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Vintage Collection of Tech Failures

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the library-of-fail dept.

Microsoft 160

StormDriver writes "For every good design there are a dozen failed concepts. Nothing illustrates that better than a great online vintage gadget collection, published yesterday by the Microsoft Research team. The collection is a brainchild of Bill Buxton, one of the principal Microsoft researchers, a guy who's been through 30 years of continuous tech design. Awarded with three honorary doctorates and several professional awards, Bill also likes to gather things – the vintage, geeky kind of things, to be precise. Over the years, he has gathered an impressive collection of prototypes, probably the best I have seen online."

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17 pencils (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084306)

I’m actually surprised stuff like the Seiko Data-2000 (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/bibuxton/buxtoncollection/detail.aspx?id=235) hasn’t come back! People could twitter even more effectively if they didn’t even have to pull the phone out of their pocket! Facebook status could be kept to near real time!

All kidding aside, this was kind of one of my geek fantasies having a house that you could control with something like this. I envisioned myself walking around my house tapping out commands.

I used to have a lot of interest in home automation, until the sad reality that beyond lights, temperature, and the coffee pot there really isn’t much else in a home that makes sense to automate beyond for the novelty of it.

On this topic, I would note that tech can fail not just because the implementation is poor, but because the idea is cooler than the practical application. The same can be said about voice recognition and virtual reality. The idea of barking orders to your computer or working on a “virtual desk” shuffling “virtual papers” around in 3D space sounds awesome but outside of a few niches, this approach just didn’t work.

A really interesting 5 part series to watch is “The Machine That Changed the World”. Aside from being a very good history of computers (first 3 hours/episodes.. and not those new fangled 40 minute hours but full 1 hour hours!), it’s very fascinating to see how some very intelligent people thought we would be using computers now based on some fairly sound thinking. It’s a nice mind exercise to try and figure out why they were wrong (or whether they are right and we are just the pre-cursory naysayers).

Re:17 pencils (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084710)

I wouldn't even want to automate the lights or the coffee pot. It's trivially easy to flick a switch when you enter/leave a room, and it's also easy to prepare the coffee, and do something else (fix a sandwich, use the bathroom, comb your hair), while it is busy. The advantage is that the coffee is guaranteed to be fresh and hot, exactly when you need it, even when I decide to snooze for an extra 15 minutes.

Re:17 pencils (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084848)

I have my lights set up to gradually fade on about 10 minutes before my alarm goes off. Beyond this and possibly having lights go on/off for home security ... there really isn't much point. Having motion sensors turn lights on when you walk in/out is cool for about 10 minutes .. when it even works (and doesn't require you wave an arm around every once in a while while in the room).

Re:17 pencils (3, Funny)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084866)

Forgot to add:

Automated coffee maker... need that. I'm one of those guys with the IQ of a house plant up until about 10am. If I tried to make coffee in the morning, assuming I somehow mustered the ambition, I'd probably boil my keys and put the coffee grounds in my pocket or something.

Re:17 pencils (4, Funny)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084964)

The lights in my office at my last job were on a motion sensor. Let me tell you, the office of a computer professional is about the worst place for motion activated lights: ::tap tap click tap tap {light out} {sigh} {wave at sensor} ... tap tap tap tap {lights out} {sigh}...::

Re:17 pencils (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085160)

And using an oscillating fan (with or without some other item that would move in the breeze) never crossed your mind as something to allow you to keep working without constantly waving?

Re:17 pencils (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085256)

I thought about that, but waving at the sensor occasionally seemed less annoying than having a fan blowing crap all over my office. Other than a ceiling fan set low, I've never been much of a fan of fans (ha ha).

Re:17 pencils (4, Funny)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085470)

"...a fan blowing crap all over my office."

That should only happen when the shit hits the fan.

Re:17 pencils (1)

WeatherGod (1726770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085230)

There just isn't a mod-option for me to choose for this post. Because of the line-of-sight between myself and the sensor is disrupted by a divider, the lights going off is an awkward reminder that everyone else left the room... at least no one sees me having to stretch out and wave over the divider for the sensor to see me.

Re:17 pencils (1)

spydum (828400) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085408)

If only the security/automation could be programmed to talk -- a portal/portal 2 sound pack would be awesome.
"Target lost.. Are you still there?" from the sentry bots.. 30 seconds before the lights power off due to inactivity.

Re:17 pencils (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085516)

I think the best is when a room full of university students taking an exam abruptly find themselves sitting in the dark when the lights time out. Since no one knows where the motion sensor is to wave at it, you find everyone including the professor wildly flailing their arms around for a moment.

Re:17 pencils (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084916)

I wouldn't even want to automate the lights or the coffee pot. It's trivially easy to flick a switch when you enter/leave a room, and it's also easy to prepare the coffee, and do something else (fix a sandwich, use the bathroom, comb your hair), while it is busy. The advantage is that the coffee is guaranteed to be fresh and hot, exactly when you need it, even when I decide to snooze for an extra 15 minutes.

That's why I use MisterHouse, to turn the lights off when the kids leave the room and forget. The way snoozing is handled is motion sensors. The motion sensing is also adaptive based on time (get a signal at 1am? Stay dark until switch is hit; on the other hand, get a signal within an hour after "wake up time" and then ...)

Also my motion sensing security lights, and a few other things, adapt their schedule to the changing sunrise / sunset times. Its not as trivial to flick lights on and off when carrying stuff, and MisterHouse just automates all of that away for me...

All of this is like 10 lines of Perl... well MisterHouse overall is probably multi-megs, but my customization work was pretty easy. Don't remember if MisterHouse is GPL or BSD, but its basically free, anyway.

Re:17 pencils (0)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085012)

How much energy do the motion sensors and computer use compared to the lights? I applaud the geekiness, but it doesn't seem as energy efficient (assuming that is the goal).

Re:17 pencils (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085518)

Particularly if they're CFLs, which die fast if you keep turning them on and off for short periods.

Re:17 pencils (0)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085040)

10 lines of Perl, plus installing the hardware, and rewiring the lights, you mean ?

Re:17 pencils (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085340)

Congrats, all you've managed to do is teach your kids that they don't need to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

Re:17 pencils (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085120)

I'm seriously thinking of working on a phone app that tells my sound system where I am in the house and switches speakers appropriately. Downside is that it would use battery power in the "off" state. Upside is always being where the music is. And yes, Bill Gates had this done to his house a couple of decades ago.

Here's one to add to the collection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084336)

Microsoft Skype

Re:Here's one to add to the collection (1)

Mechagodzilla (94503) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084466)

I think its a little early to dig that grave. I suspect MS bought Skype to kill it, or corrupt it to its own version. Imagine that MS changes two lines of code, calls it their own software, and then forces all current users to update "automatically" or else it doesn't work anymore. People are hooked now and will follow along. Eventually, the service fees will pop up. There will be a fair amount of outrage, especially here on /., but people will want it and start paying, complaining the whole time.

Re:Here's one to add to the collection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085684)

I think it'd be more likely we'd see "Google Talk now works with your Skype contacts" followed by "Google Talk now does holographic video conferencing (but not with Skype)!"

Re:Here's one to add to the collection (0)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086198)

Good Lord, can the fanbois kiss the Google ass ANY more? Seriously? The funny as fucking hell part is despite all the screams of "Its a trap" I bet my last dollar if Google released 'Google Mono" every damned Linux nerd would be jumping on that shit and talking it up like it is the fricking second coming! Its kinda sad that when you look at the amount of data collected on everybody by Google, compared to that Ballmer looks like a really sweaty Care bear.

As for Skype? Give me a fucking break! if you think MSFT is gonna spend some 8 billion fricking dollars just to kill a product with 663 million users you are some kinda stupid. MSFT is gonna bundle the hell out of that shit and make a ton! Skype on the X360, Skype from your WinPhone at any Wifi hotspot, Skype from your Windows 7 (and if you want all the extras get Win 7 Pro and we'll give you a ton of Skype business extras!) and it will ALL be tied together nice and neat, so you can switch from one to the other. This is one of the moves along with snatching Nokia that actually make sense, as MSFT needs vertical integration like Apple has on its mobile products and Skype along with DirectX for gaming could be damned good selling points for Windows Mobile. It is just smart business.

As for TFA you want to find tons of that weird shit you need to hit your local Goodwill along with those places selling items from storage compartments. I love to go check them places out and you'd be surprised how many wild and weird pieces of PC history ends up in those places for like a dollar. Now if I could just find a damned good affordable Gameport and serial to USB adapter I'd be a happy camper. I've not got enough time to be DIYing USB connections on those things, and the amount of badass flight sticks and other cool controllers out there for cheap because of serial or gameport connections is just nuts. Anybody know of a good gameport or serial to USB that actually works pretty good on Win 7?

