What Gadget Was Adopted the Fastest in the Last 50 Years? You Might Be Surprised.

Fastest adopted gadgets

What device do you think was the fastest-adopted gadget in the last fifty years? Go ahead, take a guess. The cellphone? The color television? The CD player? Nope. None of those gadgets take that distinction. In fact, the device that was adopted the fastest in the last fifty years might surprise you.

The Journal of Management and Marketing Research, in a paper by Tarique Hossain, published data from the Consumer Electronics Manufacturing Association regarding the “observed penetration rate at the end of the 7th year” of various electronic devices and gadgets. The gadget with the highest penetration rate was . . . the boom box, with a penetration rate of over 60%. The CD player was second at 56%, followed by the DVD player and the VCR. Most surprising to me was that the color television fell near the bottom of the chart, with a minuscule penetration rate. People must have been slow to warm to either the technology or the price, but when the stereo color television came out, the adoption rate was much higher.

The top six items, along with their penetration rates, were as follows:

Boom Box – 63%

CD Player – 56%

DVD Player – 50%

VCR – 40%

Portable CD Player – 31%

Digital camera – 28%


To see the full chart, head on over to an article discussing the findings on The Atlantic, or check out the report in volume 6 of the Journal of Management and Marketing Research which mentions this data (as an aside, actually).

I guess the statistics reflect my experience, as I have childhood memories of shooting baskets with Van Halen’s 1984 cassette blaring on my boom box. So, fess up – did you own a boom box?

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. That is really a great transition. With the changing technology we find new gadgets coming into our life with a lighting speed.

  2. I really thought it was the cd player got the highest percentage.. :(

  3. The boom box, I would never have guessed that. My guess was the CD player though, so I guess I came close, well, came 2nd at least :)

  4. I think the Digital Camera.
    Am i right?

    Thanks for the excellent post

  5. Hell yes I had a boombox. It was home to many an awesome track — from Van Halen to break music, to old soul.

  6. Never had a boom box, but when I was younger, I mostly listened to baseball games on AM, so I didn’t need a lot of “thump” in my radio. I grew up on a farm in Iowa, and on a good night, I could pull in Cubs, Cardinals, Reds and, oddly, sometimes the French broadcast of the Expos.

  7. Come on now, the boom box was pretty state of the art for the time! Actually, I was very surprised by the rank.

  8. time sends us to the simply gadget, and never stop as long as the human still try to find more simply gadget to help human doing and entertainment

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