Top 10 biggest tech failures

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Updated on 15 May, 2012 at 9:58 am


They were far away from their fates, they commercialized sickly, they went beyond their time or they became the victim of strategic miscalculations. We don’t know what was the exact reason but arguably we know their eventual results –  DESPOILATION OF AN INNOVATIVE IDEA. With straightforward parameters, Topyaps presents a list of the ten biggest tech failures with bundle of fumbles and blunders along with downright calamity.

10. Pen Computing:

This computer user-interface was conceptualized in 1980s as a pointing device, which was supposed  to replace the conventional mouse and keyboards with pen and tablets. During 1991-1994, this technology captured the computer market with an ardent receive. Initially, Microsoft launched the pen extension of its contemporary Windows 3.1 and later IBM, Toshiba, Samsung, EO, NCR, TelePad and other high profile companies launched this technology. However, this technology was hyped by the computer press but it failed due to its tough user interface. After continuing its journey on the cutting edge, Pen Computing, finally, vanished from the consumer market in 1995.

9. DIVX:

Digital Video Express (do not confuse with DivX, the video codec) was a pay-per-view format for the DVD player, which was started in 1998 by Circuit City, an American electronics retailer. To use this service, a phone line was required (to monitor the status of DIVX disc) along with an user account on DIVX. After purchasing the disk, viewers were expected to deposit certain amount to watch the videos further. The cost structure was not accepted by the general public and finally in July 2001, this service was phased out from the market.

8. Digital Audio Tape:

Introduced in 1987 by Sony, Digital Audio Tape was considered as the transformation of the old analogue cassette of 1980s. Unlike an analogue compact audio cassette, the Digital Audio Tape was recorded from only one side. Due to the issues of unauthorized digital quality copies, this playback and recording medium was knocked down in the consumer market. Between the fuss that this technology will encourage piracy, DAT, however, survived for some recording platforms but failed to accomplish its anticipation.


7. The Net PC:

It was an undeniably idea to launch this technology in the emerging market of sophisticated desktop PCs but it was neglected by users for being an extremely restricted devise. The Net PC (network computer) was launched in 1996 by Oracle Corporation, as a diskless desktop computer devise with minimum specifications. With the childlike functionalities, the Net PC was conceptualized to be placed on home, providing an easy access to the web and email. This technology faded away, when full-featured computers  entered in the market with reasonable prices.

6. Microsoft Bob:

Considered as one of the biggest failure in the history of Microsoft as well as touchstone of Internet humor, this technology was designed to provide a nontechnical interface to desktop computing operations. This ambitious project was developed for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 with a straightforward ambition to replace the Program Manager. This software was somewhat innovative but due to its lengthy tutorials and clumps of external information, it became virtually unserviceable for most of the novice users.

5. Bubble Memory:

This non-volatile magnetic memory technology was a hot choice of every major electronics company during 1970s. In this technology, a thin film of a magnetic material constitutes small magnetized area, called as domains or bubbles. Every single bubble was used to store one bit of data. No doubt, Bubble Memory was an anticipating technology of its time but the debut of cheap hard disks, EPROMs and Flash in the consumer market, vanished the fate and future scope of this technology.

4. Speech Recognition:

Based on the algorithm of Hidden Markov Model (HMM), this technology, first appeared in 1952 as a devise for recognizing the single spoken digits. In 1964, it came into the mainstream of international media with the launching of IBM Shoebox, a devise which was used to recognize digits 0 to 9 and 16 spoken words. The performance of this technology is usually determined in the terms of accuracy and speed, where accuracy is rated with Word Error Rate (WER) and speed with the Real Time Factor (RTF). However, this technology is admired in the fields of health care and battle management but still there are lot of flaws in its final output.

3. Virtual Reality:

Inspiration of various movies, books and television shows, this visualization tool was conceptualized for actualizing its users with a virtual environment. This technology dates back to 1860s, when panoramic murals were used to generate the 360-degree art but it was hyped in 1985, when Jaron Lanier, established the company VPL Research, which developed the virtual reality products. However, this technology was a brand new experience for your own imaginations but due to its high-priced equipments, this sophisticated phenomenon was washed out from the consumer market with insignificant impacts.

2. Internet Currency:

Conceptualized as a counterpart of the real money, Internet currency was introduced in the arena of web technology in 1995. With an expectation of wild success in e-commerce, this technology suggested a virtual money that could be used in purchasing any product, online. This technology was implemented by three major companies –, and, with the format of pre-paid cards, either in electronic form or physical form. Unluckily, this techno-hype concept was rammed by consumers, as they preferred credit cards and real money for online merchandising. All of the three companies were shut down in August 2001, after facing grievous accusations from consumers.


1. Apple Newton (MessagePad):

One of the most illustrious product of Apple that failed on market demands along with consumer expectations. Basically, Newton was an operating system, designed in 1987 as a personal digital assistant which lived up to today’s standards with sophisticated features. Based on the ARM 610 RISC processor, this device failed in the market for being a high-priced ($700-$1000) product and finally in 1998, its production was terminated.

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