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The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time 497

Khammurabi writes "PC World compiled a list of the 25 worst tech products of all time. From the article: 'At PC World, we spend most of our time talking about products that make your life easier or your work more productive. But it's the lousy ones that linger in our memory long after their shrinkwrap has shriveled, and that make tech editors cry out, "What have I done to deserve this?"' Number one on the list? AOL."
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The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

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  • Omnireader (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:35PM (#15412340)
    The Omnireader OCR. An early OCR scanner that read one line at a time, manually operated.
  • by random_amber ( 957056 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:46PM (#15412416)
    I personally loved my PCjr. It was my first computer and I waited anxiously for months on preorder for it! The keyboard actually didn't bother me at all, since half the computers we had had at school were Sinclair 1000s (and a fancier Sinclair, which also had a strange keyboard, though not as awful as the flat laminated Sinclair 1000 style).

    It also had more colors and a much better sound chip than the regular PC.

    IBM replaced the chicklet keyboard for free within 6 months or so with a regular one. and dont forget they were wireless keyboards! Pretty cool for 1984!

    Over all, my PCjr was a joy, and I loved it up until I got my Apple ][GS (which I loved, but a lot of others hated as well)

  • Re:Bad tech? Nah... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Onan ( 25162 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:03PM (#15412550)
    Yes, it's amazing how often "printer version" means "sane and less offensive to actual humans version."

    And if it's a site from which you read content more than a couple of times, there's a better solution than manually clicking on the printer version each time: use the uri transmogrifier of your choice (I love Pith Helmet [].) to automatically turn urls into their printer-version form.

  • Zip drives... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:04PM (#15412560)
    The original Zip drives were really pretty nice. The SCSI and IDE 100 meg drives were relatively fast too (for the time). People remember those drives as being painfully slow because many people had the external versions that connected via the *parallel port* (shudder). They managed to get a lot of Zip drives pre-installed in to machines but then they came out with a Zip 250 meg drive and several other variations. Of course the newer media didn't work on the older drives, but the worst part was the old 100 meg disks worked slow as heck in the newer drives because it had to do something special to write to them properly. What I think really killed them eventually was that the Zip disks were very expensive and the prices never went down!

    They really could have replaced the 1.44 floppy disk if they had tried hard enough. I still have my old blue iomega 100 SCSI zip drive chugging away but I don't use it as much any more now that USB flash drives are almost everywhere and can finally run on everything short of DOS.
  • Datalink is WHAT?!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RedHat Rocky ( 94208 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:09PM (#15412593)
    They dare? They DARE?!? They dare to disparage the Timex Datalink?!?!?


    I wore the crap out of my Datalink until it finally died in a pool in Arkansas of H2O exposure. Show me another watch that could sync up phone lists, memos and TIME to a PC and under linux no less (yes sir!). Not too bulky and had all the needed features. I'm talking the blinkly light version here, not the USB.

    Consider today's watchscape, the best that's out there are the "atomic" (*cough* radio sync) watches and for the most part none of them work quite as well or have the anywhere near the feature set of the Good Old Ironman Datalink.

    The best part was holding your breath long enough for the watch to finish the transfer without crapping out. Good times, good times.
  • by joebooty ( 967881 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:11PM (#15412610)

    The shoe fitting fluoroscope was a common fixture in shoe stores during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. A typical unit, like the Adrian machine shown here, consisted of a vertical wooden cabinet with an opening near the bottom into which the feet were placed. When you looked through one of the three viewing ports on the top of the cabinet (e.g., one for the child being fitted, one for the child's parent, and the third for the shoe salesman or saleswoman), you would see a fluorescent image of the bones of the feet and the outline of the shoes.

    The machines generally employed a 50 kv x-ray tube operating at 3 to 8 milliamps. When you put your feet in a shoe fitting fluoroscope, you were effectively standing on top of the x-ray tube. The only "shielding" between your feet and the tube was a one mm thick aluminum filter. Some units allowed the operator to select one of three different intensities: the highest intensity for men, the middle one for women and the lowest for children.

    Naturally children loved this gadget and kids were getting months of radiation exposure every chance they could get! I know the list is all modern technology but this product is so magically horrid it should get honorary mention...
  • by sizzzzlerz ( 714878 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:47PM (#15412862)
    Yes, I know its distribution was limited but OMG what a piece of shit! Word 5 was zippy (for its day), wasn't overloaded with unused features, and conformed to the Mac interface standards. Word 6 comes along (on 24 floppies, no less), takes hours to install, took 5 minutes to launch, and would crash repeatedly. Worst of all, MS tried to implement a Windows look-and-feel on the Mac and ended up with what I consider the absolute worse piece of software I have ever used. I even seem to recall MS apologizing for later, but that may have happened during one of my 'nam flashbacks.

    Strangely, I haven't trusted MS since.

  • Pointcast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nsayer ( 86181 ) <nsayer @ k f u . c om> on Friday May 26, 2006 @06:03PM (#15412971) Homepage
    I actually ran Pointcast on a spare laptop in the living room back in the day. I actually thought it was pretty useful.

    Once in the middle of the night I got up and went out to the kitchen for a snack. Our cat was on the back of the couch staring at the Pointcast screensaver. She was transfixed. Everytime it would change, she would twitch a little. She loved to watch it while we were sleeping. I guess she liked the contrasting colors and movement.

    I wrote a note to the Pointcast folks about this. They were quite amused. They sent me a T-shirt. I thought that was nice of them.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire