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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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  • Comment removed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:31PM (#15412297)
    Comment removed based on user account deletion
    • You're just saying that because I signed up with AOL under you, and you got 10 free hours.
    • Re:Bad tech? Nah... (Score:5, Informative)

      by jomegat ( 706411 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:39PM (#15412361)
      I always look for the "Printer Friendly" link when I run into an article like that. It generally renders the whole article as one continuous chunk, but it doesn't print it. That's a tip kids. Write it down.
    • by Kamiza Ikioi ( 893310 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:51PM (#15412462)
      I couldn't agree more. Already reading many comments on this article in other locations that are crying foul over AOL. Not that AOL was the best thing since sliced bread. But before other dial up ISPs, they were the only bread in town, unless you logged in to text services or one-at-a-time BBSs. Looking at AOL then, you see where the leap was made from online computing before 1989 and after. Color, pictures, multiuser chat, news, message boards, and email.

      Strange, that's pretty similar to what we have now. If you read what they complain about, it is painfully obvious that the writer is either some 16 year old AOL basher without a clue or worse, an old elitist that wonders, "Didn't we all have private (D)Arpanet connections?"

      Here's their complaints about AOL:

      "How do we loathe AOL? Let us count the ways. Since America Online emerged from the belly of a BBS called Quantum "PC-Link" in 1989, users have suffered through..."

      1. awful software
      2. inaccessible dial-up numbers
      3. rapacious marketing
      4. in-your-face advertising
      5. questionable billing practices
      6. inexcusably poor customer service
      7. enough spam to last a lifetime
      8. more expensive than its major competitors

      "This lethal combination earned the world's biggest ISP the top spot on our list of bottom feeders."

      It goes on to say:

      "AOL succeeded initially by targeting newbies, using brute-force marketing techniques. In the 90s you couldn't open a magazine (PC World included) or your mailbox without an AOL disk falling out of it. This carpet-bombing technique yielded big numbers: At its peak, AOL claimed 34 million subscribers worldwide, though it never revealed how many were just using up their free hours.

              Advertisement (This is an actual paste... sorry, PC world gave me IN-YOUR-FACE advertising.)

      Now, there are some valid arguments. For instance, they are notorious for screwing up your billing and not cancelling accounts properly. On the other hand, this article is targeting the original AOL. In your face advertising? Nobody but geeks knew what the net was in the early 90s. In the 90s, you couldn't exactly download the AOL client (more evidence this guy is 16). But let's go back.

      Awful software: What did you expect, it ran on Windows 3.1. It was probably the only useful thing a home user ever ran on Windows 3.1

      Inaccessible dial-up numbers: I had about 4 numbers locally, and most problems were because I screwed with my modem baud trying to squeeze out top speed.

      Marketing: Back then, you had to convince people that they had a reason to even buy a computer, let alone get online with it.

      Spam: We're placing the blame on AOL for this now?

      Expensive: That's certainly true. I remember a point when they charged over $6 an hour or there abouts. Let's just say that you used your AOL time wisely (downloading all the porn you could within an hour), hehe. Yes, it would be considered highway robbery these days. Then again, so many out there are willing to pay $2 for a tv show (free to watch on your very large TV) to play on a itsy bitsy iPod screen. I'd rather pay $6 an hour for my Internet connection.

      PCWorld probably made hundreds of thousands of dollars from AOL to carry their CDs for them. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
      • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:18PM (#15412655) Journal
        I was online with pictures, multiuser chat, news, message boards, and email in 1981, on both CompuServe and GEnie. AOL invented nothing. You have no idea what you are talking about.
        • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:43PM (#15412819)
          Different user base. Compuserv was far more targeted toward the geeks, and AOL was more newbie and family oriented. Prodigy and GEnie somewhere in the middle.

          Compuserv with those incomprehensible usernames ( was just too weird for most.

          AOL invented nothing.
          Neverwinter Nights in graphical format instead of text.

        • hey want to hear something cool (or maybe pathetic) - I *still* have an active compuserve account. It's only 2.95 a month so I figured, what the hell. They are owned by AOL and I don't even have the software, but I can still send and recieve email through POP and SMTP.

