back to article Would you believe it? The Museum of Failure contains quite a few pieces of technology

If you work in Silicon Valley, you might want to look away now. Because one day your work may well feature in the Museum of Failure. Created by organizational psychologist Samuel West and due to open in Sweden in June, the museum celebrates the screw-ups, the well-intentioned but poorly considered, and the outright idiotic. …

  1. redpawn Silver badge

    Zima anyone?

    Or perhaps Windows Vista? But you say Zima backlash lead to the micro-brew revolution and Vista helped create... oh, never mind.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Zima anyone?

      The microbrew revolution had already been well underway for over a decade when Zima was introduced. As an example, New Albion Brewing Company opened in 1976 v.s. Zima, which was introduced in 1993.

      Beer (not that abomination Zima!), for what should be obvious reasons.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Zima anyone?

        Signing HR 1337 into law may have been Jimmy Carter's finest moment. Easing up excise tax on beer and wine likely sparked hundreds of people to take interest and convert that hobby into a profitable business. So even if some people might be tempted to put his term as President into the Museum of Failure they might want to think twice as it likely created more jobs than most other U.S. presidencies.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Zima anyone?

      "Or perhaps Windows Vista?"

      you meant Windows 'Ape' and Win-10-nic too, right?

      [Vista is better than either one of 'em.]

      Once the dust clears (i.e. most of us are running "other than windows"), they'll be declared the reasons Micro-shaft failed. They'll deserve their own wing at the museum. It will be *LEGENDARY* !!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zima anyone?

        I think ME was much worse than Vista.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zima anyone?

      "The Museum of Failure contains quite a few pieces of technology"

      Desktop Linux must be high on the list...

    4. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

      Re: Zima anyone?

      naw, not a failure-it makes a resurgence in the early 2250's.... :)

      Zima in Babylon 5

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up next..

    .. I was hoping to see systemd, but it appears that's a lost fight.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Up next..

      Give it a little more time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Up next..

      The next article I'm reading after this one is the article about Devuan 1.0.0.

  3. Bob Hoskins


    That piece of crap bombed big time.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Linux

      "That piece of crap bombed big time."

      Really? If you look carefully you might realise that the 'u' could stand for 'ubiquitous'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linux

      Then why have I been productively using it as my primary desktop for nearly 10 years, as Microsoft atrophies away?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Linux

        "Then why have I been productively using it as my primary desktop" ..... the "primary" is the clue. Linux is great for servers and a good fit for IoT where the vendors can just load it up and forget it (arrgh!). But for the desktop it still fails to catch on despite the fact that Microsoft alienates a bunch of customers (well mainly their IT folks) every time it does anything. It's not that Linux on the desktop is bad (forgetting Unity) it's just that the Linux desktop share is tiny and people and individuals are scared of making the jump. This isn't helped by the fact that there are many different Linux desktops to choose between so there is no obvious choice for the uninitiated (or the initiated for that matter). This results in each distro having a small share of the already tiny Linux desktop share. As such PC vendors don't touch it and it is very unattractive for commercial applications where lack of binary compatibility rears its head. This is aptly demonstrated by the PC gaming market (Steam usage shows < 1% Linux desktop). As such Linux is your "primary" desktop, but not your only one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Linux

          Systemd+Linux (ie. ignoring Android) is a failure in a similar way as Google Glass: It's perceived as such by the "new and shiny"-obsessed consumer-tech media. Despite both technologies continuing to thrive in their own niches (business/medicine for Glass, power users for Linux), if it's not present in the newsroom, it's considered a failure.

          As such PC vendors don't touch it and it is very unattractive for commercial applications where lack of binary compatibility rears its head. This is aptly demonstrated by the PC gaming market (Steam usage shows < 1% Linux desktop).

          And Steam also shows barely over 3% for MacOS. What a miserable failure that OS must be as well, right?

          As such Linux is your "primary" desktop, but not your only one.

          Speak for yourself, chump. And yes, I'm part of that <1% of Linux Steam users.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Linux

            ..... "And Steam also shows barely over 3% for MacOS. What a miserable failure that OS must be as well, right?"

            Not really. The market share stats show about 11% i.e 10 MacOS machines to every Linux desktop, so comparatively very very successful.

            Interesting that you are one of the <1% Linux Steam users. Is it a good experience? Lets go for the definitive Reg test .... does it have Crysis? Nope.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Linux

          I don't use windows at all.

          Good job typing all of that shit based on a wild guess.

    3. JLV

      Re: Linux

      Seems like your post did too ;-)

      Doubling down on the icon!

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Bob Hoskins -- Re: Linux

      Well done sir... you used the troll icon and still got outraged responses. Have one on me...

    5. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Linux

      No, no, Linux is a classic example of how a bad, outdated product can be a success just because it's very cheap, just like most Chinese stuff sold on Western markets.

      1. mics39

        Re: Linux


        What? So your definition of a good modern product is expensive (in both price and associated conditions), opaque, tightly controlled stuff not made by the Chinese?

        And it is OK for anyone but the Chinese to produce successful bad outdated products cheaply for the Western markets? Well, no wonder Microsoft loves you! Probably Trumpy too.

    6. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Linux

      troll icon spotted. joke appreciated

  4. John H Woods

    Me: "Hey, Honey... fancy a weekend trip to Sweden in June?"

    She: "Sounds good, why?"

    Me: *shows article* "I fancy going to this exhibition"

    She: *reading* "That looks interesting, but I'm not coming with you"

    Me: "Why not?"

    She: "I don't want to be spotted on the way out and accused of stealing an exhibit"

    1. jake Silver badge

      ::standing ovation::

      My Wife just commented "Damn, I should have thought of that ... "

    2. macjules Silver badge


      My wife's tuppence worth was to say "Ooh, let's go and see it: I can say that I'm making a donation"

    3. sebt
      Thumb Up

      Ovation and Mexican wave


      There's a Museum of Failed Relationships in Zagreb, where you're actually encouraged to leave items representing a failed relationship. I doubt they accept live exhibits, but still, perhaps you'd be safer not going there with your other half.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any of the many different manufacturers' attempts to produce a PC - which fell by the wayside when the IBM PC architecture became standard.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Including IBM itself with PC/2.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        PC/2 PS/2

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
  6. Mage Silver badge

    Several sorts of fail

    1: Inherently stupid products

    2: Failure due to hype / bad marketing etc (Newton)

    3: Failure due to no marketing (some touch phones before iPhone)

    4: Technology not quite perfected (Philips N1500 Video cartridge etc)

    5: Great idea very badly done (nGage)

    6: Inherently too expensive (Fax from 1850s to 1970s)

    7: Infrastructure too slow or expensive (Smart Phones from 1998 to 1996)

    8: Bad management causing company fail (Osborne Computer, Nokia Phone division)

    9: Bad luck?

    10: Too late to market (Philips Video 2000)

    I'm sure people can think of other reasons.

    The reason why some products and services that are mediocre or even nasty actually madly succeed seems to be a combination of luck and marketing. Actually may apply to almost all products and services. It's a fallacy that a "good idea" is route to wealth. Most successes are not due to the "good idea".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Several sorts of fail

      The difference between failure or success can be just because "its time has come". Often the basic concept has existed for some time - possibly as a "solution looking for a problem".

      Success can be built on other people charting the path by their failures.

      ICL did the One Per Desk integrated personal desktop phone/computer. They also did video on demand services. The right ideas - but too early.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Several sorts of fail

      11. Badly built. Example : the Lancia Beta. Fine car that fell to bits in front of you as the tin worm ravaged the shell.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        In defence of Lancia Betas (sort of)

        You should have owned one in decent climate or a country where the powers that be don't try to destroy your car in some half-arsed road safety measure that everyone else gave up before WW2. Then you could have discovered the dodgy electrics, cheap plastic fittings, saggy seats and terrible build quality.

