The history of devices goes back to humanity itself, since hominids began to create tools to make their lives easier. Human beings have always created devices and gadgets for specific practical purposes that were initially considered novelty, due to lack of familiarity and initial unwillingness to accept the technology. Today, the industry has ramped up the creation of new gadgets, while certain retailers, including Brookstone’s and Richard Thalheimer, specialize in popularizing them.

What famous inventors Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Leonardo da Vinci, among others, had in common was foresight. They understood that a lifetime spent playing with what others considered pointless toys and gizmos would eventually become indispensable technology. From that small group alone, the foundations for electricity, communications, cinema, and flight were laid due to their devices, which obviously possessed more value than novelty.

Perhaps one of the first and best-known gadgets created is the wheel, many millennia ago. Take a ride in your car and witness how truly revolutionary this device has become and how much we now depend on it for transportation. A newer device, Apple’s iPhone, appears to be the early stages of another necessity-turned-gadget that will reshape communications.

“The iPhone may one day be seen as the device that started a second revolution in computing. Desktop computing was the first revolution. Portable computing will one day be seen as the second revolution, and the iPhone is the product that started it. “.

-Richard Thalheimer,

All gadgets are not created equal. In fact, most inventions are based on the newest technology. The world of gadgets is staggered; Devices are classified into one of four categories: mechanical, electronic, programmable, and application. Mechanical gadgets include the wheel, as well as later developments such as the pulley, bicycle, sailboat, thermometer, and the like. Following the advent of electricity, devices were taken to a new level as inventors began to discover different uses for newly harnessed energy. Television, radio, and quartz watch are examples of electronic devices. After electricity, inventors tinkered with electronic information via microprocessors, ushering in an era of programmable devices like computers and, later, MP3 players and the iPhone. Application gadgets include iTunes, Microsoft Office, and other computer applications that personalize our experience with programmable devices.

Richard Thalheimer, president and founder of online gadget provider, and founder and former CEO of gadget giant The Sharper Image, understands perhaps better than anyone that gadgets are much more than novelty.

“Certainly, most people enjoy the novelty of a device that introduces a new convenience into their lifestyle. What they forget is that solving these everyday problems is not just entertainment, but some of these devices become necessities. functional. In my personal life, I rely on my iPhone, my garage door opener, my nose hair trimmer, my electric toothbrush, and other devices that were once considered novelty devices.”

-Richard Thalheimer,

Both his former brainchild and his current company sell quirky, useful, and fun gadgets of all kinds, from mechanical to programmable to app. It’s seen some gadgets, like the Ionic Breeze air purifier, spark long-lasting, sensational trends based on realizing utility value, while others collected dust on shelves after their novelty wore out. Specialty stores like The Sharper Image and Richard Thalheimer’s serve a greater purpose: spreading new ideas and giving credit to the Franklins and Edisons of the world.

~Ben Anton, 2008

Gadget History

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