Unveiled in 1978 but released in 1979, the Black & Decker Dustbuster was a revolutionary home-cleaning device, and the only power tool a parent was likely to let a children play with. Vroom!
Reading this retrospective, I'm both surprised and unsurprised at how innovative and well-designed the Dustbuster is. It was rechargeable, wall-mountable, used a high-tech (for the time) design based on a familiar product (the dustpan), had an immediately catchy name and was instantly indispensable for every suburban family in the country. I remember sitting on the carpet and playing with it, which is certainly not something I was likely to do with a damn cleaning product, and the product's name quickly became both a universal noun and verb ("Oh yeah, I Dustbusted the stairs yesterday."). It definitely wasn't the most powerful vacuum cleaner on the market (any modern Dyson would clean its clock) and the filter had a tendency to jam, but for sheer utility, style and "I want that gadget!" appeal, the Dustbuster was and maybe even still is the tops.
The Dustbuster is, I'm comfortable saying, the gadget nerd's cleaning tool. It's portable, battery-powered, cute, and versatile, and has definitely made our lives better. Cleaner, at least. [Popular Mechanics]
Gizmodo '79 is a week-long celebration of gadgets and geekdom 30 years ago, as the analog age gave way to the digital, and most of our favorite toys were just being born.