          Yeah, I was on compuserve on a 2400 baud modem attached to an apple IIgs way back in like 1992. I used to hang out in the anime chat room, "the usual restaurant" it was called. Ah, those were the days.
          • I used to be 72310,272, and "cgremlin" on the CB Simulator. I had my CIS account from 1986 (starting with a 1200 baud VenTel modem) until 1998 when they attempted to double-charge my account and got unreasonable about it. I really miss the '80s and early '90s - the online experience was totally different then, even though we all had dog-slow modems and almost everything was text-based - I don't expect the kids today that have only experienced the Internet in its current form could understand the appeal.
      • Inaccessible dial-up numbers: I had about 4 numbers locally, and most problems were because I screwed with my modem baud trying to squeeze out top speed.

        OTOH, to be fair to the article, in the month or two following when they first went to unlimited time it was near impossible to get anything but a busy signal, especially in the evening, and at least where I lived. We actually took to dialing the AOL number with our phone and, when we finally didn't get a busy signal, quickly hitting the sign-on. Usually th
      • I had a very brief employement with AOL last fall doing their tech support call center.

        ITs not in the past when things they did were rough. Today they are worse as they are freaking out how to keep their 7 million customers that are left and leaving by the day.

        Its not billing problems. Its intentional fraud that we are supposed to do to prevent you from leaving and charging everything for. If I recall the most cancellations an hour you were allowed to do was 4 an hour. (I could be off? ).

        Bad was not even th
    • If they put AOL as the worst - they're going to have to condemn all the latest raft of sites such as YouTube, MySpace etc - the only reason that AOL got a bad name on the Internet was because it flooded a bunch of morons into Usenet and IRC - these are now very much back seat technologies. The latest bringers of idiocy (and lots of great content, but generally idiocy) just haven't got the means to shove it in your face!

      See: []
    • Popup ads, the worst tech ever? Hardly, they are very succesfull, in fact this article had one. Well a DHTML popup but that is the same thing right?

      As for DRM, well that is still around and doing a brisk trade. Expect to see a lot more of it in the future.

      I think you and the article author mean two different things. He means tech that was a failure. Not tech that is hated.

      Big difference.

      Yes on a list of most hated tech DRM and popups would be serious contenders but that is a list for another time. Grant

    • Re:Bad tech? Nah... (Score:3, Informative)

      by SlayerDave ( 555409 )
      Uh, you complain about the article, but apparently failed to read it. The article is not about bad technology (who could deny that pop-up ads and DRM are terrible), but about bad technology products, i.e. discrete items and/or services produced and marketed by individual companies. The article discusses specific products, not general trends in broad sectors of industry.
    • by jeillah ( 147690 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @06:37PM (#15413153)
      Anyone else notice that at one time or another PC Weak ran articles that gave good reviews to almost all of the things in the top 25???
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:31PM (#15412304) Journal

    Good list... where's X10?

    And, if you include Windows ME, where's Windows 3.1? Actually, it might not be a bad idea to have an honorable mention "collection" entry and include all of the horrible Windows versions.... (95, CE, ME, NT)

    • Re:Missing entry (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      > Good list... where's X10?

      Lousy nasty sleazy company, but their product is cheap and works as intended. What's wrong with the product?

    • horrible Windows versions.... (95, CE, ME, NT)

      Reminds me of the User Friendly Sunday comic that announced the combined product "Windows CEMENT ... hard as a rock and thick as a brick."

  • by Penguinshit ( 591885 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:31PM (#15412305) Homepage Journal
    Windows ME
    • It's in the top 5, so you can't complain about that. After all, that's some pretty stiff competition.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      #1 on the list should be (Score:3, Funny)
      by Penguinshit (591885) on Friday May 26, @04:31PM (#15412305)

      Windows ME

      Don't you mean Windows Me running AOL from an Iomega Zip drive?

  • Zip Drive? (Score:4, Informative)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <> on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:32PM (#15412316)
    I had a zip drive and at the time it filled a large gap between the floppy and CD rewriteable (which was very costly).

    It was good in my opinion, it just never developed fast enough in terms of capacity.
    • by ad0gg ( 594412 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:37PM (#15412350)
      It was good in my opinion, it just never developed fast enough in terms of capacity.

      And it made cool clicking sounds after extended usage...

    • Yeah, I had to disagree with that one too. I had a SCSI ZIP drive, and it was fast enough (on a 450MHz P-II mind you) that I could work on it directly (as opposed to just copying files to/from). 100MB was plenty of space for my projects, and it made it easy to swap them with my cow-orkers.

