The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time
Mobile PC's list of top gadgets has some great gizmos and interesting tidbits about the origins of some of the world's primo gadgets. Yes, there was a time before the remote control, for example. Which brings me to a tangential anecdote. You know how some people (OK, old people) still call the remote "the clicker?" Well of course that's because from 1956 until the 80's or so, the wireless remote control was a little box with buttons that when "clicked" struck a little rod inside, producing an ultrasonic tone that the TV picked up and responded to with a channel change or volume change. Hence, "the clicker."
When I was at college, we had punch card meal tickets, little cardboard tickets that the cafeteria workers would hit with a hole punch to redeem one meal. By my senior year, these had been replaced with credit-card style cards with a magstripe that registered one meal credit if you were on the full-meal plan. We continued to call them "punches" of course. A decade later, the kids still called one meal credit a "punch." I'm sure few of them had any idea that the derivation was a physical hole punch in a paper card!