The Greatest Gadgets Over The Past 50 Years

When it comes to the gadget world, things are always ever-changing. As we have such high expectations when it comes to gadgets, technology and software, we often forget what it was like to live back in ‘the olden days’.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 of the greatest gadgets over the past 50 years; reminding you of the first mobile phones and laptops.

1. Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera – 1972

The first gadget in our list is the Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera, widely regarded as the first point, shoot and develop instant camera that leaves no residue behind when peeling film. It was the first Polaroid to automatically eject a photo and product images without making you wait minutes to peel off the outer film wrapping. Back when it was first introduced, the Polaroid cost a massive $180 with an extra cost of $6.90 per ten-pack of film. Camera and videographers back in the day went mad for these!  

2. Atari Video Computer System – 1977 The Atari computer system was the gadget that brought videos out of the arcades and amusement parks and into the home. The simplicity of the gaming system meant that you could simply plug the box into the TV and enjoy your games. The computer system used multiple game cartridges so that the user could play different games on the same console. Some of the greatest games ever invented were originally played on this unit; including Space Invaders and PacMan!  

3. Epson HX-20 – 1981

epson hx20 laptop Perhaps the most exciting and different gadgets in this list is the Epson HX-20. It gained notoriety for becoming the first laptop computer, and was a revelation at the time to people wanting a portable computing device. The rechargable batteries gave 50 hours worth of battery life and had a 120 x 30 pixel graphics screen. The huge introductory price of $795 was a small price to pay for people becoming fed-up about leaning over a computer!  

4. Motorola DynaTAC 8000X – 1983

motorola dynatac 8000x The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was one of the earliest portable phones, and also spawned the name ‘TheBrick’. Back in 1983, the portable phone was one of the biggest and greatest gadgets around. Although it measured a foot in length and weighed almost 2 pounds, the battery life and memory was pretty impressive. This gadget could last for 1 hour of talk time and enough memory to hold 30 numbers. This again, was a revelation in the early 80’s – who knew you could have a walk-and-talk phone?  

5. Nintendo Game Boy – 1989


Kids back in the late 80’s and early 90’s went mad for the new Nintendo Game Boy.

It was one of the first portable game players in the world, and the black & green LCD screen was ground-breaking back then. Tetris, one of the most popular games in the world, was originally played on the 1989 Game Boy.

The console proved so popular that within the first two weeks, the Nintendo HQ in Japan sold their entire stock and 300,000 products were sold.


6. Connectix QuickCam – 1994

connectix quick cam

Ever wonder about the history of the webcam? Surprisingly, the webcam was originally made in the form of the Connectic QuickCam back in 1994, and was a popular starter for videographers.

Kids in the mid-90’s could now send images and short, choppy, highly-pixelated videos to one another over the internet. It evolved from the RS-422 connectors, to the parallel connector, and eventually through a USB cable. These days, most laptops are fitted with a webcam and it often sits neglected on the frame.

People went mad for the webcam back in the day, and now we take them for granted. Oh, how times have changed!


7. Sony HandyCam DCR-VX1000 – 1995

In the 90’s, editing videos meant purchasing an expensive expansion card large enough to hold the video. The Sony HandyCam DCR-VX1000 was the first camera to capture the mini-DV format and dramatically increased video quality of movies all around the world.

The initial cost for the HandyCam was a whopping $3500, but a small price to pay for professional videographers and movie-makers.


8. PalmPilot – 1996


About two decades ago, the thought of a personal hand-held data storing device was unheard of. That was until the PalmPilot was introduced in 1996.

This hefty little gadget was created as a supplement for your computer, and to access your digital data on-the-go. When it was first introduced, it had a massive 128KB of storage – enough to hold 50 names and addresses.

Modern days, we can now use our phones to store names, phone numbers and addresses, but this was the bridge between notepads and physical address books and digital data.


9. M-Systems DiskOnKey – 2000

m-systems disk on key

Do you remember the need to carry around a large floppy disk to transfer your information?

This key-disk by M-Systems was easier to use than the traditional disk, and it also was one of the first drives not to require a driver for the PC. Simply plug into the USB cable, copy files and away you go. No fussy wires, just pop in & out and your files are transferred.


10. Apple iPod – 2001

What would a ‘top 10 gadgets list’ be without a mention of at least one Apple product?

The Apple iPod was one of the first devices which enabled you to listen music on-the-go. Although at the time it was nothing special (1000 songs and a short battery life is nothing to write home about), the evolution of the iPod has been very impressive.

The modern-day iPod can browse the web, play video games AND listen to music, but it was a pretty ground-breaking invention in the early 2000’s!


Do you remember some of these gadgets? What do you think was the best gadgets over the past 50 years? We’d love to know!