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Don't Believe the Hype: The 21 Biggest Technology Flops
ComputerWorld ^ | 04 April 2007 | David Haskin

Posted on 04/04/2007 10:40:49 AM PDT by ShadowAce

Hype is the coin of the realm in the technology business. If you listen to vendors and the media, it may sometimes seem as though every new product, service, concept or even security threat will be the Next Big Thing. Some live up to all the fuss, but many don't -- and some fail spectacularly.

Take the Michelangelo virus, the subject of a media frenzy 15 years ago. March 6, 1992, was the day that the dreaded virus was supposed to strike. Journalists went overboard covering this virus, which had supposedly burrowed itself into hard drives around the world throughout 1991 and was set to start destroying data on March 6, the birthday of the famous artist.

It didn't happen that way, of course: Damage was minimal. But in honor of Michelangelo's birthday, we thought we'd track down history's biggest technology flops.

Here we nominate 21 of our favorite overhyped failures, presented in alphabetical order. At the end of the piece, we'll ask you to vote on which is the biggest tech flop of them all, or write in a nominee of your own.

The Top Flops

First we present the biggest flops, in which the hype-to-success ratio was farthest out of whack. The 14 products and technologies listed here weren't all bad. In fact, some were quite good but were either too far ahead of their time or were victims of overblown expectations. Others, of course, were downright lousy.

Apple Newton

In 1993, Apple hyped its Newton PDA as only Apple can, with clever advertising and relentless word-of-mouth campaigns. While the device's physical size was gargantuan by today's standards, it was full of features, such as personal information management and add-on storage slots, that remain essential parts of today's mobile devices.

Apple Newton  
Apple Newton. Image courtesy of Retro Thing.
So why did Newton flop? One reason was the ridicule heaped on it by talk show comedians and comic strips (most notably "Doonesbury"), which focused on the supposed inaccuracy of the handwriting recognition.

Also, Newton was expensive -- about $700 for the first model and as much as $1,000 for later, more advanced models. In addition, Newton was arguably ahead of its time.

Still, before it faded away in 1998, Newton paved the way for PDAs, which led, in turn, to today's smart phones. In particular, the smaller, cheaper Palm Pilot, which was released in 1995 and became a runaway success.

To clarify, the official name of Apple's product was the MessagePad; Newton was really the name of the operating system. But Newton captured the public's imagination, so that's what the device was popularly called.

Digital audio tape

Take yourself back to the mid-'80s when analog tape cassettes were still a common method of purchasing and transporting music. They were easier to manage than old vinyl LPs but they didn't sound as good.

  Sony DAT player  
Sony DAT player. Image courtesy of Retro Thing.
So it was logical that digital audio tape (DAT), developed by Sony and Philips, would become a Next Big Thing: It was digital, didn't use compression and used higher sampling rates than audio CDs. Indeed, a quick office poll found that at least two Computerworld editors put off purchasing CD players because they were waiting for DAT to take off.

Alas, this was another good idea that failed miserably. First, there was the matter of competing formats. Audio CDs, which were introduced around 1983, were starting to be embraced by consumers. Then the recording industry became concerned that DAT would encourage piracy because it could be used to make near-perfect digital copies of recorded music. The industry convinced Congress to pass the Audio Home Recording Act in 1992, which required strong -- some might say Draconian -- copy protection for DAT. It also required that DAT equipment vendors pay royalties to the recording industry.

That stumbling block cleared the way for audio CDs. DAT survived a while for professional recording applications, but never came close to justifying its early hype.

DIVX

Presaging our current era of Netflix and downloadable movies, DIVX (not to be confused with DiVX, the video codec) flashed brightly in the late '90s, then flamed out. The idea, hatched by electronics retailer Circuit City, was interesting -- you would rent movies on DIVX discs that you could keep and watch for two days. Then you'd toss or recycle the discs, or pay a continuation fee to keep viewing them.

