Groundbreaking Computer Designs of the Last Decade

Posted by Rob Schnetzer on Fri, Dec, 13, 2019 @ 14:12 PM

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Groundbreaking Computer Designs of the Last Decade

As the year comes to a close, we’re taking some time to review a few of the most significant computer designs of the last decade. Each of these devices was notable for its time, either because of its design or the way it functioned. We are specifically looking at independent devices with their own operating system.

Chip PC JackPC 2010OIP

Originally put out in 2010, the JackPC was a unique device designed to be installed into the wall of your home. It came with a metal mounting plate similar to what you’d see on a larger bank of light switches. It was powered by a an ethernet cable and was equipped with a DVI port for a monitor, four USB ports and 2 1/8th inch phono jacks (input and output). If you didn’t have a power-over ethernet port, you could supplement it with the secondary power adapter below the audio input and output jacks. It ran Windows CE (Compact Edition) and had minimum specs (333 or 500MHz CPU and 64 or 128mb of ram) and was primarily used for running a multimedia center.

Apple iPad 20101-ipad

Yes, it’s been almost ten years since the iPad was released. This 9.7-inch, 1.6-pound powerhouse of a tablet continued an era of prosperity for Apple that had only started a few years before with the release of the iPhone and iPod. It offered incredible screen resolution, exceptional battery life and a new 1GHz processor (the A4) specifically designed for the tablet. Needless to say, the iPad has become a staple in many businesses, homes  and schools. Its release began a foundation for almost 20 different versions of the device including the iPad Air in 2013 and the iPad Pro in 2015. It has changed how we view and use mobile hardware forever.

Asus VivoStick and other “Stick” computers (2012)design_pic

Originally introduced in 2003, the modern Stick PC was introduced in 2012. Intel first introduced their version of this device in 2015 and the Asus VivoStick came out in 2016. Both used an Intel Atom processor, 32gb of storage and 1 to 4gb of memory, putting them on par with many tablets and netbooks for the time. Its name was derived by the size of the devices being similar to the dimensions of stick of gum.

Raspberry Pie (2012)robu-9-1

As computers go, the original Raspberry Pie will not win any races, but what it did was bring an easily programmable and customizable single board computer to hobbyists everywhere. It was originally designed to teach programming basics and computer science in schools. The Raspberry Pie quickly found a home in nearly every corner of the world from robotics labs to home brew arcade cabinets, opening up programming to anyone who had the interest to learn. Its name pays homage to the Apple, Apricot and Acorn computers. The latter it got its inspiration from Python the default programming language that was used when designing the system.

Smartwatches 2012/ Pebble Smartwatch 2013Pebble-watch

Smartwatches have been around in pop culture and in limited fashion from a handful of companies for decades. However, two companies in the last ten years brought them into the forefront.

Sony’s smartwatch released in 2012 and was considered a companion to Android smart phones. The company most credited with bringing the smartwatch into this decade was Pebble, with the Pebble Time released in 2013. It was funded on Kickstarter and at the time was the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever. The Pebble could function without the aid of a phone or as a companion piece to your Android or Apple device.

Augmented Reality 2013/ Google Glass 2013Google_Glass

The advent of virtual reality has its roots decades before Augmented Reality. In fact, the first VR headset called the Headsight was built in 1961 and was used by Bell Laboratories for the military. It didn’t see much public attention until the 1990s and for a brief period the consumer market had its fair share of VR headsets, and then promptly died for a myriad of reasons.

Augmented reality came out in the 90s as a US Air Force project called virtual fixtures and instead of building an entire world, it overlaid graphics and text onto physical space.

Jump forward 20 years and the first mainstream use of augmented reality started in earnest when the Volkswagen MARTA app (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance) was released. When paired with an iPad it provided step-by-step repair assistance for vehicles and was also found in the Audi A3 car manual. Soon after, Google jumped on the bandwagon with the ill-fated Google Glass.  It was a first-run augmented reality set of smart glasses designed for a variety of uses but had applications such as Google Now, Google Maps, and Google + and even a few third-party developers like Evernote and Skitch. Now it finds itself in smart phones, in apps like Minecraft Earth and Pokémon Go, among others.

Microsoft Surface 2013microsoft-surface

When released, the Surface was one of the first “hybrid” tablets and for the time it was considered one of the most revolutionary designs of the year. It combined the functionality of a tablet computer with that of a laptop., something that hadn’t been attempted in the past. Surface was also noteworthy because it was the first time Microsoft had dipped its toe into the hardware market. Since then there have been over a dozen different models of the Surface, most notably the Surface Pro 3, considered to be one of the best versions of the line.

Acer Revo Build (2015)acer-revo-build-m1-601-1

The Revo came out in 2015 as a modular computer in the shape of a mini PC designed so you could attach additional hardware pieces on top of it and under it. You could expand it with additional video cards, up to three solid state drives and even a wireless charger. It was a unique design that to this day hasn’t been cloned, which in my opinion is unfortunate. It could have opened the door for DIYers modifying your home computer without ever having to crack the case.  

Tesla Autopilot 2016th

In 2014 Tesla began producing the newest electric car, the Tesla Roadster. It could run 245 miles without charge and accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. It was no small feat for the time but without a doubt a hurdle that was notable at the very least. But it wasn’t until 2016 when an update for the cars that pushed the idea of an autonomous vehicle from experimental to functional, amazed many around the world. Since then there have been a lot of bumps in the road for Tesla, but that doesn’t change the fact that for many the pioneering car company was one of the first companies to roll out a self-driving vehicle.

Occulus Go 20186212949_rd

There have been several serious attempts at consumer VR headsets, but what makes the Occulus Go unique is its one of only a couple of headsets that can be used by itself. Until 2017 most of the VR headsets on the market required a higher-end laptop or PC to function. But the Occulus Go is independent of a computer which is what makes this product notable.

There’s our list, though it’s not complete by a long shot. There was plenty of new unique hardware over the last decade we’ve left off the list due to space limitations. What are some of your favorite innovations from the past decade? . Let us know:










Topics: Technology