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Sci-fi writer Douglas Adams liked to trace technology back to a stick. For example, a computer is an advanced typewriter, which is an advanced pen, which is an advanced stick in the dirt. All right, can we do that with an iPod?

An iPod's ancestry goes like so: An iPod is one step up from the CD player, which is a step past the record player or phonograph. Before that sound reproduction came from sheet music, which was a way of marking down sounds from instruments. The most primitive instrument is the drum, and the real part of the drum was hitting it, so the ancestor of the iPod was a stick being beaten atonally on various rocks. (The sound would return in the form of Nickelback.)

But what about the Nintendo Wii?

Well it's a descendant of the N64, Super Nintendo, and Nintendo gaming system; before consoles, Nintendo made arcade games, which were just fancy pinball games, which evolved from a game called the Bagatelle, a table game adapted from billiards, which came from croquet. Stick-hits-rock.


Easy. Light bulb → oil lamp → torch → stick on fire.

Digg → blog → newsletter → town crier → poking someone with a stick and saying "Hey!"

Nuclear ICBM

Missile → rocket → gun → firework → arrow → spear → poke in the eye with a sharp stick.


Microwave → oven → coal stove → fireplace → campfire → rubbing two sticks.

Beer helmet

Beer helmet → crazy straw → straw → hollow stick.

Fig Newmans

There is no precedent to Fig Newmans. They were birthed fully formed when the universe was still pure and without deformity.

Nick Douglas writes at Valleywag and Too Much Nick. He wrote this on a stick.