The 50 Best Tech Products of All Time

Best Tech Products Numbers 41 to 45

41. Apple HyperCard (1987)

Trying to explain HyperCard to someone who's never used it is a bit like explaining a thesaurus to a three-year-old. But here goes: HyperCard--which was created by Apple software genius Bill Atkinson--was a programming environment that provided you with a stack of blank "cards," upon which you could add text, graphics, and little videos. And most important, you could link the cards together, sort of like an offline version of a Web site--years before the Web existed. (Some of HyperCard's design features live on in browsers to this day, such as the use of a tiny pointing-hand cursor to indicate hyperlinks.) Side note: The game Myst was originally built with Hypercard.

42. Epson MX-80 (1980)

Aside from the sound of a successfully connected modem, has there ever been a noise in all of computerdom as satisfying as the chugga-chugga-crunch-buzz of a dot matrix printer? Dot matrix ruled the printing universe for years, sucking up tractor-fed paper with abandon. Reasonably cheap, relatively durable, and fast enough (about 1 page per minute), the MX-80 became the best-selling dot-matrix printer after it was released, with Epson claiming that it had captured 60 percent of the dot matrix market. Exactly how popular was the MX-80? Despite its being 27 years old, you can still buy printer ribbons for it. Six bucks a pop.

43. Central Point Software PC Tools (1985)

Purchasing PC utilities one by one has always been costly, not to mention a pain in the neck. Central Point's PC Tools wasn't exactly revolutionary, but by bundling into a single package over a dozen useful utilities (antivirus, backup, undelete, and unformat(!), to name a few), it provided frustrated tech-savvy users with a one-stop shop for fixing problems on their DOS machines. After a disappointing 1991 release, the company was bought by Symantec and was eventually dismantled, as Norton SystemWorks continued what PC Tools had started.

44. Canon EOS Digital Rebel (2003)

Canon EOS Digital Rebel (2003)
Photograph: Courtesy of Canon
With the 2003 launch of the
Digital Rebel, Canon brought high-end camera technology to regular consumers. The EOS was a 6.3-megapixel digital SLR that broke the $1000 price point, finally putting swappable lenses and greater photographic control within financial reach of serious shutterbugs disappointed with the performance of pocket digicams. The Rebel may also be the most-hacked camera ever made: Clever tweakers have created new firmware for the camera and even written DOS apps for it. The Rebel line is still a mainstay for Canon, with its EOS Digital Rebel Xti a popular choice for serious photographers.

45. Red Hat Linux (1994)

Picking a watershed Linux distribution is tough. Literally hundreds have existed over the years, though only a few have advanced the state of the art. Red Hat was critically important for beginning the move (however tentative) toward making Linux beginner-friendly and easier to install. While development of Red Hat was discontinued in 2003, it directly spawned successors like Ubuntu, which aim to make desktop use of Linux commonplace.

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