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February 18, 2005 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Ron Popeil's Pocket Fisherman has been updated since it's intro in the 50s, but it's the original that makes Mobile PCs list of The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time. Many you'd expect to find, some I was suprised by. And the big surprise? iPod isn't the #1 gadget. Mostly, I'm distrubed by the number of these gadgets that I've owned at one point or another.
posted by FlamingBore (37 comments total)

 
When I saw this earlier and saw that the clapper was there and the flowbee wasn't I thought 'what a crap list"
posted by mss at 1:25 PM on February 18, 2005


As many will recall, the Pocket Fisherman was the service weapon of SCTV's Fish Police. As the trout was making its getaway with the stolen watch in its mouth: "Stop or I'll cast!!"
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:26 PM on February 18, 2005


OK, so they have the abacus on the list. And an early representative of the pocket calculator family. Both rightly so. But it seems a key intermediate between the two is the slide rule--they even mention it in the pocket calculator entry, but it doesn't get it's own entry on the list??
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:26 PM on February 18, 2005


9. ATARI 2600, 1977
We've got two words to describe the majesty of this device: Yar's Revenge.
Oh hell yes.
posted by m0nm0n at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2005


mss, the flowbee sucked, literally.

Some interesting selections in there but alot of things I'd completely forgotten about. Kind of a fun read and reminisce.
posted by fenriq at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2005


They seem kind of all over the place, like a lot of these sorts of lists. Maglite? They are indestructible, I have several. Polar HRM? Sure, got one of those, too. Fisher Space Pen? Check. I'm gonna use the Cuisinart in about twenty minutes to make some pesto. But I never really had much use for the Pocket Fisherman or Tickle Me Elmo.
posted by fixedgear at 1:28 PM on February 18, 2005


But I never really had much use for the Pocket Fisherman

That's only because you haven't been mugged by a fish.

Yet.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:32 PM on February 18, 2005


Tamagotchi beats the Rubik's Cube? Tivo beats the telephone? Their criteria must be totally arbitrary.
posted by painquale at 1:33 PM on February 18, 2005


Way too many PDAs and laptops.
posted by fleacircus at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2005


Yea, Flowbee, not a good choice for a fake hooker name.
posted by mss at 1:36 PM on February 18, 2005


Oh hell yes.

Over the years, I have devoted probably an entire month of my life to Yar's Revenge. I lead a sad, sad life.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:36 PM on February 18, 2005


Completely relieved that iPod didn't make it into the top 10, frankly. :) As the site said, "It wasn't the first hard-drive audio player, it was expensive, and it worked only with Macintosh computers." I'm still somewhat baffled by the mass adulation it has received. But I digress! Is the CompactFlash card a "self-contained apparatus"? Doesn't it fall along the lines of a hard drive (the article's example of an apparatus that is not self-contained)? Someone, please edumucate me. Cool list!
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:39 PM on February 18, 2005


fun list, but sadly omitted:
The nitrogen cannister in the bottom of "Pub Cans" of Guinness, Boddington's, etc.
The little plastic tripod thing that they put in your delivery pizza to make the cheese not stick to the top of the pizza box.

those two items have done more to change my life in a positive way, sometimes at the same time, than any piece of electronics.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:48 PM on February 18, 2005


Is the CompactFlash card a "self-contained apparatus"?

Sure it is... it is made to be removed and placed in other devices. It's a method of moving data, not simply storing it.

mcstayinskool - the plastic tripod that you find in your pizza box doesn't have electronic or moving parts, excluding it from this list. But I agree they are nifty thingabobs... I used them for dollhouse tables when i was a kid.
posted by salad spork at 1:55 PM on February 18, 2005


And the big surprise? iPod isn't the #1 gadget.

No, I think that award goes to the telephone coming in at #23.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2005


Is the CompactFlash card a "self-contained apparatus"?

Sure it is... it is made to be removed and placed in other devices. It's a method of moving data, not simply storing it.


So, what about the external hard drive? I can move that from PC to PC. Seems like a fuzzy line. :)

I didn't even know the in-the-shell egg scrambler *existed*. AWESOME! Sadly, no DecorEgger on the list.
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2005


Way too many PDAs and laptops.

