16 Tech Innovations that didn’t quite stick
You might remember the products. You might remember the hype. Then, you are tooling down highway 41 years later and all of a sudden you think to yourself – “Hey, whatever happened to…”
Failed ideas. Maybe it was a great idea, but wasn’t made right, or design errors brought it down. Maybe it was just a bad product. Well, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see if we cannot repeat these errors again.
Oh yeah, why 16? Well because we could.
The Computer Watch: Whether it was the Ruputer, the MSN Direct ‘Smart’ Watches, the Timex Data Link Watch or another gadget watch – BTW – I remember having a “Transformers watch”. It was awesome!
Still, the Dick Tracey style communication watches, the “Computer on a wrist”, never really hit it off. I even remember a watch that gave you directions. You would put in the paper tape and turn a little dial to indicate where you are and where you are going.
Blu-Ray: It may have won the battle, but it never won the war. For all of 2007, we wondered whether it would be HD-DVD or Blu-Ray that would be the next generation of discs we could get from Blockbuster and Netflix. Who would have thought that the winner would also be the looser?
While I do admit that Blu-Ray is superior to DVD, it behooves me to think “Will there ever be a day where you say ‘Nah. It’s good enough’?” Could there even be a product that is so sharp and so clear that it could hurt our eyes?
– When I was in the airport returning to Vegas last week, I saw an old lady in a wheelchair using one. She was checking her email. BTW – Other airports should take a lesson from Las Vegas: FREE WIFI.
Anywho, technically the OLPC is still producing. However , with all the hype that it had, we should have seen this computer more than once in a Vegas airport.
Now, the old OS interface – Sugar – is being retrofitted on older computers. It might spawn a life of it’s own, while One Laptop Per Child continues to flop around like a fish out of water.
Gizmondo: Two handheld game consoles made the list. This first one was brought out in 2006 by Tiger while the Gizmondo 2 was suppose to come out in Dec. of 2009. Well, the first one didn’t really dent the market. While it had some great games from companies like EA – not to mention the size of today’s cell phones – People didn’t seem to get behind it.
As of right now, Gizmondo 2 is still slated for November 2009, but don’t be surprised if this turns up on the Vaporware 2009 lists.
nGage: I remember when I got my Motorola Razr that this device was coming out and I contemplated waiting for it. I decided I needed a new phone that day (it was a moral imperative). I guess it was a good thing that I didn’t get it, because it didn’t last. And oh yeah, it didn’t have a camera.
It was suppose to rival the Gameboy Advanced while being a mobile phone. While the nGage name still lives on in a smartphone, the handheld gaming system is part of the “Free” box at the garage sale.
The Tamagotchi was the pet on a keychain. You would have to feed them and take care of them or else they would die. But heck – it’s an electronic wonder, so that’s OK. It was the technical version of the Pet Rock except you had to actually take care of this pet rock.
While the Tamagotchi was pretty big in Japan, it was only a small fad for a little while in the states. Tamagotchi is still around, but not in the same way. I suppose though you could find one at Goodwill or something.
DreamCast: Sega’s next big system was going to be the best system in the world. Then Xbox came out. Then Game cube. Suddenly Sega wasn’t seeing any profit out of the DreamCast. Finally Sega said they were getting out of the market and solely working on games.
Amstrad [email protected] Telephone: I know – It looks like a cash register. Actually, there were a few different “Email appliances” out there. You would dial in to your ISP, send and receive email, then disconnect and read, then write.
It does have some decent applications to it. It would make a good TTY phone and it does have video capabilities. Still, if you are living in an analog phone world, this would be perfect. Otherwise, you could just do all that from your computer and Skype.
Apple Newton: At the time, we were getting a handle on PDAs. Apple was in a downward turn after John Sculley replaced Steve Jobs and the Newton was going to be the new wave. There was a small following, but it never really hit big.
When Steve Jobs came back, he discontinued this product. However, the Newton was not a total loss – the original iPod OS was based on a version of the Newton OS.
The Bob program took over your desktop and made it more “Fun” while putting productivity at your fingertips. However putting an interface over an OS on a computer can take even more resource. Bob became a cumbersome program and really wasn’t working as well as they thought. Windows 98 marked the end of Bob.
There are companies still trying to do alternate interfaces. Like we stated earlier – Sugar is an overlay OS. While it is not graphically intense as Bob, it still does the same thing.
DiVX: This was a failure on one level, but a success on another. Divx used the MPEG-4 format since the start and the system was impressive at the time. It became an underground sensation as people would rip DIVX movies and shows. Of course there was also an issue of piracy.
Those still using Divx, you should thank the now Defunct Circuit City for pushing this format.
Syncronys SoftRAM: SoftRAM was the ability to double your memory in your computer. However, in order to do it, it needed more hard drive space. But back when you had your 486 computer and memory was $40 a meg, this was a cheap way to help with your computer.
Nobody said it was faster, though.
There was an issue by the FTC that brought forth a question of if SoftRAM was misleading and fraudulent (since you could manually do the same thing SoftRAM did). While no prosecution was done, SoftRAM fell into the night – especially when memory became cheaper to buy.
PointCast Network: I had Pointcast Network. It was called “Push” technology. Basically, it would get news and information, then when the screensaver turned on, it would show that news, weather and a lot more.
While Iomega had a great run, it never really did what it said – replace the floppy disk. In fact, nobody replaced it. I still believe it was because nobody offered it to manufacturers for a low price or Open source. See, if you would have made the drive Open to redistribute, you could make the money on the disks.
CD’s did have the advantage with the CD-R being really cost effective. If you watched the boards, you could get 100 CD-R’s for 20 cents a disk. Still, if Iomega would have opened up their technologies, they might have stuck around a little longer.
DigiScents iSmell: Well, it’s exactly what it says. You plug it into the USB port and certain smells would come across depending on which website you visit. Give you a new sense on browsing. You could also seal scents in an email if you wanted.
Could you imagine what would have happened if that took off and it was part of the iPhone? The iFart app would have taken on a whole new idea.
WebTV: Once again, this was a great idea and perfect for those who couldn’t get cable and didn’t want a computer. You basically hook up the box to the TV and surf the web and email right from your living room. Of course technology got past the box. MSN rebranded the system and you can still get it as MSNtv, but why wouldn’t you want to get a computer, or even an XBOX?
So do you remember a gadget or gizmo that didn’t quite make it? What is it? Tell us about it!