1967 Pocket Radio
If you love listening to music on-the-go then you owe a debt of gratitude to pocket radios. Shrinking radio technology into a compact and affordable form completely revolutionized the consumer electronics industry. From the Walkman to the iPod, all portable music devices can find their roots in pocket radios.
No one envisioned how the VCR would change the media world when it debuted in 1970. Before the VCR it was impossible to watch movies and shows unless they were rebroadcasted. The VCR not only changed viewing habits but also, for the first time, gave consumers the ability to record their own content and watch at their discretion. Home entertainment would never be the same.
1974 Laserdisc Player
The laserdisc player was a huge step above the VCR in quality level. It gave consumers a taste of high quality media that was previously only available in movie theaters. The format was so significant that the technology of laserdisc players was later used to create CDs and DVDs.
1975 Digital Watch
Would we have smart watches today if not for the invention of digital watches in 1975? For the first time digital LED technology was not only affordable, but small enough, to fit on your wrist. Every digital interface we use today wouldn’t have been possible without digital watches making them feasible.
1975 Atari Pong Home Console
Atari gave birth to the home video game industry with the release of the Atari Pong Home Console. By taking the most popular arcade game and making it available for consumers to play at home, Atari put its stamp on the home entertainment market. Its success paved the way for other video game consoles and games to hit the stores.
1978 Home Computer
Can you imagine living in a world without computers? It wasn’t too long ago where that was a reality. Thankfully that all changed when home computers hit the market. Home computers (and later the Internet) were the biggest technological development of the last few decades and they changed forever how we interact with technology.
The camcorder was a revolutionary invention that allowed the average consumer to record their lives from birthdays to weddings to baby’s first steps. Prior to the camcorder, studios were the only ones that had cameras that could record video. The camcorder made the technology available to the masses by making it compact, light, and affordable.
1981 Compact Disc Player
The compact disc was a massive step in audio quality over cassettes and 8-tracks. Consumers loved the crisp audio that CD’s provided that enhanced the listening experience and gave them the ability to listen to entire albums without needing to flip or rewind anything. CDs overtook cassettes and LP’s to become the dominant music consumption tool for the next 20 years.
1982 Commodre 64 Computer
The Commodore 64 was a watershed device that combined the growth of home computers with the popularity of video games. It’s this computer that’s credited with bridging the gap between techies and non-tech people, as more and more tech novices became computer users. To this day it’s the highest selling computer model of all time.
1985 Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo took the video game foundation laid by Atari blew it wide open with the release of this console. With better graphics and a wide range of games to choose from, consumers were quick to adopt the NES. The NES is the best-selling gaming console of all time and it established the video game industry as a force to be reckoned with.
1990 Digital Audio Technology
Digital audio was a revolutionary breakthrough that allowed music to be consumed without any hardware. Without the need for CDs, cassettes, and LPs that take up tons of space, it suddenly became possible for your entire music library to fit on one device. Today the majority of consumers listen to digital audio music through MP3 players, iTunes, and music streaming services.
1994 Digital Satellite System
The cable industry received its biggest shakeup when Digital Satellite Systems were introduced in the market. The monopoly the cable industry enjoyed for so many years was disrupted for the first time and customers now had a choice of how they get their TV broadcasts. The battle for subscribers continues to this day.
1996 DVD Player
By 1996 consumers had grown weary of the poor quality of VHS technology and were ready for the next step in home viewing technology. Enter the DVD. DVD’s were able to establish themselves as a means for crisp and clear video quality. In only a few short years DVD’s became the dominant media format on the market.
HDTV was the biggest disruption in the TV industry since the introduction of color television. Suddenly it was possible to experience high quality picture from home. Production values had to change to keep up with the standards set by high definition and most channels had to switch to HD broadcasts. HDTV made such an impact on the viewing experience that consumers became more likely than ever to stay at home to enjoy content.