What do you expect from a list compiled by Mobile PC Magazine?
posted by caddis at 2:04 PM on February 18, 2005


What moves in a harmonica?
posted by jacquilynne at 2:12 PM on February 18, 2005


George Foreman's gonna be pissed that he didn't make the list.

C'mon, IT DRAINS AWAY THE FAT! That's better than Tickle Me Elmo right there!
posted by briank at 2:20 PM on February 18, 2005


I can't believe they had so many duplicates, but forgot:


Ultrabright LED miniature flashlights.

Magnetic stripe cards & readers

A proximity activated radio ID token of some sort (access badges, FastPass, RFID, etc.)
posted by bradhill at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2005


What moves in a harmonica?

Little metal reeds that make the sound.
posted by interrobang at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2005


What moves in a harmonica?

Air?
posted by fixedgear at 3:01 PM on February 18, 2005


What moves in a harmonica?

Tiny people who've got no place else to go?
posted by eamondaly at 3:11 PM on February 18, 2005


What moves in a harmonica?

years of spit, if you're not careful ... ick
posted by pyramid termite at 3:12 PM on February 18, 2005


I find it interesting that the iPod and the original Sony transitistor radio shown are so similar, strikingly so. Makes you wonder if it helped inspire the form factor and controller choice just as much as the internal hard drive size/shape did...
posted by davejay at 3:43 PM on February 18, 2005


Personally, I think the #1 device should have been the humble ballpoint pen. Yes, they have the Fisher Space Pen a ways down there, but considering both the ubiquity and indispensability of the devices, I think they should have been #1, in their generic form. There is probably no single gadget of the 20th century with a wider uptake or larger impact. The only competing gadgets I can think of would be the stapler, the paperclip, the telephone, and the automobile, and I believe all of those were invented before 1900 (though the automobile didn't become ubiquitous until much later.)

I'm also surprised that they didn't mention the Commodore 64 somewhere in that list. Obviously not #1, but one of the top 100 devices in the last 100 years? Absolutely. I'd probably have it north of 50.
posted by Malor at 4:48 PM on February 18, 2005


man, i got so much use outta my old speak and spell. and if i had it, i think it would still be funny if i hit the "p" button repeatedly.
posted by blendor at 4:53 PM on February 18, 2005


GW is the new Ron Popeil. Every new appearance is a hand selected friendly audience like some sort of infomercial and journalists are paid to preach the party line. Can I get some Ginzu knives or perhaps a bamboo steamer with the tax cut, please?
posted by caddis at 5:51 PM on February 18, 2005


Unforgivable (to me) absences:

Nintendo Zapper light gun
George Foreman Grill
Hasbro Transformers
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:00 PM on February 18, 2005


I gave a Clapper to a friend as a gift. She gave it back because it was incompatible with her lifestyle, which included spanking.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:15 PM on February 18, 2005


One word: transformers!

C'mon, that's gotta rank higher than any Ronco device.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:31 PM on February 18, 2005


I emphatically second the George Foreman Grill nomination, briank (and XQUZYPHYR).

And the flash drive is bull. Sure, it's a device only meant to transport data, but that data is still useless without an interface. Maybe if it had an LCD that displayed its contents, it wouldn't be breaking the rules the writers set up, but as it stands it just reeks of shooting for geek cred. Especially when it's combined with the dozens of laptops and PDAs they stuck on the list to either even it out to 100 or please their advertisers.

And Tickle Me Elmo? WTF?
posted by hifiparasol at 8:42 PM on February 18, 2005


Eyeglasses?
Childproof containers?
Pull-tab cans?
Pliers?

It has to be a self-contained apparatus that can be used on its own, not a subset of another device.
Doesn't the mouse (#5) break this rule?
So why not the seatbelt?

And if the abacus makes it, why not the book?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:51 PM on February 18, 2005


zipper
gyroscope
pacemaker
nut and bolt
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:05 AM on February 19, 2005


HP OMNIBOOK 300, 1993

This is definately the best choice of laptops. That little built-in mouse was so K-RAD. Too bad nobody copied the design. So much better than touchpads.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:27 AM on February 19, 2005


Well, of all time? How about the humble bicycle?
posted by fixedgear at 4:40 AM on February 19, 2005


What moves in a harmonica?

Tiny people who've got no place else to go?
Metafilter: Tiny people who've got no place else to go
posted by buriednexttoyou at 12:47 PM on February 19, 2005


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