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Top Ten Gadgets That Changed The World :

At the recent BayCon Science Fiction & Fantasy convention held in San Mateo California I had the pleasure of being moderator on several panels, one of these, which took place on Sunday afternoon, was “The Top Ten Gadgets That Changed The World.”

I captured notes on my laptop and recorded audio with my Olympus DS-40 voice recorder. I apologise but the batteries ran down on my DS-40 ran down about 10 minutes before the end of the panel so we are missing the final debate

The debate was lively and at times, loud with full audience participation.

The notes below are direct from the ones I took at the panel with no editing, so it includes spelling mistakes and poor grammar.

If you want to sweat about your typing and spelling, try writing live on to a video display projected in front of 200 people whilst holding down a conversation too.

Download the audio of the panel. (22.6MB)

Philip Gust – CEO of software co. Inventor/Gadgeteer
Lee Felsenstein – Designer of lost computers.
Jay Freeman – Scientist and player
Justin Lloyd (moderator) – video game developer.

The “aye, “no” and “on the fence” at the end of each entry were added in the last few minutes using a democratic process of getting the audience to shout out whether they thought the gadget was worthy of being in the top ten list. Unfortunately we ran out of time to actually sort the list into a top ten.

  1. Transistor – aye (Jay Freeman)
  2. Wright Flyer – aye (Jay Freeman)
  3. Apple II – on the fence (Jay Freeman)
  4. Portable Phone – yes (Jay Freeman)
  5. AK47 – on the fence (Jay Freeman)
  6. Credit Card – no (Jay Freeman)
  7. Television – yes
  8. Movies -on the fence
  9. Model T – yes
  10. Meteorological Satellites – yes
  11. Liquid Fueled Rocket Motor – on the fence (Jay Freeman)
  12. Flip-flop – on the fence (Lee Felsenstein)
  13. Cell phone/Mobile Phone – yes (Justin Lloyd/Lee Felsenstein)
  14. Bloody PC – on the fence (Lee Felsenstein)
  15. Raster Scan CRT – huh? (Lee Felsenstein)
  16. Electronic Hand Calculator yes (Philip Gust)
  17. VCR/Tivo – yes (Philip Gust)
  18. Answering Machine – on the fence (Philip Gust)
  19. Car Radio – no (Philip Gust)
  20. Univac 1 – no (Philip Gust)
  21. GPS – yes (Philip Gust)
  22. GPS – yes (Justin Lloyd)
  23. iPod – no (Justin Lloyd)
  24. Air Conditioner – yes (Justin Lloyd)
  25. Candidate- “Aluminium based anti-perspirant”, aerosal can – on the fence
  26. Candidate – photocopier – yes
  27. Candidate – Post-It notes on the fence
  28. Candidate – RADAR – yes
  29. Candidate – Search engine “Altavista” – no
  30. Candidate – White out/Tippex/Liquid paper – no
  31. Candidate – Super glue – no

Lee Felsenstein – What is a classic design?
Where is the gee whiz factor?

Definition of PC/Univac/Apple II

Candidate – Scanning Tunneling Microscope, precursor to molecular microscope – on the fence
Candidate – Apollo programme – no
Candidate – Atomic bomb – yes

Is a transistor a gadget? But the transistor radio?
Pentode tube – huh
Candidate – Heterodyne Receiver – on the fence

Model T – First breakout automobile product, like the iPod.
Car Radio – made family road trips practical and tolerable, radio was their entertainment, larger captive advertising audience.
Liquid Fueled Rocket Motor – It lead to the Apollo programme.
GPS – changing the future, guided bombs, UAV, cell phone location spam

Candidate – Microwave oven, LCD, LED – yes
Candidate – Nylons, synthetic fabrics, “ropes” – on the fence
Candidate – LASER – yes
Explanation – AK47 – enabling tech for revolution

Is 100 years enough?
Candidate – Portable PC – yes
Candidate – CNC – yes
Candidate – Carbonless copy paper – no
Candidate – Autonomous and industrial robots – yes

What will be the future gadgets?
Digital paper
Batteries that never discharge

Audio recording & notes will be available at

What ten gadgets changed the fannish world?
What are the best ten gadgets of all time?

Download the audio of the panel. (22.6MB)

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