100 Best Gadgets Ever: The Silicon Age

Games consoles, video recorders, portable music and personal computers - the modern world as we know it starts here

Not that long ago computers were made from vacuum tubes, resistors, capacitors and goat dung and were so big they had their own weather systems. In an alternate universe, humanity continued down that path and your alter-ego is reading this on a mobile phone the size of a kettle. 

Fortunately, a few clever people invented the integrated circuit and then the silicon microprocessor. In a single generation, computers went from being the tools of science and industry to the playthings of the proto-geek, finding their way into all kinds of tech and making possible many of the entries in this feature.

In short, The Silicon Age is where things start getting interesting. So settle down and see what's made our shortlist. And if you're reading this in an alternate universe, you might want to put down your kettle-sized phone for a rest halfway through.

Image credit: Shutterstock

JVC HR-3300 (1976)

Arriving in 1976, the HR-3300 VHS VCR was yet another life-changing Japanese product. No more would you miss your favourite episode of Columbo because you were out disco dancing – this hulking beast would record every minute of it for you. Amazingly, it didn’t use any custom-made parts: all its innards can be purchased in any electronics store, even today.

More after the break...

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