Gadgetry v1.3

A functional and fictional device.

About Colophon Data Decades Graphics


A self-contained, portable, and hand-held electronic device such as a transistor radio or smartphone.

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Year: 1936

Quote:Gadget: A gentleman who was in a department store the other day, making some modest purchases at the liquor counter, reported to us a rather surprising thing he noticed: the young lady who waited on him added up the items on the sales slip with a tiny gold adding machine which she carried inconspicuously in her hand. He fell to wondering if this was efficiency, or an effort to abash other stores, or what; finally he asked us to investigate. We did, and the explanation makes as pretty”

Author: Jordan, Myra

Source: New Yorker: 1936-01-25: p. 9-13

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Year: 1959

Quote: “a leather-covered, transistor-packed shoebox that does tricks with mirrors (honest!) to make a respectably sized picture even in seashore sunshine. / The Safari portable weights 15 pounds, measures about 8 1/2 by 16 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. The picture area is 80 square inches–same as an ordinary 14-inch screen. It runs on batteries (which can be recharged at home) or on house current. The price is not outrageous for such a seductive adult toy: $255” (65). “Americans like to move around. And they insist on taking their entertainment with them–the magazine rolled into a pocket, the portable radio held at ear level” (65-6). “But the manufacturer’s motive for gambling a million or so on such a new product can be considerably more complex. He may hope that (a) people will buy the gadget because it is a Practical and Useful Convenicence; pr (b) people may not need the gadget but will buy anyway because it is The Thing to Do, like dancing the cha-cha-cha; or © people will come into the store to see the Amazing New Invention and end up buying something else he wants to sell, as they look at convertibles and buy sedans” (65). Other manufacturers working on their own models, including the Japanese. * * * “Two printed-circuit boards clearly marked–like a road map–simplify trouble shooting. They form two sides of the chassis, with the picture tube and battery filling up most of the space in between. It makes a neat, compact and efficient assembly that pays off in convenience and performance”

Author: Mann, Martin

Source: Popular Science. Aug. 1959. p. 64

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Year: 1959

Quote: “New jobs for flashlight cells include everything from polishing shoes to playing records. Coming soon–truly portable TV sets.” “A lot has happened since the days when flashlight batteries were used for flashlights. Today’s big boom in battery power has been made possible by an amazing new assortment of pint-sized power plants, all of which look like flashlight batteries but do remarkably different jobs. / Today, you can shave by battery, listen to records by battery, mix cocktails by battery. You can power radios, movie cameras, dictating machines, Geiger counters, fire and burglar alarms, tape recorders, clocks, kitchen food mixers–all without plugging in an electric cord. / In the wonderful world of the future are such bright promises as battery-run power tools, truly portable TV sets and a variety of cordless home appliances.”

Author: McEntee, Howard G.

Source: Popular Science. March 1959. p. 130

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Year: 1966

Quote: “Apartment hunters have been known to carry portable radios with them so that they can test the noise transfer from one apartment to the next. Some owners of cooperative apartments are compelled to spend large sums to insulate their dwellings more satisfactorily against the noise of their neighbors. […] In Europe long experience in apartment living and a popular taste for gracious living (in preference to gadgets) have led to careful attention to noise control in the construction of multiple-family dwellings. Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and the U.S.S.R. have well-developed acoustical building codes that have been applied to the large-scale program of rebuilding of housing since World War II.”

Author: Beranek, Leo L.

Source: Scientific American 215, (December 1966). p. 66-76

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Year: 1970

Quote: “Early the next morning he bought a small TV set from a tiny Japanese man who said it was a new model and was very proud of it. Towns couldn’t get over how sharp and clear the picture was. He was not very mechanical, but he loved tiny, intricately made gadgets and had a vision of filling up a warm, comfortable apartment with them, living in it and spending most of his time turning them on and off. He felt a sudden burst of love for the tiny Japanese man who was practically a transistor himself and wanted to bend over and give him a hug. The fellow was very tiny and Towns wondered what would happen if he caught a disease that made you lose weight. He would probably just get a little smaller and stay all right.”

Author: Friedman, Bruce Jay

Source: Harpers. March 1970. pp. 68-72.

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Year: 1976

Quote: “Fun and serious business with the small electronic calculator. […] If you could climb into a time machine and go back to ancient Athens for a visit with Aristotle, what could you carry in your pocket that would most aston­ish him? I suggest it would be a pocket calculator. Its Arabic number system, its light-emitting diodes, its miniaturized cir­cuitry isomorphic with Boolean logic (Aris­totle, remember, invented formal logic) and above all its computational speed and power would intrigue him more than any other small object I can think of. / The revolutionary consequences of these miraculous little gadgets are only beginning to be manifest. Among engineers and scientists the slide rule has already become al­most as obsolete as the abacus. It is sad to think of the mathematicians of recent cen­turies who devoted years to the arduous calculation of logarithms and trigonometric functions. Today an engineer finds it takes less time to calculate such numbers all over again on a pocket machine than to look them up in a book or make a slide-rule approximation.”

