What a Dumb Decade: The 87 Lamest Moments in Tech
18. Call it the proto-CrunchPad.
As his annual Consumer Electronics Show keynote spotlighting Microsoft's vision of the personal of technlogy, Bill Gates features "Mira", a tablet device that serves as a remote wireless terminal for a Windows PC. In 2003, they ship as Windows Smart Displays. But Smart Displays can't be used by one person while another is using the PC, and they lack the processing oomph to handle video. By January 2004 they're already gone.
19. The Palm before the storm.
PDA pioneer Palm begins the long and arduous process of splitting itself into two companies, eventually dubbed PalmOne (hardware) and PalmSource (operating systems). The move is supposed to help PalmSource license the Palm OS to more companies, but does away with one of the best-known monikers in tech: the plain, unadorned name Palm. And within a few years, the only Palm OS licensee is PalmOne. In 2005, a beleaguered PalmOne pays $30 million to PalmSource and renames itself Palm; in 2006, it acquires a perpetual license to use the Palm OS. It's a little as if the breakup never happened-except for all the money and time that got wasted.
20. So that's why they call them Magic Markers
Sony defends its intellectual property against piracy by introducing copy-protected compact discs that can't be ripped in a PC. Until nefarious hackers discover it's possible to defeat the anti-copying technology by marking the edge of the CD with a felt-tip pen.
21. Who says there are no second acts in American hand-puppet life?
Two years after the bankruptcy of pet supply site Pets.com, its sock-puppet mascot is back as the spokespooch for 1-800-BAR-NONE, which offers car loans to people with bad credit. Seven years later, he's still promoting BAR-NONE, greatly surpassing the twenty-one months that Pets.com was open for business before imploding.
22. Fiction is stranger than truth.
In response to Apple's "Switch" ad campaign, Microsoft publishes an ad titled "Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert." It turns out the text was by a paid freelance writer and the photo of the alleged reverse switcher was a stock image.