Prices were to be competitive with video store rental fees, with the added benefit of not having to return the disc. All that was required was a DIVX player, which Circuit City would be happy to sell you, and the movie discs, which Circuit City also would be happy to sell you.

Hardware vendors went along for a while but weren't overly enthusiastic, since the DVD format, for which they also were manufacturing players, was starting to gain traction at the time. And the video-rental industry fought the concept tooth and nail, loudly proclaiming the benefits of the DVD format, which they called "Open DVD," over DIVX.

Consumers didn't warm to the scheme either, fearing that DIVX vs. DVD could turn into another costly Betamax vs. VHS debacle. DIVX died a rapid death -- it was launched in 1998 and was pretty much sunk by the middle of 1999, leaving some people with worthless equipment -- although vendors did offer a $100 refund for those who bought a DIVX player. Still, left behind were lots of bad feelings about yet another bright idea that flopped.

Dot-bombs

Oh, those glorious days in the late '90s, when everyone thought they'd get rich off the Internet! One poorly conceived dot-com company after another was launched and promoted with an influx of money from the venture capital community. The lucky ones went public and saw their stock prices go through the roof and then plummet after the bubble burst in 2000. Many others never even made it that far before fizzling out.

Although they represented a wide range of concepts and products, it's hard not to think of these "dot-bombs" as one entity, which is why we've entered them as a single nominee.

Pets.com sock puppet  
The Pets.com spokespuppet.
If there's one enduring symbol of the dot-bomb era, it was Pets.com's wretched sock puppet advertisements, which figured prominently during the 2000 Super Bowl broadcast. Other advertisers for that year's big game included forgettable (and forgotten) companies like LifeMinders, OurBeginning.com and the cheerfully named Epidemic.com.

Maybe the dot-bomb CEOs should have banded together to start Hubris.com. The CEO of OurBeginning.com, which spent $5 million to advertise on the Super Bowl, was quoted in BusinessWeek as saying, "I consider myself a visionary." He apparently couldn't foresee that his Super Bowl spending would hasten the end of his company.

E-books

  Sony Reader  
Sony Reader. Image courtesy of Sony.
E-book readers started being sold about 10 years ago and are still being developed. The most recent entrant into the market is the Sony Reader. But they're still a flop.

The idea is attractive because, theoretically, e-book technology allows you to load many books and periodicals on a reasonably small handheld device, making it easier to travel with lots of reading matter. Also, e-books are easily searchable, another huge advantage over paper books.

However, e-books are much in need of standardization. Specifically, the number of potential formats for e-books remains huge -- the Wikipedia entry for e-books lists more than 20 formats. It's not pleasant to contemplate buying an e-reader and then finding out that a book or periodical you want is available only in an incompatible format.

Furthermore, the devices themselves just aren't good enough yet. Some folks find them unwieldy; others say they're difficult to use. And for many people, there's just no replacing the old-fashioned, reassuring feel of paper.

IBM PCjr

Like the Apple Newton, IBM's PCjr was ahead of its time. Unlike Newton, PCjr was poorly designed.

Released to great fanfare in 1984 with at least two magazines devoted to it, IBM hoped PCjr would catch on as a relatively inexpensive version of its IBM PC for homes and schools. In those days, the Apple II and console devices like the Commodore 64 dominated those still-small markets.

IBM PCjr  
IBM PCjr. Image © Jim Leonard (OpenContent License applies).
The PCjr was both expensive and unpleasant to use. Its infamous chiclet keyboard was wireless, but the raised keys -- kind of like BlackBerry keys that overdosed on growth hormone -- were uncomfortable to use for basic tasks like touch-typing. And, in another burst of dubious inspiration, PCjr didn't come with a hard drive. Instead, programs were contained on cartridges that you plugged into the front of the device.

IBM pulled the PCjr from the market in 1985. The company targeted the home and educational markets again a few years later with the PS/1, which met a similar fate as PCjr.

 

Internet currency

Remember Flooz and Beenz? These two Internet bubble vendors arguably deserved to die simply because of their goofy names. They provided online currency, which many dot-com proponents in the late '90s considered the secret sauce that would lead to the wild success of e-commerce.