        They went like buggery and looked cool, mind. I enjoyed mine no end. Probably my third favourite car I've owned.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Several sorts of fail

      A couple of other reasons:

      11: management incompetence (XEROX Alto).

      12. A more specific marketing problem, failure to grasp the original target market in not interested but that others will be (color copying and RCA in the 60/70's aimed at the consumer market but found great success in the 80's in the business market).

      1. John Gamble

        Re: Several sorts of fail

        13: Marketing attack (not, strictly speaking, sabotage) -- RCA's marketing of their "RCA SelectaVision VideoDiscs", which from the outsider's viewpoint looked like an attack on the Philips system with a cheaper and technically inferior design. But it divided the market, and the Philips system didn't get the market share it needed to succeed, at least in the U. S.

        14. I presume some failures might be due to actual sabotage or industrial espionage, but I'm not familiar with any cases that may be out there.

      2. Meph

        Re: Several sorts of fail


        Further to this, obsolescence\plain old bad timing. A prime example was the mini disk. The concept was good, and the design was clever, but the uptake of MP3 and corresponding non-volatile flash memory boom killed it in its infancy.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Mage -- Re: Several sorts of fail

      Most successes are not due to the "good idea".

      Ah... you are not thinking like a marketing droid. If it sells well and makes the company a pile of money... then it's a "good idea". Or maybe a "great idea" depending on how much money it brings in.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Stoke the atom furnaces

      Re: Several sorts of fail

      9: Bad luck : Tangerine Computer Systems, maker of the Oric-1 - their factory burnt down!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Several sorts of fail

        DEC ... Totally squandered. Enough said.

    6. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Several sorts of fail

      And just to add to that:

      • Sinclair C5 - Successful computer company goes into car production ... are you reading this Apple?
      • Apple Pippin
      • Philips Laser Disc
      • IE6 - 'nuff said
      • HD-DVD - Betamax successor
      • MS-Bob - anyone else recall that one?
      • Apple eWorld -it was actually priced to keep people from buying it

    7. The Other Carl

      Re: Several sorts of fail

      I could well argue that fax machines were a fabulous solution for a couple of decades - they just got replaced by the next wave. Remember that the prior solution was snail mail or outrageously expensive courier services. The idea that someone could receive a letter in real time was revolutionary.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Fax Machines: The Prior Solution

        You've forgotten Telex!

        Brilliant concept for legally proving a message was sent and received simultaneously.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Fax Machines: The Prior Solution


          You've forgotten Telex!

          Brilliant concept for legally proving a message was sent and received simultaneously.


          Except it didn't. Both an allegedly received and allegedly transmitted telex message could be trivially forged simply by typing it out in local mode complete with the alleged answerback message. Gentex exchanges were electromechanical and kept no call logs.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: no call logs

            Two-part telex rolls were your "call log". Contemporaneous messages before and after the telex whose provenance was being questioned would have nailed proof of validity.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Several sorts of fail


        I could well argue that fax machines were a fabulous solution for a couple of decades - they just got replaced by the next wave. Remember that the prior solution was snail mail or outrageously expensive courier services. The idea that someone could receive a letter in real time was revolutionary.


        Far better quality than letters or even modern Fax. I worked in a Gentex exchange which was also responsible for receiving facsimiles, and I operated its fax machine precursor in the early 1970's. The big difference was that it was analogue rather than digital and could received full grey-scale photographic images at pretty good (adjustable) resolution. Reception was by prior arrangement. After receiving a call to say that an image was going to be sent, I'd go into the dark room where the facsimile machine was located and wrap a piece of ordinary 8" X 10" black-and-white photographic paper around the drum. After the drum was placed in the machine and the cover closed, the lights could be turned on. I'd then phone the transmitting operator and he would send some calibration tones so I could adjust the black & white levels before starting the drum spinning, syncing with the sending station and commencing the image transmission. Then followed another red-light session with developer & fixer trays before calling the transmitting bod to say whether it needed to be retransmitted (due to noise or crosstalk on the line etc.) Then I'd dry/glaze the photo. Most of the images I received were then rushed by messenger to the local newspaper offices, and they would appear in the next edition captioned "photo by landline". It was quite an expensive service, and often transmission was over a special "quiet" line rather than a normal POTS line if the source location and time allowed. ("Quiet" lines used 3 adjacent carrier channels instead of one, which reduced adjacent channel interference and provided wider bandwidth).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

    Errm, that's horseshit, it was used in pro broadcast industry for a decade after it stopped being sold to consumers, for one ready, the quality was really good.

    If you want the worlds most epic failure, surely that would have to be the Microsoft Xbox 360, with a massive 70% failure rate, and userbase that was only a quarter of it's console sales base (because of the huge failure rate and console replacement numbers). It was a major contributor as to why the Xbox One flopped to badly.

    Other Notable entries:

    Microsoft Zune

    Microsoft Kin

    Microsoft Lumia

    Basically pretty much everything Microsoft aside from Windows and Office and their supporting backend and development products.

    1. lpcollier

      Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

      Betamax - the consumer format - was not used in the broadcast industry. Betacam was used for some cameras and U-matic was the preferred studio video cassette format. The smaller Betacam cassettes were the same form factor as Betamax but were not the same format.

      1. DuncanL

        Re: Betamax vs Betacam

        lpcollier - Thanks for concisely summarising what went through my head as I read the ACs post!

      2. Updraft102

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        People forget that the Betamax video cassettes that had slightly higher quality than VHS had only an hour of recording time, whereas VHS entered the market with two hours as the standard. One hour was not long enough for a movie or an entire sports event. The Betamax tapes that were extended to give longer times did so at first by halving the tape speed, which dropped its quality to below VHS standards.

        Beta machines cost more initially. JVC readily licensed VHS technology to other makers, while Sony initially kept the Beta format to itself, reducing competition and raising prices. By the time they reversed that policy, VHS was already far ahead in consumer acceptance, and soon the prices on Beta machines fell to below that of VHS, as it was becoming evident that Beta's days were numbered.

        People wanted longer recording/playback times and cheaper VCRs, and VHS delivered on both. It was the rightful winner of the format war.

        1. ma1010

          Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

          "People wanted longer recording/playback times and cheaper VCRs, and VHS delivered on both. It was the rightful winner of the format war."

          Exactly! American Football (I believe that, correctly or incorrectly, Right-Pondians refer to that as "Rugby for Pussies"?) or Baseball games generally last around 3 hours, and VHS could record (at slower speeds) for up to 6 hours, so it was the obvious choice for time-shifting sporting events back in the day.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

      They were both shit. Formats were what we had to suffer while we waited for data to transcend physical media.

      I took great pleasure watching Bluray win its pyrrhic victory over HDDVD, knowing I would never buy another player or disc. Ever.

      1. lpcollier

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        Actually high-band U-matic was very good for standard definition. And many of the Blurays you enjoy are still filmed on chemical filmstock then transferred to a digital video format. We're not quite tied to physical media in the same way as with analogue tape, but choice of codec is still relatively tied to the medium - compact flash or SD for mobile, removable SSDs for small/medium portable production units and straight to RAID arrays in studios. The transfer speed of the removable drives can limit choice of codec.

      2. AZump

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better., no 4k bluray for you then, eh?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

          Well I don't have a 4k monitor, or the bandwidth to download 4k in acceptable time.

          1080p is good enough.

          1. Updraft102

            Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

            I'm still at 480i!

            1. unpale

              Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

              I use a CGA card myself.

              640 pixels should be enough resolution for anybody.

