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Estás en HomeCurioblogWhat is a Gadget?
 el 28 Apr 2009 por Marta Reig

What is a Gadget?

Although the word is most often used to refer to advanced technological devices, the term "gadget" was coined over a century ago.

Go, go, Gadget Arm!
Go, go, Gadget Arm!
Go, go, Gadget Arm! The iPod is a classic example of a gadget Electronic gadget: a watch / weather station with a sophisticated design This rabbit that connects to the Internet is a perfect example of a technological gadget Apple’s "Dashboard" widgets are also gadgets James Bond with a flying backpack, one of his many gadgets!
"Gadget" Defined
Gadgets are devices created for a particular purpose or function. They’re usually small and incredibly practical, and they tend to have an element of novelty about them. Many gadgets also have more clever designs than ordinary technological devices. Gadgets are everywhere, and that’s why there are so many synonyms to refer to them: contraption, appliance, mechanism, device, gizmo... Just look around, you probably have one at hand right this moment.

Types of Gadgets
The term is usually associated with all sorts of technological devices, such as iPod’s and PDA’s... and, although most of them are, in fact, technological, the fact is that there are different types of gadgets that have nothing to do with new technologies: electronic gadgets, such as radios and integrated circuit systems, mechanical gadgets such as bicycles, clocks and thermometers, and computer gadgets, such as miniature applications called Widgets that give users easy access to frequently used functions.

Etymology of the Word "Gadget"
Although there are several different theories to account for the origin of the word "gadget", the best-known of these dates back to the years 1884-1885, when the French foundry in charge of casting the Statue of Liberty, "Gaget, Gauthier & Cia", decided to sell miniature replicas of the monument in order to finance the project. However, this theory contradicts others, such as the one that claims the word "gadget" was already in use in nautical circles before that, or other theories according to which the word is derived from the French words gâchette or gagé. In any case, the term began to be used and became popular in English-speaking countries sometime in the 1980’s.

Gadgets and Popular Culture
Thanks to popular culture, the word "gadget" is also widely used in countries where English is not the official language. For instance, the term spread to France and other European countries thanks to the cartoon series "Inspector Gadget". The cartoon’s main character was a clumsy and absent-minded detective who was equipped with all sorts of contraptions that he pulled out of his hat, such as a hand holding an umbrella (called a "Gadget Umbrella"), and radar ("Gadget Radar").

We’ve also seen how, in films such as the "James Bond" sequels or TV series such as "Batman" and "Iron Man", the main characters always depend on their equipment and gadgets. And, of course, use of the word has also spread thanks to the many web sites and blogs dedicated to the world of gizmos, another word often used by web surfers as a synonym for gadgets. Thanks to all these references, nowadays anyone who’s into surfing the Internet can recognize a gadget on his or her computer screen... and everyone between 30 and 40 years old has, at one time or other, dreamt of growing a Gadget Arm.
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