Beenz logo  
The idea was to create an "Internet currency" that was not legal tender in any particular country but could be used to purchase items on the Web. Both vendors generated a lot of hype, but Flooz's commercials featuring Whoopi Goldberg received the most attention.

  Flooz logo  
Unfortunately, consumers inexplicably preferred to use real money and credit cards. And Flooz faced a battery of consumer complaints before its demise in 2001. Before they expired, Beenz and Flooz agreed to work together, proving once again that in the warped universe of techno-hype, one plus one can equal zero.

Iridium

It was an undeniably brilliant idea to launch 66 satellites and link them with mesh technology for routing calls to and from any point in the world. And when it started in 1998, Iridium entranced the technology world. "Iridium's core identity is defined by its transcendence of national borders, a structure that is particularly post-Cold War," Wired magazine gushed in its October 1998 cover story. "Iridium may well serve as a first model of the 21st-century corporation."

But Iridium's technology cost an immense amount of money to deploy, and most users were resistant to paying dollars per minute of call time and carrying around a phone larger than a brick. Less than a year later, Wired News backtracked, saying, "After losing nearly US$1 billion in two disastrous quarters, the engineering marvel is in danger of becoming the Ford Edsel of the sky."

In 2000, the company was taken over by Iridium Satellite LLC, which recently said that it wants to launch new satellites and hopes to attract partners to provide services beyond basic voice calling, such as a next-generation global positioning system. Time will tell if its current incarnation is more successful than its first.

Microsoft Bob

Bob was a graphical user interface built on top of Windows 3.1. The idea was to make Windows palatable to nontechnical users. But Bob, released in 1995, was far more stupid than its users, most of whom saw the interface as an insult to their intelligence.

Bob's cartoon-like interface was meant to resemble an office or living room. You were walked through tasks by silly-looking cartoon characters (something Microsoft persisted in doing with its Windows Help system long after Bob perished).

Microsoft Bob logo  
Perhaps worst of all, Bob's logo included a yellow smiley face for the "o" in the name. Bob eventually faded away, and even Microsoft executives agreed it had been a miserable failure.

 

The Net PC

The Net PC was yet another small, overpromoted computing device aimed at home users.

  3Com Audrey  
3Com's Audrey.
Image courtesy of Retro Thing.
Like the thin clients used in corporate IT, Net PCs consisted of a screen, keyboard and pointing device with little built-in intelligence. They were designed to be placed unobtrusively throughout the home, providing a simple user interface for Web and e-mail access.

The best-known Net PC was the iOpener by Netpliance, which ran ads during the 2000 Super Bowl, along with a host of other hype-happy technology start-ups that no longer exist. 3Com Corp. got into the act with its Audrey, and Oracle Corp.'s Larry Ellison launched a company, New Internet Computer, to develop and sell the devices.

The problem: Net PCs were introduced just as the price of more intelligent desktop PCs was plummeting. Why buy an extremely limited device when you could get a full-featured computer for around $300? After a couple of years of hype, Net PCs faded away.

The paperless office

It's not known exactly when this dream of marketers and technology vendors emerged, although the Christian Science Monitor suggested in a 2005 article that the term "was probably first coined in a 1966 article in the Harvard Business Review in reference to the emergence of digital data storage."

Just as futurists in the 1950s boldly but inaccurately predicted that computers would cut our work days in half, offices without paper have turned out to be a pipe dream. A book published by MIT Press in 2002 called The Myth of the Paperless Office found that e-mail caused a 40% increase in paper use in many organizations.

True, the role of office paper has been changing recently. Most large organizations now depend on digital, not paper, storage of documents. And the Christian Science Monitor found that sales of plain white office paper are, indeed, leveling off. But even if office paper consumption is leveling, take a look around your office: Is it paperless yet? Will it be paperless anytime soon? We didn't think so.

