The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

This is an interesting list. PC World’s 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time. Leaving aside for a moment that they’re not talking of all time since these items cover no more than about the last twenty years, i have some points on which I stronly agree with inclusion, if not order, and some interesting […]

This is an interesting list.

PC World’s 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.

Leaving aside for a moment that they’re not talking of all time since these items cover no more than about the last twenty years, i have some points on which I stronly agree with inclusion, if not order, and some interesting omissions.

So let’s start with agreement.


AOL at number one. Yes. Maybe not number one, I have another suggestion for that. But certainly number two, and I mean that in the scatological sense as well.

AOL – the thing that killed usenet. The thing that reduced the IQ of the internet. The gateway to spam, sock-puppets. The thing that made the internet a place where nobody knows you’re a dog. AOL has to be the single worst experience the internet has to offer, and the inventors of AOL have a very special hell (mis-quote Shepard Book) waiting for them.

WebTV. They list this as last on the (Dis)Honorable Mention list, meaning it didn’t get into the top 25. This is wrong; it’s in the top five. This thing was a horrible idea. Let’s make the TV our computer, so we don’t even have to get off the fucking couch to use the internet. Nevermind it’s not really even a computer and that teevees of the era really, really were not made for web surfing. Nevermind that it cost almost as much as an entry-level computer. It was a crappy product and a horrid idea.

The Apple PuckMouse. Yeah, I work there. It’s still about as stupid a mouse design as you can think of. This is even worse than TiVo’s peanut remote. Again, it should be higher in the list, but at least they got it.

RealPlayer. The world need proprietary media formats like we need – well, windows. A horrid idea, and I don’t know why anyone ever said yeah that’s a good idea. It’s crap and should get wiped from the face of the earth.

IE6; ok, limiting this to six is stupid. IE as a product; junk. M$soft thought they could own the browser market and make money on it and forgot that making a good product was part of that. They fucked up so much on the web with this thing that we’re still trying to recover. To this day some banks still require IE.

Now some points where I disagree.

Again from the dishonorables – the Newton. Ok, it was too soon, the interface software wasn’t mature and the market just wasn’t ready. But it was a great idea and honstly, worked pretty well. A great product released before it’s time doesn’t make for a worst product, just an idea that wasn’t quite ready. Palm showed this with software that wasn’t much better and a product that wasn’t much more sophisticated. Right place right time, not so much better.

And on that same list, the Rokr phone. Ok, again, a little too soon, a little too little. But this is just a case of the product not meeting the hype. There’s nothing wrong with the rokr, it’s just not as good as we’d like it to be is all.

Now, here’s the ones I think are interesting. The ones they missed.

And here’s where I want your suggestions. What should be on this list that wasn’t?

Here’s mine.

Number one. This is IMO the worst high-tech product of all time. It’s worst because it’s evverywhere, it’s worst because it set a standard for wrong ways of doing things. It’s worst because everyone has it, everyone hates it, and yet it’s making bucket-loads of money for no good reason.

Windows. The worst operating system on the market. It breaks the most basic rules of OS design. It works badly and keeps getting worse. And yet it’s everywhere, like pests in our cities. We can’t get rid of it, we can’t hope it’ll get better, and yet the business world runs on it.

It is so far beyond anything on PC world’s list that you can’t even see it from there. And while the list contains one version of windows, they miss why windows should lead the list.

My second – Macromedia Flash. A horrific idea that breaks all the rules of web design. It makes your web experience dependent on a poor, slow, proprietary technology. It renders web sites minimally accessible. It keeps us from being able to make meaningful links to web content; hyperlinks, the idea the web is based on. It goes in my top five.

And my addition to the dishonorable mentions – the TiVo peanut remote. Ok, it’s not the worst remote ever, but what makes me want to add it is that 1) it’s bundled with one of (IMO) he best tech products of the past decade, and 2) they act like it’s a feature, like it’s a good thing. They brag about it.

This remote – which is essential to my teevee viewing – is un-lit, is symmetrical such that it feels the same when you’re pointing it away from the teevee as when you’re pointing it away. The buttons are almost all the same to the touch unless you’re, like, a braille user, in which case, why are you using a teevee remote? The buttons are poorly placed such that the most-used buttons are harder to find than the least-used buttons. For ths awful piece of tactile-interface design to be included with a product as great as tivo, and to be treated as a product feature; that to me earns worst-ever status.

Ok. What else did they miss?

4 thoughts on “The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time”

  1. Thought this was going to be boring… till I started reading. Hated AOL so much when it first showed up. Can’t imagine people wanting to use the damned thing. Still automatically wipe it off anytime it self-installs. Then I read further…

  2. I would include the remote control. Think about the sit-ups we’d do just getting out of the chair to switch the channel — especially with the advent of cable, and horrible commercials therein.

    The abacus kinda sucks, too. After all what’s wrong with fingers and toes (even bandaged – – it’s not like rocket science to remember how many you have)?

    Now, when the multiple flux capasitors go bad, or the internal environmental sensors (aka bathroom fan) go down, there are some serious problems.

  3. Ooooooh dear. They should add home user VoIP to the list. I know, Karl, you use it and you like it. But you’re a tech of sorts. They’re marketing this to anyone who has broadband. Including DSL users. You see the can o’worms. But maybe that’s still TrueVoice backlash.
    I’m with you on Windows. The main reason it’s the main ox is its cost. It’s cheap. And you get what you pay for. So sayeth a windows user.
    And they had to limit to the 25 years or so because that’s how long the magazine’s been around.

  4. i won’t go with you on VoIP; there’s nothing wrong with the product or technology. It’s actually a completely brilliant idea.

    The issue is that they’re marketing it heavily before it’s reliable; that’s not VoIP, that’s internet infrastructure. There is simple not enough backbone there to get it working well, everywhere.

    And for the record, I don’t like vonage. I’ve not had much trouble ’cause I don’t use it much, but I have friends who have it and I CANNOT CALL THEM FROM MY CELL PHONE cause the cell gets routed direct to v-mail, never rings them. And that’s just the first item on the list of trouble they have with it.

    The idea is great; the technology is great. The infrastructure isn’t there. Like having great sports cars in a town where all the roads are unpaved.

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