We all dream of having the revolutionary idea that makes us successful. In fact, the number of patents filed each year almost doubles every ten years to almost half a million in 2010 alone. Unfortunately, being first to market with a new technology product, even a great product, doesn't necessarily guarantee success. For your enjoyment, we've compiled a list of "successful" technology firsts that weren't quite so successful in their original incarnation. Whether it was poor marketing, some supporting technology just wasn't "there" yet, or something unforeseen, you have to admire these brave first attempts. The lessons taught by these technological firsts is all the more apt on this, the day of the iPod's 10 birthday, considering the iPod itself followed in the footsteps of another, now forgotten MP3 player.
In 1996, I was in middle school. We had Prodigy at home, I'd just opened my first Hotmail account, and I signed up for AIM with a ludicrous username that I'm stuck with to this day. This Best Buy ad from way back then with 133 MHz computers, multiple megabytes of ram, and The Macarena on VHS (!) is a nightmarish reminder of how important tech really is.
The fact that portable electronics are getting to the point where battery life is simply not a concern is absolutely wonderful. We're not quite there yet, but we're so, so close. Intel is working on a new processor architecture that can run itself using nothing but light: no plugs, no batteries, just solar power.
Seeing someone drawing on an HDTV — on the actual screen with an actual electronic pen — stopped a lot of IFA show-goers by German LCD maker Hannspree's booth (I cropped out the surrounding rubber-neckers). We were all gawking at woman's face being sketched on the Lounge TV 70, a 70-inch 1920-by-1080-pixel HDTV.
California's Santa Cruz police force is performing a little experiment: using computer programs to predict where crimes will occur, and then sending officers to those areas before any incidents are reported, just like in Minority Report.
You hear that? No? I'm surprised. It's the fan noise coming out of my laptop, and it's awful. A company called RotoSub claims that it can make computer fans nearly silent by using the fan blades themselves as an active noise cancellation system.
You know what's wrong with computer memory these days? If you said, "it's not enough like Jell-O," then you seriously need to get your priorities straight. But so do some researchers from NCSU, who have gone and developed "a memory device with the physical properties of Jell-O."
Most computers deal with heat the same way: there's a heat sink (a big radiator) attached to the processor, and a fan that blows air over it. Combining these two things into a heat sink that spins is a brilliant new idea that will make your entire computer cleaner, faster and more efficient.
Computers and plants sure don't seem like they'd mix very well, but that just shows what I know. This plant/computer hybrid concept manages to be a functioning computer and a functioning plant at the same time. It's mind-boggling.
The age of flash memory might be nearing a close even before those sexy SSDs really hit the mainstream market, as IBM has just announced that they've figured out a way to make phase-change memory a commercial reality within five years. What's in it for you? Well, how does accessing your data about a hundred times faster sound?