Re:Here's one to add to the collection (1)

flonker (526111) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085934)

To be fair, I trust Microsoft a little bit more than Paypal/Ebay. Although that isn't saying very much.

Maybe missing some context? (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084394)

Look at the collection and then try and convince me that our slow rate of progress is due to a lack of technology rather than a lack of imagination.

What the hell does that even mean? Slow rate of progress? Lack of imagination? I'm sure it was beautiful in his head but that thought didn't cross out into the real world all that intact.

Re:Maybe missing some context? (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084728)

Look at the collection and then try and convince me that our slow rate of progress is due to a lack of technology rather than a lack of imagination.

What the hell does that even mean? Slow rate of progress? Lack of imagination? I'm sure it was beautiful in his head but that thought didn't cross out into the real world all that intact.

Ah HAH! Begging the question! Finally, I have a chance to say "this is what begging the question is"... What slow rate of progress was he talking about? The one where we went from a cd jukebox that was 30 lbs and held 1,000 songs, to a mp3 jukebox that is .3 lbs and holds 10,000 songs in the span of about 10 years? Not fast enough for you, old timer?

Re:Maybe missing some context? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084942)

The CD was first sold 1982. The IBM PC-compatible iPod, the first popular MP3 player, was not released until 2002. So twenty years, which is pretty long time to wait.

Re:Maybe missing some context? (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085978)

There were a few in the late 1990s, but they didn't take off until iPod in 2001.

Re:Maybe missing some context? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086430)

CD != CD Jukebox... You missed the point. Try again.

Re:Maybe missing some context? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085062)

Look at when the mouse was invented. We switched from ball to optical/laser, one button to a few more, but the principle of the interface is, in general, the same. That was what, 35ish years ago? Keyboards are much older than that. That's the kind of thing he was taking about.

Nonetheless, the statement doesn't seem to show much in parallel with his gallery, which shows a lot of creativity at performing a task within the scope of a given amount of technology.

Re:Maybe missing some context? (2)

flonker (526111) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086126)

Sorry to be a nit-picker, but the original mouse had 3 buttons, and was invented 50ish years ago. The one button mouse concept was an Apple idea, and that was 35ish years ago.

Re:Maybe missing some context? (2)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085130)

It's a code. Using Google Translator, I took it from Portuguese to Afrikaans to Azerbaijani, Vietnamese, Chinese, Latin and back to English, and suddenly it all becam clear:

"To abuse it and I shall manage the more slowly than the degree of progress is the lack of the imagination, not technical it is attached. "

Hope that helps.

So where is the Zune in that list ? (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084408)

You know, that music "decision" engine ?

Re:So where is the Zune in that list ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084650)

Sounds like you've never even used a Zune. I like it better than the iPod, and it doesn't use that horrible software called iTunes.

Either that, or this is a troll. What's next, claiming Windows 7 is slow or unstable?

Re:So where is the Zune in that list ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085296)

Most advanced linux users do really think that Windows 7 is unstable and slow. It's slow because they run it on 15 year old hardware. They think it's unstable because they are not capable of using it. Many complaints about Windows from a freetard are regarding obviously modifiable options. They're a hell of a lot easier to change than reading a crappy how-to document and editing 20 scattered config files.

Re:So where is the Zune in that list ? (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085390)

You are right. I have never used a Zune. I have never really wanted to.
Reasons:
        Have you ever heard about that curious thing called "Play Anywhere" (except a Zune) ?
        How much will Microsoft charge for upgrades?

However, I have used ipod, ipad, and itunes. You say it is horrible, but you lack specificity.
If you say horrible means "Makes it really easy to get access to a large amount of reasonably priced music"
then I might agree with you.

Re:So where is the Zune in that list ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084692)

Actually Zune was really good, they just came out when everyone owned an iPod already...

