100 Best Gadgets Ever: Rise Of The WWW

These are the best gadgets which lined our pockets and graced our homes during the glorious rise of the internet

On 12 November 1990, Sir Tim Berners-Lee published a proposal to create a "Hypertext project" called the WorldWideWeb. 24 years later, you're (probably) reading these very words on a device no larger than a calculator, and more powerful than the computer that helped man take its first steps on the moon.

The World Wide Web birthed the internet, and we're dependent on it to such an extend that the UN described access to it as a basic human right.

We use it to stalk our friends. We use it to laugh at cats. It lets people from all corners of the Earth connect to each other. And it lets you bulk-buy industrial sized jars of beef jerky at three in the morning, after a particularly heavy night out.

The era which saw the exponential explosion in the internet's growth also introduced a plethora of era-defining technology, which we look back on with a warm, fuzzy sense of nostalgia.

These are some of the best gadgets of the WWW era. How many of them did you own?

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Lotus Type 108 (1992)

After mustard and Alan Partridge Norfolk’s finest export is probably the Lotus Type 108, as ridden by Chris Boardman at the '92 Olympics in Barcelona. Sportscar manufacturer Lotus turned its engineering expertise from four wheels to two, using carbon fibre mouldings to create a monocoque frame that broke the world record and won Great Britain’s first cycling medal in 72 years. And look where we are now. 

Dyson DC01 (1993)

Or the DA001 as vacuum cleaner hipsters call it, James Dyson’s first dual cyclone vacuum cleaner sold under his own name. Subsequent models have seen the addition of digital motors, a ball (as seen on JD’s first invention the Ballbarrow), and most recently the Cinetic technology that removes the need for a suction-sapping filter. Despite its success, the verb ‘to Dyson’ still hasn’t replaced ‘Hoovering’. Poor Jimbo.

More after the break...

Netscape Navigator (1994)

Or THE INTERNET as it represents here. Remember the fuzzy cacophony that spewed forth as a 56K modem connected to the world wide web, clogging the phone line for hours at a time and connecting you to a glacial feed of very little information? Bet you never thought that 20 years later we’d be streaming 4K video, did you? 

Sony PlayStation (1994)

When Sony entered the console market it was still a two-way battle between Sega and Nintendo. Many thought there was no room for a third way. But they didn’t count on Tekken, Gran Turismo or Metal Gear Solid. Developed over eight years, originally in partnership with Nintendo, the PlayStation emerged victorious, leaving Sega all but out for the count.

B&O Beosound 9000 (1996)

Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen has a reputation for turning high-end hi-fi into something that wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery. The Beosound 9000 is a classic example, although it perhaps took the whole minimalism thing too far with space for just six CDs. That’s probably still enough for at least one album by each successful Danish band, mind.

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