“Pause live TV!” With that simple hook, consumers were instantly mesmerized by the DVR. The ability to give your TV instant VCR/DVD capabilities was incredible. Need to go to the bathroom during a big game? Pause your TV. Miss that news report? Rewind the show. Not to mention the ability to record multiple programs on multiple channels without needing any extra hardware. In every aspect the DVR was a total game changer in the cable industry
2000 Satellite Radio
No commercials, no FCC content regulations, and better listening choices. What’s not to love about satellite radio? Consumers were instantly hooked to this new listening medium that rocked the stale radio industry. Conventional radio stars like Howard Stern took notice and soon many of them defected in droves. To this day the battle between conventional radio and satellite radio rages on.
2001 Microsoft Xbox
The Xbox gave the video game industry its biggest shakeup since the Nintendo Entertainment System. In addition to enhanced graphics, higher memory, and DVD playback, players were also now able to play one another through their internet connection, which started the online gamer community that continues to this day. The Xbox truly catapulted the video game industry to the stratosphere.
The Blu-ray DVD was designed to overtake the DVD in quality and storage capacity. Since HDTV’s were prevalent there was more demand for high quality video content and manufacturers were ready to go with Blu-ray technology. Blu-ray players immediately experienced brisk sales and soon movie studios started releasing titles in the Blu-ray format.
What if you could watch TV without a cable or satellite subscription? Before IPTV came along it seemed impossible. However IPTV provided the technology to deliver content through the internet. Streaming choices, such as Netflix, soon became prevalent. IPTV is also created with the “cord cutting” trend and many are convinced it will be the death of cable services altogether.
2010 Tablets & Android Devices
It takes a lot to disrupt the computer world, but the introduction of tablets definitely did that. Our idea of what makes a computer has been thrown out the window as tablets combined display, keyboard, and motherboards in one. Today’s tablets have become so powerful they’re able to replace computers altogether. Tablets may do the unthinkable and make laptops obsolete.
2011 Smart TV
Smart TV's offer a combination of computing, streaming, and networking functionality. Consumers no longer need to rely on set-top boxes to facilitate viewing content and providers are now designing apps specifically for Smart TVs. Today there are over 100 million Smart TV’s on the market and it’s only a matter of time before they overtake traditional TV’s to dominate the industry.
2011 Smart Appliance
Imagine your refrigerator telling you when you’re low on milk or your thermostat checking the weather to detect an unseasonably cold day and raise the temperature accordingly. These are some of the key features of smart appliances. These appliances will not only be able to communicate with you but also with one another to further automate our lives.
2013 Driverless Car Technology
The world of Knight Rider is upon us as driverless car technology has reached advanced levels. Companies such as Tesla, Audi, and Google have successfully tested and implemented cars with driverless technology in them. Advocates of the technology will tell you that it has the ability to save countless lives that are lost due to car accidents. However, skeptics will point out the security risks of allowing computers to control cars.
2014 3D Printer
3D printers have had a remarkable impact on manufacturing. From cars to houses to medical devices, virtually any object can be printed using 3D printers. All that is needed is some basic materials and CAD files. 3D printers have not only made production more efficient but it has also drastically reduced their cost. Today many industries and organizations have adopted the technology in their everyday use including hospitals and the military.
2014 Wearable Technology
Computers so small that you can wear them like clothes. That’s the world of wearables in a nutshell. Between smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR devices we’re seeing wearables crop up everywhere. Wearable technology has already been adapted and utilized extensively in the healthcare and athletic industries and the potential exists for so many more applications.
2015 4K UHD TV
What’s the point where television quality is so high that it beats seeing things live? We might be on the cusp of answering that question with the introduction of 4K Ultra High Definition Televisions. Proponents of 4K UHD believe the experience of watching a sporting event or movie is now just as good from home as it is in person. It’s hard to find people who will disagree.
Current Virtual Reality is vastly different from its predecessors that were clunky, limited, and caused motion sickness. VR is offering a whole new immersive experience and it’s already made its mark on video games, movies, and sports. Other budding applications include healthcare diagnosis, education, and military training. We have only begun to scratch the surface of the world of VR, but the potential exists for greatness from this tech.