12 Gadgets Ahead of Their Time

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A piece of technology doesn't have to be a hit for it to be a milestone. In fact, some of the most important gadgets flopped, as it takes years of refinement for any given product category to resonate with mainstream consumers. For pioneering companies, it's about pointing the way for an industry through innovation and risk taking. Remember the first stab at a smartphone, or the first mass-market digital camera? Did you know the first video call was placed while Lyndon Johnson was in office? Although these 12 gadgets enjoyed various degrees of commercial success, they all should be remembered for being ahead of their time.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
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  • mach37 Says:

    I remember a PDA marketed by DAK around 1990 (give or take 3 years) that was a contact manager with IR transfer of data for synchronizing between two units paced with their sensors next to each other. No picture capability, just addresses, phone numbers, maybe small amount of other data.

  • john Says:

    WebTv was my first web connection device, and despite it's painfully slow dial up connection, it actually worked pretty well.

  • Ed H Says:

    You forgot the Paceblade Pacebook tablet with the RF keyboard as an early tablet with a pen. it was usable in both portrait and landscape modes and had an on screen keyboard.

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