Push technology

  PointCast Network home page

 
Vintage hype from the PointCast Network.
We're not talking here about pushing e-mail to mobile devices, which was made incredibly popular by BlackBerries. This is about companies like the PointCast Network, which launched its software with a hype storm in 1996. The hype focused on how this technology could "push" news and other information to computer desktops with no user intervention.

However, most users never became excited about push. Those who did take the technology for a spin found themselves inundated with news, weather, sports and more; it wasn't easy to filter what specific information was received. There was also a strong backlash from employers, which prohibited the use of push products for fear they would hog network bandwidth and distract workers.

Push technology hasn't really gone away. In addition to mobile e-mail, RSS feeds and many of today's desktop widgets are a form of push, but with more filters and controls than their early forebears. But the original hype was so far off the charts that companies like PointCast faded away.

Smart appliances

Your refrigerator knows when you are low on milk and automatically orders more over the Internet. The cow juice and your other groceries are delivered to your front door. How has our species survived so long without this?

The (supposedly) irresistible appeal of smart appliances created a buzz at trade shows and was widely discussed in the media in the two years before the dot-com bubble burst. The idea was supported by virtually all major appliance vendors as well as dot-com grocery delivery services like Peapod and NetGrocer. Supermarket chains also scrambled to get a piece of the action. And Intel, always eager to sell chips -- even those used in refrigerators -- was part of the frenzy too.

Long story short: The bubble burst, and we haven't heard much about intelligent appliances since. Somehow, we're still surviving.

Virtual reality

The idea sounds fantastic -- put on special goggles, gloves and perhaps other connected clothing and immerse yourself fully in a 3-D game, training session or other activity. That idea made early VR proponents heroes to many technologists. One of those folk heroes was Jaron Lanier, who in the mid '80s started a company called VPL Research to create virtual reality products.

Maybe VR failed in the mass market because of consumer concerns that the equipment would cost too much or make them look silly. Or maybe virtual reality worlds were less real and compelling than our own imaginations. In any case, VR never took off commercially, even though some useful niche applications, such providing surgeons with a way to practice tricky medical procedures, still exist.

The Runners-up

Not all flops were as spectacular as the ones mentioned above. Many were momentarily successful or technically adept -- or they simply weren't hyped as much as our main flops. Here we present six additional flops that we consider also-rans -- but perhaps you'll think differently.

Apple Lisa

  Apple Lisa  
Apple Lisa. Image courtesy of Stan Sieler.

Before the Macintosh, there was the Apple Lisa, released in early 1983. Unlike the Macintosh, the Lisa went nowhere fast.

It sported a graphical user interface and supported multitasking, but it was slow, slow, slow and expensive -- just under $10,000 at first. Its demise was hastened both by the growing popularity of the IBM PC and by the release of Apple's sleeker, less expensive Macintosh in 1984.

Dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast controller  
DC controller. Image courtesy
of PiaCarrot
(GFDL and CC
ShareAlike
apply).

Sega was an important early player in the game console business, but its fortunes had faded by the late '90s. It hoped its Dreamcast system, launched in the U.S. in late 1999, would help it regain its place in the game console pantheon.

But even though the device sold more than 10 million units, Dreamcast fell victim to other game consoles, most notably the PlayStation 2, which was released in spring of 2000.

  NeXT logo  
 

NeXT

If it's possible for a failure to be a huge success, this is it. Launched by Steve Jobs in 1985 after his exile from Apple, NeXT's platform and high-end computers didn't sell well.

But when Jobs sold NeXT to Apple in 1996 for a reported $400 million, the NeXT operating system eventually became a significant part of Mac OS X.

OS/2

OS/2 logo  
This operating system wasn't a true failure, but its hype far exceeded its success.

When it was released in 1987, OS/2 was a joint project between Microsoft and IBM, but when that marriage hit the rocks -- about the time Microsoft released Windows 3.0 -- IBM decided to go it alone with OS/2. Remarkably, even though IBM's interest in OS/2 faded out in the '90s, it only stopped supporting the operating system at the end of last year.

