Here’s PC World’s official (and entirely idiosyncratic) list of the top tech gadgets of the last half century.


We’re living in the golden age of the gadget. Don’t believe it? Check your pockets. Odds are you’re carrying a portable music player, an electronic organizer, a keychain-size storage device, a digital camera, or a cell phone that combines some or all of these functions. And you’d probably be hard-pressed to live without them.

At PC World, we’d be lost without these things. We don’t merely test and write about digital gear, we live and breathe the stuff. In honor of this raging gizmo infatuation, we polled our editors and asked them to name the top 50 gadgets of the last 50 years. The rules? The devices had to be relatively small (no cars or big-screen TVs, for example), and we considered only those items whose digital descendants are covered in PC World (cameras, yes; blenders, no). We rated each gadget on its usefulness, design, degree of innovation, and influence on subsequent gadgets, as well as the ineffable quality we called the "cool factor." Then we tallied the results.

After a lot of Web surfing, spreadsheet wrangling, and some near fistfights, we emerged with the following list. Some items in our Top 50 are innovative devices that appeared briefly and then were quickly consigned to museums and future appearances on eBay, but whose influence spread widely. Others are products we use every day–or wish we could.

With the holidays in full swing, and as folks shop for the right gear to give their loved ones, join us as we visit with the ghosts of gadgets past and present.

Here’s the list.

  1. Sony Walkman TPS-L2 (1979)
  2. Apple iPod (2001)
  3. (Tie) ReplayTV RTV2001 and TiVo HDR110 (1999)
  4. PalmPilot 1000 (1996)
  5. Sony CDP-101 (1982)
  6. Motorola StarTAC (1996)
  7. Atari Video Computer System (1977)
  8. Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera (1972)
  9. M-Systems DiskOnKey (2000)
  10. Regency TR-1 (1954)
  11. Sony PlayStation 2 (2000)
  12. Motorola Razr V3 (2004)
  13. Motorola PageWriter (1996)
  14. BlackBerry 850 Wireless Handheld (1998)
  15. Phonemate Model 400 (1971)
  16. Texas Instruments Speak & Spell (1978)
  17. Texas Instruments SR-10 (1973)
  18. Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 %281998)
  19. Sony Handycam DCR-VX1000 (1995)
  20. Handspring Treo 600 (2003)
  21. Zenith Space Command (1956)
  22. Hamilton Pulsar (1972)
  23. Kodak Instamatic 100 (1963)
  24. MITS Altair 8800 (1975)
  25. Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 (1983)
  26. Nintendo Game Boy (1989)
  27. Commodore 64 (1982)
  28. Apple Newton MessagePad (1994)
  29. Sony Betamax (1975)
  30. Sanyo SCP-5300 (2002)
  31. iRobot Roomba Intelligent Floorvac (2002)
  32. Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer (1999)
  33. Franklin Rolodex Electronics REX PC Companion (1997)
  34. Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 10 (1998)
  35. Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (1983)
  36. Iomega Zip Drive (1995)
  37. Magnavox Magnavision Model 8000 DiscoVision Videodisc Player (1978)
  38. Milton Bradley Simon (1978)
  39. Play, Inc Snappy Video Snapshot (1996)
  40. Connectix QuickCam (1994)
  41. BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator (1993)
  42. Motorola Handie Talkie HT-220 Slimline (1969)
  43. Polaroid Swinger (1965)
  44. Sony Aibo ERS-110 (1999)
  45. Sony Mavica MVC-FD5 (1997)
  46. Learjet Stereo-8 (1965)
  47. Timex/Sinclair 1000 (1982)
  48. Sharp Wizard OZ-7000 (1989)
  49. Jakks Pacific TV Games (2002)
  50. Poqet PC Model PQ-0164 (1990)
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