History of Gadgets 1

The history of gadgets spans as far back as humanity itself – since hominids began creating tools to make their lives easier. Humans have always created devices and appliances with specific practical purposes initially thought of as novelties due to unfamiliarity and initial unwillingness to accept the technology. Today, the industry has augmented the creation of new gadgets, while certain retailers, including Brooks Tone and Richard Thalheimer’s RichardSolo.com, specialize in popularizing them.


What famous inventors Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Leonardo DA Vince, among others, had in common was foresight. They understood that a lifetime spent playing with others viewed as toys and senseless gadgets would eventually result in indispensable technology. The groundwork for electricity, communications, film, and flight was laid from just that small group because their devices possessed more value than novelty.

Perhaps one of the earliest, most well-known gadgets created is the wheel, many millennials ago. Take a ride in your car and witness how revolutionary such a gadget has become and how much we rely on it for transportation. A more recent device, the Apple iPhone, appears to be in the beginning stages of yet another gadget-turned-necessity that will reshape communications.


“The iPhone may someday be considered the device that started a second revolution in computing. Desktop computing was the first revolution. Hand-held computing will someday be regarded as the second revolution, and the iPhone is the product that started it.”

-Richard Thalheimer, RichardSolo.com

All gadgets were not created equal. Most inventions are built on the newest technology. The world of gadgets is tiered; devices fall into four categories: mechanical, electronic, programmable, and application. Mechanical gadgets include the wheel and later developments such as the pulley, the bicycle, the sailboat, the thermometer, and the sort. Following the advent of electricity, gadgets were taken to a new level as inventors discovered different uses for the newly harnessed energy. The television, radio, and quartz watch are examples of electronic gadgets. After electricity, inventors toyed around with electronic information via microprocessors, beginning an age of programmable devices such as computers, MP3 players, and the iPhone. Application gadgets include iTunes, Microsoft Office, and other computer applications that customize our experience with programmable devices.

Richard Thalheimer, the President and founder of online gadget vendor RichardSolo.com, and founder and former CEO of gadget giant The Sharper Image, understand, maybe better than anyone, that there’s much more to gadgets than novelty.

“Certainly, most people enjoy the novelty of a gadget that introduces new convenience to their lifestyle. They forget that solving these everyday problems is not just entertainment; some of these devices become functional necessities. In my personal life, I rely on my iPhone, garage door opener, nose hair trimmer, electric toothbrush, and other gadgets that were once regarded as novel gadgets. ”

– Richard Thalheimer, RichardSolo.com

His former brainchild and his current venture sell quirky, useful, and fun gadgets, from mechanical to programmable and application. He has seen some devices, such as the Ionic Breeze air purifier, spur sensational and lasting trends based on realizing utility value. In contrast, others collected dust on the shelves after their novelty wore out. Specialty stores like The Sharper Image and Richard Thalheimer’s RichardSolo.com serve a greater purpose: spread new ideas and give credit to the Franklin and Edison of the world.

~Ben Anton, 2008