There was an intriguing new (to me, anyway) program on the History Channel this evening: “101 Gadgets That Changed the World.” For reasons I can’t even explain, a title like that was a guaranteed gotcha. I just had to know what those 101 gadgets were and how they were ranked.
The list was compiled by editors at Popular Mechanics and a panel of “experts and tech gurus.” As you might guess, their list was relatively modern and tech-heavy, with few mentions of really old things like, say, paper, gunpowder, or the printing press. But “older” is a relative term and to many of you the gadgets may seem ancient.
The program mentioned lots of obvious things like computers, telephones, and incandescent bulbs. But to me the most interesting items were those I probably would have overlooked: aerosol can, ballpoint pen, flashlight, wristwatch, lunchbox, zipper, tape measure, sunglasses, bicycle. Even duct tape. And personally, I was delighted to see typewriters mentioned. The two-hour program includes the history of when and how many of the gadgets came to be.
Belatedly I started taking notes and wrote down the top 25. But I’m thinking now I’ll just keep them to myself and let you enjoy the show.