In the last instalment we looked at gadgets like the TV, which connects millions of people all over the world. Read on to explore some of the most important gadgets ever made.
35. Microwave Oven, 1946 – Dr Percy Spencer stumbled upon the Microwave when working in a range of radio waves emitted by a magnetron melted a jar of peanut butter he had in his pocket. Dr Spencer then used the magnetron on a egg, which exploded and commercial ovens soon followed cooking dodgy dinner meals ever since.
36. Mobile Phone, 1947 – Bell Laboratories introduced the first Mobile Phone service in Missouri in 1947, however widespread coverage in Britain didn’t begin till the late 1980’s. Today there are more than 2 billion Mobiles worldwide, and they are such a big part of modern day life, that it’s hard to imagine how life would be without them.
37. Velcro, 1948 – A Swiss inventor George de Mestral created Velcro in 1948 as he was fed up of removing cocklebur seeds from his dog and jacket. He eventual took a cocklebur seed and looked at it under a microscope to discover its stickiness. The answer: loops in clothing and hooks on the cocklebur seeds. De Mestral replicated the fastening action synthetically to create Velcro.
38. Credit Card, 1950 – Before American Ralph Schneider founded the Diner’s Club Card, people were forced to queue at high street banks just to get their hands on their money.
39. Microchip, 1958 – US engineer Jack Kilby built the world’s first Microchip. Ever since then Microchips feature in most electronic devices, from toys to tanks.
40. Laser, 1960 – Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and was created by physicist Theodore Maiman based on the foundation made by Albert Einstein in 1917. Einstein said atoms can be stimulated to emit photons in a single direction.
41. CD, 1965 – James Russell invented the CD because he thought the crackly sound on vinyl ruined music. Sony and Philips picked up the idea in the 70’s and CD’s appeared in the shops in the early 80’s.
42. The Internet, 1969 – The concept of interlinking computers was created by the US Department of Defence in the 1960’s but it wasn’t until Brit scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the web in 1989 and then in 1991 when a pan-European organisation for particle research publicised the ‘World Wide Web’ project, that the internet really took off.
43. Digital Watch, 1972 – Watches went digital in the 70’s when the pulsar was created by the Hamilton Company, which sported lights instead of hands.
44. Barcode, 1973 – Created by Norman Woodland in 1952, who was later employed by IBM. Since then, Barcodes have appeared on almost everything we buy.
45. Post-it Note, 1973 – Post-it notes were created by a 3M designer Art Fry. Art came up with the idea at choir practice as he was frustrated by hymnbook page markers. The Post-it is now sold in over 100 countries in 62 colours.
46. PC, 1977 – IBM were producing computers for businesses as early as the 1950’s but cost around $100,000 (£500,000 today) so having one in every home was just a dream. That was until bright young techies named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, launched Apple II in 1977, which was the first consumer PC that went on to transform our lives.
47. GPS, 1978 – Developed by the US military, the Global Positioning System uses 32 satellites to pinpoint your position within a couple of metres. The GPS has been globally available since 1994.
48. Laptop, 1982 – The Grid Compass 1100 was invented by Brit Bill Moggridge. This was the first Laptop to sport the clamshell case and its lightweight (5kg) shell was ideal for NASA and Paratroopers.
49. Nintendo Gameboy, 1989 – On its release in 1989 the Gameboy became the best-selling gaming system of all time. The Gameboy introduced games such as Super Mario and Tetris to the world, which many companies tried to better, but at the time none could come close.
50. SMS 1992 – Neil Papworth a British Engineer sent the first text in 1992. It read: “MERRY CHRISTMAS”. SMS or Short Message Service popularity exploded in the late 1990’s and now millions of messages get sent each day.
So there you have it! A trilogy of gadgets that changed the World as we know it.
Do you remember the first time you got your hands on a Gameboy? Did the blog bring back some memories of your youth? Or maybe, you think that there are more gadgets that changed the world that I missed out? Leave a comment and let me know…