    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

      Really the success of VHS was down to more suppliers of VHS players (Sony licensing I guess) and so video hire shops (remember them?) stocked way more VHS titles, leading to positive feedback. Same for availability of grumble flicks. Er, allegedly.

      On notable failures we should also list Sony for its various attempts at forcing propitiatory tech on the world in the face of better/cheaper alternatives:

      1) Mini-disk player, good idea in many way but way too expensive. DRM. Struggled to displace audio cassettes. Both died when SSD came along.

      2) Memory sticks.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        Sony have been wonderfully impressive at creating a good product, then strangling it in the market by stupid terms.

        I think they might be world leaders in foot-gun production by now.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

          I think they might be world leaders in foot-gun production by now.

          I think Samsung are leading by a short nose..

          1. Alistair

            Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.


            Samsung are only leading by the width of a battery contact.... if your nose is that short I suspect you've been hanging out too close to the screen. Go get yer eyes checked.

      2. John 209

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        However, re Sony: It seems to have learned its lesson from those days that you mention, at least insofar as its digital cameras are concerned. Unlike its competitors, who marketing departments parse out advanced features according to their tiered market-price categories (in order to keep up-selling wannabe digital photographers for the better features), Sony routinely puts its advance features in their whole product line as soon as that technology is available and economically feasible. The result is a line of digital cameras that, not cheaply, embody the best that can be had in the various price categories.

      3. Domquark

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        One major - if not THE - reason for VHS winning the battle was that Sony refused to let porn be put on the Betamax format. This gave away a massive market which VHS took full advantage of. Interestingly, Sony subsequently let the porn industry use Blu-Ray, which killed HD-DVD.

        I know there are other factors, but the porn connection is a major one.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

          Blu Ray won due to various reasons.

          1) Most support from the major manufacturers

          2) PS3

          3) Sony owning film studios.

          Sony bought film studios to prevent another format failure

      4. DiViDeD

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        "Mini-disk player"

        There's the problem, right there. MD was primarily marketed as a way to listen to commercially produced recordings, while its major strength (played down by Sony, possibly because it feared high quality audio 'bootlegs' flooding the lucrative market they had just moved into with the formation of Sony BMG) was the ability to transfer the digital data on a CD or DAT tape direct to the disc. Mine even had an optical input for that very purpose. That, coupled with the fact that you had an exceptionally high quality recorder that would fit in your pocket, should have made it a winner.

        Although memory sticks, yes. *they* were crap.

        1. LaeMing

          Re: Minidisk

          I recall reading about the frustration of one user who couldn't make digital copies of a minidisk *he had recorded himself* (It was, IIRC, his brother's wedding) because Sony's DRM was convinced you would only ever do such a thing for piracy purposes.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        Have an upvote for using the much-abused phrase "positive feedback" correctly.

      6. strum

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        >Really the success of VHS was down to more suppliers of VHS players


        Sony wouldn't licence Betamax (it was far too complex to farm out) and Philips (the early leader in home tape tech) couldn't even manufacture them themselves, let alone licence it to other companies.

        JVC's licencing meant that you would go into Rumblelows and find one (expensive) Betamax, one Philips VideoCassette (not currently working) and several VHS machines, with well-known local brands. The varieties of VHS also offered different form-factors - including front-feed (most of the original video machines were top-feed).

    4. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

      Add Surface 1. There are warehouses still charging MSFT for space.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

        "Add Surface 1. There are warehouses still charging MSFT for space."

        It sold 1.5 million versus Microsoft predictions of 2 million. Not exactly a massive failure for a new product... And they would have sold more if they didn't initially keep running out of stock of the higher end Pro versions!

    5. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Betamax - Betamax quality was actually that much better.

      I ran Beta until I got a PVR.

      Used an old Ondigital box with a HiFI Sanyo deck.

      My old Sony super deck was superb

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Betamax - Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better.

      Simples: There were more pron titles available on VHS.

      So endeth Betamax...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Betamax

        Since I have used it from 84 to date I have had some experience.

        Sanyo VCRs were slightly better than VHS, except top end

        Sony cheap VCRs were slightly better than VHS

        Sony top end decks were better enough to be obvious over the opposition

        I had 3rd generation Beta copies better than someone else 2nd Vhs copies.

        That is my copied off edit master better than their edit master.

        Slightly larger VCR with 3hours 15minute recording vs slightly smaller with 30 minute.

        That is THE Beta portable vs a JVC I think compact portable.

        Actually there were not that many portable VCRs in the UK, only 3 were sales successes.

        Mechanical Sony no

        Most VHS, few bought as expensive heavy and not very good.

        The other Beta one, why would you?

        The big sellers were

        a JVC Vhs-C deck, Panasonic NV180, Sony SL-F1UB

        The same 3 companies also made the best cameras, JVC made the best tube camera, Panasonic just about the only CCD camera, Sony was basic but good colour handling.

        The main reason that it came down to so few decks was simple.

        Why buy an inferior recorder to the market leaders?

        The F1 was so ahead of the other portables it was the most common recorder to be found at the end of a camera cable, the two other Beta portables were in comparison bad. JVC was small and compact, the NV180 was best non Beta, possibly the best non SL-F1.

        Then came all in ones and the market disappeared for portables overnight. Pity really as you could mix and match. Many JVC cameras were plugged into Sony portables.

        But for me 3 video cameras in 30 years is not bad, Beta seperates, DV, HDV, not sure what to do after HDV, but it still works!

  8. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Post It Notes

    Classic example of failure being a subsequent success.

    Personally I hate them for anything other than passing on messages that are to be instantly discarded. Upgrading customer hardware almost invariably involves peeling off a plethora of long irrelevant password and shopping reminders from keyboards and monitors.

    Me? I have A4 scraps of reminders strewn all over my desk. I subscribe to the "Geological Philosophy" of "physical data retrieval". This is where one looks for information only down as far as "well this note was written much longer ago than what I'm looking for, so it can't be in this pile." (If someone invents a Management Strategy out of this, I'd appreciate an acknowledgement).

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Post It Notes

      I subscribe to the "Geological Philosophy" of "physical data retrieval".

      AKA the one heap filing system. "I know where it is, it's in that heap." Only problem is, SWMBO keeps moving the heap.

      1. handleoclast

        Re: AKA the one heap filing system.

        AKA "piling system."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Post It Notes

      "Classic example of failure being a subsequent success."

      Isn't viagra in the same category - seem to recall reading that it was developed as a treatment for blood pressure but while it turned out not to be as effective for that as intended the researchers did notice some interesting side-effects that the men in the trial reported.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "We are reminded of one anecdote we were told years ago in which IBM CEO Lou Gerstner called a manager who had screwed up and cost the company $10m up to his office for a meeting."

    But who gets to call a CEO who's screwed up up to their office?

    1. DNTP

      Re: call a screwup CEO up to the office

      Twitter, or possibly the Republican party.

    2. Chunes

      I'll Bet A Few Folks Would Like To Call

      Ballmer up to their office.

    3. AdamWill


      The board.

  10. Fihart

    Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

    The infamous (or unfamous) DCC -- I only know one person who bought into it -- though a few record shops stocked the prerecorded tapes, as I recall.

    Then there were those really big cassettes (LCassette ?). Sony made some machines, but the medium barely surfaced.

    Quadraphonics -- none of the systems (SQ promoted by CBS and Sony, CD4 by Warner and Panasonic or QS by ABC Records and Sansui) actually worked and, having tried quad out, I was relieved to go back to regular stereo.

    1. stungebag

      3D TV

      My brother-in-law bought one. Nobody can work out why. His excuse was something to do with Manchester United.

