Dek: Timing is everything. Here are five humble gadgets that
paved the way for most of the technology we use every day.
History is filled with brilliant ideas that changed the world, and
every one of them must have first sounded like the ravings of a
lunatic. Atomic energy, space travel, the George Foreman Grill.
But with enough time, these bold visions took root and shaped
the everyday world we live in today.
The same is true for all of the great technology we use in our
daily lives. Im Donald Bell, and in todays Top 5 Im counting
down the great unsung gadgets that paved the way for the world
of tech we take for granted today.
5. Sega Dreamcast
Starting off at #5: the Sega Dreamcast. In a year that will launch
both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, it seems only right to
trace things back to the Dreamcast. Released in 1998, this was
the first console to render games with full frames; the first with a
built-in modem for online play; and that candy-colored four
button controller looks pretty familiar.
15 years after its debut, you can still see the influence of Sega
Dreamcast on todays consoles. Unfortunately for Sega, it was
the last console they ever built.
4. Logitech Fotoman
At #4: the Logitech Fotoman. Also known as the Dycam Model 1.
This was the first, practical all-in-one digital camera sold to the
public. Released in 1990 with an early adopters price tag of
$995, the Fotoman boggled the mind with its ability to store up to
32 photos that you could transfer directly to your computer and
upload to your awful Geocities home page.
For those who could afford one, it was like holding the future of
photography in your hands. I mean, yeah, the pictures had the
resolution of a postage stamp and the thing only shot in black &
white. But in a time where digital cameras are now embedded in
practically every gadget you own, you have to give props to the
Fotoman. I give it a year before theyre selling replicas of this
thing at Urban Outfiters.
3. Motorola DynaTAC 8000x
Now, a real dinosaur comes in at #3: the Motorola DynaTAC
8000x -- the first cellular phone anyone could go out and actually
buy. Anyone with $4,000, at least.
Released in 1984, the DynaTAC offered 30 minutes of talk time
and could store a whopping 30 phone numbers. You kids may be
surprised to learn this, but in the 80s people used their phones
for talking -- like, conversations -- with their mouths.
But if you were alive in the 80s, nothing said baller like holding
this brick up to your face and acting important.
2. Palm Pilot
But if you really want to trace back the paternity of the
smartphone in your pocket, look no further than #2: the Palm
It was Palm that really popularized and defined the idea of the
PDA No, gross! -- the Personal Digital Assistant. The Palm
Pilot 1000 made its debut in 1996, and with it you could store
your calendar appointments, contacts, memos, and a to-do list --
features that are still at the core of any modern smartphone.
But the real groundbreaking feature of the Palm Pilot was that
you could connect it up to your computer and sync your data. We
take it for granted now that our desktop and mobile calendars
and contacts all synchronize magically, but it was Palm who was
really the first to make that magic happen. Seriously, stop.
1. Web TV (MSN TV)
first consumer-electronics device to access the World Wide Web
without a personal computer
So how do you top the Palm Pilots influence on our mobile-
crazed state of technology? Well, coming in at #1: Web TV.
Didnt see that one coming did you? Launched in 1996, the Web
TV set top box allowed anyone with a phone line to put the
Internet on their home TV. The Web TV did more than predict
todays current Smart TV trend and the connected living room. It
was the first device to grasp that if you remove the complexity of
the desktop computer and give people a straightforward way to
get online and check their email, you could reach a huge
Today, with sales of desktops and laptops falling off, and more
people picking up tablets and phones to get online, Web TVs
vision for a simpler, more affordable way to jump onto the Web
has ultimately won out.
So there you go, five trailblazing technologies that deserve credit
for shaping todays gadget-filled landscape. But if you disagree
or have some other worthy nominations, you can give me a
shout on Twitter, or better yet, head over to Top5.CNET.com,
leave a comment and watch some more videos until youre in a
Im Donald Bell, thanks for watching.