The blink-and-you-missed-it news that we have a new Seven Wonders of the World got me thinking.
There must be seven man-made technologies and concepts that are worthy of ongoing wonder. So in honor of the new list, I've produced my own high-tech-based one.
I'm sure you'll disagree with some or all of them, but note that in the world of high tech, wonders never cease and are, to be honest, quite fluid.
So instead of tearing down mine after a cursory glance, read through what follows. Then, if you're inspired, hop into the PC Magazine forums with your own seven wonders.
This seemingly immutable law of technology never ceases to amaze. Year after year, Gordon Moore's wisdom — that processor speed will double (really that the number of transistors on a process will double) every 24 months — is proven correct. This fundamental fact is truly amazing and a wonder that every man, woman, and child should acknowledge.
This pocketbook-sized device, with its motion-sensitive controls, arrived with little fanfare, but now it's the main attraction in the console gaming world. Not only is everyone desperate to try out the little marvel, people are still taking numbers to buy them. Perhaps the true reason for its cultlike status is that everyone is wondering why Nintendo cannot make enough of them to keep up with demand.
The iPhone takes over for the 80 GB widescreen iPod with Video in the world of wonder. This hybrid device (yes, it's a phone and an MP3 player) recalls the black monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey." It's much, much smaller, however, and it has far more functions (true, we never really knew all the functions hidden in that monolith).
The iPhone reaches "wonder" status, though, because of its one-of-a-kind interface. The effortless multitouch screen has no equal — at least at this size.
Here's a technology company that bears little to no resemblance to its counterparts. Sure, it owns only one product category, but it has an unmatched ability to create product buzz and then back it up with buzz-worthy products. We wonder where Steve Jobs gets all those great ideas—perhaps his dreams?
No less dazzling than Apple's multitouch iPhone, but on a large coffee-table-size surface scale. Place a digital camera on it and watch the photos appear, and then you and your friends can virtually pass them around, rotate, resize — you name it.
As a matter of fact, this on-screen, all-hands-on-deck performance can be repeated with music devices and other electro doodads. It's an astounding feat for Microsoft, a company these days more adept at me-too technology.
The real wonder here, however, is why this costs $10,000 and is available only in hotels and casinos. Microsoft, see Apple for further instructions.
They're in your mouse, at the checkout counter, in pointers, robots, optical drives — the list goes on. They come in a rainbow of colors, with more properties than you'll find in the various shades shades of kryptonite. They made our music digital and our optical playback high-def.
We wonder only what's next. Personal light sabers?
Flat-Panel Display Technology
They're so ubiquitous that we now take these 2-to-5-inch-thick displays for granted.
What they can do is remarkable. They save millions of cubic feet in office space around the world, and they're responsible for the death of that awful monitor flicker. They helped introduce a whole new era of touch and tablet computing.
Now we're seeing the advent of brighter, sharper LED technology. With this and HDTV 1080p displays, it's a wonder we lived with cathode-ray tubes for so long.
Each one of these man-made tech attractions is a true wonder to behold. The good news is that you don't have to journey to far-off lands to see them. They're all as close as your own desktop.