We live in a world of rapidly growing technology. Exciting advancements are being made every day, and the world at large is completely transforming right before our eyes.
However, for every fascinating and successful technology, there are numerous ones that have failed – for reasons ranging from the hilarious to the outright dumb. Thefullapple takes a look back at 10 of its favourite failed technologies of the past century.
10. NASA’s Mars Orbiter: Yes, even rocket scientists are human. Unlike most humans however, a slight mistake made by a rocket scientist can result in the loss of a 338kg satellite, costing more $130 million. In 1999, NASA and British company Lockheed Martin worked together on a Mars Orbiter satellite, and alas, the Brits measured using inches while the rest of the team worked using metres. Sadly no one noticed and this fatal flaw lead to NASA losing the satellite altogether once it had reached space. As a result of the miscalculation, the satellite went too close to Mars, causing it to break through the upper atmosphere and disintegrate. We hope for the sake of our respect in the intergalactic community that no aliens were watching…
9. Cuecat: Launched in 2000, this QR code scanner was supposed to be a revolutionary technology that could scan a code and redirect the computer to the appropriate webpage. Certain catalogues were inundated with scan codes. However, there was no real market, it serviced a very specific need and the idea got no traction. To make matters worse there was a big controversy as it transpired that Cuecat would send information about its users back to its servers. Yes would you believe it, data privacy has always been a massive concern, even before Facebook was founded.
8. Google+: Google’s social media website was meant as a direct competitor to Facebook and Twitter. The social network has been variously described as “an industry joke” and a “dead horse of a social network.” It has gone through 4 complete revamps and now has over 2.5 billion users. However, over 90% of these users have no idea they are on Google+, or simply don’t care, as they have never made a post. If you have a Gmail account, you’ve already been automatically signed up. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting they have failed, Google continues to persist and try to break into Facebook and Twitter’s market share. Looks like Google is going to try, try again on social media before they fail, fail again.
7. The Segway: Steve Jobs himself once said that the segway “was as big a deal as the PC.” He wasn’t alone in hyping it up. John Doerr, a prominent venture capitalist, predicted that it would reach $1 billion faster than any company in history and could be as big as the internet (yes, we’re still talking about the segway) whilst others said it would change how cities were laid out and overtake walking in popularity. However, a mixture of high price and failure to comply with regulation (they are unlawful to ride outside of private property in the UK) has meant that where Dean Kamen, its inventor, expected to be selling 10,000 a week, but has instead sold a total of 30,000 in the past 6 years.
6. The Car Exhaust Grill: This is not a joke. It really exists. You attach the extension below to the exhaust pipe of your car and drive around. Heat from the exhaust gasses cooks the burger. So there you have it. Would you like chips and salad with your medium rare cancer patty? One of the most mind boggling inventions we have seen. Somehow thefullapple doesn’t think it will catch on.
5. The Curved Barrel Machine Gun: An old timer, released in 1953, the curved barrel machine gun was meant to allow soldiers to shoot around corners of walls whilst not exposing any of their bodies to enemy fire. The fundamental flaw being that it was impossible to see where you were shooting.
4. Twitter Peek: Peek became famous for its successful Peek Email device that created a slick smartphone looking device that just allowed users to answer emails very effectively. However, when it tried to apply the same concept to Twitter, things went somewhat pear shaped. Peek were surprised to find that no one was willing to spend $99 for a 6-month plan or $200 for a lifetime plan to use a device solely dedicated at allowing you to tweet. #whatweretheythinking #twittersgreatbutnotthatgreat #thanksbutnothanks
3. Microsoft ME: Microsoft ME is a horrifically bad operating system. It was slower than Hilary Clinton trying to figure out the subway, more prone to virus attacks than Charlie Sheen, crashed with less remorse than Salman Khan and was even difficult to switch off! Microsoft ME was really just very bad, but believe it or not, it’s still not the worst thing to ever come out of Microsoft (although it put up a good fight).
2. DigiScents iSmell: In the words of PC World Magazine, “few products literally stink, but this one did.” DigiScents’ bright idea was to create a product that contained a cartridge with 128 primary odours which could be mixed in various ways allowing you to smell the internet. The idea was that any website or email would have its own smell. While this idea may not be completely unrealistic for today’s virtual reality devices, (by adding the new dimension of smell VR could be made more lifelike), it was released in 2001 when virtual reality was not as developed. The only possible use we can think of for such a ridiculous idea is the chance to sample perfumes online before buying them. Unsurprisingly, the product never made it past prototype stage.
1. Microsoft BoB: We’re finally there. The biggest tech fail of all time. Tech whizzes tend to be people of extremes. At one end of the spectrum you could be given a user interface so complicated that you need programming experience to use it, while at the other end you’re forced to use a user interface so dumbed down, stupid and childish that it will mock the intelligence of the user. Microsoft BoB (released in 1995) was a great example of the latter – we’re not making this up, you can check out the demo here. The cartoon interface was meant to resemble a living room or office and the user was walked through tasks in excruciating detail by cartoon characters. Now please use your mouse or trackpad to scroll down by clicking on the shaded bar on the right of your screen and dragging it right down as far as it will go. In the box saying ‘Email Address’ on the left, enter your email address and click subscribe.