Gadgets : Failed 1990s Tech: Why These 5 Gadgets Didn't Survive

Failed 1990s Tech: Why These 5 Gadgets Didn't Survive

The 1990s were an important period for the technology industry, as quite a few things we take for granted today had their origins then and are worth big money now. Microsoft’s Windows and the Start Menu redefined how we interacted with our PCs, while the World Wide Web revolutionized the way we accessed the internet. Despite all the good things that came out of the ’90s, some technology innovations ended up falling flat.

Re: Failed 1990s Tech: Why These 5 Gadgets Didn't Survive

That's a mighty ironic title. You see, the tech didn't fail at all, far from it! It's only those particular products that didn't make it big...and even that isn't exactly "failure". Let's look:

1. Apple Newton - This product was simply too costly and too proprietary to be competition to the Palm Pilot that it was a copy of. While the PDA in general was only moderately successful, once the technology advanced to be able to merge a cellphone with a PDA, the smartphone was born. And in case you didn't notice, they're a runaway success.

2. Sony Minidisc - I had one. The minidisc was an inexpensive alternative to the Digital Compact Cassette, a product that really bombed after the RIAA attacked relentlessly. But the technology behind the Minidisc is still winning today. Minidisc was among the first to use lossy compression, which is the same technology that MP3 music uses. Although not successful in volume, Sony's ATRAC is still considered one of the best lossy compression algorithms around. And those tiny 3" optical discs are still a handy alternative when a 5" disc is just too big to carry. Maybe not a runaway success, but success nonetheless.

3. Virtuality - Do I really need to say that virtual reality is YUGE these days? It was a product ahead of its time, but the tech is burgeoning today.

4. Video CD - First of all, I should point out that VCD was a runaway success in Asia, so this claim is completely false. And the MPEG-1 compression scheme led to MPEG-2 (used in the DVD), MPEG-4, H.264 (used in Blu-ray) and more advanced codecs. Not a failure by any measure.

5. WebTV - Once again a product ahead of its time. I had one of these too. And just as VR is hot today, OTT (over the top) boxes are smoking! Services like Netflix, Hulu and yes, Amazon Prime video are revolutionizing how we watch "TV". And boxes from Roku, Google and Amazon are the Next Big Thing today. If you went to NAB this spring, you know what I'm talking about.

In conclusion, Ed Oswald needs to get a clue.