Qube

Talk about an idea that was way before its time. Qube (not to be confused with The Qube, a Sun server appliance) was launched in 1977 by Warner Communications as an attempt to give the company a leg up in the early cable TV wars. The system used a set-top box and remote control to give viewers features like interactive television and pay-per-view feature movies. (For details, see Ken Freed's "When Cable Went Qubist".) Launched to great fanfare in Columbus, Ohio, Qube spread to a handful of other cities. It was popular among many users, but it couldn't overcome other Warner mistakes and met its demise in the early '90s.

Speech recognition

Over the years, Bill Gates (among others) has repeatedly predicted that speech recognition will be a major form of input, but it hasn't happened yet. Part of the problem is that, even with 99% accuracy, there are still a lot of errors to correct. Plus, many of us use computers in public places where speech recognition would be clumsy, embarrassing or downright rude. Still, the technology continues to improve, and it is being used in niche markets such as in medicine. Maybe someday it'll make it to the rest of us.

WebTV

  WebTV logo  
This flop is still around, and Microsoft remains its primary proponent. In simple terms, it consists of a set-top box that connects your TV to the Internet. WebTV Networks was founded in 1995, and Bill Gates was enamored enough with the concept to buy the company a few years later -- it's now called MSN TV. Among the reasons this idea never caught on was that set-top boxes don't have much intelligence, and the Web looks wretched on standard low-definition televisions. Undaunted, Microsoft continues to plug away.


TOPICS: Technical
KEYWORDS: flops; technology
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1 posted on 04/04/2007 10:40:58 AM PDT by ShadowAce
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To: rdb3; chance33_98; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; PenguinWry; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; ..

2 posted on 04/04/2007 10:41:17 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

That was a fun walk down memory lane.


3 posted on 04/04/2007 10:45:57 AM PDT by randog (What the...?!)
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To: randog

Yeah—there were a few items there that I had forgotten about.


4 posted on 04/04/2007 10:48:20 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce
I wish I hadn't sunk all my life's savings investing in New Coke :(

/I was about 8, and bought a can....

5 posted on 04/04/2007 10:48:44 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (A member of the Frederalist Party)
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To: martin_fierro

6 posted on 04/04/2007 10:49:04 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: ShadowAce

I was thinking of Betamax...


7 posted on 04/04/2007 10:50:32 AM PDT by RebelBanker (May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.)
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To: RebelBanker

Betamax was a flop only in marketing.


8 posted on 04/04/2007 10:51:29 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce
Then the recording industry became concerned that DAT would encourage piracy because it could be used to make near-perfect digital copies of recorded music. The industry convinced Congress to pass the Audio Home Recording Act in 1992, which required strong -- some might say Draconian -- copy protection for DAT.

This is actually an example of content providers crippling a technology to the point where consumers no longer find it worthwhile. We'll never know whether DAT on it's own merits would have been a flop.
9 posted on 04/04/2007 10:53:15 AM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: randog

I’d argue that speech recognition was a flop. It depends on what the intended purpose was vs the application we have now. Back in 1991 I worked for a 3rd Party Technical services company. The major vendor of Electronic Pre-Press Systems, ATEX had a problem with its keyboards and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. One of the remedies was Dragon Dictate which we interfaced with the ATEX Operating system. Dragon Dictate went through some improvements in its recognition of utterances, especially those in say....Arabic. It is now owned by Nuance. The new product is DragonNet and is the backbone for Carnivore and Echelon.


10 posted on 04/04/2007 10:54:14 AM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: ShadowAce

Current TV will be on that heap in a year or so!


11 posted on 04/04/2007 10:55:15 AM PDT by Holicheese (I love shrimp and grits.)
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To: ShadowAce

I have VR glasses, a matchbox sized bluetooth laser projection keyboard, and an OQO pocket computer with WiFi. I go to an internet cafe, put on the glasses boot the computer (uses full up version of Xp Pro) and light up the laser keyboard, wham - surfing and posting on the web with a fullup computer on a 70” screen I can fit in my pocket.