Re:So where is the Zune in that list ? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085252)

In as much as the article is about tech that was not successful, the Zune should have been at the top of the list. No matter if the Zune was the best music player that ever was or will ever be designed, it was a flop. The only reason anyone knows about it is because MS has a huge budget to market it and pay people to sell it. It might have failed because it could not complete, or was irrelevant, or was the ugly color of stuff that we don't want to see, but the fact is it is not more. OTOH, MS Windows mobile products are not a failure as they actually were in wide use, even though the current crop of Kin and MS Windows 7 might become the laughing stock of the world, even though they did and do have a nearly infinite marketing budget.

A Dozen? (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084410)

For every good design there are a dozen failed concepts

We're at Windows 7. Only 5 more to go!

Re:A Dozen? (1, Flamebait)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084686)

No, Windows 7 will suffice. Those who were involved with its "design" should be taken out back and beaten together until they are bloody pulp.

There are simply too many "design" issues to list here, but the overall point I'm trying to make is it sucks. Badly. It's almost as if Microsoft was trying to make it impossible to perform the simplest takes.

I want to say that people who "designed" this crap had never heard of UI testing or the KISS principle, but for what they get paid, I find that hard to believe.

Re:A Dozen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084824)

What?

Windows 7 is the least horrible version of Windows design wise. The Windows interface has always been horrible, and most of what's wrong with Windows 7 is the crap the left unchanged from XP and Vista.

Re:A Dozen? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084974)

??? So you're saying that your beloved nix (pick your flavour) is simpler, more intuitive, closer to people. You know what ? Call your grandma today and tell her to type this (carefully, no typos allowed !):

apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential gcc gcc-3.4 xserver-xorg-dev
apt-get --purge remove nvidia-glx nvidia-settings nvidia-kernel-common
rm /etc/init.d/nvidia-*
cp /etc/cups/cupds.conf /etc/cups/cupsd.conf.bak
gedit /etc/cups/cupsd.conf

Re:A Dozen? (2)

ubersoldat2k7 (1557119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085326)

I don't know about my grandma' but my 4 years old daughter is pretty proficient with lubuntu: play media (pocoyo and stuff) from a home NAS, browse her favorite (with marquee plug-in) children game sites, change the look&feel... all this in a pretty old Dell P4 box with 256MB, 20GB and Hello Kitty stickers that took me 30 minutes to clean (it had an old W2K install), install and configure. So yes, it's simpler, more intuitive and closer to people.

BTW, who runs gedit from the CLI? Damn Microsoft fan-boyz.

Re:A Dozen? (1)

overlordofmu (1422163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085610)

Don't feed the AC troll.

On a positive note, my four year old daughter knows her way around Ubuntu as well. She even knows how to logon with her own username and password. Anyone have anecdotal evidence that preschool aged boys can use Ubuntu or is it just girls?

Re:A Dozen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085836)

You think that's impressive? My three-year-old son compiles his own kernels on Gentoo.

Re:A Dozen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36086334)

The Pippin
The Lisa
the Apple III
the Newton
the 1997 20th Anniversary Mac
Jury is still out on the iPad...
So Apple is not very far behind.

smart pen, a failure? (1)

whitroth (9367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084458)

Gah! I've been wanting one of these for a long time. Actually, I can't figure out why a mouse beat out something like this: I mean, schools dropping handwriting is stupid, but that being a reason for this being a failure is equally stupid.

Pop quiz: how many here have had to create an electronic signature with a mouse? Or have signed documents, and then sent the jpg of the signed doc?

Or, for that matter, wanted to draw or trace something in, say, Gimp?

                mark

Re:smart pen, a failure? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084572)

As they mentioned in the entry: writing tablets. A cheap bamboo tablet (you can get these in the sub $100 range) gives you most of the same functionality.

I'm all for the death of handwriting and specifically signatures. Won't happen for a few generations, but damnit, MY CHILDRENS CHILDREN WILL HAVE THE PAPERLESS OFFICE!!!

Re:smart pen, a failure? (2)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084830)

Bamboo is such a ripp-off. Anything from Wacom is. Look for a local distributor who might have their own brand. I got a tablet two times larger with the same sensitivity for $30. I'd rather not say where lest I be confused as a spam bot.

Re:smart pen, a failure? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085054)

I rock the used serial wacom, at $10 it rules.

But spit out what kind of tablet you're using or I don't believe you.

Re:smart pen, a failure? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085208)

Monoprice [monoprice.com] has numerous ones.

Even ones with buttons [monoprice.com]

Re:smart pen, a failure? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085310)

Ugh, batteries. Batteries in styluses are stupid.

