The 16 Worst Failed Computers of All Time

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Harald

Frankly, there were computers that were worse failure and less known than the Commodore +4 and 128 from that company. In the early 80s they released a truckload of 8 bit computers (The Commodore CBM-II line) that were supposed to be evolutions of the PET, but all these models were so many and diverse that you had no idea what each of them were targeted at. In the end they were just discontinued as a whole.

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Shalbatana

To this day, the Commodore Business Machines story is one of the most intriguing and well researched business histories. I (and apparently many others) find it fascinating the triumphs and tragedies of a pioneer and catalyst that helped trigger, thrived in, and fell in the early years of the computer revolution. There's so many good stories there.

Anyone interested should read the series of articles on Ars Technica about the Amiga. It's a great start, and probably the most well known examples of the highs and lows of the computer industry and the innovation, revoltuion and squander it can bring about.

I suspect CBM will continue to be one of the foremost topics of computer history, probably for as long as there are computers.

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garyhope

Hey, You kinda hurt my feellings that you didn't include my mid 80's DEC Rainbow 100.  Two 5 1/4 floppy drives that used propritary drives and disks, useless to anyone else,  big 128 K ram, monochrome monitor (weren't they all then)  10 MB HDD, incompatible with regular MS DOS, had to use the useless DEC version and it only cost $6500 minus the $1500 dot matrix printer and minus software.  We never finished paying it off.  A blight on our credit report.

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Falcon040

I must admit to some culpability for the 030 and DSP in the Atari Falcon.  After working with an early prototype (68010, IIRC), my boss asked me, the fresh-outta-school new kid, what I thought.  I said, offhandedly, "needs an 030 and DSP".  A week later, without any further discussion I remember being part of, those were now the plan.

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newegg911

The IBM PS\2 does NOT belong on this list. Yeah it had some problems and didn't do as well as it should have, but there probably litteraly dozens of others that were far worse.

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Spacetech

These two Netbooks (before there were netbooks), had a dial-up modem, SDD with PCMCIA Expansion, B&W or Color Screen (VGA), all for under $750 back in the early '90's...

Where has all the hardward gone...Long time passing...

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Marcus_Soperus

I was the electronics manager for a Children's Palace (also known as Child World: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_World) store (think Toys-R-Us, but with Peter Panda instead of Geoffrey Giraffe) that opened in October 1983. The Mattel Aquarius got as far as our storage cage, but never reached the sales floor.

Unfortunately, the Coleco Adam had a big fan in our company's buyer (apparently he never had a failure with the notoriously cranky "high speed data drive"), and every Adam we sold came back. One benefit: I made a friend and mentor for life by going through every Adam that had been returned (including that customer's) and put together a single functioning unit for him. Go the extra mile for your customers, and you might be pleasantly surprised at what happens in the long run.

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pcleveland

Ahhhh how I remember the days growing up playing Dam Busters on my Coleco Adam...

With the wonderful printer that sounded like a machine gun and had the speed of a fast type writer

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jamialovan

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Caboose

The Apple III, paving the way for the overpriced Apple computers that still continue to this day!

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schwit

The PS/2 50, 55, 70 and 80 were excellent computers.  They could run the same software that could run on clones and they were reliable. MCA may have had no future, but as you point out the line gave us new technologoes that became industry standards. How does that make the computers a failure?

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Donc314

The PS2 seemed like an OK computer. Sadly after we loaded all of our lab data the IT knuckle head replaced it with a different computer and lost all of our back ups.

Spent many hours in a hot poorly lit room using the Osborn. It was supposibly  "portable". The darned thing must have weighed  40 pounds :)

My first computer? Laser 128 Apple clone. It belongs on this list. A truley bad experience.

 

 

 

 

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JohnP

Heh, The Coleco Adam. I was involved with the HP uP development system for that computer (used to debug the board and write the firmware). I went into their headquarters in Hartford CT a bunch of times when the Adam was being sold. At some point one of the company executives decided to ship ALL of the defective returns back to headquarters for "analysis". The walls of the hallways  and finally some of the offices were lined to the CEILING with boxes, thousands of boxes. There was the "analysis" team, all three of them, testing one computer at a time. What a fiasco. And just after the huge Cabbage Patch Doll craze and the excellent Colecovision system. Betting the company and losing, big time.

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Shalbatana

Great Article, thank you.

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benjerome

I got a used Destination at an auction and 3 for parts. Not a bad computer i uninstalled

windows 98 and put windows xp on it and it ran good until it got droped when i moved to my

new place.

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publicimage

Aw, poor Coleco Adam... poor Commodore 128... I had friends with each of these. But now I remember why I never had either one. You hit the nail on the head.

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vectorizer

I couldn't afford a Gateway Destination, but it did inspire me to roll my own: an existing 36inch Sony tube TV, a Gateway 486 tower, a scan converter (VGA->composite), and a wireless keyboard w/touchpad using infrared for datacomm.  It really worked well for the kids' low res PC games of the day, but for text it was craptacular. All the rest of the components of my pseudo-Destination are long gone, but the TV is still going strong.

