6 Tech Gadgets that Influenced Your IT Career

by Modis on February 7, 2012

People don’t just suddenly decide they want to work with the intricacies of computer systems — a love for information technology comes from somewhere, often many places. This influence can even be identified in early childhood, as toys and games can spark an interest in how to build, program, and simply put things together to form better, functional processes.

If common devices can be so inspiring, what are some of the things that may have motivated people to work in IT? Here’s a list of 7 gadgets that probably inspired IT professionals to pursue an IT career.

Gadget: K’NEX

(Credit: rossn)

Its influence: With the ability to add gears, pulleys, and wheels to the designs, K’NEX allowed kids to try out designing and building and enjoy the challenges of creating different structures and putting pieces together.
What Why it’s Awesome: Kids made awesome creations based on color-coded instructions or their  own imagination! Later, K’NEX products could move and were able to be programmed, so the possibility for innovation in childhood was even more possible. How is that not awesome?

Gadget: Commodore 64

(Credit: wwward0)

Its influence: The Commodore 64 was some people’s primary source for playing games for a while, but it also served as several people’s introduction to computing.

Why it’s Awesome:  Not only were users able to program and play games on the Commodore 64, the computer also had sound and graphics cards that no other computer could match. This is part of why it would ship for more than 2 million units a year at its peak and became the best-selling home computer model of all time.

Gadget: Wolfenstein 3D

(Credit: bdu)

Its influence: This game is recognized as the “father of the first-person-shooter game,” and its developments and cool factor probably inspired a lot of players to realize the potential in programming games and similar media.

Why it’s Awesome: The plot involved playing as an American commando fighting Nazis. If that’s not intense enough, it had a 3D feel, so you could turn 360 degrees within the game and feel more immersed in the experience.

Gadget: Transformers

(Credit: Transformers on Amazon)

Its influence: Having to actually take the time to figure out how to build the Transformer into its alternate form meant that a child had to think about how all the parts could be deconstructed and fit together again. This stage of “play” could have allowed kids to start developing their creative and problem-solving thought processes  and use skills that, in theory, benefit IT.

Why it’s Awesome: It’s a robot that can turn into a car and back again. If that’s not cool enough, the particular version above has light-up eyes and battle hooks to look super hardcore.

Gadget: Apple II

(Credit: br1dotcom)

Its influence:  Fox News reported in 2007 that the Apple II’s comprehensive manual allowed people to teach themselves computer hardware and software engineering.  Sellam Ismail, proprietor of VintageTech, told Fox that the machine was very accessible and people could program, dissemble code, and more.

Why it’s Awesome: One of Apple’s first big successes, this computer featured 8-bit processing, game controller ports, and a floppy drive. (Remember when having that stuff was awesome and not obvious?)

Gadget: Tetris

(Credit: wwarby)

Its influence: This might not have a direct IT influence, but the hours spent playing this game could have increased people’s interest in problem solving and figuring out how parts come together. Sure, there isn’t really science backing this up, so maybe you have your own opinion on the matter, but regardless, Tetris is awesome.

Why it’s Awesome: It was addicting, available on several platforms, and made you incredibly excited about shapes. There definitely wasn’t much like it during its day, especially because if you played for a solid hour, you’d start seeing those blocks when you closed your eyes. (In that way, Tetris was the Guitar Hero of 1980s.)


Old and archaic by today’s standards, these early versions of computers, games, and toys were like nothing many of us ever dreamed of back in the day.  They blew our minds (does anyone say that any more?) and ignited our inspiration. So much so that a mere 30 years later we’ve gone from the Apple II to the iGeneration. So what about you? Did you use any of these gadgets? What are some of the devices that influenced your IT career?

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