Some of these caught my eye. Thanks, Gizmodo.
- MATTEL INTELLIVISION, 1980
Intellivision had better graphics than the Atari 2600, but not nearly as many games. Its keypad interface was just too sophisticated for its time, like the three-button mouse.
- POPEIL POCKET FISHERMAN, 1950s
This fishing rod (which is still manufactured today) folds up to a remarkable 9 inches long, thus freeing the world from the tyranny of poles. This was the first invention of the Popeil family; Ron Popeil would later go on to found the infamous Ronco company, which sold other innovations such as the Veg-O-Matic, the Smokeless Ashtray, and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scramber (#84).
- MATTEL FOOTBALL II, 1978
Mattel’s first handheld football game was good; this sequel was a classic. Finally, you could throw passes to your little LED teammates, while enjoying the shrill electronic cry of “Charge!”
- FUZZBUSTER, 1968
Smokie never had it so bad. After getting what he thought was an unwarranted speeding ticket, Dale Smith of Dayton, Ohio, whipped up a box that detected the radar signals cops used to clock drivers. The Fuzzbuster was a sensation, especially after the federally mandated 55 mph speed limit went into effect in 1974, providing protection to lead foots everywhere.
- NINTENDO GAME BOY, 1989
Bundling inventor Gunpei Yokoi’s Game Boy with the highly addictive Tetris ensured Game Boy’s success in the early ’90s. Selling over 32 million consoles in its first three years, the Game Boy has had a slew of offspring, but none will ever compare to the original.
- APPLE IPOD, 2001
It wasn’t the first hard-drive audio player, it was expensive, and it worked only with Macintosh computers. But the original iPod cracked the portable audio market wide open with its ease of use and to-die-for aesthetics. Some estimates peg Apple as now claiming an astounding 92 percent of the mobile audio market.
- TIVO SERIES1, 1999
Like FedEx, Velcro, and Google, TiVo has joined that rare echelon of companies with names that have become synonymous with their industry. Today, we “tivo” instead of “tape,” and 2 million TiVo enthusiasts have forgotten what TV commercials look like. Early TiVo units — manufactured by Philips, Sony, and others — were exorbitantly expensive (10 hours of recording cost $500), but competition with fellow upstart ReplayTV has steadily driven prices down. Now imagine what the world might be like had the product gone with its original name: “Teleworld.”