Re:smart pen, a failure? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085378)

yea really, in wacoms its just a coil to monkey the RF, KISS

Re:smart pen, a failure? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084822)

Pop quiz: how many here have had to create an electronic signature with a mouse?

The crypto program wanted me to generate some "entropy" by jiggling the mouse. Does that count?

Re:smart pen, a failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085006)

I agree; pens are great. I bought a wacom tablet for one of my pc's because I wanted to be able to draw, and it was so clearly superior to a mouse I bought another for my other pc, and use them for everything.

I also would greatly prefer a stylus over using my fingers on touchscreens. Just as fast, far more precise.

Orbitouch (2)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084462)

Why do I sense a large number of Slashdot users hitting up eBay and Craigslist looking for number 5?

Poor headline choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084488)

Vintage collection? Yes.
All failures? Nope.

And I'm not surprised I own several of 'em...

Bad summary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084568)

It says nothing about being a list of tech failures.
It's got a goddamn etch-a-sketch for fuck's sake..

It's just a bunch of neat devices, most of which failed because most new ideas do fail. I don't think the list is selected for failure.

Bad title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084626)

These are not tech failures. Many items were successful and/or profoundly influential.

RTFA.

phah! (3, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084646)

It's not a definitive list of tech failures without the ::cue::cat ! That changed everything! We never browsed the web the same again!

Hey, whatever happened to their :CRQ "audible URL" technology that was going to allow us to directly link tv advertisements for fine products to the web?

Re:phah! (2)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085264)

It was ahead of its time.
QR Codes [wikipedia.org] are starting to pop up near everywhere. You just need a smartphone. I love them. No more having to punch in a URL when I'm reading the paper, if I'm interested in an Ad, I just take a picture of it.

You can also make your own. [appspot.com] Put your 'business card' on the back of your business card and save people from having to type it in. Numerous other uses.

Re:phah! (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085436)

Hey, whatever happened to their :CRQ "audible URL" technology that was going to allow us to directly link tv advertisements for fine products to the web?

It became audio ID apps like Shazam.

How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084680)

Space Nuttery? Orbital colonies, bungalows on Mars, manufacturing on asteroids? There are some colossal failures for you!

Re:How about (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084922)

We know already, you don't have to pour salt in the wound!

**sob** Frakking insensitive clods...

Re:How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085844)

You really like to push the 'space nuttery' theme, don't you? Even on unrelated stories?

It's never going to catch on. Give up.

Not all failures (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084724)

The /. headline is wrong - the iPod is on the list.

Re:Not all failures (3, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084828)

The /. headline is wrong - the iPod is on the list.

To you and all the other commenters complaining that great things like iPods and Etch-a-Sketches are on the list: you clicked the wrong link. Actually RTFS and you'll see that the links go to two separate lists, one of failures and one of successes. It would have taken you less time to read the relevant 3 word description of each link than it took you to click the wrong link, come back here and post a complaint, you know.

Re:Not all failures (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085460)

To you and all those commenters complaining about the commenters that complained about an incorrect headline, you may want to read the headline again. A better headline would be Vintage Collection of Successes and Failures.

Re:Not all failures (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085514)

Actually RTFS and you'll see that the links go to two separate lists, one of failures and one of successes.

Did you actually click on those two links? Click on the first link and you find the text of the summary in the first paragraph, along with the second link. So that means we have a choice between a blog entry about the Buxton collection and the Buxton collection itself.

So yes, the headline is wrong. This is not a list of failures, but of notable devices - some of which were commercially successful, but that was not the criteria for the collection.

Re:Not all failures (2)

ColoradoAuthor (682295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084882)

Not all prototypes: most of the items I see in the collection are production models. Not all failures: quite a few of the items dominated a market niche during their time, even if they didn't take over the world and find a home on every desktop, and are still available for purchase.

FrogPad (3, Interesting)

christurkel (520220) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084742)

The frogpad was not a failure. I work for a not for profit serving the disabled and we used FrogPads all the time. It was insanely useful for those with limited hand movement. It sucked when they stopped making them.

Re:FrogPad (1)

shibashaba (683026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085914)

Looks like the company may be back in business, check their website.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084746)

"Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination."

That's precisely how statistics are generally meant to be used. While exploratory statistics have their place--an important place--too many people use statistics designed to confirm or reject hypotheses for exploration, generally with the result of spurious findings.