      Hmmm, that reminds me, I'd better back up all those old disks before I decomission my old PC and can't access them anymore....
    • I agree...Those things were great for back-ups, especially when you didn't have a CD RW drive. I've heard a lot of stories about them dying, but both of mine still worked the last time I used them (around 2001-2002).
    • It was just to expensive and never really adopted as a standard. Meaning you had to bring your drive with you. Handy for downloading at work and then take it home where you were on pay by the minute dialup. Far superior to anything else at the time.

      The advance of cd burners (and later usb drives) coupled with the click of death and the high cost of zip disks and their small capacity just made them obsolete.

      It wasn't bad tech. Just had a very limited lifespan.

    • Re:Zip Drive? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ergo98 ( 9391 )
      I had a zip drive and at the time it filled a large gap between the floppy and CD rewriteable (which was very costly).

      Yeah, the list in question is hugely suspect, and many of the entries are inane. They jump between truly terrible tech, to products and companies that just didn't change with the market. The Zip drive was hugely important and successful (even if the "Clik!" had some technical faults). PointCast was a great solution as well, opening up a lot of people's eyes to the multimedia potential and in
    • Re:Zip Drive? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Onan ( 25162 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:15PM (#15412631)
      I also used and loved zip drives for a while, but their fatal flaw was what came to be affectionately known as the "click of death"; the head becoming so far misaligned that it would slide off the edge of the disk with a loud repetitive clicking sound.

      And if that was just the way old drives failed, that wouldn't have been such a big deal. The problem was the that click of death was, quite literally, contagious: the drives used tracks on disks to recalibrate their head placement.

      This meant that one bad drive would write disks with misaligned tracks, which could then be put into a previously-healthy drive, causing it to misalign its heads to the bad tracks, at which point it would write bad tracks to other disks, which when put into other drives would misalign their heads...

      You get the idea.

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:33PM (#15412320)
    But the "chiclet" keyboard should've been listed separately. When I saw the new MacBook laptops having a similiar design, I freaked out until I tried it out at the Apple store. You can count on Steve Jobs to re-invent an old technology dog.
    • 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)

  • Packard Bell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CPIMatt ( 206195 ) * on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:34PM (#15412329)
    I am surprised that Packard Bell didn't make the list. They made some pretty crappy computers in the late 80s.

    • It's quite funny that my longest-lived PC was a packard bell pentium 166. Ran for 10 years until I ran out of excuses to keep such an old machine sucking juice.

      All I had to do was replace the fan once, and replace the memory when it was new. (grr)

      The service sucked, the machines were subpar in general, but this one was like the gremlin that hit a million miles.

    • My college SO had a Packard Hell.

      We held the video ram in place with a piece of electrical tape. If we didn't, jostling the case caused the SOB to fall out, and we'd have to tip the case over to rattle the RAM chip out.
  • by madnuke ( 948229 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:35PM (#15412339)
    The Apple laptop that boasted about its internal wirless card but was made of titanium and so there was no signal?
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:36PM (#15412346) Journal
    Lotus Notes has got to have a place on that list -- hell, it should be on the list of The 1 Worst Tech Product Of All Time. And if you weight items by the number of people forced to use them, it'd be even more dominant.

    Microsoft Bob continues to take a beating that I think is unfair. (I wonder how many of the people who talk about it have ever seen it.) It was pretty useless, true, but it was also an attempt to be genuinely innovative, and deserves credit for failing while trying to do something really new.

  • AOL, Realplayer, WinME... These people know what they're talking about.
    • for once i agree with an artical like this.. some of them (the zip drive) i didn't think should be up there yea it clicked but that was over all rare..

      funny thing is half of the artical i didnt' read because i saw the name and was like yeap..
  • by RapmasterT ( 787426 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:38PM (#15412357)
    You get lobbed a Slashdot softball like this, and it takes until the SECOND post to suggest that every Windows version belonged on the list?

    Soon MS bashing will be 3rd or 4th post on every thread...then where will Slashdot be?

  • of ALL TIME? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:43PM (#15412390) Homepage
    pretty myopic and self flattering of this age - I could pick up a 1950's copy of Popular Mechanics and find lots of stupendous techno-flops. One that comes to mind is a TV set with a built in 35mm slide viewer. You guys have no idea.

    • Re:of ALL TIME? (Score:3, Insightful)

      One that comes to mind is a TV set with a built in 35mm slide viewer.

      I think the in-car phonograph beats that.