      Sometimes marketing people just can't disabuse theselves of the notion that just because you have the technology to do something, people will inevitably pay lots of money to buy it. Look at IoT.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        Re: 3D TV

        3D tellies and monitors are not a waste. Some 3D films are ok, but certain computer games literally gain another dimension by being played on a 3D monitor (even if the passive ones have a low vertical resolution).

        Try Portal 2 or Lego Batman, then tell me I'm wrong. 3D has been used to great effect in the Nintendo 3DS, too.

    2. AZump

      Re: Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

      No idea what you mean, Dark Side of the Moon was awesome in 200w per channel Quadraphonic. :)

      1. Ivan Headache

        Re: Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

        Back in the 70s I had a Teac 4 track quarter-inch tape machine and a goodly collection of quad tapes to play on it (Zappa, Doobie Bros, Tomita, Moody Blues are some that I can remember).

        They all sounded ace (to use a phrase from the day). Never tried any of the vinyl versions though.

        With regard to the Newton. A friend of mine won one in an Apple giveaway at the UK launch. He brought it in to work and we all had a play at writing our names. One or two it got right, but most it didn't. One chap was called Nick O'Brien. After Newton he was called Slick O' Berlin.

        1. GrapeBunch

          Re: Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

          Re: text entry on Apple Newton. I rather miss Giraffe on the Handspring whats-its-name, a Palm-like PDA. I got fairly skilled (at least, by my own standards) using Giraffe for manual text input, then Giraffe went away.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

      Then there were those really big cassettes (LCassette ?). Sony made some machines, but the medium barely surfaced.

      Elcaset. Basically your standard compact cassette, scaled up to work with 1/4" tape (like consumer reel-to-reel recorders uses).

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

      DCC was a dead end DAT was better

      Elcassette was an attempt at a high end cassette format, failed due to compact cassette.

    5. JPeasmould

      Re: Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

      There is a story of a British hi-fi manufacturer who sent their quadraphonic decoder to Pink Floyd to try out in their studio.

      They sent it back with a 4-track recording of the unit being dropped from 20 feet on to a concrete floor with a note saying "this is what quad should sound like".

      Mind you they had a cheek: the quad version of Dark Side of the Moon cost more than the two-track stereo version but, early on anyway, the only difference was the album sleeve (same pressing number).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As the new museum is to be located in Sweden it would be appropriate if it was located next to the Vassa ship museum in Stockholm.

    I am convinced that those responsible for the Vassa were the genetic ancestors of many of the managers I met in a career in the IT and Telecoms industries. For those of you who know not of the Vassa, it was built to a dodgy design in 1628. Even today it still "looks" wrong. The captain and crew (aka Ops team) were worried about stability so the day before the first voyage they carried out a stability test by getting men to run from one side to the other on the top deck. The test was abandoned (or completed depending on your viewpoint) over fears that the ship may capsize. This while being tied to the dockside.!

    Next day the ship sailed, got several hundred metres into the bay and rolled over. 333 years later it was dug up and put in its own museum of failure. I wonder if the PCs in the museum are running Ubuntu with Unity?

    1. Anonymous Tribble

      Re: Sweden

      The Vassa is still an impressive ship though, safely propped up in a dry-dock where she belongs. I visited the museum a few months ago.

      I didn't notice what OS the PCs were running.

      1. -tim

        Re: Sweden

        Could it be considered a ship since it couldn't meet the core requirement for a ship?

        Many decades ago there was a tv show about how they had found Noah's Ark. The next day the Russian Orthodox priest who had somehow managed to get a job teaching religion in a Catholic school brought in a a very old book and asked the question "So which one did they find this time?" and went into the details of groups building churches where they thought the Ark had landed. Apparently being boat builder for a rich guy who wanted to build church shaped like arks on mountain tops isn't a great way to learn how to build real boats.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Sweden

      Not that it matters but it's Vasa like in

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sweden

        "Not that it matters but it's Vasa like in"

        So ... you're saying the OP is a fail?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sweden

        Spelling of Vasa.

        Fair point but as I am an engineer with a science background, I don't need to be able to spell correctly. I only need to know that correct spelling is possible in the final release. My first post was a Beta and you performed your role as tester excellently. Thank you.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Sweden

      It was a management fail of epic proportions. The designer had only one deck originally and tests showed this to be stable.(long after the fact tests). The King ordered it changed to 2 gundecks without any changes anywhere else. The ship couldn't carry enough ballast and was top heavy. We know the result... the King carried on and the builder took the heat for "following orders".

    4. What? Me worry?

      Re: Sweden

      Wasa ship - way cool to go visit though. I saw it in the early eighties before they had the bespoke museum for it. We were on a school tour. At that time they were still 'drying it out' / injecting it with special preservatives. Inside the shelter where it was being stored, there was active archaeological dig and during our visit they were finding skeletal remains. Again, way cool! :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as it invariably leads to learning lessons

    The old standby, but the problem always remains that those lessons are very seldom applied and when it all happens again they have to be relearned.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lessons are often learned and applied - without realising that the constraints have subsequently changed. This can make a new failure possible - or hold back a new development.

      A disruptive technology is often one that understands that the constraints have changed - and what previously failed will now work.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. handleoclast

      Re: Top Failure is MS Windows 10.

      Nah, that's number 3 on the list of s/w failures.

      Top failure is Windows 8 (and Linux desktop flavours that attempt to mimic it).

      Tied for number 2 spot are Vista and Win 10.

      Tied for number 3 spot is any other Microsoft product ever.

      1. PaulR79

        Re: Top Failure is MS Windows 10.

        No no no no no. That simply will not do. The number 3 spot belongs solely to Windows ME.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Top Failure is MS Windows 10.

          I'd say Win 8 was a tie with ME. More uptake, because forced. But even more hated.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Betamax quality wasn't actually that much better"

    You cannot have been alive then because Betamax was massively better and survived until recently in Broadcast quality cameras.

    Even better quality, at the time, was the V2000 format invented by, I think, Philipps, but apart from Grundig I don't anyone else took up the format since most video kit was produced in Japan at the time.

    1. casinowilhelm

      Re: VHS

      pro beta and domestic beta were two different things, as pointed out elsewhere on here.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: VHS

      V2000 was slightly better than VHS and slightly worse than Beta. Trick play was its advantage.

      Comes down to recording speed, which comes down to head diameter.

      Beta - 74.5

      V2000 - 65

      VHS - 62

  15. I am the liquor

    Harley perfume

    "But honestly, no one associates motorcycles with nice smells. Not even men."

    No-one associates Harleys with nice smells, that's true, but a blue cloud of Castrol R from the exhaust of a 350LC is the smell of heaven.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Harley perfume


      Isn't that a lawnmower?

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Harley perfume

        " 350LC

        Isn't that a lawnmower?"

        No. Its an accident looking for a place to happen from the days before tyre, frame and suspension technology caught up with engine output. For the full catastrophe you wanted an RD500LC.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Harley perfume

          Ah yes, the RDs. Stood for "rapid death". The only thing more squirrely on the street (in a similar bike class) were the Kawasaki two stroke triples ... And all with no brakes to speak of. It's a wonder I survived.the late '70s/early '80s ...

          1. Domquark

            Re: Harley perfume

            I had a KH400. The front disc wasn't too bad, but the back drum brake had as much effect as a slug in KY jelly. What I found more concerning was the "Hinge in the middle" frame coupled to weak spindley forks, making handling - err... interesting. This was amplified on the larger versions - KH500, H1 and H2, which gained the collective nickname of "The Widowmaker".

