1940 - 1969 1970 - 1989 PACEMAKER (1952) A medical device using electrical impulses, delivered by electrodes contracting the heart muscles, to regulate the heartbeat. Inventor: Paul Zoll (US). His and other researchers’ advances in the 1950s were applied widely and quickly, making the development of coronary care units possible. Bonus fact: Naysayers beware: after Dr Zoll reported his work at a scientific meeting, a close friend and leading cardiologist in Boston turned to Dr Zoll’s wife and said the device was a toy with little medical use. BALLOON-EXPANDABLE STENT (1985) A device that keeps coronary vessels open to prevent heart attacks. Inventor: Julio Palmaz (Argentina). Within four years of its US approval, the device was used in more than 80% of percutaneous coronary interventions to help blood flow better through vessels in the heart. Bonus fact: Palmaz’s stent patents weathered a 12-year-long legal battle by Johnson & Johnson (who bought the patent off Palmaz). The giant medical business won, resulting in one of the largest ever damages awarded in medical patent litigation history (.725 billion). SINCLAIR C5 (1985) Single-seat electric vehicle. Inventor: Sir Clive Sinclair (England) The vehicle’s limitations – a short range, a maximum speed of only 15mph (24 km/h), a battery that ran down quickly and a lack of weatherproofing – made it impractical for most people’s needs. Bonus fact: Luckily Clive had been knighted two years earlier for previous good work on calculators and early personal computers (including the ZX81). MOTORISED SURFBOARD (1948) A surfboard with a strap-on motor. Inventor: Joe Gilpin (US) The lack of consumer demand to cross water faster by surfboard, or indeed to carry the heavy thing after getting out, contributed to this product’s failure. Equally, waves seemed to be doing the job just fine for traditional surfers. Bonus fact: Surfing was first recorded in 1779 in Hawaii. They had no need for a motorised version either. BETAMAX (1975) Video cassette format. Inventor: Sony (Japan) Sony tried to dictate an industry standard for videos to other electronics companies but rival JVC said “No”, and eventually won the sales battle with its own format VHS. Bonus fact: Betamax got its name from the similar look of the Greek letter beta (β) to the shape of its cassette tape spools, mixed with the short-form of the word “maximum” to suggest greatness. SONY WALKMAN (1979) Portable audio cassette player. Inventor: Nobutoshi Kihara (Japan) Personal music, on the go, took off. Bonus fact: Sony president and co-founder Akio Morita hated the name Walkman and asked to change it, but relented after being told by junior executives that a promotion campaign had already begun using the brand name and that it would be too expensive to change. Good shout. SMELL-O-VISION (1960) A technology that allowed a film reel to trigger the release of bottled scents towards the audience in sync with pivotal plot moments. Inventor: Hans Laube (Switzerland) The only film to use Smell-O-Vision was Mike Todd Jr’s 1960 Scent of Mystery, written specifically with the gimmick in mind. The results, predictably, stunk, and Smell-O-Vision was never used again. Bonus fact: Smell-O-Vision wasn’t the only system of its kind. A similar process, Aromarama, was released in a film shown a couple of weeks prior, prompting The New York Times to call the aromatic war “The Battle of the Smellies”. PERSONAL COMPUTER (1977) Device able to accept, manipulate and organise digital data. Inventor: John Blankenbaker (US) His Kenbak-1 is considered by many to be the world’s first personal computer even if IBM’s 1981 PC was closer to what we consider a desktop computer today. Microprocessors then drove down PC costs and enabled them to store and process ever larger amounts of data at work, before demand for home internet and email access made them domestic mainstays too. Bonus fact: The IBM PC was Time magazine’s 1982 “Man of the Year”. continues from previous spread 56 j THE DYNAMIC ISSUE
1990 - 1999 2000 - present VIRTUAL BOY (1995) Virtual reality gaming goggles. Inventor: Nintendo (Japan) While enthusiastically received by the gaming industry, the system’s bulky, red headgear completely obscured a gamer’s vision while playing games rendered in rudimentary 3D graphics. Bonus fact: Virtual Boy was only on sale for six months before Nintendo decided to focus on the Nintendo 64 instead. TECHNOLOGY SEGWAY PT (2001) Two-wheeled, self-balancing motor vehicle. Inventor: Dean Kamen (US) The Segway is a product, but arguably not a solution, so while tipped by some to be as revolutionary as the PC, the product has remained fairly niche. Bonus fact: The ‘PT’ in Segway PT stands for ‘personalised transporter’. WORLD WIDE WEB (1989) A system of hypertext documents accessed by the Internet. Inventor: Sir Tim Berners-Lee (England). Allowed the world’s knowledge to be stored and accessed by anyone with an Internet link. The first web browser for PC and Mac users was Mosaic in 1993, leading to the explosion of ‘www’. Bonus fact: ‘The web’ and the Internet are not one and the same – ‘The web’ is a service of the Internet – as is email. GOOGLE (1998) Various Internet services, but the most important is its ‘search engine’. Inventor: Larry Page & Sergey Brin (US). Google’s mission to help you find – in seconds – what you’re looking for among the world’s gazillions of pieces of digital data is still impressive, even if you’re too young to remember 20th century local library microfiches. Bonus fact: It’s also photographed the world (Google Earth and Maps) and is testing a prototype autonomous car to help you visit those places too. APPLE IPOD (2001) Portable digital music device. Inventor: Jonathan Ive (England) It put “1000 songs in your pocket” according to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Bonus fact: The iPod now accounts for over three quarters of all music player sales worldwide, although early sales were sluggish due to its initial Mac-only compatibility. FACEBOOK (2004) A social network. Inventor: Mark Zuckerberg (US). For users, it’s the access to a global online community of friends; for advertisers, it’s about accessing your data. Bonus fact: The artist Shakira was the first person to achieve over 100 million ‘likes’ on her Facebook page. MICROSOFT TABLET PC (2001) A tablet computer (but with no keyboard). Inventor: An impressive piece of technology from Microsoft – predating the iPad by nine years. The world was perhaps just not yet ready for keyboard-less computers. Bonus fact: The tablet was pen-enabled, rather than via a touchscreen. APPLE IPHONE (2007) Smartphone. Inventor: Jonathan Ive (England). Its user-friendly and intuitive interface reshaped the smartphone business. Bonus fact: Massive worldwide sales – circa 600 million in seven years – have helped make Apple one of the world’s most valuable publicly-traded companies. OCULUS RIFT VR (2015) Virtual reality head-mounted display. Inventor: Palmer Luckey (US). Although there’s no consumer version yet, Rift is tipped to be the next big breakthrough to enhance various industries (as well as making video games more immersive). Bonus fact: Once independent, now owned by Facebook.
THE ROAD TRIP Idris Elba takes the