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DogPatch1149

No TRaSh-80s with their famed rrrepeattingg kkeybboarrdss, no Packedin Hell PCs, but the Commodore 128 is on the list?  Seriously?  What universe was this article written in?

MPC, c'mon...change the Publish To Facebook to opt-in instead of opt-out.  How many complaints in posts will it take before you listen to your readers?

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Emgtek

What! No Packard Bell systems made the list!

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kiaghi7

No mention of Apple computers themselves???

 

Granted a few specific Apple examples are there, but Apple itself FAILED!

 

The Apple VS PC war ended, and Apple lost HARD!!!

 

Every last apple made today is nothing but an outdated PC with Apple OS, there ARE NO APPLES ANYMORE! It's akin to the difference between Windows and Linux, they are both on PC's, just different OS... Same for Apple, it's nothing more than an OS now... That is the penultimate failure in the history of computing!

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johnny3144

first of all, i do NOT like Mac and Apple at all.

 

However i have to pointout 10% is a huge market share. even higher in age group of 18 - 30.  go to a college or university, count the amount of mac vs dell(or any other brand). it is quite evident that mac hold a significant share of the market(like 30% or so, at least judging from my university). not mentioning apple signed lots of deal with universities/schools. the desktop in my universities libeary is almost 1:1(mac : PC).

 

so no, apple is not failing, they are quite sucessful really. but their product is not nearly as good as they claim it to be, and it's not all that special. just marketed very nicely and selling like hotcakes.

 

EDIT: responded to wrong comment, was meant for the comment below this one :)

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joeking

I mean, people still use Macbook Pro's.  I see alot of those sprout up in the entertainment industry.  Aside from that, I generally concur with what you said.  It's why Apple is making phones, mp3 players and "pads" now.

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Emgtek

LOL What!?!? Wow!

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GenMasterB

This one never makes the "worst failed" because it was SUCH a failure, people dont even remember it. But it was the Mattel Aquarius Home Computer (79-81, and unfortunately my 1st PC). even though it had a 6502 CP/M based cpu, it had only 4k, a horrific chicklet keyboard and a massive fail of a cartridge port, it came with a 16k expansion cartridge but it had to be removed to use certain programs which made it worthless as an expansion. Zero support and a thermal printer where the paper would last 5-6 days before turning solid blue and unreadable.. failure from design 1 !! I thought I was in heaven when I upgraded to a Apple ][c..  Let that Aquarius burn in PC heck!! lol

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srolf

The Pcjr had 'full PC compatibility'?  Don't make me laugh.  That was part of the problem with it as a home computer - all the programs were written for the PC, and you never knew whether they would work or not.  The jr "borrowed" part of the system RAM for the video memory, and did some other bizarre things as well, so that if the programs were graphic-intensive (i.e., games), they usually didn't work.  Great for a home computer.

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seattlematt1976

You're missing:

  • IBM PS/1 - Expensive, proprietary, and MS-DOS 4.0 (enough said there)
  • Anything from Packard Bell
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jac_goudsmit

I know you guys are just fishing for the missing ones that everyone's going to report. Here's one: the Philips ":YES". That computer was as if someone in the company started making an IBM-compatible PC and then got totally sidetracked.

 

The IBM PS/2 was pretty successful, so I don't know why it's on the list. I think you're confused with the PS/1 which bombed completely, and I think that's actually what's shown in the picture.

 

I lol'd at the Babbage difference engine.

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pastorbob

The IBM PS/2 cost IBM what share they had of the PC market. The idea that a closed proprietary design would fly was obviously a major misunderstanding of the market. After all, if people wanted such a computer they could buy a MAC. It is the open architecture of the PC that has made it such a huge success. And it is the open architecture of the PC that has made it so frustrating at times.

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Blmunro

How could you have not included the Xerox 820 CPM OS computer? The fact that it did not make your list is proof of its epic failure. Xerox even opened a chain of Xerox Stores to sell the device. Obsolete before it even hit the shelf, it and the stores quickly folded. The majority of the units sold were dumped on loyal, gullible and naive employees through painless(?) payroll deductions. The 820 along with a 630 Daisy Wheel, 25 lb., printer was sold for as a package for bargain basement price of $3,000 in 1984 dollars. Since CPM was already dead the only applications were Basic, a database program, and a simple Wordstar text program. Xerox emptied their warehouse and the employees who purchased the computers filled their garages. Thanks Xerox for fumbling the future on your own employees.

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Marcus_Soperus

The Zenith Z-286 (thanks to Zenith's bizarre proprietary 'Zenith slots' for memory and the processor) and the DEC Rainbow (MS-DOS and CP/M, but couldn't run standard IBM PC programs) deserve places on the list if it were extended to 20-25 units.

The Z-286 and other Zenith PCs of the time (Z-159, Z-248, and Z-386) were so strange internally that they inspired this unofficial slogan at our store "The weirdness goes in before the name goes on." (cf this old Zenith TV/radio sign: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34086110@N06/4745954958/).

 

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jturton

Nice touch including the Babbage engine, guys.

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Brdn666

Indeed

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Neufeldt2002

Agreed, Many cite this as the worlds first computer.

Please make publish to facebook opt-in, not opt-out.

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tornato7

I agree to both of those statements

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