  • by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:44PM (#15412401) Homepage
    I was tired of the old amber screen too, but CGA was just not what I thought of when I thought of a "color monitor"

    I mean look at this crap. []

    I grew up playing King's Quest and think he was just sunburned, or embarrased all the time.
    • Oh come's better than monochrome! Look at the bright vibrant colors. With Monochrome you wouldn't even be able to tell who your character was vs. the tree!
    • It's strange, the c64 had 4 bit color and 320x200 graphics too and it looked much better.

      EGA, now that's just cool.

    • wow, good call.

      Yup, CGA should have made it somewhere. Never actually had a CGA monitor, it looked just as good emulated to monochrome :( Gee i wish i could still trade half my screen resolution for a couple more colors..not :)
    • What annoys me is that remakes of retro games like Ultima III almost invariably do the crummy CGA version. Not only lousy colors, but none of that cool music.

      Incidentally, the music to Ultima III is one of the ultimate tests of SID emulation in any C64 emulator. I've not heard a single one get it just right, especially the "spooky" dungeon music. I'm pretty sure that the spell casting effect of inverting the video that caused a mild screeching sound was actually a deliberate sound effect. Certainly does
  • Apple puck mouse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsa ( 15680 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:44PM (#15412403) Homepage
    Ahh, the Apple puck mouse. What a pity it didn't make the top 25. I used one for a day. Instant RSI that thing will give you. Kudos to the person who designed that; you have to be really good to design a mouse that is SO bad.
    • The only thing good I can say about the puck was that it taught me how to mouse left handed. Mainly due to the intense pain caused when using my dominant mouse hand.

      Thank you puck mouse!
  • Windows.

    The reason? It has trained at least one, and probably two, generations of computer users to expect the computer to be fragile. It has made those people afraid to simply experiment with the computer because they might do something to "break" it.

    This is a big reason there are so many people who don't want to learn how the computer works. By training at least one generation of people that computers are fragile, Microsoft has in a single stroke managed to limit people's willingness to learn a

    • If we didn't have windows we would likely still be paying 2k for a decent machine*. And not like anything below OS X was any better. I still have nightmares of mac error popup screens.

      Linux is nearly usable for the mass market now; much less 10 years ago.

      * We would be left with apple and *nix vararies, and face it, much of the world isn't ready for linux yet (I still can't get linux to work on my laptop properly), and without competition macs would be even more expensive.

      • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:13PM (#15412624) Homepage Journal
        Sure, the MacOS pre-OS X was pretty unstable, but it was almost always more stable than whatever the current shipping version of Windows was.

        More to the point, in the absence of Windows, we might well have a whole bunch of computer makers still duking it out. It seems people have forgotten what an explosion of PC (in the general sense, I mean) makers there was in the 80's -- more diversity than we've ever seen since. Apple is just the only one that survived the "IBM compatible" onslaught. Imaging what the computing world would be like if DEC, Commodore, Atari, Wang, Tandy, and who knows how many others were still making their own machines. There would be more competition, more pressure for open standards, and better computers at better prices for everyone.
        • No, I think the answer is much simpler; if we didn't have Windows, we'd have OS/2 instead. Running WordPerfect maybe. Basically, nothing much would be different. Which is why I question the notion that whoever wins a natural monopoly slot is really "worth" $50 billion to the economy.
    • The fact this was modded insightful proves that Slashdot is still driven by pack mentality. Sadly I actually thought things were improving around here recently, but I may have set my hopes a bit too high. Oh well, nobody to blame but myself.

      The reason? It has trained at least one, and probably two, generations of computer users to expect the computer to be fragile. It has made those people afraid to simply experiment with the computer because they might do something to "break" it.

      Havent used too ma
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @04:45PM (#15412412) Homepage
    Seriously, AOL shouldn't be #1... They just got in really good with the 90% of non-tech savy Internet users from the beginning, and gave them a nice little interface to the Internet, making it easier for them to move around.

    Doesn't matter if it costs 2x as much as any other ISP, or that the interface is so kludgy that you need to upgrade your video card, or that they censor the Internet to conform to it's mass majority of users' tastes, or that the "You've got mail" sound that hasn't changed...(ever?) makes most people want to wretch all over their keyboards, or that their spyware/virus "protection" is a miserable failure and should be uninstalled, or that their "Here's your 20th CD-ROM this month" ad campaign is probably the worst landfill culprit since the pet rock, or.....

