tech tools
A Long History: Tech Tools Today
December 4, 2014 Features

Tech gadgets we enjoy today are sleek, easy to use, fun and, of course, useful in many ways. From GPS to texting to Snapchatting, we are connected to the world in so many ways. Some of the tech tools we use are much like the ones used since the first recordings of human history.

tech tools


The compass has an a massive impact on the modern world today. We’d be…. well, lost without it. For all the technology that we are surrounded with, the compass has been used the same basic ways since its discovery by the Venetians in 1274. The only difference is the package. From GPS devices like TomTom to apps for your handheld mobile phones, the compass has been one old tech device that we still are unable to go without. Arguably, no other device in the history of humans has had a longer-lasting effect on exploration, transportation and cultural development than the compass.

Today’s digital compasses uses two internal devices to operate — a magnetometer that measures changes in the magnetic field of the Earth and an accelerometer, which tracks the movement of your mobile device. iPhone’s Compass app works just like a magnetic-needle compass, using data from both these functions to pinpoint the exact orientation of the mobile phone as you move it around.

Satellite Phones

What the compass has done for exploration of land and sea the satellite phone has done for telecommunication. It was only 30 years ago that a satellite phone was only affordable to the rich, selling for thousands of dollars. They weren’t as mobile either, as they were big and bulky. In the coming years, as wireless phones became all the rage. Even though mobile devices of all kinds have flooded the market, sat phones still have a vital use today.

Working off of satellites orbiting our planet rather than cell towers, sat phone owners have the ability to make and receive calls and send and receive data from pretty much anywhere in the world. Used on boats, hiking trips, exploration excursions and simple vacations, these phones work off the grid, providing protection from viruses and hackers and assuring a connectivity. Today they are also equipped with solar recharging features, giving them yet another one-up on other mobile devices.


That tiny device resting on your belt, quietly counting your steps, recording your pace, is a tech tool that has arguably been around for more than 200 years. The pedometer is one of the simplest and most motivational tech tools we use then and now. Some say the great Leonardo da Vinci had sketches of a pedometer in the 15th century. Others say Thomas Jefferson was the inventor. Others point to the Swiss watchmakers, the inventors of the self-winding watch. Wherever it originated, it didn’t really catch on until the 1930s, when a popular radio program, “Jack Armstrong: All-American Boy,” campaigned a pedometer called the “Hike-O-Meter.

Today’s pedometers can be the simple digital device that fits in your palm and on your belt and records your steps, or it can be downloaded as an app on your mobile phone, collecting not only the number of steps you take a day, but also the calories you’ve burned, distance traveled and average pace. It has evolved into a digital fitness assistant.


Just when you thought the bling that set men apart faded away, the watch has made a comeback in useful tech tools. Since 1812, when Breguet created the first wristwatch, people have enjoyed bringing time along wherever they go. But as devices like mobile phones advanced, the use of watches became irrelevant and obsolete. That is, until some geeky engineer had the bright idea of making watches “smart,” just like a mobile phone. What used to have numbers and two hands now can hold pretty much your entire life on your wrist.

From texts, to calls, to emails to fitness results to music, a smartwatch has reinvented not only the use but the fashion of wristwatches, with industries like Apple, Pebble, Sony, Samsung and Qualcomm all coming out with new styles of smartwatches. Though its intended purposes (telling the time) is now only one of many features, the wristwatch has proven to be one timeless tech tool that can take a licking and keep on ticking.

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