#2. PocketMail (2000)
Imagine being able to check or send e-mail anytime, anywhere. If you just imagined you were back in the year 2000 with your PDA, shut up. We're talking about the miracle of PocketMail, which was like a PDA except all it did was send and receive e-mail. Hell, what's wrong with that? For 2000, that's still freaking state of the art!
Wait, did we mention that you had to hold it up to a land line telephone to work?
Keep in mind, cell phones had the ability to send texts as early as the mid 90s and, you know, there was always actual computers in your home, at the library, wherever. Plus if you were stuck out somewhere without a cell phone or a computer handy, you still needed to get to a payphone to use your PocketMail, at which point you could always just use the phone and call whoever you want to talk to, since you have to have the thing right there anyway.
It also pulled off the miraculous design feat of being too big to fit in your pocket, yet too small to be comfortable to type on like a laptop.
While a few people out there still sing the praises of PocketMail--the same people who used to do soil sampling out in the remote sections of the Mojave and wanted the convenience of being able to forward hilarious LOLcats at the same time--the rest of us realized that every single other portable device in the world offered the same feature plus numerous additions, none of which required you to hold it up to a phone. It was a solution to a problem that only like six people in the world had.
The company that manufactured the thing in Australia even crapped out on it and decided the next obvious business venture was uranium mining. Sure, we totally trust these guys with shipping tons of uranium around the world. No way that operation is going to result in a mountain exploding.
#1. The Apple III (1980)
Now just settle down, Apple lovers. We're all friends here. That's right, just lay the gun on the table. See, not so long ago Apple wasn't the kickass manufacturer of iPods and paper-thin laptops it is now. It was more of a shithole joke of a company that couldn't sell a whore to Charlie Sheen even if she came with QuickTime already installed. Lucky for them they persevered, despite a history of machines like the Apple III.
The Apple III, while aesthetically as retarded as any computer from the 80s, had the problem of trying to cram a whole lot of computer into a relatively small space. Which is totally in the spirit of cutting-edge Apple, only this is 1980 we're talking about here. As we mentioned, this was a time when any computer powerful enough to display a photograph required a crew of 30 men to stand in a circle and blow on it.
Nowadays, computers have internal cooling fans and heat sinks all over them to take care of this. Back in the 80s the Apple crew figured that shit was for pussies, so the aluminum case was meant to act as a heat sink; devoid of a fan or even vents. If you've ever tried to escape the summer heat by climbing into an unventilated aluminum box you'll understand why this was a shittastic idea.
The result was that chips would actually pop free from their sockets as the metal heated and expanded. Machine owners experiencing problems were given the most awesome set of troubleshooting instructions in the history of computing: Lift the dead machine a few inches of the ground and drop it. Turn it on and see if it works.
The hope was that the impact would seat the chips again. That's right. When Apple Computer, Inc., designer of some of the most elegant machines in the history of anything, got calls from thousands of customers that their new computer had died, their first question was, "Have you tried dropping it?"
There were other rumors about the Apple III, including that it could fucking melt floppy disks in the drive (though it seems like it would have fried wiring inside by the time it got up to that temperature, can you dismiss anything at this point?). We guess it's sort of inspirational that Apple recovered from that fiasco and now makes products that probably 80 percent of the people reading this have on their person.
Speaking of which, all you kids who were born too late to have bought any of the shit in this article? You got off easy.
Ian is currently using his Commodore 64 to post ASCII porn over at ScenicAnemia.com.
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For more technological bombs, check out The 6 Most Retarded Gaming Consoles Ever Released. Or find out how we know directors and writers never went to Computer 101, in 5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do.
Or swing by our Top Picks to see Wong trying to convince the office that his "PocketMail is totally awesome, you guys."
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