Stephen Fry: 'Cigarette Lighter Is History's Greatest Gadget'

Stephen Fry's a man with, as Douglas Adams would have put it, a brain the size of a planet, and a serious love of gadgets. His rundown of the 100 greatest gadgets of all time has a surprising conclusion, albeit one with a decent rationale.

Fry knows a thing or two about technology, and when he was approached by Britain's channel four to head a rundown of the 100 greatest gadgets, he took to the task with an interesting perspective. Fry notes on his blog that his definition of a gadget was deliberately rather broad.

'I didn’t really approach it as a beauty pageant. The winner might as easily be a kitchen essential as a digital doodad.'

The cigarette lighter wins out because, as Fry puts it, it's 'fire with the flick of the fingers'. I feel compelled to point out that using a cigarette lighter for actually lighting and smoking cigarettes is rather bad for you; why not take our own Elly's lead and quit for good?

Among the more interesting entries are the iPod at #3, ahead of both the television and the typewriter, Nintendo Wii at #15 and GPS at #22. The list in full can be found here.[Channel 4 via Crave]


    Wow, what a simple way to spoil a Stephen Fry post... Why on earth would it be considered rational to include the #1 result in the title of the article?! In the future you may want to ensure that the "surprising conclusion" can be discovered without having to shove it in our faces before we even get to look at the source article.

      Downloaded the show last night and was going to watch it tonight. You've taken most of the interest out now.

        Holy crap, really?

        1. If you don't want to know a sports score -- don't read a sports website. If you don't want to know what Stephen Fry reckons is the number gadget ever -- don't read a bloody gadget site!

        2. The show has more to it than just what the number one gadget is. Not the best thing ever, but worth checking out.

        Genuinely sorry for the spoiler, but c'monnnn. :)

          Wow.. that's the first time I've seen you light up Danny! Nice to know you're not actually an AI! Now if we can talk about that sign in deal... Nah just kidding

            He's right, these people sound like kids complaining to their mum that she spoiled Christmas because they opened up presents a night before Christmas that mum left out.

              You seem to miss the point. To correct your comparison, rather than having to open the present the contents are written on the outside of the wrapping paper. I do not mind the inclusion of the #1 in the article itself, it is the inclusion of the #1 in the title which is the issue.

                Just to clarify: A present that (at least in Australia) there's no way you could have legally acquire? A program that most likely will never see airtime here? And, for that matter a program that the channel itself has spoiled in its entirety on its own web site?

                  #1 is at the top of the source article anyway. so your suspense would only have been delayed by 1 click.

              You do realise I was on Danny's side here don't you, just taking the piss is all!

            Piss poor response Danny: You would expect a sports site to have sports results. You'd expect a gadget site to mention a show about gadgets.

            You wouldn't expect a gadget site to spoil the conclusion of a gadget countdown show.

    I acquired this show last night, was going to watch it when I got home from work.

    Admittedly, I don't particularly care what gadgets are placed in what order but it is interesting that the last pipe smoker of the year chose a cigarette lighter as the top gadget.

    There is soooo much more you can do with a "pocket flame" than lighting cigarettes.

    Anyway, I watched the show.. it was a tad boring to be honest.. but I sat through almost 2 hours before I started to skip through it.

    No mention of the life saving Electronic Cigarette.. bit disappointed.

    I can't help the feeling that if I was to spend any time with Stephen, I'd feel like he was just tolerating the poor bugger with the average IQ! The guy is out of the box when it comes to, well any kind of knowledge! I particularly like the show IQ...!

    Alex Kidman - you're a [email protected]

    I agree with "Le_Gambit": How about not putting it in the title, and warning us with a "spoiler alert" next time?

      See my comment above.

        If you are 'Genuinely sorry for the spoiler' why have you not taken it down yet?

        You're totally out of order.

        Nah Dan.. It was a pretty poor title with reason #1 you gave being equally poor. My favourite sports site has a feature to turn spoilers off. Maybe my favourite gadget site should also follow suit - even if it is for a one-off article

          We disagree, and I'm OK with that.

            I have never seen a computer game site put the ending in the title of an article. And if they put something in the body they ensure that the title states *spoiler*.

            I cannot see the difference here. Your point 1 is a somewhat weak excuse.

              Standard practice on most (but not all, as flint points out) sports sites. Never happens in game reviews, that's an extreme and nonsensical example. This is a TV show man, relax. I do see your point, but disagree in this case, and it's OK that we do. The earth will still spin...

              Edit: Actually, they just discovered what may be the most earth-like planet yet. Stuff like this is what really makes my sausage sizzle:

                Bloody hell, just as well you didn't write an article on something important here!

                  I was thinking about writing a post on that here, but though cool, was slightly off topic. If they used some awesome high-tech to find it (not the well known HARPS, then I probably would have). Will save it for my Tumbler blog ;)

    Archos and Creative made portable MP3 players well before iPods. It wasn't Bic Lighters that was the 1# invention ever was it!

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