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Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, it’s clear many products people thought were great at the time don’t look so great any more. In fact most weren’t all that hot when new. Yet many continue to worship them as if they were even better than sliced bread.

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  1. 1. August 1, 2011 10 ‘great’ technologies products back with hindsight 10 ‘great’ technologies products back with ped plastic earns vinyl a spot on our curmudgeon’s hindsight top 10. “Sure, vinyl records sound warmer than digital, wha- Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, it’s clear many tever that means to you,” says Troy Davis, CTO for products people thought were great at the time don’t coupon marketing site CoupSmart (and a graduate look so great any more. In fact most weren’t all that of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory hot when new. Yet many continue to worship them of Music). “But that’s because of low-level distor- as if they were even better than sliced bread. tion inherent in the process of scraping vinyl to reproduce complex, high-frequency information, Well, enough of that. Here are ten technologies not some magical hippie goodness that comes from that don’t deserve all those accolades. Join us as the forces of nature.” we stumble down memory lane and tip over a few sacred cows. 9. Segway PT (2001) 10. Vinyl records (1948) It was supposed to revolutionize personal transpor- tation. Jeff Bezos was an early investor, and Steve Jobs allegedly predicted future cities would be de- signed around them. But when the first Segways rolled off the production lines, most of us uttered a collective “Huh?” Who uses them today? Tour guides, Google employees, mall cops (at least, the Hollywood version), and a handful of stubborn Se- gway devotees who’ve managed to rack up nearly 4 million miles on them… very, very slowly.joliprint We’re not big fans of compact discs or evangelists for MP3s. But the utter devotion “audio purists” pay to those hissing, popping, scratched-up slags of war- Printed with Page 1
  2. 2. August 1, 2011 10 ‘great’ technologies products back with hindsight 8. Apple Lisa 1 (1983) 7. Amazon Kindle (2007) The Lisa is often hailed as the first personal com- With its boxy shape, clumsy keypad, and putty color, puter to sport a graphical user interface (but only the original Kindle looked like the bastard offspring by those who conveniently ignore the Xerox Alto, of an IBM PC and a Texas Instruments calculator. built a decade earlier). That — and a $10,000 price The no-glare screen looked great, thanks to its E- tag — are really its only claims to fame. Yet some Ink electronic paper; but so did the Sony Reader, fanboys still can’t let go of Lisa, even though Apple which had been using E-Ink technology for more did, burying the last 2,700 of them in a landfill in than a year. The Kindle’s primary advantage was 1989. it let you download book directly via Sprint’s wi- reless Whispernet. But that also allowed Amazon to “The Lisa is only noteworthy for being Mac-like be- undownload books, as we discovered in July 2009 fore the Mac was released,” notes Dave Farquhar, a when when Amazon deleted unauthorized copies network security engineer who writes The Silicon of Animal Farm and 1984 from users’ Kindles. Underground blog. “It was unreliable, there was no software for it beyond what was shipped with it, and nobody bought it.”joliprint Printed with Page 2
  3. 3. August 1, 2011 10 ‘great’ technologies products back with hindsight 6. CP/M (1973) 5. 8-bit video games (1981) Sure, the original versions of Space Invaders, Frog- Before Windows there was DOS, and before DOS ger, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario are “classic” there was the Control Program for Micro compu- video games, but only in the same way that “Who’s ters, or CP/M. (Before CP/M? Typewriters.) As the the Boss?” is classic TV or Culture Club is classic legend goes, had CP/M developer Gary Kildall of rock. Like many products of the 1980s, the chunky, Digital Research Inc. not blown off a meeting with two-dimensional games don’t stand up well to the IBM about licensing a version of his OS in 1980, DRI test of time. But never underestimate the power of might have ended up ruling the PC roost. Instead, pure nostalgia; nearly all of these “classics” have Bill Gates and Paul Allen adapted a clone of CP/M been reincarnated as Flash games. If you still like for Big Blue, and the rest is history. to play those, you’d probably also enjoy watching Tony Danza reruns on your VCR while listening to The problems with that story? 1. Kildall didn’t ac- Boy George on your Walkman. tually blow off the meeting; and 2. CP/M wasn’t really all that good, says Winn Schwartau, author ofIn- formation Warfare and chairman of smart phone security firm Mobile Active Defense. “A number of my friends still run Kaypro CP/M ma- chines because they’re still fast and not cluttered up by endless DLLs and other crap,” he says. “But I think CP/M was a kluge that fell far short from a usability standpoint.”joliprint Printed with Page 3
