Gear we couldn’t live without 10 or 20 or many more years ago may seem ridiculously outdated in the face of modern technology, but Time magazine’s new list of the 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time shows how the evolution of ideas has helped create so many of our beloved devices.
From the Victrola Record Player to the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, Time’s editors celebrate “the tech that forever changed the way we live, work and play.” Scrolling the list of items brings back memories of many items that seemed so cutting edge at the time — many of which were initially priced at a level that made them seem unattainable.
Here are a few of the highlights, without revealing the top item — which you should be able to figure out, unless you’re completely consumed with trying to set the timer on your VCR (page me, I’ll tell you how).
- Atari 2600: “Its blocky 8-bit graphics looked nothing like the lavish, rousing illustrations on its game jackets, but the black-and-faux-wood Atari 2600 game console was the first gaming box to stir the imaginations of millions.”
- Sony Walkman: “The first music player to combine portability, simplicity and affordability. … It ushered in the phenomena of private space in public created by the isolating effect of headphones.”
- Motorola Dynatac 8000x: “The first truly portable cellphone when it launched in 1984, the Dynatac 8000x weighed nearly two pounds and cost almost $4,000.”
- Apple iBook: “The iBook’s brightly-colored, plastic trim may look dated now, but it was the first laptop to offer wireless networking. Apple’s consumer-oriented portable — for its cool-factor as well as its technology — grew into a serious business.”
- Amazon Kindle: “Amazon began as an online bookstore, so it’s no surprise that its most influential piece of hardware changed the way we read. The Kindle quickly took over the e-reader market, becoming the best-selling product in the history of Amazon.com in 2010. The Kindle also marks the beginning of Amazon’s evolution as a digital media company.”