8 of the Most Dogshit Computers Ever Foisted Upon Nerds
Making computers seems like a tough gig. Not only is it incredibly complicated, dealing with finicky components that are completely bricked if one microscopic pin gets tweaked, but the margin of error is low. Given that they’re usually a large purchase for the consumer, as well as one used all day every day, dissatisfaction is amplified. Minor pet peeves become sources of constant fury in short time. None of this is helped by the fact that the biggest enthusiasts of your market are exactly the type of people who fucking love statistics and detailed testing. Levi’s never has to deal with hour-long reviews from JeansNexus on YouTube. So when a computer beefs it, it beefs it big-time.
Here are eight of the worst computers to ever be offered to the world’s geeks…
The 3com Audrey was launched in 2000. It was a cute little computer with a basic interface meant to let you browse the web (badly) from the kitchen. Which is to say, it was a computer meant for women whose husband had a temper if he saw them anywhere but next to the stove. Even if you were looking at it as a quick way to read the news over your morning coffee, it clocking in at $500 scuttled that idea. In their early aughts gender-norm glory, they issued it in colors like “linen” and “sunshine,” I assume because they thought women would be scared by anything that didn’t exist in a laundry detergent commercial.
Nowadays, it might seem like Apple can do no wrong. Or, that they can do wrong wantonly, but have it mostly ignored by people who are scared of operating a computer with anything other than two-inch diameter bouncing icons. But back in 1980, they dropped the Apple III, and they did so much wrong. My use of the word “dropped” there is fitting, given that they had an overheating problem that could cause chips to come unattached from the motherboard (them being attached is important) for which Apple’s official troubleshooting recommendation was to drop the computer from a height of six inches. Something people didn’t even do with their TVs, which were regularly delivered left hooks in search of reception back then. What was the price you paid for this nightmare? Anywhere between $4,340 and $7,800 in 1980 dollars.
The idea of the modern computer as an all-encompassing entertainment center is pretty accurate. Most people use a laptop for everything from their taxes to watching old episodes of Criminal Minds. Famous cow-themed computer manufacturer GateWay managed to predict this future back in 1996. Unfortunately, their crystal ball seems to have only told them that it would happen, and not how. In pursuit of beating every other company to the punch, they built the GateWay Destination, a hybrid PC/media center that ended up in a tug-of-war between two technology sectors, neither of which were advanced enough to support it. You generally don't want media coverage of your big new product starting with “Is there a market"?
There were a lot of growing pains (mostly in the lower back) associated with laptop computers’ journey to the ubiquitous and convenient variations we have today, ones that give standard spiral notebooks a run for their money in size and weight. They were not always so truly portable, especially in the case of, ironically, the Macintosh Portable. Honestly, from a performance standpoint, it was a perfectly solid piece of machinery. It was also 16 pounds. People may have wanted to compute on the go, but they, more importantly, did not want to haul around half a kettlebell all day.
Dell Dimension 4600
If there was some sort of strange competition for which computer component is the sexiest, “power supply” would be a perennial loser. When you could be spending money on filling your CPU with a baker’s dozen cores, slamming in a graphics card the size of a standard cinder block and liquid cooling both with a custom loop filled with pure liquid mercury, why would you shell out scratch for some stupid black box? Well, mainly because you shouldn’t skimp on parts of a computer that can explode. Novice PC builders trying to min/max on PCPartPicker, take note. Unfortunately, Dell didn’t get that memo, and their Dimension 4000 model was plagued with power supply issues, which sounds innocent enough until you realize that’s like a car having “gas tank issues.”
Timex Sinclair 1000
It’s general knowledge that the computers of the past were pricey propositions. So, in 1981, Timex and Sinclair set out to change that, with the debut of the Timex Sinclair 1000, a self-described personal computer that clocked in at only $99, a price that would still be shockingly low today. How did they achieve such a high-value feat? They made a computer that couldn’t do shit! It was basically a hundred-dollar notepad with a torturously shitty keyboard, in case you wanted the experience of creating a .txt file on an unresponsive ATM screen. Files that then could be saved to a cassette tape. Basically, it was a word processor that was soundly beaten in every measure of convenience by a yellow legal pad.
PowerMac G4 Cube
When it was was released at the turn of the millennium, Apple’s PowerMac G4 Cube was a commercial flop. The main issues people saw with it? It was overpriced in terms of performance, offered very little in the way of customization and upgrade possibilities and offered less-than-ideal connectivity for accessories and additional hardware. So what did they learn from this? Nothing, based on their vanity-priced ARM laptops, equipped with a single USB-C port that they act like they did you a personal favor by including. But people are cool with it now!
Anything Running Windows Vista
In the world of operating systems, Windows Vista was a pair of wax wings that users were strapped to and fired at the sun, kicking and screaming. Many of the features it included or debuted are things that would later emerge and be warmly embraced, but the problem was that the core system they were included in was what most computer geeks considered a pile of hot horseshit. To borrow a reference from Vista’s native decade of the 2000s, it was like one of the cars from the show Pimp My Ride. It did pretty much everything except fucking drive.