Failures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084748)

Why is this labeled "Vintage Collection of Tech Failures"

From TFA: "Over the past 30 years, designer, writer, and researcher Bill Buxton has been collecting. Explore his collection of input and interactive devices that he found interesting, useful, or important in the history of pen computing, pointing devices, and touch technologies."

I like the first one ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084788)

Silverlight

Is slashdot represented on the list? (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084836)

Generally, it is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear "tech failure". And being as everything that was new and exciting the last time this site worked properly is now "vintage" I think that label applies here just fine as well.

Etch-A-Sketch is a failure? (1)

xkalikox (2080288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084838)

Not sure how you could categorize an Etch-A-Sketch as a failure. Thousands if not millions of these things had to have been sold since 1960

FAIL tech ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084840)

Oddly enough, an exhibit called FAIL -- a display of historic computers that underwhelmed -- won best-of-show at the Vintage Computer Festival East in 2009. BTW this year's VCF East happens to be this weekend! It's in Wall, NJ for any /.ers who want to see a whole exhibit hall of this stuff. http://www.vintage.org/2011/east

slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084862)

Server Error in '/' Application.
The resource cannot be found.
Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please review the following URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.

Requested URL: /en-us/um/people/bibuxton/buxtoncollection/browse.aspx

Silverlight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084886)

Gee the site it's self uses a failed technology - Silverlight.... enough said

Pivot should make the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36084888)

Pivotview is a crappy way to view that site.

Liked the joystick and mouse collection (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084896)

Re:Liked the joystick and mouse collection (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085124)

I'd also say he left off some newer stuff too.

I mean, the joystick as an input device, not joypad, joystick, has evolved significantly.

From leaf switches, to microswitches, then branching off between Euro style joysticks(Suzo brand), American style(Happ brand), Korean(Crown, etc), Japanese(Sanwa brand, etc)... then optical, then hall effect, inductive...

Not only that but hardy arcade quality parts are now showing up in Consumer goods! Finally!

Re:Liked the joystick and mouse collection (1)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086128)

What's wrong with the first Amiga mouse or the 1351? Sure, they're not as good as today's mice, but they're not failures. Also, the Commodore joystick might look a bit sad, but it's actually quite decent and durable.

HP-01 Missing? I am disappointed. (1)

mistapotta (941143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36084970)

http://www.hpmuseum.org/hp01.htm [hpmuseum.org]

LED Calculator watch. From 1977. Waterproof to 10 meters, and Magnetic-Field-Proof to 60 Gauss.

Sometimes I feel we're working backwards here.

Failed? (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085002)

The handeykey Twiddler is still in production and still used by many. It's a godsend to people with disabilities.

Frnaklin ebookman worked great for when it was viable. It's failure was that publishers were afraid of ebooks. it had good readability unti lthe Rex came about with a far better screen. Both were ahead of their time and only "failed" because of publishers.

A lot of that stuff were far from failures. they were designed for a specific task. the 3d mousing devices are STILL used to this day in high end 3d CAD.

I think the submitter needs to understand what "failed" means.

Re:Failed? (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085630)

In no way am I criticizing your post, because I think you are correct, but I think it's interesting how many others have complained about the headline using the term Failed and then include a list of successs, yet they get ripped on for not clicking the other link, not RTFA, etc

I guess when your ./ ID is 5 digits, you get modded up instead of mocked

Re:Failed? (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085680)

I think the submitter needs to understand what "failed" means.

He's mostly using "failed" in the conventional marketdroid sense - they didn't fly off the shelves making the corporation manufacturing them and those investing in them buckets of cash.
 

A lot of that stuff were far from failures. they were designed for a specific task. the 3d mousing devices are STILL used to this day in high end 3d CAD.

That's true of many of the items in the collection.
 
He labels the overblown Swiss Army Knife [microsoft.com] as a bad design - while failing to consider the purpose of the design. (As a collectible/art piece, which he tacitly admits it was a success at.) The next knife down [microsoft.com] he's equally dismissive of. But he fails to consider that a) there are other methods of carrying (a belt pouch for example), or b) that there *are* people who constantly have something it will fit into handy (a photographer and his camera bag, a fisherman and his tackle box, etc..). The lowest knife [microsoft.com] , which he praises, has so little functionality it's only real use is to be impressive to the guy in the next cubicle over because you're the Guy Who Always Has A Knife.
 