How cool is that. :-)


12 posted on 04/04/2007 10:55:24 AM PDT by RadioAstronomer (Senior and Founding Member of Darwin Central)
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To: Holicheese

Yup. Why I just bought a Pioneer 50” HD plasma. :-)


13 posted on 04/04/2007 10:55:59 AM PDT by RadioAstronomer (Senior and Founding Member of Darwin Central)
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To: ShadowAce
Flooz's commercials featuring Whoopi Goldberg received the most attention.

Floozy.

14 posted on 04/04/2007 10:56:07 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: ShadowAce
DAT survived a while for professional recording applications

Like Betamax, this is still around in the professional world because it is simply a superior product. Back when I worked in radio, we did everything on DAT or Minidisc.

But I liked the Apple Newton. Some of those are still on eBay, but they sure do go for way more than they are worth.

15 posted on 04/04/2007 10:56:37 AM PDT by Publius Valerius
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To: ShadowAce

I will throw in the Apple IIGS.

A almost bought one of those boondoggles. Fortunately, they were too expensive and I got an Amiga 500 instead.


16 posted on 04/04/2007 10:57:13 AM PDT by Smogger (It's the WOT Stupid)
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To: martin_fierro
Oh, my.

How ... distasteful.

17 posted on 04/04/2007 10:57:28 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: ShadowAce
Betamax was a flop only in marketing.

Well it lost the "format war" to VHS, so people stopped making Beta tapes or players. I suppose you could argue that it was not really a flop, but was simply displaced by a similar product. I still remember 8-tracks, which were moderately successful for a while ;-)

18 posted on 04/04/2007 10:57:28 AM PDT by RebelBanker (May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.)
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To: ShadowAce

I’m thinking Windows Vista may join Lisa and NeXT as a flop that will be replaced by something similar but not blighted by initial ridicule. Economic pressure seems to have compelled MS to release Vista a couple of years before it is ready.


19 posted on 04/04/2007 10:58:02 AM PDT by js1138 (The absolute seriousness of someone who is terminally deluded.)
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To: ShadowAce
The Segway was the biggest flop.

“IT” will never come close to living up to all the hype.

“IT” will not “change the way cities are designed”.

20 posted on 04/04/2007 10:58:59 AM PDT by ryan71 (You can hear it on the coconut telegraph...)
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To: massgopguy
I’d argue that speech recognition was a flop.

It still is.

21 posted on 04/04/2007 11:00:28 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Holicheese
>Current TV will be on that heap in a year or so!

But it's been around
for more than 50 years. That
can't be called a flop!

22 posted on 04/04/2007 11:00:30 AM PDT by theFIRMbss
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Meter maids in Seattle ride these. A conservative candidate for state legislature rented one last election cycle and used it to doorbell in his district. He claims it was a great conversation starter...still lost.


23 posted on 04/04/2007 11:00:46 AM PDT by bigfootbob
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To: ShadowAce
The PCjr was both expensive and unpleasant to use. Its infamous chiclet keyboard was wireless, but the raised keys -- kind of like BlackBerry keys that overdosed on growth hormone -- were uncomfortable to use for basic tasks like touch-typing. And, in another burst of dubious inspiration, PCjr didn't come with a hard drive. Instead, programs were contained on cartridges that you plugged into the front of the device.

Kinda like the first Trash-80 CoCo's......
LOL

24 posted on 04/04/2007 11:01:33 AM PDT by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: ShadowAce

Soon to be added: Zune.


25 posted on 04/04/2007 11:01:55 AM PDT by twntaipan (If you haven't done so, you NEED to read Mark Steyn's book "America Alone")
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To: ryan71; Petronski; Tijeras_Slim
“IT” will never come close to living up to all the hype.
“IT” will not “change the way cities are designed”.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

26 posted on 04/04/2007 11:01:57 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: ryan71

“IT” makes you look like a fag when you ride one!


