Smartphones, apps, and touch screens, oh my! In the blink of an eye, new tech gets unveiled to the world, and it soaks up everyone’s attention. Tech gadgets have gotten so innovative, and frankly addictive, that you can’t even go an hour without seeing dozens of people absorbed in a screen.
There have been plenty of forward-thinking ideas over the years that never really had the impact the creators thought they would. Still, you can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for these devices that were, at one point, on the cutting edge…
1. Laserdisc: These dinner plate-sized discs were supposed to replace VHS tapes because the picture quality was better, but the size was a complete turnoff. They were annoying to carry around and easily damaged, so they were banished to our memories forever.
2. Overhead projectors: Do you remember your teacher wheeling one of these clunky machines to the front of the room to write notes on? With the ease at which anyone can project their computers onto screens nowadays this heavy machinery is a thing of the past.
3. Sega Dreamcast: The problem with this video game console wasn’t issues with gameplay — it was the timing of its unveiling. It came out at the same time as PlayStation 2 and Xbox, which were two extremely difficult consoles to compete with.
4. Walkman: Did you ever get wild with one of these? In the pre-CD world, these were the number one way to get yourself grooving. However, once the CD revolution boomed, there was no need for them anymore.
5. Samsung Galaxy Note: This smartphone drew plenty of attention when it came out, but soon became too hot to handle — literally! The technology inside the phone was prone to catch on fire, making it a hazard anywhere you took it.
6. Zune: Basically the same thing as the iPod, the Zune wasn’t a bad product at all. The reason it struggled to make a name for itself was that it came out after the iPod, so the market for easily accessible music was already cornered.
7. Betamax: In 1975, Sony created this device in hopes it would compete with the growing popularity of VCRs. One of the many blunders preventing its success was not allowing outside companies to manufacture tapes due to licensing agreements. This made everything for the Betamax expensive, so the VCR quickly came out on top.
8. Typewriter: Imagine having to write anything without the ability to fix a misspelling. Gross. But that was the world of typewriting — you had one go at your work. When computers let users revise everything with one click, people waved goodbye to these clunky instruments. But there’s still something satisfying about that ding!
9. Myspace: Before Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg completely took over the world of social media, there was Tom and Myspace. Did you have a page with a custom background and a few of your favorite songs? We bet you did!
10. Cinerama: This above view of a theater shows how Cinerama worked. It was essentially an early attempt to give movie-goers an IMAX-like experience using multiple projectors. However, the cost was extremely high to run more than one projector at once, and most theaters didn’t want to foot the bill.
11. Segways: Once, it seemed like you couldn’t walk through a mall without seeing the security guards cruising around on these electronic two-wheeled contraptions. While people still use them, they weren’t quite the hip new mode of transportation the creators hoped they’d become.
12. Digital audio tapes: Although people were generally happy with digital audio tapes when they arrived on shelves, the music industry was not. In 1992, the industry swayed Congress to pass the Audio Home Recording Act to prevent the pirating of music, and that pretty much paved the way for CDs.
13. Apple Newton PDA: This touch screen was Apple’s very first break into the world of smart technology…and it failed. There were simply too many technical glitches to warrant people investing their money.
14. DivX: Before Netflix and Hulu, DivX tried to corner the video streaming market. Because users had to download so many different programs to get the platform working smoothly, however, it never really picked up.
15. Maps: Where’s Astor Place? Where’s Houston and Essex? Long before people could punch an address into their phone for quick directions, they had to carefully plot their trips on these road-riddled pages. Admit it — you kind of miss looking over one of these!
16. Beepers: These electronic rectangles attached to belts and enjoyed a short-lived life as the mobile contact device….until phones became small enough to carry around in pockets. Once that happened, no one needed a device that only told you who called. Beep!
17. Virtual Boy: In 1995, this clunky headgear was actually ahead of its time. However, the sheer size of the mask gave people headaches, and the visuals it displayed on the screen were straining on eyes.
18. Telephone landlines: Before the advent of handheld carry-with-you-wherever mobile devices, people were tethered to phone cords. Some people still use them, but mostly because they want a cord to twirl as they talk.
19. Pebble Smartwatch: The funding for this product came from Kickstarter, but it never made much of an impact in the realm of smart accessories. No one really needed a watch that could do everything their phones could (until another company told us we did)!
20. Google Glass: This futuristic set of eyewear basically acted like a smartphone on your face. You could access email, texts, and anything else stored on your mobile device. Unfortunately, no one really bought into the idea since phones did all that, too (still, you probably wanted a pair).