The same with the Nikon Coolpix 100 [microsoft.com] . He seems utterly unaware that there are a huge number of cameras out there... My little Canon A1200 [canon.com] has no extra chargers or cables either.
 
He praises the Olympic Memory Stick Thumb Drive [microsoft.com] - but take away the 'cool' packaging, and it's just another thumb drive. Maybe he keeps the 'cool' packaging as an art piece on his desk, but I suspect he's one of the few.
 
Overall Mr Buxton is really, really bad at evaluating the success or failure and the usefulness or not of many of the items he has in his collection.

Re:Failed? (2)

kat_skan (5219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086296)

Overall Mr Buxton is really, really bad at evaluating the success or failure and the usefulness or not of many of the items he has in his collection.

Perhaps, but my impression is he's not collecting them because they were successful or failures per se. He's collecting them because they're interesting. Honestly I think the real failure here is the submitter, whose only thought when he came across a gallery of 30 years worth of input devices was to point and gawk at the weird ones.

Failed != "Interesting, Useful, or Important" (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086410)

If you look at the linked page, the collector says these are "input and interactive devices that he found interesting, useful, or important," not (as the submitter read into it) "failed."

I'd imagine a high percentage of the collection did fail in the marketplace, simply because there's no point adding a normal PC mouse, for example, to a collection. But neither is this a random collection of crappy failed products, which would be endless and not very valuable.

I have one of the products, a wireless keyboard/trackpad, which is perfect for controlling a computer connected to a TV - which is very useful now that "TVs" are 1080p digital displays.

Not sure failure is the right word. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085086)

Amazon Kindle a failure? There is a difference between vintage prototypes, and failures...

Re:Not sure failure is the right word. (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085180)

This is not a collection of prototypes of failures. A lot of the pieces look like production units and the Etch-A-Sketch is definitely not a failure. I'm not sure where the OP came up with the title.

Why is the HTML broken? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085140)

Why is the HTML broken? You click on a picture or the caption beneath it, and it just shows the name of the thing you typed at the top of the screen, and pictures of all of the rest of the stuff. I suppose they put 50 hours into the sliverblight portion of the page, and 5 minutes on the HTML. Well silverblight is proprietary and crap, and coincidentally, so is their HTML. Also, based on what I've seen, the page isn't really that interesting. Move on.

Bob (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085194)

Where is Microsoft Bob?

Re:Bob (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086388)

When was MS Bob a hardware?

FULL INCURSION (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085260)

Server Error in '/' Application.

The resource cannot be found.

I guess the list itself is a tech failure, and thus belongs on this list?

FULL INCURSION COMPLETE.

PivotViewer? (1)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085308)

Anyone else look at the first page and think that "Experience in PivotViewer" was the first example of tech failures? I was looking all over the page for a "page 2" or "next" link.

Vintage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36085814)

I thought that the "vintage" moniker only applied to items at least twenty years old. And failures? Many of these devices I recall using in school, buying, stealing from electronics store/manufacturers dumpsters..I was expecting more novelty than the "green-eye mouse" or force-feedback.
(oh yeah, now haptic feedback is all the rage)

strange... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086030)

for a Microsoft Research page, there's a notable dearth of examples of Microsoft hardware.
Draw your own conclusions from that...

Re:strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36086428)

Yeah pretty much every generation of iPod including the iPod touch is on the list. How about the Zune? Nope (at least not in the same area as the iPods).

Newton Missing (1)

ThreeDeeNut (1061050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36086092)

Strange how the apple newton and the iphone1 were not mentioned in the PDA section. Oh, it's a microsoft site.

not failures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36086300)

iPod Touch. Really a failure? It is still being sold and is what on v3? Must be doing alright. Where it fails in my opinion is price/performance. If I'm going to carry around something the size of a smart phone I might as well have a smartphone. If I don't want to by and iPhone because I already have a smartphone do I really want to be carrying around 2 smartphones? At the other end of the scale you have something the size of a smartphone that isn't and then a say cheapo candy bar phone. All the inconvenience of a smartphone with less of the functionality + still need a phone. Anyways the product doesn't work for me but I think their must be a group of people that it works for (say parents giving it to kids that don't want to shell out the money for an expensive smartphone data plan or buy their kids a second device to play games on.

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