Apple’s iconic consumer electronics continue to top the record books, fitting into the first (iPhone), third (Macintosh), and ninth (iPod) spots in Time Magazine’s list of the 50 most influential gadgets of all time.
The list is rounded out with the iPad (number 25) and Apple’s original candy-colored iBook (38), the Sony Walkman at number four, Kodak’s Brownie camera at number eight, and several consoles from Atari, Nintendo, and Sony scattered throughout.
It’s a surprisingly mixed list, in terms of historical time period, but it does tend to skew a bit modern, thanks to our rapid advances in our own “gadget” era.
Time calls out the iPhone as the first truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions of users.
“Smartphones had technically existed for years,” they write, “but none came together as accessibly and beautifully as the iPhone.”
Of the Macintosh, Time reminds us of Steve Job’s introduction of the Mac, raising the specter of George Orwell’s 1984 to paint Big Blue (IBM) as a soulless machine, as contrasted to the friendly Macintosh.
“High costs and Microsoft’s successful Windows software conspired to keep the Mac a perennial runner-up,” notes Time. “But it forever set the standard for the way human beings interact with computers.”
The iPod took over the world of digital music, ushering in our current streaming utopia (or dystopia, depending on who you ask). Like the iPhone, the iPod didn’t invent the MP3 player, but it made being digital easy.
Time points out that while the iPod also made pirating music more appealing, it also provided a lifeline to the dying music industry via iTunes, which has become the world’s largest music retailer.
“The iPod’s importance extends far beyond music,” writes Time. “It was an entire generation’s introduction to Apple’s easy-to-use products and slick marketing.”
It’s great to see so many Apple products here, mixed in with the Game Boy, the electronic calculator, and the VCR. Innovation happens everywhere, but it sure does seem like Apple has a large share of the credit.