    Yeah, I guess they deserve it. =p
  • Realplayer (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by fm6 ( 162816 )
    I agree with their bashing of Realplayer — except they only criticize its current flaws. They forgot to mention the buggy releases that would grab all available CPU cycles and render the machine unusable. They're also guilty of starting a nasty trend that every other media player feels compelled to follow: using fancy "skins" that make the app look cool, but much harder to use.
  • by FrankieBoy ( 452356 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:00PM (#15412523)
    I use AOL. It's great! I also own a Packard Bell PC computer running Windows ME with 64MB RAM. I'm l337 as well and oh...I work for Radio Shack.
  • count me as part of the absolute smallest minority But i had very very few problems with ME. Of course, I never had to roll it out into a corp. environment (thank god) but at least it wasn't vulnerable to blaster and sasser. Also, I had great luck with Zip drives. I owned a parallel port 100 meg that's still working, and had a ton of zip disks that were a decent way to move files until CD-R's came down in price. Both products got a bad rep, but probably weren't as bad in practice as advertised.

    On the other
  • 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.
  • by jemenake ( 595948 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:04PM (#15412561)
    Some of the items on the list, although we love to hate them, are things that really did help the tech world make strides forward. For example, say what you want about AOL but, if it weren't for them, I still probably wouldn't be able to send email to my mom. Zip disks? Yes, they had click-of-death but, at the time, a portable 100MB for $10? That was unreal. PointCast? PointCast was the first time where you could have your very own, customized scrolling ticker on your screen... just like the ones on the CNN screen... but it only had the stuff *you* wanted. When it first came out, it was a marvel. All of these items changed the way that people thought about what they could do with computers when they first came out.

    Contrast that with some items on the list that were complete disasters from the moment they were launched: IBM PC Jr., CueCat, Microsoft Bob... THOSE belong on the list. The list probably should have included some other items that had lofty ambitions but just never "took" (like OS/2). But, like I said, some of the ones on the list, I feel, aren't getting their due. We look at them now and see how worthless they are by today's standards (you can probably get any of these items on eBay for $5, now), but that ignores the impact they had when they were first released.
  • by joebooty ( 967881 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:04PM (#15412563)
    Perhaps the overhyping has forever biased me but the segway has to be the most absurd tech product.

    2k for a bizarre scooter that was supposed to change my life forever? huh?
    • > Perhaps the overhyping has forever biased me but the segway has to be the most absurd tech product.

      Oh, segways are amazingly useful for some things... but yeah they were being pitched as not only changing your life, but all of freakin society. "Cities will be built around these". Holy crap that was ridiculous.
  • I don't actually use it for... well, what the hell was it supposed to be for? But my theater troupe uses an online ticketing service, and it's kinda nifty to be able to just scan the bar codes when they present the tickets. And all it took was a trip to Radio Shack and a downloaded driver.
  • by DaveM753 ( 844913 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:08PM (#15412587)
    +1 Flamebait... I know.
  • 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.
    • Hell yeah, that was an awesome watch. I have the USB version now, but my old blinky light version is buried in my closet somewhere still working (afaik).

      How was it a failure? It kept me on time to my appointments.
  • The actual list (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spez ( 566714 )
    1 America Online (1989-2006)
    2 RealNetworks RealPlayer (1999)
    3 Syncronys SoftRAM (1995)
    4 Microsoft Windows Millennium (2000)
    5 Sony BMG Music CDs (2005)
    6 Disney The Lion King CD-ROM (1994)
    7 Microsoft Bob (1995)
    8 Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (2001)
    9 Pressplay and Musicnet (2002)
    10 dBASE IV (1988)
    11 Priceline Groceries and Gas (2000)
    12 PointCast (1996)
    13 IBM PCjr. (1984)
    14 Gateway 2000 10th Anniversary PC (1995)
    15 Iomega Zip Drive (1998)
    16 Comet Cursor (1997)
    17 Apple Macintosh Portable (1989)
    18 IBM Deskstar 75
    • Number zero is that javascript popup ad that comes up right in the middle of the screen. Gosh durn, I hate them things. If you click on it, even on the "close" in the upper right corner, you run the risk of activating the link. If you right-click it, you find that the browser doesn't recognize it as an actual window.

      Ooooh. What did I do to deserve that?

      Well, the irony is delicious.

  • Inability to come up with something meaningful to write ineviably always leads to "Best ... of all time" or "Worst ... of all time" babbled passed off as articles. Editors (of "professional" publications, no less) should've seen this kind of busy-work garbage from a mile away instead of running'em...
  • 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...
  • Left out a few. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:11PM (#15412613) Homepage Journal
    1. The IBM PC. It was slower than many CP/M available at the time that cost less. It uses a brain-dead "16" bit cpu called the 8088 that was used a night mare of an addressing system. The default operating system was this bad copy of CP/M from Microsoft. And it didn't even follow the standard for the gender of the printer port or the serial port! What made it a total nightmare was that it sold in HUGE numbers and created a standard that sucked and managed to kill off better machines.

