Innovation has brought the technology in this country and abroad to great heights. But what happened to the technology that got us this far? Apple didn’t just come up with the iPhone; they worked up to it, releasing technology and devices that have become hits (as well as burned out disappointments). We’ve seen a lot of failed tech over the years, so let’s take a look at the top five tech flops of all time.
1. The Apple Newton
This ridiculously huge Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) was released in 1993. Soon after, it became the punchline of talk show hosts, as well as comic strips like Doonesbury. One reason the Newton died so fast was the notable handwriting recognition inaccuracy of the device. The $700 to $1,000 price tag associated with the device could also have had something to do with it. That’s still a lot of money today, not to mention in ’93. Apple’s Newton burned out slowly, but helped build a solid foundation for PDA’s that came after it.
We’re not talking about the still popular video codec. DIVX came about in the late 1990s and was much like Redbox or Netflix’s physical DVD rental service. Circuit City came up with DIVX as a service by which one could rent movies on DIVX discs that could be watched for two days and then thrown away or recycled. A fee was charged beyond the two-day viewing time limit. In order to watch these discs, one would have to go to Circuit City and buy a DIVX player. It may have been simply bad timing on Circuit City’s part, as DVDs were just starting to take off, and tech companies were now starting to format more and more advanced players for DVDs. DIVX was spawned in 1998, and by 1999 it was hardly thriving.
3. IBM’s PC, jr.
In 1984 IBM released PC, jr. Many have said that it was released way before its time and was very poorly designed. IBM had hoped it would catch on as an inexpensive version of the home PC. IBM was somewhat rushed into the idea, as the fan anticipation was at an all-time high, and even major magazines were devoting their pages to it. The Apple II and Commodore 64 systems were dominating the small markets back then. PC, jr. turned out to be way more expensive than IBM had hoped, and it was really troublesome to operate. It was running from pre-installed programs on cartridges instead of a hard drive. Cartridges were plugged into the front of the unit. This fact attributed to its pull from the market in 1985. IBM tried later on with their PS/1 but it quickly failed as well.
4. Microsoft Bob
Early Microsoft users will remember the 1995 cartoonish graphical interface of Windows 3.1. Microsoft was worried about its non-technical users becoming confused or unable to navigate Windows 3.1. It turned out that Bob was a little slower than the users Microsoft was worried about. Users actually found Bob to be an insult to their intelligence, and Microsoft received many complaints. The cartoon interface was supposed to help users with tasks, but instead just made them mad. The cartoon-like characters have persisted in the Windows help system, even after the demise of Bob.
5. Apple Lisa
The Apple Lisa was released in 1983, alongside Macintosh. Unlike the Macintosh, Lisa didn’t go anywhere. It came complete with graphical interface as well as multi-task supporting, but was SUPER, SUPER, slow–like, really, really, really slow AND expensive. Did I mention how slow it was? Lisa turned out to be quite the expensive date, coming in at just under $10,000. Apple sowed Lisa’s fate when it released it’s less cumbersome, less expensive, and lightning fast (compared to Lisa) Macintosh the next year.
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