The first decade of the 21st century saw the invention of the most amazing gadgets to date. Below is a list of the top ten:
1. The Apple iPod: Apple changed the face of music forever with its iPod MP3 music player – and kept setting the pace for music in the new millenium by introducing increasingly advanced models of the popular MP3 device. The first model, introduced in 2001, had only 5GB of music, and buttons surrounding the iconic click wheel – today’s models have far more capacity – and just one button in the middle of the wheel, if any.
2. The Netbook: First introduced by Asus with their Asus Eee 900 PC, today every computer manufacturer has their own version of the ultralight, super small laptop computer. Excellent for airports, college libraries, and anyone who needs to access the internet while on the go.
3. The Apple IPhone: Another one of Steve Jobs’ triumphs, this was – and remains – the premier “smart phone” – though it is yet to truly conquer the cell phone carrying world, since it only available to AT&T wireless customers.
4. Jabra Bluetooth Earpiece: The first was introduced in 2000, and in the years since they have grown progressively smaller – and increased their functionality from a foot or two, to several feet of distance from the phone, and their battery life from an hour or two to nearly a day’s worth.
5. USB Flash Drive: In the 1990s, I was thrilled by the “smaller” 3 and a half inch floppy disk, but the USB flash drive (aka the “thumb drive”) have enough memory to hold several thousand times as much data. Each GB is the equivalent of a yard of library books.
6. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones: Headphones were not new this decade, but Bose made the humble headphones into a star that rivaled the importance of the music itself, with sound quality rivaling a concert hall, and a purported reduction in damage caused by headphones.
7. Flip Video Ultra: This 2007 introduction redefined home videos. When I was a child, in the early 1990s, very few parents took the time and energy to haul the giant video camera to film school plays, but the pocket sized Flip (with its easy to use single button) means that you can film just about anything – with minimal set up.
8. Amazon Kindle: The first e-reader – and still the most popular – it continues to redefine what it means to pick up a book and read. Though PDA devices had offered the ability to download books, the Kindle is the first dedicated e-reader, offering a large library of new books, and a screen meant to emulate the paperback page.
9. Garmin GPS: Garmin has been making navigational devices for decades – I remember using their instruments on my uncle’s boat as a child – but the 2000 introduction of the GPS for cars was a revolution – and a death knell for paper road map makers.
10. Nintendo Wii: Nintendo devices have been defining childhood for decades – remember the Gameboy? – but the Nintendo Wii was the first device to actually encourage movement outside of players’ fingers. It also is the first to spawn its own bowling leagues, and to enjoy popularity among senior citizens looking to enjoy activities like golf without aggravating arthritis and sciatica.