In-depth

Top of the flops: 10 pieces of tech that died before they’d lived

We run down some of the key tech inventions of our time that didn’t last the distance.

The costs associated with the development, research and production of a new technology are gigantic.

Over the course of the last 20 years there have been some huge advancements in technology, as well as a few steps backwards. We take a look at 10 technologies that promised so much, but then faded away.

Microsoft Passport

The original idea was to have a universal ID - called Passport - that users' could use for everything web based. Basically, you could travel the net using your Passport, which would - in theory - serve as your on-line identification, removing the need for constantly re-registering your details on new sites.

However, fears grew rapidly about Microsoft gaining an unhealthy control over the internet. It already held somewhat of a monopoly over operating systems, and Passport was deemed as one step too far.

Apple's Newton

Before our present generation of pocket PCs and all-singing, all-dancing smartphones, there was Apple's Newton. Released during the early 90s, the Newton was apparently a rushed job, designed to dominate what Apple saw back then as a potentially huge market: the pen computing and handwriting recognition PDA market.

Unfortunately, not even Apple's slick marketing could save the Newton. The product wasn't popular, and very expensive at $700 dollars a pop. Additionally, hand writing recognition never really took off, even to this day. That said, the Newton did pave the way for more successful PDA models, and in this sense was something of a pioneer - albeit a doomed one.

Tablet PCs

PCs, laptops, and notebooks are all great and they are almost a necessity for most people. However, if history has taught us any lessons about technology it is this: the computer will never replace paper, or indeed man's greatest achievement to date, the written word.

Instead of typing, you scribble on the screen and software converts it into text. However, there is one problem with this novel idea: most people can type faster than they write. So, surely this type of technology is counter productive?

Just don't tell Bill Gates, apparently he's still convinced that one day, we'll all be using this technology.

E-books

Continuing technology's war on all things paper is the doomed electronic book, which just won't quit. Year-after-year there are new models, new ideas, and new devices released. For instance, Just last week, Readious showcased its new electronic reader complete with Flexiscreen technology.

Nevertheless, none of these devices have captured the public's attention, and are about popular as wooden trousers. Could Sony and Amazon's devices be the game changers here?

NeXT

Only Apple's Steve Jobs could make a large sum of money out of something that was essentially a failure.

Back in 1985, following his original split from Apple, Jobs launched NeXT, a company that provided high-end computers and platforms. Unfortunately, its systems and platforms did not sell well and, alas, never really took off in the consumer market.

Fortunately for Mr. Jobs though, Apple bought NeXT in 1996 for an estimated $400 million and the NeXT operating system went onto become a significant part of Mac OS X.

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