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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?