Over the last 3 decades inventors in garages and corporate labs have created a whole slew of gadgets that not only delighted us and occasionally drove us crazy, but also changed who we are and how we relate to each other. In the process of naming these devices they gave birth to new words and phrases.
Ever wonder when these words were born? Here is a list of the most popular ones:
Cellphone – in 1983 Motorola introduced its DynaTAC 8000x, weighing in at 2lbs and costing $4,000!
Laptop – Though hardly considered a device you could place on your lap, the Compaq Portable launched in 1983 was the first portable computer, and weighed in at a hefty 28 lbs. But it set the trend for smaller and smaller machines.
Karaoke – this machine was invented in 1983 and has led to lots of fun, stupidity, and embarrassment.
Caller ID – in 1984 BellSouth introduced this invention and revolutionized the way we respond to telephone calls.
Digital camera – “digital” and “camera” have been around for decades. But in 1986 Kodak married the two into a pricey camera for professional photographers. Eight years later Apple produced the first consumer version and the way we view our world hasn’t been the same since!
PowerPoint – Where would speakers be without this invention that Microsoft unveiled for the PC platform in 1990?
Doppler Radar – in 1990 it became a household word as weather forecasters brought up-to-the-minute images to TV.
Lithium rechargeable battery– Originally making its debut in the Sony camcorder in 1991, this revolutionary battery made possible the powering of all those power hungry devices developed since then.
DirectTV (home satellite TV) – Once dishes were so pricey and large, they’d pull down your house if you mounted one on your roof! Then in 1994 (yes they’ve been around that long!) DirectTV launched its services with smaller versions for restaurants and bars (or your backyard). In time technology made them so small that they now can be mounted outside your window. Today as competition to cable services, they have popped up on rooftops like mushrooms, the 21st century’s version of the antenna.
DVD – in 1995 Americans traded their video cassettes for hours of extended movie watching with behind the scenes specials, outtakes and bloopers included.
GPS – (The Global Positioning System) originally developed in the 1970s by the US department of Defense it took until 1995 for Oldsmobile to introduce the first GPS navigation system available in a car, called GuideStar.
Blackberry – in 1999 an obscure Canadian company, Research in Motion, produced this mobile e-mail device.
TiVo – This gadget is now used as a verb (as in “I’m Tivo-ing Survivor tonight”) and changed TV viewing habits for millions after it was shipped in 1999.
iPod – where would music be without this device. Introduced in 2001 by Apple, it would become the most popular portable music player available.