Slideshow: IT tops and flops

<i>ARN</i> Explores some technology hits and misses

  • The Gameboy – Released in 1998 this portable games system revolutionized the way people played video games and beat off all its competitors to sell more than 100 million units worldwide.
  • The Walkman – Before we could have the many different flavors of iPod and MP3 player somebody had to ask the question “What if I want to take my music with me?” The walkman was the answer. First available in 1979 the device changed the music experience for countless millions and it’s almost impossible today to imagine a world without portable music.
  • The iPod – Bringing MP3 players to the mainstream and almost single-handedly reviving a lagging Apple the iPod is a name synonymous with portable audio. To date there have been more than 220 million iPods sold, making it the highest selling digital audio player series in history.
  • The Newton and iPhone – Generally acknowledged as being light-years ahead of its time the Newton struggled to find a market before being discontinued in 1998. Seen as a pioneer of tablet-computing rumors of a Newtonian revival abounds following the release of the immensely popular iPhone.
  • Tamagotchi – A combination of the Japanese word for “egg” and the English word “watch” these deceptively addictive devices became a sudden global obsession after their release in 1997.
  • Google – Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t invent the concept of web-searching but they instantly realized the potential in their invention and fame, fortune and the creation of a new verb followed as well as changing the way a new generation of individuals interacted with the Internet.
  • Amazon Kindle – One of many recent devices launching an assault on the potential eReader market. Released in 2007 the Kindle’s style and fact it is produced by Amazon make it a likely candidate for “most likely to succeed” but it still remains to be seen if eBook readers will take off at all.
  • Virtual Reality – Whatever happened to virtual reality? Capturing the imagination of a generation for its potential application in everything from military training to overcoming phobias and leading to a string of movies VR never seemed to live up to the high expectations that were placed on it…
  • Commodore’s CDTV – The first ever computer to be shipped with a CD drive standard the CDTV opened up a realm of possibilities for multimedia computing and was decades ahead of its time. Unfortunately nobody knew what to make of it and the world of 1991 wasn’t ready for a media centre computer. Disappearing along with Commodore the unit should have served as a warning to Apple who tried to find the same market in 1995 with its Pippin, which also sank like a stone.
  • BlackBerry – Now known affectionately by some as “crackberry” the wunderkind of 2002 took technological addiction to whole new level and extended executive working hours exponentially…

  • Zip Drives – Initially finding a strong market on release the Zip Disc was soon beset by the rapidly expanding hard drives, cheap recordable DVDs and external USB drives that drove it into the niche market where it remains to this day.
  • Napster – Not the first or only peer to peer file sharing the wider publicity gained by Napster paved the way for the next generation of file sharing and started a migraine for copyrighters that continues today.
  • Social Networking Sites – Leaping into sudden prominence there is no doubt social networking sites are changing the social world. Dominated by current kings Facebook and MySpace with almost 600 million users between them networking sites have been hailed as saviors breaking down social divides or as devils turning us all into computer dependant pseudo-socialisers. The only thing we know for sure – nothing will ever be the same again.
  • Netscape – Based on the Mosaic web browser and all but extinct following the “Browser Wars” in the late 90s, in its time Netscape was the standard that helped popularize the Internet revolution.
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