Top Tech Fails of All Time

by Modis on May 18, 2015

The tech world is responsible for some of our coolest gadgets, conveniences and innovations. We tend to get so wrapped up in the buzz over the latest big thing that it’s easy to forget about the big flops that we’re too embarrassed to admit we went crazy for. In case you need some good humor, here is a look back at some of the most epic, top tech fails of all time.

The Y2K Bug

Remember back in the tail end of 1999, when the digital sky was falling and computerize Armageddon wiped humanity off the face of the planet? No? That’s because it didn’t happen, though the frenzied global chaos in the year leading up the big jump to 2000 was probably worse than the minor aftermath that followed. The panic hinged on the fact the world’s computers were coded to read dates as two digits (1994 would be 94, for example), so the big question of “what would happen” when all of our computers flipped to “00” sparked terror over a worldwide computer meltdown. It did cause a few minor issues around the globe, but nothing on the grand scale that everyone expected.

DigiScents iSmell

Why would anyone want to smell the Internet? It seems like a logical question that the makers of the oddly named iSmell should have asked themselves. This small desktop gadget, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2001, looked like a robotic shark fin. It came loaded with 128 primary odors that could be mixed to potentially replicate “thousands” of other common odors. The idea was that such smells would be triggered when you visited websites or opened emails. Somehow, it managed to score over $20 million in funding, but never made it to market. Probably a good thing?

Apple Maps

In its attempt to beat Google Maps, Apple released its own “navigation” app in 2012 featuring map data and directions curated from a wide range of sources — some of which proved very, very wrong. Apple Maps directions have instructed people to do everything from drive off unconnected bridges to detouring across an airport runway. It’s hilarious and a little bit horrifying.


Hyped as a hot new way to revolutionize “Transportation of the Future” in 2001, the Segway proved to be way too pricey, awkward and — let’s admit it — goofy looking to fully catch on. This motorized two-wheeled luxury gizmo cost between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on the model. Many consumers thought they were far to pricey outside of the elite few wealthy enough to drop that kind of green on what essentially turned out to be casual high tech travel toy.


Falling somewhere between a vinyl record and a DVD, the ill-fated Laserdisc offered superior visual quality and audio fidelity when it launched in 1978, two years after VHS. The big problem with these hulking discs was that they were far from portable, easily damaged and very expensive compared to VHS cassettes. There was also no way to record onto them, leaving little reason to throw down the big bucks other than to impress your pals. They did, however, pave the way for CDs, DVDs and beyond, so it’s not a total fail.

Apple Pippin

Most may not remember Apple’s failed foray into the Japanese game console realm, but 1996 wasn’t a good year for the computing giant. The Apple Pippin attempted to create a hybrid PC and gaming console with an onboard modem that would make it the first Internet connected console. However, it was priced far more expensively than comparable game consoles. The CD ROM and modem tech were outdated and sluggish, and the dearth of decent games sealed its fate.

Virtual Boy

Speaking of gaming fails, Nintendo’s first leap into 3D with the Virtual Boy didn’t pan out so well. This awkward bulky goggles and controller mashup was not portable, had limited games and sported black and red graphics that strained the eyes. The worst feature of this device was the neck cramp-inducing setup. The game forced players to sit down and lean forward to position their face in the goggles, which was propped up by a stand. Ouch!

Tech Fails Still Mean Jobs

While these weren’t successful, there are still plenty of jobs that came out of the creation of these flops. As the world of technology continues to innovate, more jobs will be added to this ever-expanding industry. If you’re ready to take the next step in your IT career, contact one of our 70 locations today!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris May 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm

I had a friend that owned a laser disc player, man they were sweet for the time!

Mysti May 22, 2015 at 11:14 am

You’re mistaken about Y2K–it’s a success story. There were few problems because companies spun up y2jk swat teams and fixed most of the issues. No glory for these teams, often led by women (low prestige effort), but much success.

Tin May 22, 2015 at 11:37 am

You left out Apple’s Newton Message Pad. I don’t think it even made it to market.

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