10 'Great' Tech Products that Really Weren't
5. 8-bit video games (1981)
Sure, the original versions of Space Invaders, Frogger, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario are "classic" video games, but only in the same way that "Who's the Boss?" is classic TV or Culture Club is classic rock. Like many products of the 1980s, the chunky, two-dimensional games don't stand up well to the test of time. But never underestimate the power of pure nostalgia; nearly all of these "classics" have been reincarnated as Flash games. If you still like to play those, you'd probably also enjoy watching Tony Danza reruns on your VCR while listening to Boy George on your Walkman.
4. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1991)
When you've lived in an 8-bit gaming universe, moving up to 16 bits is like cranking up the amps to 11. But after a while then you come to realize that louder isn't necessarily better. While Nintendo sold tens of millions of 16-bit Super NES units, it was hardly state of the art even back then, says Luis Levy, co-author of Play the Game: The Parent's Guide to Video Games and co-founder of Novy PR.
"People used to adore the SNES for its cheesy Mode 7 effects and 'orchestral-quality' music," says Levy. "But the console was hampered by a dog-slow CPU and a sound chip that severely crippled creativity because it was sample-based. The Sega Genesis, which featured 6 FM and 4 Programmable Sound Generator channels, was vastly superior."
3. Windows 95 (1995)
Windows 95 was an enormous improvement on the various Microsoft operating systems that preceded it. But that's only because Windows versions 1.x, 2.x, and 3.x set the bar so low that an ant could have tripped over it. A $300 million marketing campaign couldn't hide the fact that Win95's "new" features -- like better multitasking and memory management, or a mouse friendly graphical interface -- were already available from the Mac OS and IBM's OS/2. It was still buggy, crash prone, and had trouble running older DOS games. And though Win 95 didn't come with the notoriously insecure Internet Explorer built in, IE eventually became part of the standard Win95 installation. An entire generation of malware authors are in its debt.
2. Facebook (2004)
Back when it debuted in February 2004, "Thefacebook" was a far cry from the 750-million-member monster it is today. It looked more like LinkedIn marinated in beer and testosterone. You could create a profile, add friends, send messages, join groups -- and that's about it. The ability to view a steady stream of updates from your friends, share photos and videos, and run apps all came later. This social network was pretty much all about seeing which coeds were available for hookups. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
The one thing the original Facebook was pretty good at? Privacy. Once it expanded beyond Harvard Yahd, you could only qualify for a Facebook account if you were matriculating at a major university. How things have changed.
1. Apple iPhone (2007)
Yeah, sure, the iPhone changed everything. But if you penetrate the reality distortion field and cast your mind back to June 2007, you'll realize the original iPhone was crap. Sure it had a multi-touch screen and all that whizzy interface stuff. But remember, this was a 2G phone -- and we're talking AT&T 2G. The iPhone had no copy and paste function. No multimedia messaging. No push email or support for Exchange. No GPS. No Java or Flash. You had to jailbreak it to add these features on their own. Most important, when the iPhone debuted there was no app store. It was just a friggin' phone -- one that cost $600, plus a two-year commitment to the world's worst wireless company. The Jesus Phone? Lord help us.
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