Mon 19 Nov 2012
To mark this year’s Thanksgiving Day holiday, we offer up the following Turkeys. Sure, you can say it’s easy, or even fun to take pot-shots at failed technologies. But sometimes they result in painful trips down memory lane.
PacMan for Atari 2600: My childhood recollection is that people awaited the arrival of this game with the same enthusiasm most 4 year olds reserve for December 25th. I don’t recall if the subsequent let-down resulted in any rioting in the streets, but I do remember learning some new vocabulary words from my older cousins the first time they played it.
E.T. for Atari 2600: See above. Downright heartbreaking that one of the best movies of all time should be sullied by this release. 1983 was a dark time indeed for the console faithful. This did at least leave us with a cool urban legend.
Apple iOS Maps: The much ballyhooed replacement for Google Maps on the iPhone most likely lead to the ouster of a long-time Apple executive, supposedly when he wouldn’t agree to sign a company apology. It’s still the subject of late-night talk show jokes.
The HD-DVD Format: Not quite a flop. More of the bloodied loser in the boxing match against BluRay. But Sony had lost the battle between BetaMax and VHS, and was determined not to suffer a repeat.
Ada: Despite having the best intentions, it did not make a dent outside the arena where it was required by law to be used.
SuperMan 64 for Nintendo 64: Our resident player/tester commented that “The only bright spot about that game was that I could turn it off at any point.”
Borland OWL (Object Windows Library): Intended to fulfill the role of the MFC libraries for those who chose to not use Microsoft developer tools. Whenever you see software where the Cancel or Exit button features a cartoon figure bolting for an exit door, blame OWL.
Lisp: Proving that theoretically good ideas are seldom popular, and also that semicolons are easier to type than parens.
Virtual Boy: The best thing to come from the release of the Virtual Boy was not the headaches or nausea, but that if you actually bought one you now have a valuable collector’s item.
Clippy: Remember the days of playing Whack-a-Mole with your word processor, clicking away every few minutes just to get that animated thing to disappear already? The sad part is that the user reaction to Clippy made software developers gun-shy in developing in-application assistants. I hesitate to categorize it as a Turkey. More akin to a Plague.