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  #1  
Old 05-28-2005, 05:16 PM
IAMBIC IAMBIC is offline
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Cool gadgets that went (almost) nowhere

Near the top of the list must be the Apple MessagePad (Newton).

Also, I vaguely remember a Panasonic VCR that hooked up to your telephone line (the same way you hook up an answering machine), so that you could dial in and remotely program it to record a TV show. Anybody else remember this?

Any other cool "flops"?
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  #2  
Old 05-28-2005, 06:40 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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The videophone. It seems that there's always this feeling that it's a technology whose time has come, although I can't imagine why. For a while it really looked like people would buy them maybe - it was an actual videophone gadget (I think they even had one on Loveline) as opposed to videoconferencing through your computer which I guess some people actually do. An actual videophone unit.
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  #3  
Old 05-28-2005, 07:58 PM
Queen Bruin Queen Bruin is offline
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I had the Sega channel way back when. It was a Sega cartridge that had a cable connection. You'd plug it into your Genesis and get 20 different games a month. It was really annoying to get Mortal Kombat 3 because they'd split the characters up into two seperate games that you had to download, cutting down on your choices. That and you couldn't save RPGs. But we got specialty games you couldn't get elsewhere: some Tetris knockoff that was really good, and Pong!
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  #4  
Old 05-28-2005, 08:19 PM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
The videophone. It seems that there's always this feeling that it's a technology whose time has come, although I can't imagine why. For a while it really looked like people would buy them maybe - it was an actual videophone gadget (I think they even had one on Loveline) as opposed to videoconferencing through your computer which I guess some people actually do. An actual videophone unit.
It's because the camera and the screen are in different places so it's disocncerting talking to people since they aren't looking directly at you. Also, lots of people just dont want others to see what they looked like.

Personally, I was disappointed the segway was such a flop.
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  #5  
Old 05-28-2005, 08:27 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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The videophone is amazing, if only because it is probably the longest-lived failed invention ever. It has cropped up in some working experimental form over and over again since at least 1930, only to be promptly shoved aside each time.

You'd think that after all this time the phone people would have caught on that nobody wants the goddamn thing. BUT! NOOoooooo. Every few years, there it is again. It's getting to be the technological equivalent of the old pull-the-quarter-out-of-your ear trick: no one cares anymore, especially since in this case, we don't even get to keep the quarter.

Enough already with the videophone.
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  #6  
Old 05-28-2005, 09:22 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
The videophone. It seems that there's always this feeling that it's a technology whose time has come, although I can't imagine why. For a while it really looked like people would buy them maybe - it was an actual videophone gadget (I think they even had one on Loveline) as opposed to videoconferencing through your computer which I guess some people actually do. An actual videophone unit.
You actually can buy thoseómy aunt & uncle and my grandparents got a couple, a few months back. (You hook it up to your phone line, and your TV set. The framerate isn't great, but it's workable.)

Anyway...

Nixie Tubes

Jet Packs. (Later Bell models, as I remember, not only had a true jet engine, but an endurance time of seven minutes.) Or the Williams Aerial Survey Platform.

RCA Videodiscs. Or Phonovision discs.

Flamethrowers. (Maybe "went nowhere" is too strong, but they have kind of died out.)

The Pedfersen Device
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  #7  
Old 05-29-2005, 10:06 AM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Ranchoth: That Phonovision story borders on the sci fi. Imagine - they could record TV (back when there hardly was TV). But they couldn't figure out how to play it back - it was just noise-on-a-record until computer frequency analysis and filtering.

I submit for your approval Thaddeus Cahill's unbelievable Telharmonium. was the first truly electric musical instrument. It was the talk of New York in 1907. By 1908 it had gone broke. By 1912 it was back. Only now, nobody cared.

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  #8  
Old 05-29-2005, 11:21 AM
NoPretentiousCodename NoPretentiousCodename is offline
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Originally Posted by Beware of Doug
....Enough already with the videophone.
Deaf people really like them. My brother and all his friends in the deaf community all use them. I think they even have a video relay operator now (to translate between hearing and deaf callers). So in that limited regard, they are met with a degree of success.

That and cell phones with text messaging.
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  #9  
Old 05-29-2005, 11:23 AM
SuperNelson SuperNelson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
The videophone. It seems that there's always this feeling that it's a technology whose time has come, although I can't imagine why. For a while it really looked like people would buy them maybe - it was an actual videophone gadget (I think they even had one on Loveline) as opposed to videoconferencing through your computer which I guess some people actually do. An actual videophone unit.
There are thousands of them out there right now being used for Video Relay Service for the speech and hearing impaired. One of the more popular ones for home use is the DLink i2eye. It's essentially a set top box for your TV (thereby putting the camera right above the TV screen) with a high enough frame rate for real time sign language, and a price in the sub-$200 range.
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  #10  
Old 05-29-2005, 11:45 AM
SuperNelson SuperNelson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IAMBIC
Near the top of the list must be the Apple MessagePad (Newton).