27 posted on 04/04/2007 11:02:58 AM PDT by Holicheese (I love shrimp and grits.)
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To: RebelBanker
so people stopped making Beta tapes or players

True in the mass market, not true with professionals. As the article alludes, Betamax, until very recently, was used by probably every single television studio in the country.

28 posted on 04/04/2007 11:03:12 AM PDT by Publius Valerius
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To: randog

“Just as futurists in the 1950s boldly but inaccurately predicted that computers would cut our work days in half, offices without paper have turned out to be a pipe dream.”

Someone will have to explain to me why school districts who had 50 administrators, put in computers to cut the work and then hired another 50 administrators.

All the while showing no increase in students.


29 posted on 04/04/2007 11:04:22 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (The Clintons: A Malignant Malfeasance of the Most Morbid)
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To: RadioAstronomer

Add to that my iPod Nano and a small battery powered DVD player. I can have a home theater, computer, & stereo all on my person as I walk down the street. Toss my robot dog in the Vette, throw a solar panel in the back and I am set!

LOL!


30 posted on 04/04/2007 11:04:51 AM PDT by RadioAstronomer (Senior and Founding Member of Darwin Central)
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To: ShadowAce

I’m surprised Windows ME is absent from the list. Worst. Operating system. Ever.


31 posted on 04/04/2007 11:06:20 AM PDT by lesser_satan (FRED THOMPSON '08)
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To: AnotherUnixGeek

Two words...

Re-Wind...

Having spent many hours in the studio using DATs, I am aware of some of their advantages over CDs, but the buying public will never embrace a literal digital cassette. Sounds better, but just as much of a hassle.

IMHO


32 posted on 04/04/2007 11:06:27 AM PDT by cliniclinical (space for rent)
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To: js1138

I have been an MS beta tester since win95 but I have never installed a fresh-released os on my main machine. I always wait a year or so until they get all of the bugs out. I’ll do that with Vista also.


33 posted on 04/04/2007 11:09:53 AM PDT by El Gran Salseron (The World-Famous, popular DJ and FReeper Canteen Certified, Equal-Opportunity, Male-Chauvinist-Pig!)
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To: Publius Valerius

Good point! However, I believe the article was focusing more on consumer products - especially those that were way over-hyped. I do not remember any ad wars between Beta and VHS, just the relative amount of space allocated to each in the local video rental place.


34 posted on 04/04/2007 11:09:54 AM PDT by RebelBanker (May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.)
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To: AnotherUnixGeek
We'll never know whether DAT on it's own merits would have been a flop.

DAT got pretty popular in Europe, especially among musicians and audiophiles. But the costs were high due to low volume, which was due to this law.

35 posted on 04/04/2007 11:10:05 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: ShadowAce
They err with the inclusion of DAT. DAT is widely used in the professional recording industry.

The flops were Sony's MiniDisc and Philip's DCC (Digital Compact Cassette.) But even the MiniDisc has found a home in professional recording, just a consumer flop. DCC is DEAD.


36 posted on 04/04/2007 11:10:22 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: ShadowAce
I remember having Qube back when it launched. Hard to believe 30 years have passed already.
37 posted on 04/04/2007 11:10:41 AM PDT by Pox (Just say NO to RINO Rudy!)
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To: martin_fierro

Ultimate fag-transportation...


38 posted on 04/04/2007 11:11:04 AM PDT by johnny7 ("Issue in Doubt." -Col. David Monroe Shoup, USMC 1943)
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To: RadioAstronomer
How cool is that. :-)

Really, really cool ... if, by cool, you mean totally geeky. ;^)

39 posted on 04/04/2007 11:12:01 AM PDT by LexBaird (98% satisfaction guaranteed. There's just no pleasing some people.)
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To: ShadowAce

WebTV was stupid as a lone paid-for device. But the beta Opera browser in my Wii isn’t too bad for being on a TV. The Wiimote lets me pan around the page pretty quick.


40 posted on 04/04/2007 11:12:33 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: ShadowAce

try “Xybernaut” the ‘wearable” computer!


