What is a gadget? Do you think of a doohickey, a thingamabob, a gizmo, or simply a tiny contraption?
The word is derived from "gadjet" which is sailor slang for something mechanical they lacked on a journey or forgot. I have even heard the word evolved from the French word "gachette" meaning the trigger piece of a mechanism. Today a gadget is more commonly known as a small mechanical device or a novelty tool.
Have you heard of Inspector Gadget? Inspector Gadget was an animated cartoon character that became an online television series. The series was initially televised in the mid-80's and ran in syndication through the 90's. Disney developed a film in 1999, based on the character, starring Matthew Broderick. The main character had built in bionic devices and had run-ins with Dr. Claw, the head of an evil group of troublemakers.
Have you heard of Mr. Gadget? Steve Kruschen became known as Mr. Gadget from his television show where he presented electronic devices and new technologies. He was famous for discussing new consumer products and providing a demonstration on their practical use.
Have you heard of a Web Gadget? Lately a gadget has gained online fame. A gadget is a section of code, a utility, which is proprietary to a specific web page or website. A widget is a section of code, which is reusable on any web page or blog site. An example of a web gadget would be a "contact us" application or a visual presentation of a map for directions.
There are many examples of items that once were considered gadgets, but today are considered common household appliances. A few examples are: Television, Cell Phone, Washing Machine, and a Toaster (though the washing machine might have originally been considered a contraption, due to it's size) All of these items started as novelty items and evolved into household items. Many gadgets today are electronic based, but gadgets originated as mechanical devices. Gadgets may shrink in size with new technological advances. An example of this is the computer, which started as a 1/2 ton device the size of a small house and evolved into a portable tool that can be held in the palm of your hand.
Many gadgets are created to solve a problem. The inventor of a gadget may work for a corporation, though most gadgets have their genesis in the back corner of a garage or a small "lab" in a basement. One day a marketing person observes a gadget, sees an opportunity to exploit it's potential, and it becomes a product. A gadget will become known as a consumer good if sold to the public. A gadget reaches the high standing of a utility once a large consumer base has purchased the device. A gadget becomes obsolete when a utility is replaced by a new generation of product. Many obsolete gadgets are lay to rest in a gadget cemetery known as a landfill.
Gadgets, I have determined, are extremely useful in our society. If not for practical purposes, they provide entertainment value. InfoBarrel contains many articles on gadgets. As the resident Mr. Fixit in our household, I have enjoyed reading them and have found them helpful to address my curiosity of new technologies. I hope you enjoy them as well.