Technology Flops #2

Last week I started looking at some technologies which, after having started life with such a potentially promising future, were quickly consigned to the history books.Along with the infamous Microsoft Bob application and Smart Appliances such as a fridge that connects to the Internet we had the formats HD DVD, Minidisc, DAT Tapes and of course Betamax.As you’d expect, I’ve saved the best until last.


Originally a joint venture between IBM and Microsoft in 1987, things in the first few years looked optimistic with Microsoft publically insisting that OS/2 was the future.This was until the release of Windows 3.0 which sold extremely well due to the Operating System being bundled with many PC’s – OS/2 on the other hand was considered an expensive alternative.

As you’d imagine, their marriage hit the rocks and IBM went alone.In 1992, they released OS/2 2.0 which they touted as being “a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows” before rebranding the following version 3 as OS/2 Warp in an attempt to highlight the new performance benefits.OS/2 Warp 4.0 was released around the same time as Windows 95 and included several impressive technologies such as speech recognition.It was however the last widely distributed version of OS/2 before IBM admitted defeat and stopped marketing the OS to individual users.

The reasons for its demise are multiple; most prominently was that Windows was bundled with most computer systems, many users didn’t see the need to replace it or even realised that they had a choice in the matter.A comparatively small user base raised issues such as poor driver support for non-IBM hardware; a problem for those interested in adopting the OS.

Failed Dot-Coms

What a fantastic time the 90’s must have been for entrepreneurs.Quite simply, you think up a half-baked idea involving the Internet, don’t even worry about the part of the business plan that talks about how you’re going to make a profit, and someone, somewhere is likely spend millions taking a punt on you.

Virtual Reality

The principal of virtual reality has always excited me; the idea is that through the use of hardware such as some special goggles and gloves, you can instantly be transported to an immersive 3D world.I’d imagine nothing substantial has ever developed is a combination of concerns over the cost of the equipment, coupled with the fact that nothing marketed so far has been substantial enough to justify investment by the home user.

Whether virtual reality has a future of not is unclear; to me it seems odd that we still play computer games on the same flat screens as we did decades ago but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a killer alternative on the horizon.


I have mentioned them before in the past and whilst the idea is fantastic and indeed environmentally friendly it doesn’t seem like the world is ready for them just yet.A lack of high quality, affordable readers and the fact that most prefer the reassuring feel of paper has meant their adoption in the marketplace has been very slow indeed.

Speech Recognition

This technology suffers from a combination of technical difficulties and the fact that, quite simply you look like an idiot when you use it.Whilst those with disabilities may find the technology helpful, the rest of us should just learn to use a keyboard; it’s faster, you won’t have to worry about background noise and most importantly the entire room won’t necessarily need to hear the abusive letter you’re writing to your bank manager.



About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.