Author: Gardner, Martin

Source: Scientific American 235, (July 1976). p. 126-131

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Year: 1983

Quote: “In fact, the West German firm of Siemens AG, using a different technology, has built a prototype 14-in. screen just 2.3 in. thick. The prototype will have a more immediate application as a computer accessory than as a home TV screen. But one slender advantage is already possible: the Siemens screen can be folded up for storage or transport. # “ Meanwhile, Sony expects the Watchman to alter, or at least extend, any number of viewing habits. People can gaze at the gadget on the beach, carry it into stadium stands to catch instant replays, use it for soap-opera breaks while at school or work, or take it along on car trips. Predicts Warren Zorek, the manager of the consumer electronics department at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan: A color version should be on the way before too long, and it isn’t farfetched to foresee hand-held video-game attachments and personal computer compatibility.’”


Source: Time Magazine: 1983/01/03

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Year: 1984

Quote: “A feat of heart surgery sharpens the debate over benefits and costs # The dying heart was an I ugly yellowish color when Dr. William DeVries finally cut it loose, tore it out of the Mercurochrome-stained chest cavity, and put it to one side. For the next three hours, while a nearby heart-lung bypass machine kept the unconscious patient alive-and while a tape in the background eerily played Mendelssohn and Vivaldi-DeVries’ sure hands carefully stitched into place a grapefruit-size gadget made of aluminum and polyurethane. At 12:50 p.m. last Monday, the Jarvik-7 artificial heart newly sewn inside William J. Schroeder began beating steadily, 70 beats to the minute. When Schroeder opened his eyes 3 hours later in the intensive-care unit, DeVries bent over his patient and whispered assurances, “ The operation is all through. You did really well. Everything is perfect. “ So, for only the second time in history, a human heart had been permanently replaced by a machine.”

Author: Friedrich, Otto

Source: Time Magazine: 1984/12/10

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Year: 1986

Quote: “” And Perelli, “ Mather continued as the others began dispersing to attend to their new assignments, “ per94 haps you can help me with something else. I want to take our gadget up to engineering and run some tests before I have to confront the captain. Who’s their best electronics expert? Who helped build these earmuffs? “ As he pulled the headset from around his neck and handed it to Perelli, the Ranger shook his head. “ We worked with a Wes Brinson, sir. But I can’t guarantee he’s ever seen anything like this. “ “ I’d be surprised if he had. “ Mather smiled.”

Author: Kurtz, Katherine

Source: New York: Walker and Company

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Year: 1988

Quote: “RICK I called from my plane last week. ZIP Could you hear? RICK Clear as a bell… BRUCE Clearer than calling from the ground. RICK You called too? BRUCE I love gadgets. ZIP They run off of satellites? BRUCE Ground stations. RICK Like cellular phones. ZIP Like in the car? RICK Exactly. ZIP What’s the cost? BRUCE Seven dollars for the first three minutes. TORY Reasonable. RICK There’s absolutely no interference”

Author: Megan, Terry


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Year: 2009

Quote: “As 2009 winds down and we try to come up with new and clever ways of referring to the early years of this century, there’s really only one thing left to do: declare our ten favorite gadgets of the aughts and show them off in chronological order. It’s arguable that if this wasn’t the decade of gadgets, it was certainly a decade shaped by gadgets – one which saw the birth of a new kind of connectedness. In just ten years time, gadgets have touched almost every aspect of our daily lives, and personal technology has come into its own in a way never before seen. It’s a decade that’s been marked the ubiquity of the internet, the downfall of the desktop, and the series finale of Friends, but we’ve boiled it down to the ten devices we’ve loved the most and worked the hardest over the past ten years. We even had some of our friends in the tech community chime in with their picks on what they thought was the gadget or tech of the decade – so join us for a look back at the best (gadget) years ever!”


Source: Endgadget. 30 December 2009.

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Year: 2011

Quote: “As a musician and a music critic, I have learned that listening is an active pursuit, a discipline. It involves putting the mindset of gadgetland on hold - you know, “it’s all about me, my playlist!” -, and being willing to receive input from the outside world”

Author: Tom Moon

Source: WHYY

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Year: 2011

Quote: “It seems like ages since Amazon introduced us to the $199 Fire at a hectic New York City event, but in truth that was only about six weeks ago. Maybe our perception of time is warped because we’ve been hearing talk about this 7-inch Android tablet for months now. Maybe it’s because Amazon launching a tablet seemed like such a natural thing to do after Barnes & Noble paved the way with its Nook Color. Or, maybe it’s just because the gadget Amazon shipped looks nigh-identical to the 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook that we’ve had for, well, ages.”

Author: Stevens, Tim

Source: Engadget. November 14, 2011.

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Year: 2011

Quote: “We’ve more or less accepted e-readers as the best way to read a book digitally, but there’s still a whole lot that gadgets can do that e-readers suck at—literally anything you own with a screen is better at this stuff than an e-reader. The Kindle Touch is the first to really bridge that gap in a way that makes sense.” A particular kind of electronic device – cellphone or tablet, as opposed to e-reader.”

Author: Wagner, Kylie

Source: Gizmodo. 14 November 2011

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