Failed Tech (platforms & tools)?

I’m working on an article and looking for more examples of tech that was supposed to change everything but ended up failing, overpromising or being useless.

Ideally looking for more “platforms and tools” than specific products.

ie. things like - 3D TV, QR codes (first go around in the 2000s with cue cat, etc.), Clubhouse, NFTs, Blockchain/Cryptocoin, AR…

For consideration

Listened to an older 99% Invisible podcast this morning on the rise and fall (and preservation) of GeoCities…maybe one of the first consumer-oriented WWW platforms. Bought by Yahoo and started to fall apart after dot-com crash.

Would the Sony MiniDisc system qualify?

Theranos, Juicero, Zune, Slingshot, Andalay Solar, FTX and corporations adopting woke policies (i.e. DEI, ESG et al) .

Any more? Systems or standards or platforms. Not products.


Betamax and HD-DVD, though Beta did live a long life behind the scenes of video production. Every hi-fi digital/streaming music standard post-mp3. Gesture-based user interfaces beyond simple swiping (e.g. Minority Report style interfaces.)

Biopace bicycle chainrings. Invented and popularized and licensed by Shimano, big in the 80’s and early 90’s.


To go with your Biopace chainring, the Softride seat:

Looking for more general examples. Not specific products. There’s just too many sucky failed products.

Gesture control is a good one. I remember I had a Samsung TV that had a pop up camera you could supposedly wave at to control. Never worked. Followed the Nintendo and Microsoft game systems …

One might still see ‘Allsop’ or Softride products around PNW outdoorsy activities, like sweet shock-absorbing ski poles. Its a Bellingham thing!
They did try to make it a ‘platform’ but didn’t really catch on. Biopace was similar I guess, although the idea of non-round chainrings has persisted in other forms.
I was going to suggest Whitworth standard threads and measurement, but its not a total failure and aspects of it still are used in some industries.
The gesture control idea also lives on - one of the solid state engines that drove the tech was manufactured by Gyration, we did some mice and pointing devices for them at IDE Inc.
Another tech thing we worked on was a projected keyboard intended originally for use in PDA’s. The tech ended up getting rolled into Kinect… which is now gone.

Let’s not forget “metaverse” or whatever nonsense gaming stuff is supposed to be a thing now.

Anyone remember years ago brands were building stuff into games and were expecting everyone to be joining Second Life or Minecraft or ???

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“Custom” manufacturing using additive. Related and cousin to, home manufacturing. That dog won’t swim.

Recycling plastic. And recycling in general.

Humankind. (yes, a bit grim, but prove otherwise)

Maybe to soon to tell, AI.

Apple Newton. Total failure as product and system.