  4. 4. August 1, 2011 10 ‘great’ technologies products back with hindsight 4. Super Nintendo Entertainment System 3. Windows 95 (1995) (1991) Windows 95 was an enormous improvement on the various Microsoft operating systems that preceded When you’ve lived in an 8-bit gaming universe, mo- it. But that’s only because Windows versions 1.x, ving up to 16 bits is like cranking up the amps to 2.x, and 3.x set the bar so low that an ant could 11. But after a while then you come to realize that have tripped over it. A$300 million marketing louder isn’t necessarily better. While Nintendo sold campaign couldn’t hide the fact that Win95s “new” tens of millions of 16-bit Super NES units, it was har- features — like better multitasking and memory dly state of the art even back then, says Luis Levy, management, or a mouse friendly graphical inter- co-author of Play the Game: The Parent’s Guide to face — were already available from the Mac OS Video Games and co-founder of Novy PR. and IBM’s OS/2. It was still buggy, crash prone, and had trouble running older DOS games. And though “People used to adore the SNES for its cheesy Mode Win 95 didn’t come with the notoriously insecure 7 effects and ‘orchestral-quality’ music,” says Levy. Internet Explorer built in, IE eventually became “But the console was hampered by a dog-slow CPU part of the standard Win95 installation. An entire and a sound chip that severely crippled creativity generation of malware authors are in its debt. because it was sample-based. The Sega Genesis, which featured 6 FM and 4 Programmable Sound 2. Facebook (2004) Generator channels, was vastly superior.” Back when it debuted in Fe- bruary 2004, “Thefacebook” was a far cry from the750-joliprint million-member monster it is today. It looked more like LinkedIn marinated in beer and testosterone. You could Printed with create a profile, add friends, send messages, join groups — and that’s about it. The ability to view a steady stream of updates from your friends, share Page 4
  5. 5. August 1, 2011 10 ‘great’ technologies products back with hindsight photos and videos, and run apps all came later. This social network was pretty much all about seeing which coeds were available for hookups. (Not that CloudTag: technology , products , Hp pavilion dv5 there’s anything wrong with that.) batteries , Dell xps m1330 batteries , dell inspiron 1300 batteries , Dell d630 batteries The one thing the original Facebook was pretty good at? Privacy. Once it expanded beyond Harvard Yahd, you could only qualify for a Facebook account if you were matriculating at a major university. How Battery Technology Related Articles: things have changed. 1. Apple iPhone (2007) Browser and IQ: IE Users Have Lower IQ Than Users of Other Web Browsers Why Cloud Computing is Efficient – 4 Reasons The Only Thing You Ought To Know About Laptop Battery Upgrades | Battery Technology Transparent iPhone Is Not A Dream, Stanford re- searchers invent transparent li-ion battery Buying Guide: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro: Which Apple 13-incher should you buy? Buying an iPhone 3GS , The big pitfalls Why Apple may be vulnerable and alone in mobile Yeah, sure, the iPhone changed everything. But if you penetrate the reality distortion field and cast your 8 Simple Ways To Improve Laptop Battery Power | mind back to June 2007, you’ll realize the original Battery Technology iPhone was crap. Sure it had a multi-touch screen and all that whizzy interface stuff. But remember, How to Make Your Laptop Run Quieter and Cooler this was a 2G phone — and we’re talking AT&T 2G. The iPhone had no copy and paste function. No To read more good posts, please follow us on Twit- multimedia messaging. No push email or support ter: for Exchange. No GPS. No Java or Flash. You had Thank you!joliprint to jailbreak it to add these features on their own. Most important, when the iPhone debuted there was no app store. It was just a friggin’ phone — one that cost $600, plus a two-year commitment to the Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a com- Printed with world’s worst wireless company. ment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this Other Business News: delivered automatically to your feed reader. Page 5