            But the noise from the two stroke triple engine made you forgive it's faults. And they are worth a fortune now - especially the ultra rare H2R.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: Harley perfume

            in the 60's there was a Honda 550 turbo for a while. When the turbo kicked in, even at freeway speeds, you'd often pop a wheelie from the power surge. A relative of mine had one for less than a week (even went to Oxnard to pick it up directly after arriving on the ship), and promptly turned it back in and got a 450 (no turbo).

            So yeah, "donor cycle" "rapid death" etc. failure. Not exclusive to Harley.

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Harley perfume

            Kawasaki two stroke triples ...

            One of my brothers had one of those. The central pot was forever seizing up - usually resulting in the bike coming to a sudden, usually catastrophic stop..

            I think he rebuilt the engine about 4 times in 4 months. Then sold the bike and bought himself a Honda 400/4.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Harley perfume

          full catastrophe you wanted an RD500LC.

          AKA "Expressly designed to wheelie learners into a tree[1]"

          [1] Insert other fixed roadside object of choice. Allegedly, one of the reasons why, just before I started riding bikes, they changed the size of bikes that learners were allowed to use..

  16. Korev Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Bic for her

    The reviews for Bic For Her on Amazon are amazing and well worth reading.

    1. keith_w

      Re: Bic for her

      Thank you for making me waste hours and split my sides.

    2. Colin Ritchie

      Re: Bic for her

      The 'Insufficient" review by Mr J Stevens is a masterpiece!

    3. GrapeBunch

      Re: Bic for her

      Glad those comments and commentators are all on the same page, so to speak.

  17. lawndart

    I actually have some Legendary Harley-Davidson shower gel. It was probably a christmas present from the 90's and has lain in a drawer since. It smells OK, but it has had nearly 20 years for the more volatile aromas to fade away.

    1. jake Silver badge

      I received ...

      ... an xmas present of MoFoMoCo Soap-on-a-rope once. Smelled evil, and not in a good way. I have no idea what happened to it.

      Not sure why they thought it was a good gift for me. I already smelled quite nicely of oil & grease & tyres & methanol & gas/petrol & welding ...

  18. Ketlan

    Marry me...

    "But honestly, no one associates motorcycles with nice smells. Not even men."

    Oh, I don't know. I loved the smell of my motorbike, and even the smell of my second wife when she'd been out on hers for hours. There's something about the smells of burning oil/petrol and pisspoor electrics that is really attractive. On the other hand, if a perfume could be produced that smelled like an old and much-loved book, I'd marry the wearer tomorrow - male, female, cephalopod or whatever.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Marry me...

      That smell is similar to a blend of vanilla and almond, created by the long-term breakdown of cellulose and lignin.

      Sorry to leave you heartbroken, but I'm not available.

      1. Ketlan

        Re: Marry me...

        'Sorry to leave you heartbroken, but I'm not available.'

        Damn. :-(

  19. Ketlan


    Downvotes, ahoy.

    Linux, in whatever form, is shit. People use Microsoft in whichever way they find it because it's relatively intuitive. Linux simply isn't and the Linux community is both elitist and exclusive. I have on many occasions over the past few years tried to escape the Microsoft chains only to find myself treated like a fucking idiot on various Linux forums for asking, what seems to these supreme beings to be, very basic questions. If Linux users embraced ex-Windows users, maybe things would get better for Linux generally. As it is, they won't and it won't.

    The sad thing is that, if Linux emulated Windows a little more, particularly with regard to compatibility, a hell of a lot more Windows users would make the change. Also, if Linux users didn't regard themselves as so fucking special, that might help, too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FFS...

      Don't feed the troll :-P

    2. JLV

      Re: FFS...


      Not one to let something useful get in the way of a good prejudice, are you?

      Seriously, if you use something like the Ubuntu or Unix SO @, you'd find that their up/down vote system probably weeds out the real basement dwellers. Not endorsing Ubuntu per se, just a pretty busy SO forum.

      Now, of course, if you don't think through your questions that downvote system might also swat you ;-)

      i.e. for every 1 rabid FOSS/Stallman/Linux/GPL commentard on El Reg, there are probably 3-4 who do use Linux w.o. being twats about it. And some might even point you towards a Windows-like Linux stack*. I wouldn't know, I don't use desktop Linux much, just the command line.

      * I assume you don't mean Windows 8.x-like ;-)

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: FFS...

      "People use Microsoft in whichever way they find it because it's relatively intuitive."

      For some relatively low value of "relatively"?

      Star Trek IV

      Engineer Scott (in the 1980's): "Hello Computer"

      Other Guy: Why don't you use the mouse?

      Scotty: (picking up the mouse like a microphone), "Hello Computer"

      Intuitive interface? Yeah, we've heard of that.

      BTW, it took me ages to find my way around the control panel (and to find the control panel), when my wife stupidly upgraded to Windows 10. My "intuition" was telling me where to find settings, but MS was thwarting me by hiding them in non-intuitive different places.

      1. PhilBuk

        Re: FFS...

        That computer was a Mac.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: FFS...

          So? Are you saying the Mac is worse than Windows for "intuitive" UI design?

    4. Cpt Blue Bear


      Intuitive my arse.

      Intuitive is a marketing buzzword used to make lowest common denominator buyers think they will be able to use the expensive toy they are being pitched. Second only to "innovation".

    5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: FFS...

      Linux doesn't suck any worse than Windows at this point.

      And my distro doesn't update without my permission to do $deity knows what

    6. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: FFS...

      Ketlan, I am not going to downvote you as requested, but ask you to read a book like the Linux Bible or UNIX in a Nutshell.

      1. LaeMing

        Re: FFS...

        Linux is, by far, the least-worst desktop OS.

    7. Hollerithevo

      Re: FFS...

      @Ketlan, you've been savaged, but I agree. I finally threw up my hands. When my current PC dies, I'll be moving to an Apple. My wife, who is a smart lawyer and comfortable with both hardware and software, said 'I am not prepared to suck up guy geekdom for a better o/s. I don't enjoy setting this stuff up' and I could not but agree, having got there myself.

  20. Ketlan


    How exactly is honesty trolling?

    1. AdamWill

      Re: FFS...

      Kicking off the world's 16,789,345th pointless Linux vs. Windows thread in the comments of an article that really has nothing to do with it is certainly trolling.

      This is about a museum of *failure*. You can dislike Windows, you can dislike Linux, but it's clearly absurd to call either of them failures.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: FFS...

      "How exactly is honesty trolling?"

      just because you say something, does not make it true (especially true for everyone). and you know that it seems that most people who read El Reg love linux and despise windows [or that seems to be my observation] and so you can expect lots of reactions when you post something like that.

      aka "trolling" for a response. you're welcome

  21. Insane Reindeer

    N-Gage? OK. N-Gage QD? Not so much

    I can't tell if the use of "N-Gage" also lumps in the much better N-Gage QD too. Because it shouldn't. Not only is it better at being a phone than every Android phone I have ever seen, the games ran better too! I still have one as my second phone today. When it comes to getting, and using, a mobile signal not much comes close!

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: N-Gage? OK. N-Gage QD? Not so much

      "Not only is it better at being a phone than every Android phone I have ever seen"

      Even better than the Facebook Phone? Shurely a mistake!

  22. JLV

    Madame Tusseau statues too?

    Perhaps one of an early 00s Google Bomb, "miserable failure".

    Of course, he may not linger at the bottom much longer.

  23. Stevie


    The Kodak point and shoot digital cameras were actually very good, with twice the internal memory of all of the other comparable products by other digital camera manufacturers. Mine started to get twitchy after someone dropped a harvey wallbanger all over it, and my wife killed one by leaving it on the driveway in a rainstorm and then reversing her car over it, but mine still works and she got a replacement.

    Not sure why they failed, but bad product ain't the reason.

    1. PhilBuk

      Re: Bah!