Also, I vaguely remember a Panasonic VCR that hooked up to your telephone line (the same way you hook up an answering machine), so that you could dial in and remotely program it to record a TV show. Anybody else remember this?

Any other cool "flops"?
Here's what really ended up happening to the Newton and that VCR: They were cutting edge products that created a new market, but didn't evolve enough to keep up with their imitators. For example, this January, I was on vacation in London, and realized I had forgotten to tell my TiVo to record the Superbowl. We were walking through Soho, and I saw the London Apple Store. I ducked into the store, took out my Palm handheld, and connected to Apple's open WiFi network. I then used TiVo's online scheduling service to tell my TiVo at home to record the Superbowl. A few minutes later, I had an email confirmation. The PDA and remotely schedulable DVR are the natural descendants of the Newton and Panasonic VCR - they just aren't made by Apple or Panasonic.
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  #11  
Old 05-29-2005, 12:03 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
Personally, I was disappointed the segway was such a flop.
It was bound to be. Now, sure, it can be a great personal vehicle, but it has one major and a couple minor design problems:

1. Where does it run? It's a motor vehicle, but the "rider" is sort of a pedestrian. Many areas won't let it ride on the sidewalk, as it goes too fast, and it could be a mild danger and a significant annoyance to real pedestrians. It's too slow to go on the street. Every area doesn't have bike paths, and even so, bikes go faster, and they won't want you there.

2. No cargo space- when people go places, they want to take things with them- to wrok, your computer that case you've been working on, and shopping- what you;ve bought on the way back.

3. You stand, not sit- and dudes are lazy.

But it's #1 that killed it- no use buying something that can't go anywhere!
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  #12  
Old 05-29-2005, 06:23 PM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth
It was bound to be. Now, sure, it can be a great personal vehicle, but it has one major and a couple minor design problems:

1. Where does it run? It's a motor vehicle, but the "rider" is sort of a pedestrian. Many areas won't let it ride on the sidewalk, as it goes too fast, and it could be a mild danger and a significant annoyance to real pedestrians. It's too slow to go on the street. Every area doesn't have bike paths, and even so, bikes go faster, and they won't want you there.

2. No cargo space- when people go places, they want to take things with them- to wrok, your computer that case you've been working on, and shopping- what you;ve bought on the way back.

3. You stand, not sit- and dudes are lazy.

But it's #1 that killed it- no use buying something that can't go anywhere!
If everyone had a segway, then everyone would want a segway. If nobody has a segway, then nobody would want one precisely because of point no 1. I was just hoping that it would reach a certain critical mass where cities could be re-designed around it like Kaman claimed. I think it was a mistake to release it in the US first, I think it would have been accepted much more readily in Europe.

The problem the segway wanted to solve, in my mind, is this last mile problem with personal transport. Say you live a mile away from the train station and the other train station is a mile away from your work. What are your choices for getting to work? You can't drive to the train station because theres nowhere to park there. You can bike there but you can't take the bike onto the train so you'll have to walk at the other end. You can walk to the train station but it's a mile both ways. Finally, you can just give in and drive to work, if you can find a parking spot for less than $10 a day. With a segway, and appropriate infrastructure support, you've solved this problem! The money you save on car support alone well justifies buying a segway, even at $5000. You just ride your segway onto the train and park it in a built in booth, get off the train, ride it to work and park it into a designated employee segway parking lot.

And because Americans are so attached to their cars, it's hard to imagine ever doing completely without one. But in Europe, you can do stuff like go shopping and put all your groceries at a designated dropoff point where it will then be delivered to you later in the day. If your computer needs to be repaired, the repairman can pick it up from your house and return it when it's fixed etc.

I think the segway was a genuinely viable product that, sadly, never got the support it needed to gain it's full potential.
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  #13  
Old 05-29-2005, 06:35 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is online now
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In safety-mad America, you've also got the challenge that a Segway goes fast enough that falling off the thing will injure the rider.

If you hit an obstacle, such as a curb or piece of debris in the road, you go face-first onto the cement after your private parts get thwacked by the handlebar. So very quickly people will be wanting bicycle helmets, elbow pads, etc. And what do you do with all that gear when you get to the store or to school or work?