41 posted on 04/04/2007 11:13:16 AM PDT by databoss
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To: ShadowAce

I believe the Sony PS3 will be added to this lit when it is all said and done.


42 posted on 04/04/2007 11:14:45 AM PDT by Jalapeno
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To: martin_fierro

Too bad that “white stuff” wasn’t Plaster-of-Paris !!!

That would sure make me Whoopi - :-)


43 posted on 04/04/2007 11:15:03 AM PDT by Jambe
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To: ShadowAce
This thread hurt. I was an early adopter of several of these failures. :(

I was an OS/2 Warp beta tester and had a lot of good expectations about it going up against MS Windows. I still know how to crash this 'crashless' operating system by doing nothing more than manipulating the tools IBM gave you to customize your UI. I submitted that bug and they never fixed it.

I'm also pretty sure I can find a dusty old Newton in a box in the garage.

44 posted on 04/04/2007 11:16:19 AM PDT by The KG9 Kid
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To: ShadowAce

Some of these ideas bombed because the technology wasn’t there, some bombed because the marketing was awful, and some bombed because the idea just sucked.

But the “paperless office” idea will never work because of people and their habits and ideas. We have one supervisor at my company that requires that all her workers print off a copy of every e-mail they recieve so that there is a paper trail of communication.

How can e-mail help cut her paper use when she requires a print our of every e-mail? Well, obviously it can’t. I get route mail daily that could have been sent to me by e-mail. Why? Because some people have to hold a piece of paper in their hand in order for it to be a “memo” or a “report”.

So while a lot of these ideas make me laugh, the failure of the “paperless” office is very sad indeed.


45 posted on 04/04/2007 11:16:27 AM PDT by Anitius Severinus Boethius
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To: ShadowAce

bump


46 posted on 04/04/2007 11:18:38 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (Democrats in Republican Clothing ... DIRC ... They are the knives in the back of the GOP.)
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To: ShadowAce
E-books are an idea that’s bound to come some day, the readers will have to be a lot cheaper than the $350 Sony wants for theirs, though. If they drop below $100 with good features then they'll take off.
47 posted on 04/04/2007 11:19:20 AM PDT by jordan8
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To: ShadowAce

Thanks for this. I teach and do research in information management and always have to tell the ‘kids’ that technology is not always the answer and that newest is not always the best.

I couldn’t get a visual of Bob and did a quick Google search. http://toastytech.com/guis/bob.html has a nice walkthru of the Bob screens and how it was used. I had something similar to this on an old Packard Bell, tho I don’t recall it having a name.

One tool that I thought would take off was the Cuecat. I got one for free and thought it was neat, tho those feelings were mostly based on the press. I’m not sure if, after installing it, I ever actually used it. I would love to get additional info on products while in the store, but that’s the kind of person I am. Apparently others were not so inclined. http://cuecat.com/


48 posted on 04/04/2007 11:21:14 AM PDT by radiohead (They call me DOCTOR radiohead.)
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To: Publius Valerius
Betamax was not used by every single television studio in the country. Betacam was. Both Betamax and Betacam used the same cassette, but entirely different recording formats. A 60 minute Betamax cassette was a 20 minute Betacam tape.

Then there was the replacement/enhancement, Betacam SP which used metal tape. And what we use at our station, BetaSX, a digital recording format.

Betamax died because Sony was greedy and wouldn't license the technology to other manufacturers until it was way too late, when they licensed Toshiba to make one model of recorder.

JVC, the owner of the VHS format, would license anybody, including relatively unknown South Korean manufacturers Samsung and Goldstar. They flooded the market with $99 recorders when a Betamax went for $499.

The format wars was won on price, not performance.

49 posted on 04/04/2007 11:25:12 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: randog

Ditto, that. My favorite part of the dotcom bust was the great commercials. The marching band, attacked by wolves; the surgery patient with money out the wazoo and yes, the pets.com sock puppet.


50 posted on 04/04/2007 11:25:49 AM PDT by rabidralph
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