      Kodak also had a starring role in developing digital cameras and held a lot of the patents for the technology. They made digital backs for Nikon, Hasselblad etc. that were used by NASA and other high profile organisations. However, ther own cameras and their marketing of said items was shit.


    2. Brian Miller

      Re: Bah!

      Kodak developed the digital camera, but Kodak was not a technology company, and really still isn't a technology company. So they did a lousy job of bringing the tech to market. Yes, Kodak sensors were in a lot of other cameras. But then Kodak kept selling off important pieces to support the company, and finally all of the profitable pieces were gone, and then Kodak went through bankruptcy.

      1. DerekCurrie

        Re: Bah!

        Having worked there at the time, I can point out that Kodak WAS a technology company! That's why I worked there. For an understanding of why Kodak's technology invention didn't save the company, read my post below, "Kodak Created The First Digital Camera".

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Kodak failures: Disc, PhotoCD, and APS.

      Kodak probably saw digital was going to kill its lucrative consumables and services market, and despite some efforts in digital cameras, including pro ones, it never went that way, with enough decision.

      But IMHO far bigger failures were its attempts in introducing proprietary film formats like Disc or APS, or proprietary media like PhotoCD.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Kodak failures: Disc, PhotoCD, and APS.

        APS was a bad decision, I am so glad the film format APS died.

  24. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "But honestly, no one associates motorcycles with nice smells. Not even men."


    (Which is probably why the HD perfume failed. Everybody who did associate motorcycles with nice smells was repulsed by the HD perfume which was horrible.)

  25. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Nomination: Philips DCC

    Philips tried to redefine the C-cassettes as a digital format: Recording compressed audio digitally (some for of MPEG2-compression I think) on tape cartridges the same size as classic C-cassettes. This was supposed to be also backward-compatible: DCC recorders could play back (but not record) analogue cassettes, even though physically the cassettes looked quite different. The DCC cassette had a sliding tape protector, and was inserted only in one way, no flipping by the user needed. (It still had A and B sides, but switching between these was handled by the deck).

    The sound quality was actually not bad, I owned a deck (probably still somewhere in the cellar) when they were in firesale mode. CD quality, as far as my ears could tell. But the format was harder to use than analogue cassettes. You could not just throw them in, and start recording, some formatting was needed. Also any dirt in the recording head killed it, and one way to get the head dirty quickly was to use the advertised compatibility feature and play back analogue tapes...

    Also it had the problems of tape in seeking to a desired track. It could seek automatically, but it took time. The rival Sony MiniDisk did not have this problem, so it won, sort of.

    Both formats were of course finally obsoleted by MP3 files on the Internet, and MP3 players.

  26. Blofeld's Cat

    Er ...

    Presumably the catering facilities serve "New Coke".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Er ...

      'Presumably the catering facilities serve "New Coke".'

      Though the conspiract theory is that New Coke was a major marketting success ... not only did it get loads of free publicity but also made people realize that they like the original Coke flavour and the attempt to make it appeal more to Pepsi-drinkers with the new version just confirmed their view of why they didn't like Pepsi

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Er ...

        "Though the conspiract theory is that New Coke was a major marketting success"

        I remember that being lampooned on a 'Futurama' episode with respect to 'Slurm'.

        Micro-shaft should consider releasing a "Windows Classic" based on windows 7... then they'd be successful, too!

  27. DerekCurrie

    "Let's start with a classic: the Apple Newton"

    • Ahead of its time.

    • Ambitious beyond available contemporary technology

    • Survived through 7 different versions (technically 8)

    • Inspired Palm PDAs, as well as Palm Treo and Handspring PDA phones

    • Inspired the smartphone, including the iPhone

    • Inspired the touch pad, including the iPad

    It may well have been the single most inspiring achievement of the John Sculley era of Apple.

    Conclusion: Define 'FAIL'.

    1. AdamWill

      Re: "Let's start with a classic: the Apple Newton"

      It didn't work very well, didn't sell very well, lost money, and was quickly abandoned. This is clearly a failure. Companies don't make products in the hopes that they'll lose a ton of money but "inspire" a bunch of stuff to happen a decade later. They make products in the hopes they can sell a ton of them and make lots of money.

    2. Faceless Man

      Re: "Let's start with a classic: the Apple Newton"

      You forgot - convinced ARM to create a low-power mobile version of their struggling RISC platform, which is now being used as the basis for every mobile device.

      The biggest problem the Newton had was that the handwriting recognition system had to learn your handwriting, and people were disappointed it was confused by unusual words. Even so, it was impressive for what it could do straight out of the box.

      Plus, it survived for a really long time if it was that much of a failure. After all, they were still making them 5 years after introduction when Steve came back and killed off the line.

  28. DerekCurrie

    Kodak Created The First Digital Camera

    Kodak was a victim of what I call 'Marketing-As-Management'. It's the single best way for a company to self-destruct. They'd been in the film and paper business for so long that their management effectively lost track of the entrepreneurial drive of George Eastman that had made the company an icon.

    I watched first hand as Research and Development in Kodak created innovative digital technology which was summarily and consistently denigrated by the company's lousy, marketing-oriented management. The cause of this destruction cycle was the worst of all personality clashes, that of the producer versus the relater. R&D finds marketing to be annoying, but deals with it. Marketing finds R&D to be offensive and deliberately undercuts both its morale and funding. Think of marketing as the psychopathic killer of invention.

    Conclusion: Don't be foolish and think Kodak didn't make innovative and important leaps into digital technology! Blame Kodak's crap management for clinging to the old and stomping on the new within their own company.

    A toast to the innovators who tried, despite the chides of the enemy! *clink*clink*

    1. John 209

      Re: Kodak Created The First Digital Camera

      Amen! Exactly! And, after that bad management had run the company into the ground, while running around schmoozing with the other rising corporate elites of the day, they bailed out with their golden parachutes and, in the process, trashed the entire exquisite film division that had been built on decades of incremental progress. While true that the mass market for the latter had collapsed, there was, and is, a niche market for such which has been left without that fine technology.

    2. Ivan Headache

      Re: Kodak Created The First Digital Camera


      Did you know my former neighbour, a certain Mr Green (with a bushy beard)?

    3. MonkeyCee

      Re: Kodak Created The First Digital Camera

      Sounds about right for Kodak. They certainly where a tech company, originally of the chemical type, but into many other things (lots of imaging etc).

      When they went through chapter 11 the patents went for half a billion or so, which would also qualify them as pretty techy :)

      Their inkjets are a lot nicer than HP, and don't rape you on the refills. Although a printer could randomly electrocute me and it'd still be better than most HP inkjets :)

    4. Hollerithevo

      Re: Kodak Created The First Digital Camera

      Like that old saying: if the railroad companies understood that they were in the transportation business, not the railway business, they would own all the airlines. If Kodak's marketing had understood that they were in the image-capturing business, they'd go with the best image-capturing technology.

      1. Alistair

        Re: Kodak Created The First Digital Camera

        @ Hollerithevo:

        Like that old saying: if the railroad companies understood that they were in the transportation business, not the railway business, they would own all the airlines.

        Uhhhm I'm old enough to recall Canadian Pacific. When it owned rail lines and air planes. Hell, flew to Lisbon from T.O. on one. Doesn't seem to have worked out too well for them.

  29. Roland6 Silver badge

    C5 any one?

    I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned the C5; Although I'm not sure if a Swegkart - whilst more fun etc. will be such an iconic product.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: C5 any one?

      Which C5? The Citroen C5? Chevrolet C5? (at least the Citroen one got a reputation as an unreliable car.)