    2. The IBM AT. Just when you thought their couldn't be a CPU worse then the 8088 Intel creates the an addressing system that makes the 8088 look good. Then IBM creates new standard based in this nightmare did I mention that they created an even less standard format for the RS-232 comport? But wait there is more Microsoft creates a now OS that has a bad habit of crashing hard drives and prevent you from creating any hard drive partition bigger than 33 megabytes.

    And the ever popular Disk-doubler! A great program from Microsoft that they included with MS-DOS 6. Not only did it contain code stolen from Stac but it also could lost vast amount of data on your drive!

    There are so many others that should be on that list.

    • The UNIX that makes UNIX lovers long for Windows. My first job in '89 involved working with a 286 Xenix box and it sucked in countless ways. I had to deal with it again 10 years later and it hadn't improved at all in that amount of time. It looked particularly inadequate sitting next to several AIX, Sun and Linux machines that it shared the lab with. Not even HPUX sucks as much as SCO, and that's saying a lot.
  • #1

    Circuit City DiVX

    How could they forget???

  • The Enron bandwidth market [] springs to mind. Never made much sense to me. And, hey, it's Enron.
  • Ok, DIVX is by FAR the WORST tech product ever created. I can't imagine how this isn't on the list. And AOL #1!?! We all know AOL sucks, but come on, at least it helped the internet and the web reach a critical mass in the US. Zip drives? What about SuperDisk? Disney Lion King CD-Rom? I guess, but it's not like they came up with WinG, you can blame Microsoft for that. Didn't warcraft 2 use WinG? That's not a "bad tech product", so why is this Lion King software any different..

    Anyway, we could nitpick this

  • I mean, they are the 'Happy Shopper' company of the PC World (pun intended).
  • I guess this must be non-gaming tech gadgets. You could make another list of the top 25 worst gaming gadget, and they would all be worse than anything on this list.
  • IE 6??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @05:59PM (#15412937) Journal

    They should have blasted IE4 -- the first IE that really muckled itself into the OS. Install IE-4 on the user's machine, and run the risk of trashing their whole OS. I saw it happen in tech support, and it led to the whole mishmash of exploits that allowed IE to get into Windows and mess up your box. The integration is better now, but the idea remains suspect.

    The whole list looks whacked. AOL may not be something I would ever use, but "worst tech product???". It's an intro to the web for newbies. That doesn't make it "bad tech".

  • Pointcast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nsayer ( 86181 ) < minus language> 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.
  • by superdude72 ( 322167 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @06:23PM (#15413082)
    The Diamond Rio 300 could make the "best" list for being one of the first MP3 players on the market, but as a product it completely sucked.

    First, the battery compartment. It was so shoddily constructed that only Duracell batteries would work. Have you ever heard of anything so absurd? But it was true. The manual even mentioned it. (Since they obviously knew about this quite serious defect, did it occur to them to fix it?) I had to return to the store because it would not work with the Energizer batteries I had on hand. You would think that AA batteries are pretty much standardized, but apparently there are slight differences among manufacturers and Diamond managed to screw it up.

    Then, the false advertising. They hyped the hell out of the fact that you could use this thing to play files from The packaging had an logo on it. It came with software. But the player *did not* support's file format! When I checked with tech support they promised support would be available with a firmware upgrade to be released, urm, ... Real Soon Now. It took more than 6 months from the date I purchased the player. (Which, given the poor quality of its manufacturing was well beyond its life expectancy.)

    Fortunately, the Rio 300 I purchased broke 2 days after I bought it and I was able to return it to Fry's for a refund. Oh, and this is how it broke: it got hot. Real hot. Like it was going to catch on fire. Ever seen the Star Trek episode where a phaser overheats, starts to glow, and Capt. Kirk has to throw it down a garbage chute before it explodes? That's what this was like.

    All that said, Rio changed owners and management several times. By the time later versions of the Rio came out, it was made by effectively a different company. The Rio Cali I bought a few years ago was a decent player. But they continued their practice of hyping their relationship with even though their players didn't support the file format until a firmware upgrade that came months or even years after the release of the player. To this date I've never listened to an file on a Rio--the firmware releases always happen after I've bought a newer player.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court