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Gadgets

Stephen Fry names cigarette lighter as greatest ever gadget

Stephen Fry has named the cigarette lighter ahead of the iPad, iPhone and the karaoke machine in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Gadgets.

Stephen Fry has named the cigarette lighter as the greatest ever gadget. The iPad, iPhone and Nintendo Wii join the kettle, karaoke machine and many more gadgets, gizmos and gewgaws in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Gadgets last night.

National treasure, Blackadder-botherer and Steve Jobs fan Fry believes the lighter gives us a power that for centuries eluded our ancestors, and pooh-poohs more modern and sophisticated technology: "It's not the order in which things are invented that makes them the most impressive, it's the importance they have to humanity. So my number one is this: fire with a flick of the fingers."

An avowed Apple fan, our centurion of contraptions lists several products from Jobs and co. One of Fry's faves is another Apple device: a mechanical apple peeler, a device hailed by Fry for its combination of simplicity and complexity; its laughable absurdity that you nonetheless can't wait to show off to your friends.

Before anyone starts quibbling over the definition of a gadget, our effusive narrator notes in his blog, "A gadget, for our purposes, was more or less what I decided it was," and was just as likely to be "a kitchen essential as a digital doodad".

The top ten consists of the iPad, the apple peeler, the ballpoint pen, the telephone, the laptop, the typewriter, the television, the iPod, the wristwatch and the humble lighter.

The Wii flails its way into the countdown at number 15, with the digital camera at 14. The smart phone rocks up at number 13, putting apps and the Internet and irate avians in your pocket wherever you are -- prompting talking head Charlie Brooker to note that we're probably faffing with our phones as we watch the very show. And he was right: the #greatestgadgets hashtag prompted hundreds of tweets both agreeing and disagreeing with Steve's selections.

Other entries include vinyl records, the Swiss Army Knife, the bra, the bell, the mousetrap, the Sodastream, handcuffs, night vision goggles and the electric toothbrush. Sounds like an average night in at CNET Towers.

An obsessive early adopter, Fry admits to also having owned a few howlers in his time, including the Apple Newton, Microwriter AgendA, and early Sony electronic books.

You can see the full 100 greatest gadgets countdown at Channel 4's website. What's missing from the high-tech countdown? Do you agree with Mr Fry's selections or were you screaming at your screen throughout? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.