10 gadgets that changed everything

5. Canon Digital IXUS

The switch to digital snapping freed us to document every inch of the world without a care. We take more photos of nothing now we don't have to worry about film's 24-or-36 limit and paying for developing. It's certainly made the act of taking a photograph seem like less of an art form - indeed the results are so simple to share, duplicate and edit it's hard to imagine how we bored people with cat and baby photos before the digital switchover.

Canon digital ixus

IXUS: Pleasing weight. Hard body. Design classic

Sure, a hard drive crash may result in you losing your snaps from Ibiza 2003, but chances are you've uploaded the best ones to various bits of the internet - so digital photos will live on inside Google's memory for eternity, long after all hard copy prints have turned to dust in the nuclear wars. Canon's metallic IXUS wasn't the first digital camera, but it was the one that took the concept and made it small and sexy - and history tells us small and sexy is often more important than timing. Isn't that right, Apple?

4. Nintendo Game Boy

Launched here in 1990, the Game Boy dominated portable gaming for a decade. A few challengers came and quickly went in the form of SEGA's bulky Game Gear and SNK's Neo Geo Pocket, but nothing made a dent in Nintendo's portable monopoly. A Game Boy and a copy of Tetris was all you needed. A rubbish black & white screen was all you needed for Tetris. Tetris was all you needed.

Nintendo game boy

GAME BOY: Immense, both physically and in status

Then the all-colourful Game Boy Advance came along in 2001 and Nintendo had our money all over again. What suckers we are. It wasn't until Sony's launch of the PSP in 2005 that Nintendo's portable family had a proper battle on its hands. And even then it was a battle it laughed off, like a giant flicking an ant off its leg.

3. USB thumb drives

How many gigabytes have you got in your pocket? We've got four, despite only needing a quarter of one. You can carry backup emergency music, all your favourite applications, a couple of films and even entire "spare" operating systems on a lump of USB memory, with enormous amounts of space yours in an indestructible format for under a tenner. You never have to be separated from your essential 1980s synth classic MP3s again.

USB thumb drives

USB DRIVES:Boring but essential. A modern public service utility

We should also make a nod to the creation of the USB format itself, for freeing us from a nightmare of enormous SCSI and RS232 connectors. The only downside is the invention of the USB gadget - how many of you are getting a USB Cup Warmer for Christmas? Oh yes you are.

2. Wireless ADSL router

Always on. No more listening to the little chirpy-chirpy modem song. No more having to pay for it by the minute like a strung-out data addict, panicking as emails take forever to arrive. No more dropped lines. The arrival of broadband made the internet an accessible tool for the masses. Instead of logging on once every few days, the internet became something that was always there, always ready.

ADSL broadband

ADSL: And the music industry did cry a terrible cry

You could bear to visit complex sites after BT hooked you up with 512Kbps of pipe. Downloading files became possible and with wireless we could (theoretically) be anywhere in our homes. The only disadvantage is the possible damage a 24/7 connection to the internet is doing to our brains, but we'll address that in a separate and much more seriously researched feature at some point in the future.

1. iPhone

No, seriously. This isn't a sell-out nod to the modern world - the iPhone pulled all the pieces of the 'smartphone' jigsaw together and made everything - literally everything it does - work perfectly and make complete sense. How many companies failed to make portable applications work over the previous decade? How many broken firms lie bankrupt from trying? How many rubbish styluses lie unused in office desks? Millions.

Apple iphone

IPHONE: Smartphones finally became properly smart

iPhone kicked smartphones into the public domain, and our lives and minds are changing to accommodate Apple's pocket internet revolution.