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Gadgets Info

Everything you ever wanted to know ( and probably some stuff you don't want to know ) about Gadgets!

What is a Gadget?

A gadget is a small  technological object (such as a device or an appliance ) that has a particular function, but is often thought of as a novelty . Gadgets are invariably considered to be more unusually or cleverly designed than normal technological objects at the time of their invention. Gadgets are sometimes also referred to as gizmos .

History of Gadgets

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there is anecdotal evidence for the use of "gadget" as a placeholder name for a technical item whose precise name one can't remember since the 1850s; with Robert Brown's 1886 book Spunyarn and Spindrift, A sailor boy’s log of a voyage out and home in a China tea-clipper containing the earliest known usage in print. Also according to Michael Quinion: Port Out, Starboard Home: The Fascinating Stories We Tell About the Words We Use. The etymology of the word is disputed. A widely circulated story holds that the word gadget was "invented" when Gaget, Gauthier & Cie, the company behind the repoussé construction of the Statue of Liberty (1886), made a small-scale version of the monument and named it after their firm; however this contradicts the evidence that the word was already used before in nautical circles, and the fact that it did not become popular, at least in the USA, until after World War I Other sources cite a derivation from the French gâchette which has been applied to various pieces of a firing mechanism, or the French gagée, a small tool or accessory. The spring-clip used to hold the base of a vessel during glass-making is also known as a gadget. The first atomic bomb was nicknamed the gadget by the scientists of the Manhattan Project, tested at the Trinity site.

In the book "Above the Clouds" by Vivian Drake, published in 1918 by D. Appleton & Co., of New York and London, being the memoirs of a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, there is the following passage: "Our ennui was occasionally relieved by new gadgets -- "gadget" is the Flying Corps slang for invention! Some gadgets were good, some comic and some extraordinary."

Mechanical gadgets

Clocks , bicycles , and thermometers are amongst the very large number of gadgets that are mechanical and also very popular. The invention of mechanical gadgets though is based more on innovation from the inventor rather than his education.

Electronic gadgets

Electronic gadgets are based on transistors and integrated circuits . Unlike the mechanical gadgets one needs a source of electric power to use it. The most common electronic gadgets include transistor radio , television , cell phones and the quartz watch .

Programmable gadgets

Most of the modern gadgets belong to this category.

Application gadgets

Computer programs that provide services without needing an independent application to be launched for each one, but instead run in an environment that manages multiple gadgets. There are several implementations based on existing software development techniques, like JavaScript, form input, and various image formats.

The earliest documented use of the term gadget in context of software engineering was in 1985 by the developers of AmigaOS, the operating system of the Amiga computers Intuition Amiga|intuition.library and also later gadtools.library'. It denotes what other technological traditions call GUI widget—a control element in graphical user interface. This naming convention remains in continuing use (as of 2008) since then.

It is not known whether other software companies are explicitly drawing on that inspiration when featuring the word in names of their technologies or simply referring to the generic meaning. The word widget is older in this context.