Sony PlayStation 2 (2000)
Sony’s PS2 kicked off the decade, launching in March of 2000 in Japan. From then on, it proceeded to flatten the competition, selling more than 140 million units in the last decade. The PS2 didn’t just provide an awesome gaming experience; it served as many people’s first DVD player and has remained a pop culture icon since.
Nikon D1 (2000)
The Nikon D1 was the first Digital SLR to really replicate film; destroyed Kodak’s then-undisputed reign over the professional market and got us all fixated with mega-pixels for a while. With the advent of the DSLR, and the popularity of point and shoot digital cameras, the days of print film are just about over—except maybe for hobbyists and the nostalgic-types. Yes, the D1 was the game changer for both photography professionals and enthusiasts.
USB thumb drives (2000)
The flash (or USB) drive is undoubtedly, one of the most underrated technologies of the past decade. It ended the dominion of the floppies and recordable CDs and found a way to the pocket of most students and business professionals. Suddenly, storing and saving your projects and research work quickly was no longer a cause for concern.
Apple iPod (2001)
There probably aren’t any other gadgets in the past decade that has changed the technology and music industries as drastically as the venerable iPod. It also dealt a huge blow to the music industry, made music even more portable and changed the way the world listened to music.
2001 – AbioCor Artificial Heart
In July 2001, the medical world changed forever when doctors implanted the Abiocor artificial heart in a patient for the very first time. The patient, a 59-year-old grandfather and retired librarian, was suffering from end stage heart failure. A product of three decades of research, development and testing, the Abiocor changed the game because it provided the first self-contained replacement heart.
2002 – Wireless Headset
While the invention of the year in 2001 changed the world, we certainly hope that none of our InventHelp Newsletter readers ever need to use it. The winner in 2002 is another story – many of you may be chatting on your headsets now! The now-ubiquitous wireless headset, or Bluetooth as many now call it, is nearly as common as a cell phone these days. The drawback of this invention? Passersby may think you’re having a conversation with the voices in your head rather than a person on the line!
Research in Motion Blackberry (2002)
The original Blackberry was stylish and elegant even back then, and with it, you could send or receive email, chat with your clients or friends, open and check the attachments and surf the net at a good speed. The Blackberry set the benchmark for future smartphones, including the iPhone many years later, on how we multi-task and connect while on the go.
2003 – The 99¢ Solution
This one isn’t technically an “invention,” going by the bread-and-butter, tangible definition. What Steve Jobs and Apple did is invent a new lifestyle solution and a new mindset for millions of music fans. It’s shockingly simple in its pure brilliance – charge buyers less than a buck for a song and let them play it whenever they like, as long as it’s on an Apple iPod. You can thank this invention for making Walkmans more passé than bell-bottoms.
2004 – SpaceShipOne
The Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States made children everywhere want to grow up to be astronauts. The sad reality for budding cosmonauts is that their dreams were never meant to be; after reaching the moon in 1969 the U.S. shifted focus to unmanned probes and shuttles. SpaceShipOne emerged as an outlet for Earthlings with stellar aspirations. Today, SpaceShipTwo – the newest commercial space vehicle – is happy to propel you into space for a mere $200,000!
Motorola Razr V3 (2004)
The ultra-slim MotoRazr came with a flip-open lid and became a rage overnight. It made big guys and girls go weak in the knees. It was also a dream phone for kids and teenagers. Sure, it may not be fully loaded with features but it set the trend for how phones shouldlook.
2005 – Tweel
In 2005 the world met Michelin’s Tweel, which inspired to rid the world of flat tires. The Tweel features a shock-absorbing rubber tread band that distributes energy to a series of thin, polyurethane spokes. And it’s airless, which means no middle-of-the-night flat tire changes. The Tweel is still too noisy for regular passenger vehicles – watch for it in 2020, when we’re counting down the best inventions of NEXT decade!
High-Definition LCD Televisions (2005)
Forget about 3D and LED technology. Without the birth of high-definition (HD) LCD, 3D and LED technology wouldn’t even have caught on. HD Technology provides a crisp, clear picture for viewers. It’s sometimes difficult to tell how we will ever get along without it. Try watching a show on an HD set, and then watch the same programme on standard definition (SD) television. The difference is astounding. It also opened the floodgates for Blu-ray and high-def videogame content.
Nintendo Wii (2005)
When everyone else was digging deeper with elaborate games and sharp high-definition graphics, Nintendo decided to go with game play. Smart move. The Wii has sold more than 57 million units as of end 2010. Of equal importance, it sent rivals Microsoft and Sony scrambling to come up with motion based gaming systems of their own. Without the Wii, the Kinect and the PS Move may not even have surfaced at all.
2006 – YouTube
We’re guessing you’ve heard of this one. The invention that transformed regular computer users into stars was born in 2005 and earned TIME Magazine’s distinction as Best Invention just a year later.
2007 – iPhone
Yes, you’ve heard of this one, too. Perhaps the most exciting side effect of the world’s most intelligent phone has been watching the rest of the cell phone world scramble to catch up. When great phone inventions compete, we all win.
Rock Band (2007)
The return of the karaoke craze into our living rooms is surely attributed to the insane success of the videogame Rock Band, where players use guitar-shaped controllers, drums and microphone and play out a full band. The impact of Rock Band (and its rival Guitar Hero) on the music industry has caused music publishers to re-evaluate their approach to music licensing and their relationship with the video game industry. It also brought about a different perception to how mainstream consumers view videogames these days.
2008 – The Retail DNA Test
Just how much (or how little) do our genes define us? What do they mean for our health and our future? TIME ignited controversy in 2009 by choosing consumer gene-testing company 23andMe as its Invention of the Year 2008. For more on how this invention works, visit our InventHelp Newsletter article on 23andMe, where we explored this topic when it made the news.
2009 – NASA’s Ares Rockets
That brings us to this year’s big winner, which TIME writer Jeffery Kluger calls, “the best and smartest and coolest thing built in 2009.” To invent a rocket is extraordinary; to invent an extraordinary rocket is… well, they haven’t invented a word for that yet! The Ares 1, which successfully completed its first unmanned flight this October, is the largest thing that’s been launched into space since the 1970s. This rocket could be the machine that takes astronauts to Mars and beyond, and a future in orbit could be a reality for a new batch of aspiring astronauts.
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