New phones are launched every month, new games consoles are released every year and adverts for new gadgets are forced into our eyeballs on every webpage, TV break and glossy magazine page.
You could be forgiven for letting it all wash over you, as these seemingly identical devices are pumped out of an endless production line, each apparently boasting features more revolutionary than the last.
But every so often a device comes around that really does change our world; from how we listen to music, read newspapers, communicate with our loved ones and spend our money.
Here are six of the most innovative, game-changing devices that the technology world has ever produced.
Of course, there are hundreds gadgets we have had to leave out, so please let us know in the comments below which devices you think helped shape our world.
With the whole planet seemingly hopping mad for Instagram right now and everyone from primary school children to their pensioner grandparents sharing photos online, it’s easy to forget that taking a picture and being able to see it seconds later was once a novelty.
Polaroid, the instant camera kings, released the Model 20 Swinger in 1965.
Aimed at a young and trendy audience, the Swinger cost only $19.95 and was the first device which placed fun at the heart of photography.
Its enormous success also leaves one wondering; what modern brand would benefit from a Barry Manilow jingle to up its ‘cool factor’?
With its dual screens and touch controls, the Nintendo DS was initially dismissed by some as a gimmick. But the console’s innovative control system and ever expanding stable of unique games have helped the DS become the second best selling console of all time.
Moving away from buttons and joysticks not only appealed to more casual gamers, but forced developers to think more creatively.
Over time new types of games emerged, like the hugely popular Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training; a series of mental tests designed to sharpen your mind, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney; a courtroom drama/murder mystery which in its craziest moments has you screaming “objection” into the DS’ microphone, and the curiously compelling Electroplankton; a game in which you drag fish around the screen to create music. The enormous success these titles enjoyed gave us a glimpse into the future of gaming.
Fast forward to 2012 and it’s easier than ever to see the considerable influence of the DS, with interactive control systems now common on all major gaming platforms. But with the expected November release of the Wii U, it’s still Nintendo that leads the way in changing how we play video games. Should the Wii U make as big a splash as Nintendo’s magic handheld did back in 2005, who knows what the games market will look like five years from now?
This isn’t going to be as dull as you think...
It’s hard to think that something now utterly redundant played such a significant role in our day to day lives.
Discovered at the end of World War 2 by Allied forces, magnetic tape was a Nazi invention, used to deceive the Allies who were monitoring Hitler’s whereabouts from speeches on radio broadcasts.
The high-quality tape recordings tricked the Allies into thinking the Fuhrer was giving live speeches from one location, when in fact he was in another.
Once the technology was taken to America it was adapted for commercial use and went on to revolutionise our lives in so many different ways. From professional audio recording to home-made videos, by placing itself at the centre of our lives tape influenced how we consume all types of media - arguably more so than the internet has done since.
Without the invention of tape it’s very easy to imagine that everything from mixed tapes and Sky+ boxes in our living rooms would have never existed.
Talking of tape and cassettes, this list would be incomplete without mentioning portable music players.
Personal music devices are now so common that the thought of being stuck without one can start a fully justifiable panic attack.
The Walkman transformed our relationship with music. Personalised playlists, the creation and sharing of mixtapes and music on the move fast became integral to the music industry. The effects of these changes are still visible today and are deeply ingrained into all of the world’s most popular music services.
In the years between the Walkman and iPod many companies - including Sony - tried and failed to replace the original Walkman.
Portable CD players skipped on the move, Mini-Disc was never really fit for purpose and early attempts at MP3 players failed to wow, possibly because they looked like something you might find in a cracker.
Most importantly, none of these new technologies were as simple to use as a cassette and a Walkman.
When Apple eventually stepped in and forever changed music listening all over again with the iPod and iTunes, the personal relationship between music and listener were placed right at the heart of the campaign.
It’s a shame that Sony’s modern-day music players, still using the Walkman name, have failed to inspire in quite the same way.
There had to be an Apple product in this list at some point, although selecting which one was always going to be tough.
The iPhone has arguably done more for the mobile revolution than any other device.
Of course there were handsets before, but Apple’s game-changing all-in-one phone, music player, camera, email system to rival BlackBerry’s, desktop quality web browsing and exciting App Store struck an instant chord with the public, and over time changed what people came to expect from their mobile phone. So much so, that competitors rushed out phones to emulate the iPhone and in some cases found themselves in high-profile legal wranglings with the Silicon Valley giant.
The biggest impact caused by the iPhone however was possibly the effect it had on Apple itself.
The company’s popularity now guarantees every announcement the level of press attention that most celebrities would happily remove an arm for, with each new device causing hysteria on a level with Beatlemania and overnight queuing at Apple stores worldwide.
Since the release of the first iPhone, Apple - a company once staring down the barrel of bankruptcy has leapfrogged the invincible Microsoft to become the world’s largest technology company. If the ‘cult of Apple’ responsible for this success began anywhere, it was with the iPhone.
The huge excitement surrounding this year's release of the Raspberry Pi was not misplaced. In a world where hackers make the headlines almost weekly and virtually everyone has a device more complicated than the computers used for the moon launch in their pocket, programming is going to remain central to our advancement for years to come.
This $25 computer is smaller than a mobile phone and aims to get programming back to the core of school curriculum. The creators wanted to provide all children the same ability to learn programming as was enjoyed in schools during the 1980s. The low cost of the Raspberry Pi will also make it far easier for countries in the developing world to teach programming and computing in schools; something which until now has been virtually unthinkable due to the costs involved.
With the technology industry expanding faster than ever before and now key to so many economies, the thought of every child having access to a computer this cheap on which they can learn to programme leaves us with the excitement of wondering exactly what the next dot-com boom might look like.
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