  30. Johnny Canuck

    Computer repairs

    Unless you can do board level microsoldering on iproducts, the computer repair industry is dead. Windows (yes Windows) has gotten so secure that MS has taken the away the bread and butter of the small repair shop. That was, fixing problems caused by malware. In the late '90s and early 2000s the hardware was already pretty good, so rarely failed. Windows95, Windows98, WindowsME and Windows 2000 were all susceptible to malware. Windows 7 changed all that. The malware repairs dried up, computers became too cheap to fix and I switched to renting copiers to hotels for conventions.

    1. fandom

      Re: Computer repairs

      Yes, of course, the moment Windows 7 was released ramsonware writers had to find a new job.

  31. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    All the desktop operating systems

    Desktop computers are going to hell no matter which operating system you're using. Cellphones are massively successful so OS makers think desktop computers should be simplified to match them. At the same time new features must be added to drive upgrades. This contradiction is converging into a mess that is complex yet offering fewer useful features. There's a big fail coming and I hope it clears a path for new things.

  32. Malcolm Weir Silver badge


    The Kodak DCS cameras were anything but failures. Sure they were specialist products (as I recall, $5K and up), but if you wanted a digital version of the Nikon F series, your choice was Kodak.

    Up until Nikon released the D3, the best digital solution for Nikon lenses (and lenses are why we have cameras, right...!) was a Kodak DCS Pro. And, to be honest, there are some things the Kodak could do that the NIkon can't, like the embedded radio slave system (a PocketWizard). Sure, the camera body was nothing like as good as the D3's, but there are still times when I wish I'd pulled out the DCS rather than the D3 (battery life is the usual reason why I don't!)

    1. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Optional

      I have original Kodak DC-20 and DC-50 cameras. They were incredibly expensive but absolutely brilliant for the time.

      It certainly wasn't the cameras which were a failure. Kodak were more like a textile mill which had invented the knitting machine and put themselves out of business.

      I am also a little sympathetic to the Philips DCC and Sony MiniDisc. Apart from the nonsense to prevent CDs being boot-legged both were just too late to market, arrived just as alternative and better technologies were emerging.

      Not sure I would be so generous though when it comes to the Sinclair Microdrive.

  33. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    Samsung Note 7 probably deserves a spot

    It has earned notoriety far beyond its userbase by being publicly banned from airplanes, and fails in a spectacular and pyrotechnic fashion (see icon) - or so Im told, not having seen one go up myself.

    Guess I am going to have to stick with my Note 4 for now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Samsung Note 7 probably deserves a spot

      It's too soon. We don't know how many they will ship in places like Vietnam (with the smaller battery) and the fiasco may benefit Samsung by forcing them to do a lot better next time. Though I guess you could say that deciding "let's put an ultra-dense battery in our flagship product without very thorough testing" was itself an epic failure.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Microsoft Zune

    Also crap, also parodied as crap on The Simpsons (Treehouse of Horror XXIII)

    "Milhouse is playing baseball and hits a home run. Suddenly, the ball gets sucked up into the black hole and it grows very intense, sucking up Springfielders, except Maggie. The black hole sucks up Maggie's pacifier and sucks it, going off into the distance and leaving Maggie knowing she stopped the black hole.

    Meanwhile, the black hole acts a gate to inter-dimensional travel, so the Springfield citizens end up on a distant alien planet, where their junk is treated as 'treasures', the aliens having built their society around it. The aliens' favorite magazine is the Presidents' Day mattress blowout sale insert and their favorite food is banana peels. The aliens say that they listen to music on the most wonderful device ever created - The Zune. Homer tries to tell them that this is only old junk, rather than treasures, but Marge covers his mouth and tells to aliens to enjoy it."

  35. Pangasinan Philippines

    Nominations for:-

    Fairey Rotodyne - Airplane or helicopter? Huge fail for the taxpayer

    8 track player. - Great when they worked, hated the damp and self-destructed. Music tracks we broken up to accommodate track changes.

    DAB Radio - Will never replace FM in its present form. DAB was hijacked by the industry to maximise profits by reducing bit rates to squeeze in more and more stations. Mono sound anyone?

    Sony mini-disc - anyone remember them?

  36. GrapeBunch

    mein Kampf mit Scheitern

    at least that's how Google translated it. I'm not making this up. Has a (mood) ring about it that "My Struggle with Failure" lacks.

    My brother had an Apple Newton. I had (have?) a Kodak digital camera (DC215 ), which as a digital camera for its time was just fine. It took 3,000 pics of up to 1 Megapixel, then I loaned it to a youngster. I also have two Betamaxen in the basement (and, just to be fair, a stereo VHS). The transport mechanisms on these machines tend to use rubber-like bands, which over the decades oxidize. If they don't disintegrate, they do get slack. So the mission, should I choose to accept it, is to get the replacement band, disassemble the damn thing (taking frequent snapshots of the process on my Kodak, oops) ... and hope that disassembly wasn't a one-way process. I doubt that a couple of minutes with a hair dryer would tighten up a slack band, but you never know .... well, if worst comes to worst, the units contain so much metal that they could stop a fairly good-sized bullet: beta-armour?

    I also have a tech that succeeded but was discontinued, the butterfly keyboard. It appeared in the Thinkpad 701C and 701CS circa 1994?. Then the idea was deep-sixed by IBM because their craze was ever-thinner machines with ever-larger screens. Silly gits.

    The list of failed tech could be much much longer. There's not just failed products, but also failed ideas.

    1. GrapeBunch

      Re: mein Kampf mit Scheitern

      AVRO Arrow, the greatest jet aeroplane of the 20th century, was built, tested, then junked, destroyed, obliterated. That is Canada's biggest fail. Although the rumour was that Prime Minister Diefenbaker had nightmares about Canada becoming a war-monger or a nuclear power, I've long believed that it must have been USA influence--whether commercial, military, or political--applied in secret. The cancellation was a tremendous boost to the USA aero industry, without loss of a single life. They've done more to get less.

      1. GrapeBunch

        Re: mein Kampf mit Scheitern

        I remember one year a PC magazine with great fanfare announced its annual awards for Technical Excellence. The winner in a software category was MS-DOS, even though it was vastly inferior to a direct competitor, Digital Research DOS, aka DR-DOS or Dr. DOS. I was so miffed I wrote a letter, to which they replied something like that MS-DOS was a better seller. Excellent. Not.

        When Windows was a product that worked on top of--and over--DOS, there was reportedly a saying at Microsoft to the effect: "It don't go out the door, until DR-DOS don't work no more." DR ended up at the mercy of MS's production schedules. When Windows released a new version, then DR had to scramble to bypass the DR-unfriendly code that MS had introduced, and only then could they release the next DR-DOS version. Digital Research also had a great product called Concurrent DOS. I believe DR-DOS was mainly a crippled version of Concurrent DOS, with a flag set to "off", the one that would have activated the concurrent processing. Instead, DR-DOS acted as a task-switcher. In 1985-86 I worked for a company that exploited the power of Concurrent DOS in off-the-shelf PCs to create software that is impressive even decades later. None of the brilliance came from me, but I did work for the company.

        If Digital Research is allowed only one entry in the FAIL museum, I'm not sure which one it should be.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: mein Kampf mit Scheitern

        "AVRO Arrow, the greatest jet aeroplane of the 20th century"

        I've seen the movie they made about it (from a TV miniseries I guess). Good stuff. The coke bottle in the wind tunnel test was "classic" and it solved so many problems that they had their U.S. counterparts baffled when they went to a U.S. based wind tunnel that ran at mach 2 [as I recall].

        Dan Aykroyd was in that, along with a bunch of other famous and semi-famous Canadian actors. Very well done.

        and it's a classic example of hackish engineering!

