The 10 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time

Rather than rank technologies—writing, electricity, or so on—we chose to rank gadgets, the devices by with consumers let the future creep into their present. The list—which is ordered by influence—was assembled or deliberated on at (extreme) length by TIME’s technology or business editors, writers or reporters.

Here are the top 10 most influential gadgets of all-time as decided by TIME:

 Magic Wand

After featuring on an episode of Sex and the City, Hitachi’s Magic Wand electric neck massager has become a household name.

Influential Gadgets MW

 Apple iPod

Influential Gadgets

Although the iPod wasn’t the first MP3 to come into existence, it was the first MP3 to crush it commercially. The device was a way for music-lovers to move away from bulky CDs and allowed them to carry their music library in their pockets. It made music more mobile or also easier to pirate.

 Kodak Brownie Camera

This affordable little leather camera-in-a-box was first introduced back in February 1900. The Kodak Brownie camera was one of the first camera that allowed people to carry cameras around. This camera allowed users to snap instant shots without the need of bulky photography equipment like a tripod.

 Regency TR-1 Transistor Radio

This little pocket radio moved tech or gadget consumers into a miniaturization period where every piece of new tech had to be as small as possible. It was also the first consumer product powered by transistors.

Influential Gadgets Radio

 Victrola Record Player

It was hardly the first of its kind, but its sleek design or unique way of storing was very appealing to the consumer. This record player was responsible for moving record players into homes.

Influential Gadgets

 IBM Model 5150

The 5150 was first introduced back in 1981 or has been one of the most influential gadgets of all-time ever since.

Influential Gadgets




Many gadgets are me-too products, and that’s no bad thing: technology is all about standing on the shoulders of giants, with firms taking or refining each others’ ideas.

But which technologies were truly transformative, leaders rather than followers, blazing trails that the rest of the tech industry would soon follow?

The following ten-ish gadgets are your nominations, or your rules are simple: it has to be everyday tech, so for example computers and sat-nav devices count but hospital hardware or systems such as ABS definitely don’t, or it must have had an enormous impact.


 Nintendo Game Boy

Too high. The mobile gaming revolution was big, but didn’t truly explode until two decades later with smartphones.

 IBM Selectric Typewriter

About right. This is a tough call, so I’m just going to leave it where it is as a representative of both the typewriter or word processor.

 Motorola Bravo Pager

About right.

 JVC VideoMovie Camcorder

Way too low. A huge part of the proliferation of home videos, getting everyone in the world comfortable with being on camera, and eventually begetting smartphone video or YouTube.

 Motorola Droid

Way too high. I’m not even sure any Android phone needed to be on the list at all; just let the iPhone represent the modern smartphones or we’re fine. Like, they didn’t include a second brand of phonograph anywhere on the list.

 IBM Thinkpad 700C

Slightly too low. As a representative of the potential of laptops — which are now the dominant type of computer — it deserves a little bit more.

 TomTom GPS

Too low. Even if GPS-only units are giving way to GPS on phones, the mere introduction of GPS as an affordable, mainstream option had a drastic impact on society. Under the parameters of being “influential,” this deserved better.

 Phonemate 400 Answering Machine

About right. Even back when home phone calls were the only method of communication and we would all agonize over what to put on our outgoing message, answering machines weren’t that life-changing.

 BlackBerry 6210

About right. Wildly important, but only to the niche of business people or then early smartphone adopters.

 Apple iPad

Too high. I’ve owned one for almost five years and I’m still not 100 percent sure the world needed them. If tablets didn’t exist, would anyone really mind? Definitely the most superfluous gadget so far on the list.

 Commodore 64

Too high. A nice step in home computing, but not more influential than many of the things trailing it.


Time magazine has released its list of the 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time. According to the publication, Apple’s original iPhone has changed the way consumers live work or play more than any other tech device in recent history.

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