Forgotten Failures of Innovation

The Floppy Desk

Inventor Derrick Carlson had a dream: the ultimate portable desk. You could roll it up and bring it anywhere. Maybe you wanted to get some work done while you waited for your flight at the airport. Maybe you wanted a backup plan if there were no tables available at the coffee shop. Maybe you worked from home and wanted to put your desk away come 5 pm to protect your personal time. Whatever the reason, the Floppy Desk delivered. The only thing it was lacking? A firm, useable surface.

The CD Rhombus

On the one hand, Gale Trenterson achieved her goal. The CD Rhombus’s shape was definitely more eye-catching than that of the standard CD-ROM. On the other hand, a rhombus doesn’t spin well. Not to mention, their sharp edges meant they were very dangerous when thrown.

CAPTCHA The Flag

Chris and Jane Ferguson worried that the bots ruining certain online games would, at some point, take on a physical form and set their sights on in-person activities such as Capture the Flag. And so they devised a new version of the game that included a series of thirty puzzles that had to be solved before starting to ensure the humanity of all participants. The result: a game that was entirely robot-proof! And also human-proof as well, because it was so, so boring.

The Irish Cassetter

Jane Mann understood the predicament: children want dogs, but the parents don’t want to get stuck taking care of dogs. Hence, she created an animatronic Irish setter with a built-in cassette player and a monthly bark tape subscription, to ensure the owners would “never hear the same bark twice.” The problem? Oiling the Irish Cassetter’s various joints and gears was way more work than dealing with a real dog.

Bidet-ta Max

The brainchild of inventor Carl Tenderhook, the world’s first “in-bathroom hygienic entertainment system” just never really caught on for all the obvious reasons.

#techworldproblems by gammaRay

Is gammaRay human? Sure: he says he’s a designer who went to school in Johannesburg and now lives in Cape Town. But how do we know that’s not all a lie created by some sort of powerful sentient algorithm with crazy artistic chops?

Truth is, we don’t know. And we don’t care. Because we love his designs whether he’s a person or a string of code.

To see more of GammaRay’s stuff, check out his website and Instagram page.

Forgotten Failures of Innovation

The Floppy Desk

Inventor Derrick Carlson had a dream: the ultimate portable desk. You could roll it up and bring it anywhere. Maybe you wanted to get some work done while you waited for your flight at the airport. Maybe you wanted a backup plan if there were no tables available at the coffee shop. Maybe you worked from home and wanted to put your desk away come 5 pm to protect your personal time. Whatever the reason, the Floppy Desk delivered. The only thing it was lacking? A firm, useable surface.

The CD Rhombus

On the one hand, Gale Trenterson achieved her goal. The CD Rhombus’s shape was definitely more eye-catching than that of the standard CD-ROM. On the other hand, a rhombus doesn’t spin well. Not to mention, their sharp edges meant they were very dangerous when thrown.

CAPTCHA The Flag

Chris and Jane Ferguson worried that the bots ruining certain online games would, at some point, take on a physical form and set their sights on in-person activities such as Capture the Flag. And so they devised a new version of the game that included a series of thirty puzzles that had to be solved before starting to ensure the humanity of all participants. The result: a game that was entirely robot-proof! And also human-proof as well, because it was so, so boring.

The Irish Cassetter

Jane Mann understood the predicament: children want dogs, but the parents don’t want to get stuck taking care of dogs. Hence, she created an animatronic Irish setter with a built-in cassette player and a monthly bark tape subscription, to ensure the owners would “never hear the same bark twice.” The problem? Oiling the Irish Cassetter’s various joints and gears was way more work than dealing with a real dog.

Bidet-ta Max

The brainchild of inventor Carl Tenderhook, the world’s first “in-bathroom hygienic entertainment system” just never really caught on for all the obvious reasons.

What piece of technology are you most nostalgic for?

  • Floppy disc
    Floppy disc
  • CD-rom
    CD-rom
  • VHS tape
    VHS tape
  • Minidisk
    Minidisk
  • Vinyl record
    Vinyl record
  • Wax cylinder
    Wax cylinder
  • Something else (comments, please)
    Something else (comments, please)
86 votes