Top Ten Gadgets of the Decade

It is hard to believe that 2009 is nearly over. As I stopped to ponder how quickly the year has gone I realized it has been ten years since we were preparing to usher in a new decade and a new century.

As 1999 was coming to an end I like most others in the Information Technology industry was preparing for the impending Y2K doom that was being predicted in the media. Of course nothing happened and that was a non-event.

When the clock counted down the final seconds of the 20th century I wondered what life would be like in the next century. I envisioned life being like the Jetsons with flying cars that folded up into briefcases and we would all live in apartment complexes catered to by Rosie the Robot.

Unfortunately as I sit here now I wonder if anything really has changed at all? It feels as though life as we know it really hasn’t changed that much; or so I thought. When ABC News posted a news story naming The Top 10 Products of the Decade I was curious whether these products would be revolutionary or just an updated of version of something that has been around for ages.

Reading over the list I was shocked that many of the products listed have become a part of my everyday life. I don’t think of these things as the amazing 21st Century technology that I had been anticipating. Strangely I could not think of living a day without them they have become so much a part of my daily life.

The list of products ABC News identified as the best of the last decade are:

  1. Apple iPod
  2. GPS Devices
  3. The Blackberry
  4. Digital Camera
  5. TiVo Digital Video Recorder
  6. Nintendo Wii
  7. USB Flash Drive
  8. iPhone
  9. E-Book Readers
  10. Netbooks

Perhaps the first thing to note is that without exception I own or have owned every single one of these products during the past decade. I am not sure whether that means I have successfully helped select these products or if it just means I am a techno-geek that buys way too many toys. If you ask Trina she will definitely say it is the latter.

When I stood back and pondered these products I realized that without exception each of these have changed the way I live my life now versus before they were developed.

I remember when I began college in 1980. I saved up my money and made the splurge buying my first Hewlett-Packard calculator. It was the size of a brick and came with a one line LED display that was painfully difficult to read unless you were in a dark room.

This calculator was my constant companion throughout college and I truly thought I was on the cutting edge of technology. I took great care with the calculator as it cost as much as a semester of tuition.

At the end of my first year of college Sony introduced the Walkman that would allow me to take a cassette with me around campus and listen to music while I studied. It was an unheard of concept and changed the way I listened to music.

Fast-forwarding to this past decade I suddenly realized how much things have changed. My iPod now holds 36 times more than my first hard drive the Apple Profile. Now I not only can listen to my music but I am able to take my entire library of music and videos with me at all times and go days without having to recharge the battery.

I no longer wait for the local disc jockey to introduce me to new artists and music. Instead my iPod and iPhone recommend music to me based on what I have listened to in the past. Music has become files where it used to be tapes or discs.

My phone and my car can now tell me within 10 feet where I am on the planet regardless of how far away I am from my destination. It can tell me where traffic is the worst and what is the best route to get to my destination all without stopping to ask for directions.

Phones have morphed into multi-tasking devices and I communicate with voice, video, email and text all from a handheld unit that has more computing power than the combined first ten computers I owned.

My first computer had 4K of memory and I had to program it each time I booted. When Apple introduced the cassette tape storage device I was in heaven. Now I have a USB drive with no moving parts that is the size of a quarter and holds the equivalent of 12 CDs of information. I can move the data from computer to computer simply by inserting the drive into a USB port.

When the decade first began most homes in America still had a VCR, which flashed 12:00. Although it was possible to record television to tape it was a complicated process that always ended in frustration. Now with my TiVo it not only records all of my shows without me having to feed tapes to the machine but it also finds shows I might like based upon my previous viewing habits.

On those occasions when I forget to tell TiVo to record a program I can still do it even if I am not at home. I simply open an application on my iPhone and give instructions to my TiVo even if I am hundreds of miles away from home.

I have always been a book connoisseur and have literally hundreds of books around my house. Now I find myself buying less paper books instead relying on electronic books such as the Amazon Kindle to provide reading materials.

I can still flip through the pages but now I can house several books in a single form-factor. For those trips where I normally take 2-3 books to read I now pack just my e-book reader. If I run out of reading material more books are available if I can find a wireless network.

Looking back over the past ten years clearly we have made tremendous technological advances. So while I still don’t have a flying car or a robot maid my life is much easier than it ever has been in my life. I can hardly wait to see what advances are made in the next ten years.

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