it to the 2013 Gadget Show Live, you will have been able to take a glimpse into the modern world of technology and just how far we have actually come.
Protect Your Bubble had a great view from our stand of everything from high-tech speakers, remote control gadgets and even paper which you can write on underwater (just in case you ever need to write a letter in the shower).
It got us thinking about just how much technology has evolved in recent times, and we started reminiscing about some of the very best innovations of our time. Forget the iPhone 5 or the Samsung S4 for just one moment, we are talking about the gadgets that kicked off the trend and got us to where we are today. With so many to pay homage to, we have narrowed it down to our top 10 inventions of the last century and had a lot of nostalgic fun remembering some the original gadgets and gizmos that made such an impact on our lives.
1. Wi-Fi Router
It may be difficult to imagine, but there was a time in the recent past when we did not have widespread access to the internet. Long journeys on public transport used to be a lot more boring and the ability to ‘Check in’ on Facebook was unheard of. Although it’s difficult to credit just one inventor for the introduction of Wi-Fi, it can probably be dated back most effectively to around 1997. Wireless Fidelity (ok, so we had to Google that to find out what it really stands for) is the networking technology that allows us to communicate over a wireless signal and it’s the reason we can access our emails from almost anywhere. So, next time you are walking down the street browsing the internet, or sat in Starbucks with a coffee and your laptop taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi, spare a thought for your parents who never used to have it this easy.
2. Smoke detector
So this may be a more practical gadget, but one that was undoubtedly of great importance. So, your Smartphone may indeed be pretty clever and do seemingly anything, but can it save your life? Duane Pearsall may not be as famous as the late Steve Jobs, but we pay credit to the man that invented the smoke detector and saved many lives in the process. This nifty gadget was invented in the 1960s and has become an essential feature within homes around the world for obvious reasons.
For some of us, it may just be the normality to have never set foot in a bank. Who needs to speak to a cashier when you can transfer your money online with internet banking or pop to your nearest ATM machine and draw out cash in minutes (providing you have the necessary funds). We may take it for granted but it hasn’t always been that way. Banks started dispensing cash in the early 1960s and the first networked ATM didn’t arrive until 1963. Even back then you would need to insert your card and wait for it to be posted back to you as the first ATMs didn’t have the functionality to return your card.
4. Super Soaker
The Super Soaker possibly wasn’t the most sophisticated gadget ever created, but we feel it deserves some credit. Before we had an array of game consoles to keep us occupied, on a nice day we had to find other ways of battling it out with our peers. For those of us born during the early 1990s, Aerospace engineer Lonnie Johnson had enough time on his hands to invent the Super Soaker, a brand of water gun like nothing we had ever seen before. It revolutionised the water gun and gave kids everywhere an excuse to get wet on a sunny day.
5. Kindle E-reader
If you’re starting to feel a little out of touch (what on earth is a Super Soaker?), this may be a little more up your street. In 2007, the Kindle E-Reader hit our shelves and gave us the opportunity to rid our homes of book-cases filled with paperbacks that were doing little more than gathering dust. This was a hugely important step for everyone who likes to read regularly but struggles to carry several weighty paperbacks at once. There was also the additional bonus of being able to download your book of choice instantly rather than searching through the shelves in a book shop or waiting for delivery of a paperback from an online store. We can’t help but think it made reading in the bath a little more risky though.
6. Electronic Toothbrush
Ah, the Electric toothbrush… something many of us rely on these days. After all, it is much easier than moving your hand back and forth in a sideways motion for a whole two minutes twice a day. It wasn’t until 1956 that the electric toothbrush became an option and before that we had to do it all manually. Of course, it is also worth noting that a couple of decades ago there was also no such thing as an electric razor or even a power shower. On the plus side, electricity bills were probably a little lower.
7. GPS system
There is a well-established theory in modern society that men won’t ask for directions. If this is actually the case then many an hour must have been wasted in the days before the handheld GPS system came into our lives. The introduction of the GPS (Global Positioning System) has no doubt made journeys for both men and women a little easier. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the handheld GPS system became widely available for commercial use. Before then we simply had to rely on writing down directions or pulling up at the side of the road to check a map almost the size of our car to work out where on earth we were heading.
8. Pocket Calculator
In 1972, sums of all shapes and sizes became considerably easier for us when the first electronic ‘pocket’ calculator was launched. It took a while for it to become as popular within the mainstream as it is today, but it was the start of something that we have now learnt to rely on. There is hardly a phone on the market that doesn’t have a built-in calculator, indicating that we have moved on even further still and there is no doubt that we owe a great deal to the clever mechanics that make working out how to split a £117.60 bill between 8 people a much simpler task. Consider how long it takes to do that one in your head and breathe a sigh of relief that you may never have to again.
9. Nintendo Game Boy
Calling all Angry Birds addicts! Your public transport commutes wouldn’t quite be what they are today if it weren’t for the wonderful invention that was portable gaming. These days we are spoiled for choice, but in 1989 the revolution kicked off and the world of gaming changed when the Game Boy was released. Kids everywhere could suddenly benefit from a device that allowed them to take gaming anywhere and parents rejoiced at the prospect of a car journey spent in total silence.
10. Apple iPhone
After much debate it was decided we couldn’t leave the iPhone out of our top 10 list. It seems now that Apple change their iPhones as quickly as some celebrities change their marital partners, but who remembers the excitement of the very first iPhone being launched in 2007? On June 29th 2007, there was a buzz in the air as we had the chance to get our hands on the Smartest Smartphone to date. Apple had launched a phone with a user interface built around the device’s multi-touch screen. Gone were the days of keypads in place for a virtual keyboard and Wi-Fi at our fingertips and, for many, the world of technology altered just slightly if not completely.
So there you have it, just a little background on some of the inventions that got us to where we are today. It leaves us wondering just where we will be in another one hundred years. Who knows? We may be meeting for a virtual coffee, playing catch with our hologram dogs or changing our hair colour at the click of a button.