MSNBC has an interesting post today called "Tech's Awesome Contributions To Rock n' Roll". They got some of it right, but missed out on some things that made me scratch my head. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, they're probably trying to be as accessible as possible so they avoided some of the insider stuff, but we don't have to do that here. So here's my version of the most awesome tech contributions to rock n' roll.
Leo Fender's Telecaster - not the first electric guitar but the one that set the stage for everything guitar oriented that we know today.
The Mutlitrack Recorder - Thanks to recently departed Les Paul for this one. Les figured out not only how to pack 8 tracks on to a piece of magnetic tape, but how to monitor off the tape so you overdub and stay in sync with the previously recorded material. It's something that we so take for granted today, but where would our recordings be without it?
Soundtools (later called Pro Tools) - when the two channel digital audio workstation by Digidesign called Soundtools came out, it was looked down upon by the hard-core pros of the world. It didn't sound very good and was a bit clunky to use, but a few of us saw the future. And it wasn't that long before the future was here with the multitrack version called Pro Tools. Again, the industry was slow to adopt a DAW as the centerpiece of a studio, but almost overnight Pro Tools made boat anchors out of the $150,000 Sony 3348 digital tape machines (you can't even give them away today). Pro Tools lead the way for the home studio revolution as well, making it possible to have a studio far more powerful than The Beatles ever had for just a few thousand dollars. Of course there are lots of other DAWs, and most of them are fine pieces of digital architecture, but it was Soundtools that turned the tide from an analog studio to a digital one.
These are just some of the examples off the top of my head. Can you think of anything else?