Walt Mossberg: Top 12 Most Influential Tech Products of the Past 20 Years


iphone 2007

After 22 years of reviewing consumer technology products, Walt Mossberg has decided to leave the Wall Street Journal. As his last column for the WSJ, he looked back over the past 20 years and has put together an interesting list: the top products of the past two decades of consumer tech reviews.

 So I thought I’d talk about the dozen personal-technology products I reviewed that were most influential over the past two decades. Obviously, narrowing so many products in the most dynamic of modern industries down to 12 is a subjective exercise and others will disagree.

Though most were hits, a couple weren’t blockbusters, financially, and one was an outright flop. Instead, I used as my criteria two main things.

He had two main criteria for selecting the products: first, they had to improve ease of use and provide value to the consumer, and secondly, they had influenced the products and services that followed or change the way people lived and worked.

An interesting highlight of the top 12 list is that it contains five Apple products: the Newton MessagePad, the iPod, the iPhone, the MacBook Air, and the iPad. That’s nearly half of the most influential consumer tech products list he put together.

  1. Newton MessagePad (1993)
  2. Netscape Navigator (1994)
  3. Windows 95 (1995)
  4. The Palm Pilot (1997)
  5. Google Search (1998)
  6. The iPod (2001)
  7. Facebook (2004)
  8. Twitter (2006)
  9. The iPhone (2007)
  10. Android (2008)
  11. The MacBook Air (2008)
  12. The iPad (2010)


  • lksfjs

    Not a very good list IMO. Of course this is highly subjective. Here are a couple reasons why I think it’s not a great list:

    1) It says “Tech Products” not “Consumer Tech Products” there are have been many (MANY) products outside of iPhones/OS that have really changed things in the last 20 years. For example, the World Wide Web, the Tesla Model S, Nintendo Wii (that one is even consumer tech) Gorilla Glass (although that one is really the manufacturing that was in the last 20 years, the glass itself is old-still without it all displays would likely be plastic) etc…

    2) There is no Macintosh. C’mon you can’t put Macbook Air and not Macintosh. That was 1984 (Barely, <20 Years, but still there). That is THE influential PC. Also no PowerBook, no iMac? Sony Walkman?

  • lksfjs

    Also, BlackBerry? Going under or not, I’d say it’s arguably as important as iPhone and probably more important than Android. Of course there would be alternatives to iOS (which IMO was truly revolutionary), but without BB did some stuff that we may not have if they hadn’t (like full email clients on phones).