      3. Alistair

        Re: mein Kampf mit Scheitern

        " Prime Minister Diefenbaker had nightmares about Canada becoming a war-monger or a nuclear power"

        No. The US basically said - if you want to keep the car industry going, you'll shut down avro. At the time there were trade agreements that could have cost Canada some 120,000 jobs from the auto industry. Avro was less than 5,000 people.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: mein Kampf mit Scheitern

          Cancelling the CF-105 instantly put around 30,000 people out of work, Alister. And that was before AVRO closed permanently.

  37. JeffyPoooh

    Kodak Digital Camera

    We had one at work years ago. It was a bulky 2Mpx digital camera powered by some AA cells. Everything was fine, except that it needed the AA cells to be brand new. As soon as you used it for a few images, it would declare the 95% perfectly good batteries as "dead". Stupid flaw.

    1. Fihart

      Re: Kodak Digital Camera

      Eating batteries was a common fault with most early digital cameras. In many instances could have been solved by making space for 4 rather than 2 AA cells -- but pocketability won over utility.

      Only solution for consumer was expensive Lithium AA batteries.

      Soon most makers offered models with Lithium Ion rechargeables -- but, being greedy, refused to make these interchangeable between models, let alone brands so they could charge the earth for replacements.

      1. David Hicklin

        Re: Kodak Digital Camera

        I still have - and use - my DC280, and yes the battery eating was an annoying issue. These days I find that the current rechargeables seem to work much better with it. Got a new memory card recently (8GB!) of which it probably uses just 5%..

        Whilst it is a very old camera I find it much easier to use than the modern ones that just seem to cram in as many operating modes as the can.

    2. Mike Moyle

      Re: Kodak Digital Camera

      @ JeffyPoooh

      "We had one at work years ago. It was a bulky 2Mpx digital camera powered by some AA cells."

      We had a DC290, which is what your description sounds like, at work (a municipal planning department). The big plus with that model, circa 2000 or so, was that it could be purchased as part of a package that included a Garmin GPS unit and a mounting bracket that could hold both pieces. The DC290 had a scripting language -- scripts could be written as text files and saved via the USB cable to the memory card -- and one of the pre-written scripts could take Lon/Lat (and, IIRC, direction) from the Garmin and insert the string into the photo. I hadn't seen anything similar at that time -- certainly not in the price range that we were looking at -- and it was one of the main reasons that we ended up buying that camera.

      ...and sonovabitch, if I didn't open a cabinet drawer in my office just now and find the whole megillah sitting there, just waiting for a new set of batteries! Almost tempted to take it out for a spin, just to remind myself why we bought it and why we stopped using it!

  38. Jon Smit

    Err... 3D telly and filums

    Who wants to look like a nob wearing silly glasses! As for watching sport on Sky, a total fail.

  39. John Doe 6

    Zune ?

    Vista ?

    Windows Me ?

  40. John Doe 6

    Actually... engine oil has a very nice smell, anyone who has been in a ships engine room knows that. I would anytime prefer that over Chanel #5.

    1. Hollerithevo

      Re: Actually...

      I too like the smell in an engine room, or heck, any engine, even a piddling outboard motor (happy childhood memories), but when I am out with the Missus, I find Chanel No 5 on her rather more appropriate with the setting. Wouldn't want to lose my head and grope automatically for the pull-cord.

  41. LaeMing

    Bic pens perfectly good!?

    You obviously have different Bic pens over there. Horrible scratchy, jam-uppy things guaranteed to run out mid-word at least once a sentence, in my personal experience (which is admittedly a couple of decades old - haven't used that brand of ball-point since I got sick of them in junior high back in the 80's).

  42. Terry 6 Silver badge

    I can't even rememer the name of the damned thing but....

    There was a "super-floppy" disk for a short while. And new PCs had a BIOS equipped for them and everything.

    But the stupid bu**ers made the media sooo expensive that no one bought more than about 1 or 2 of the dratted things. So the take-up makes my beloved Windows Phone mass market by comparison.

    And then cheap CD-R and CD-RW appeared. RIP Super Floppy. Gone and mostly forgotten. Killed more by greed than design.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: I can't even rememer the name of the damned thing but....

      Sorry for self-replying, It was something like LS-120 I think.

      1. Fihart

        Re: I can't even rememer the name of the damned thing but....

        LS-120 a good idea spoiled by greed, as you say. But perhaps also the fact that early external drives by Imation suffered from a power cube that failed. Company offered free replacements but it must have shaken faith for early adopters versus the more widely available (but in my view inferior) Zip disk.

  43. Z Ippy

    Perfume vs Oil

    I would prefer my girlfriend to be wearing just Chanel No 5 to just engine oil, but then I'm not a computer geek, so what do I know!


  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends how you define failure...

    There are those that had the market in their hands and let it go:


    Lotus 1-2-3

    Sony Betamax


    MSN Messenger



    Friends Reunited

    There are those which just died of old age:




    There are those products which are just plain shocking or badly managed:

    Windows ME

    Xbox 360

    Nokia Ngage

    Windows Pen


    Lotus Notes

    Every mobile platform from Microsoft apart from Windows Mobile 7

    Google Wave

    IBM OS/2

    Microsoft Zune

    Amazon Fire Phone

    There are those which sounded like a good idea but the market had moved on:



    Iomega Zipdisk

    There are those products which were innovative but were too ahead of their time or weren't good enough:

    Apple Newton

    Microsoft Band

    Sinclair C5

  45. What? Me worry?

    have you seen the fjords?

    "...and can be found in Helsingborg in Sweden. If you want to visit it, you should fly to Denmark. No, seriously."

    Absolutely correct! Fly in to Kastrup CPH in Copenhegen, then train up to to Helsingør (Elsinore!:) and take the ferry across to Helsingborg. It's a nice trip. You can of course go via the Öresunds bridge and through Malmö to Helsingborg, but the Danish route costs a smidge less. Time-wise it makes no difference if you're on holiday.

    Helsingborg has a nice little brewery too. :)

    1. D@v3

      Re: have you seen the fjords?

      I was wondering if this might have something to do with Copenhagen airport being closer to Malmö , than Malmö airport, but perhaps not.

  46. Tom Paine

    (Admit it, you miss having to hand over your reel to a snotty clerk and come back several days later to find out if any of the small, horribly printed photos were any good.)

    Did it just the other day, as it happens, with an old roll of 35mm found at the back of a cupboard. Probably nothing on it but you never know...

    Take dozens or more of of high-res digital images a week is great, but I do miss having proper prints. Yeah, I know, I could buy some fancy consumer-grade dedicated photo printer with 50 sheets of paper for a tenner, or whatever, but it's such a faff that like most people I've never bothered. A small part of family life (going through to old photo albums with the kids) is vanishing forever... *choke*

  47. Hans 1


    Why are Zune, Surface RT, Windows Phone, BB10 NOT on that list ?

    Besides, apart from Google glass, the rest is just a rehash of other el'reg articles. There have been more failures over the past 5 years than these ... most recent I can think of, Sinclair ZX Spectrum Reborn or whatever it was called...

    Why not write something up about all the failures since 2010, now THAT would be something worth my time!

  48. bigbob

    Blackbird, Microsoft's laughable attempt to proprietize HTML & the WWW.

  49. rcp27

    Great Article ...

    I can share it with all my friends on Google +

  50. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    But honestly, no one associates motorcycles with nice smells.

    How dare you diss the smell of freshly-burnt two-stroke engine in the morning? (Slight Freudian slip there - I meant 2-stroke fuel..).

    Ahh memories. Having that tiny two-stroke engine that would run for a while and then, for reasons only known to it's tiny self, regurgitate all the engine bits all over the road.

    And it wasn't even a Kwak Triple!

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