When 1999 turned to 2000, the story of the year was the Y2K problem.

When 1999 turned to 2000, the story of the year was the Y2K problem.

Back in those days, computer programs marked the year with two digits and couldn't distinguish the year 2000 from the year 1900 - or 1400, for that matter. Many predicted the digital world as we knew it could collapse at the turn of that decade.

While the scaremongering may have made for good reading, no significant computer failures actually surfaced. Instead, our iPods, BlackBerries and USB drives all continued working without a hitch.

Hold on a second! We're talking the year 2000, right? Early USB thumb drives didn't roll out until spring 2000. The first iPod wasn't released until 2001. The BlackBerry didn't hit the stores until 2002.

As we look back at some of the most significant gadgets of the decade, it's striking how portable and wireless our gadgets have become since that predicted apocalypse became such a big bust.

Today, consumers crave a single pocket-size uber-gadget that sports the coolest of the cool digital features - GPS, music/video player, touchscreen, texting, wireless web surfing, e-mail, camera/camcorder, bluetooth, gaming console, flash drive ...

The iPod saved Apple and forever changed the music industry when it launched on Oct. 23, 2001. Along with iTunes, the iPod made music-buying easy and let consumers control how many, or few, songs to buy.

Next came the ability to buy and rent movies and TV shows through iTunes. Midway into the decade, a poll of college students showed the iPod as their most favored "thing." Beer ranked second.

For the business set, the BlackBerry (2002) and Palm Treo (2003) crammed e-mail, personal phonebooks, a phone and a QWERTY keyboard into a single gadget to dramatically redefine the concept of staying connected.

As the years marched on, the increased computing power and capabilities of these units (joined by the iPhone in 2007 and Google's Android phone in 2008) redefined what cell phones should be.

In terms of home entertainment, TVs got slimmer and smarter, sported sharper pictures and connected to more than just sitcoms and dramas. The TV set itself went from heavy, bulky cathode-ray tubes to flat-screen HDTVs as thin as a half-inch. Today's sets connect to the internet as easily as cable, satellite or U-verse TV.

At the start of the decade, PlayStation 2 was the gaming console of choice. The Xbox 360 (2005) and PlayStation 3 (2006) took home gaming to the arcade level with their eye-popping graphics. Then the Nintendo Wii (2006) introduced motion-based gaming, which redefined this gadget set yet again.

Blu-ray discs (2006) eventually became the medium of choice for viewing pre-recorded video. Meanwhile, DVRs, which began with TiVo as a standalone box in 1999, evolved to include features offered with cable and satellite packages.

The Slingbox (2005) made TV viewing portable, allowing consumers to view the TV signal on a computer from their living room or on a cell phone anywhere in the world.

Computers moved from the desktop to the laptop to the under-two-pound netbook. The past few years have brought change to the centuries-old book world, as ink on paper gave way to the e-Ink screen of the Kindle (2007), Nook (2009) and Sony Daily Edition (2009).

Portability and power is what the last decade for gadgets has been about. It'll be interesting to see where the next decade takes us.

Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail gspot@columbusalive.com