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Remembering the technology we left out of our homes

Posted on 25 April 2016

It can be hard to imagine what our lives would be like without our favourite gadgets. From smartphones to smart meters, GPS systems to USB sticks, where would we be without technology?

But for every ground-breaking piece of technology we accepted into our homes, there are countless other inventions that we left out in the cold. For whatever reason, these pieces of technology never quite caught on – some were ahead of their time, some were too expensive and some just weren’t as good as their competitors.

The following are four pieces of technology that we left out of our homes.

1)   MiniDisc


We couldn’t talk about forgotten technology without mentioning the MiniDisc. Released by Sony in 1992 and positioned as a replacement for cassette and CD players, the MiniDisc showed a lot of promise. The system was smaller than CD and cassette players which made it more portable, while the cartridges featured more space for songs than CDs and cassettes and didn’t skip when jogged.

However, despite these advantages, the lack of available music and the arrival of the more affordable CD-R meant that the MiniDisc never took off. And the introduction of the first iPod in 2001 put the final nail in the coffin for the MiniDisc - as well as just about every other portable music player!

2)   Betamax


Back before the days of DVDs, on-demand content and instant streaming, we used to watch our favourite films on VHS tapes – remember those? Betamax was released by Sony as a rival for the VHS, offering a smaller, more durable product with a better resolution. VHS vs Betamax went on to become one of the most famous technology rivalries, but why did everyone choose VHS over Betamax?

There are a number of reasons for Betamax’s failure. First, the tapes were shorter, only allowing 60 minutes of footage, compared to the 3 hours offered by VHS. The higher quality also meant that Betamax was more expensive. Possibly Sony’s biggest mistake, however, was not licensing the technology. JVC, who manufactured VHS, were more than happy to license their product, which allowed more manufacturers to create and sell VHS machines, which made them even cheaper and more available around the world.

3)   Apple Newton

apple newton 

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From the very first Macintosh to the latest iPhones and iPads, Apple have always led the way in the technology world, introducing innovations that would go on to take the world by storm. But they don’t have a perfect track record, and the Apple Newton is a prime example of one of their less popular ideas.

First released in 1993, the Apple Newton was one of the first PDAs on the market, and is considered by many to be Apple’s first foray into the world of tablet computers. Unfortunately, its high price, combined with major issues with its handwriting recognition feature, limited the Newton’s success and it was discontinued in 1998.

4)   DIVX


You might not have heard of DIVX, and that’s because it never managed to make it out of America. The DIVX was an attempt by an electronics retailer, Circuit City, to create an alternative to video rental. The way it worked was supposed to be simple: people would buy a DIVX disc which they could watch as many times as they wanted for 48 hours, before throwing it away.

The DIVX required a separate player that you needed to buy, which tracked your usage of each disc. This additional cost, combined with limited features and intense opposition from the video rental industry led to the resounding failure of DIVX, with the technology being discontinued a year after its initial release.

Do you love technology? Check out these 5 clever household gadgets for people who love to be lazy.

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