12 Great Tech Innovations (Of All Time)

Twelve of the innovations leading the way as technology changes our lives.


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Behold: this August will be the 30th anniversary of the first IBM PC. That humble box changed our world. No, IBM wasn't the first PC maker, but back then the company revolutionized our industry. It created an entire ecosystem of partners and suppliers, and prompted development of desktop applications such as Lotus 1-2-3.

Looking back on the past 30 years, I came up with a similar dozen steps forward that could be called the greatest innovations of technology. It is, admittedly, very idiosyncratic, and colored by what we use today. Still, these apps/products/solutions have been leading beacons of change.

Do you have suggestions? Please add them to the Comments box below.

1. Apple App Store (mobile applications marketplace)

Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch and now iPad all make use of a common App Store where developers can sell or give away apps for these mobile devices. And while there are legitimate arguments about Apple's heavy-handedness in accepting particular apps and not others, no one can argue that the App Store hasn't been a resounding success.

With hundreds of thousands of apps posted, the Apple ecosystem is like no other: it dwarfs the other mobile phone app stores, and some (such as Palm) have already thrown in the towel. There are apps for just about everything, it seems, and more coming each day.

While you do need Apple's iTunes to download and install the apps on your device, it’s remarkably easy to navigate. The hardest challenge is searching through those hundreds of apps with the sole function of producing rude bodily noises.

12 innovative tech products

The Apple App Store

2. Blackberry (mobile email)

Also on this list but for a different reason is RIM's Blackberry. RIM is trying to compete with Apple's iPad with its own tablet, just recently available. But its true innovation was being able to send and receive emails from a mobile device, without the need for any Wi-fi or wired connection.

Since the early 1990s there have been a succession of different RIM devices, and now most of the mobile phone makers will give you a free Blackberry with a two-year account contract. Blackberries can be found in many corporate environments and even the White House. For the ultimate in wireless security, they are still unbeatable – which has gotten the attention of numerous governments that have threatened to terminate service.

12 innovative tech products

The Blackberry

3. Google Gmail (Web-based email)

Google's Gmail web-based email service has been the butt of many jokes for being in "beta" for years on end, but when the company first made it available in 2004, it was unique in offering nearly limitless storage and features from within a Web browser.

While Yahoo and Hotmail had offered Web email services for many years, they were neither as full-featured or as easy to use as Gmail. Since then, Google now offers its Apps package of hosted documents and emails for domains, and continues to innovate (with the exception of its poorly conceived Buzz) in this field.

12 innovative tech products

Gmail Web mail

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Tags: cloud computing, iPad apps, Gmail, BlackBerry Apps, virtualization software

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