The folks that ride bikes for transport now put up with lugging all that stuff around when they get where they're going, but that's because they're fanatics, or kids with no choice.

Putting up with that degree of inconvenience will never be a mainstream American value.

Prsonally, I'd like to have one, but more than that I'd like to have a use for one. Sadly, that's just not happening, even in my bike-friendly suburban world with the long commute.
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  #14  
Old 05-29-2005, 06:45 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Autogyros.

Not quite a helicopter, it can't hover, although it can fly as slow a 5mph.

Slower than an airplane, it is also short-ranged.

It is chiefly famous for its goofy appearance, & a brief use in a James Bond film.
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  #15  
Old 05-29-2005, 07:08 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
Say you live a mile away from the train station and the other train station is a mile away from your work. What are your choices for getting to work?
The Sewgay is not a very good solution for this problem. It would take up too much space in the train, and subway stations must be redesgned to eliminate escalators and have wider passages. A much better solution - and this is very common in Japan - is to have a bicycle storage facility at the station. You can keep a cheap bike in storage at the station near your work. Other solutions include buses, vans operated by the employer, and folding bikes.

IMHO the only "problem" the Segway was designed to solve was: "We spent all this money developing a 2-wheel balancing system for the iBOT (electric wheelchair), but the market for those isn't very big. How can we make more money with this technology?"
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  #16  
Old 05-29-2005, 07:16 PM
Scissorjack Scissorjack is offline
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The Segway was just the son of the Sinclair C5; a solution looking for a problem.
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  #17  
Old 05-29-2005, 07:49 PM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4
The Sewgay is not a very good solution for this problem. It would take up too much space in the train, and subway stations must be redesgned to eliminate escalators and have wider passages. A much better solution - and this is very common in Japan - is to have a bicycle storage facility at the station. You can keep a cheap bike in storage at the station near your work. Other solutions include buses, vans operated by the employer, and folding bikes.
Yes, when Kaman said that cities would be redesigned around these things, what he really meant was cities would have to be redesigned around these things for it to be viable. It's true the Segway mk1 has a rather large footprint, but in principle, theres nothing stopping it from just big enough to enclose your personal space.
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  #18  
Old 05-29-2005, 11:08 PM
Unintentionally Blank Unintentionally Blank is offline
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The inside the Egg shell scrambler?
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  #19  
Old 05-30-2005, 03:40 AM
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Re: Segway,

You can't carry it around because it's too heavy. If you hit someone, it's like you hit them while running with a huge backpack. Many people couldn't even get it over a curb easily. It costs enough to buy a used car and use that for the other end of the train ride.
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  #20  
Old 05-30-2005, 06:26 AM
BlackKnight BlackKnight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
You can bike there but you can't take the bike onto the train so you'll have to walk at the other end. ... You just ride your segway onto the train and park it in a built in booth, get off the train, ride it to work and park it into a designated employee segway parking lot.
Why not just make it so you can bring your bike on the train? That would require only very minor changes, whereas what you suggest would require massive changes to infrastructure.
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  #21  
Old 05-30-2005, 06:32 AM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackKnight
Why not just make it so you can bring your bike on the train? That would require only very minor changes, whereas what you suggest would require massive changes to infrastructure.
Because bikes are inherently big, you can't navigate sharp corners with them, you can't stand in 1 place comfortably with them, you can't carry them up stairs easily, it takes energy to use them etc.
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  #22  
Old 05-30-2005, 06:51 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Originally Posted by Shalmanese
If everyone had a segway, then everyone would want a segway. If nobody has a segway, then nobody would want one precisely because of point no 1. I was just hoping that it would reach a certain critical mass where cities could be re-designed around it like Kaman claimed. I think it was a mistake to release it in the US first, I think it would have been accepted much more readily in Europe.
Not a chance. Our cities are decades away from even been fully wheelchair accessible. Nobody 'redesigned' them to cope with cars, either, they just tweaked things a little bit - because cars were a natural evolution from what had gone before.

Quote:
Say you live a mile away from the train station and the other train station is a mile away from your work. What are your choices for getting to work? You can't drive to the train station because theres nowhere to park there. You can bike there but you can't take the bike onto the train so you'll have to walk at the other end. You can walk to the train station but it's a mile both ways.
A typical one-mile distance to the nearest public transport cannot be described as a commuter infrastructure. That's why things exist to cover the gap - buses, trams, etc. One quickly-googled example - the Croydon tram in London cost £200m to build, and carries 20m passengers a year. Assume half of those are regular users (100 journies per year), who in your scenario would be using Segways. £200m into those 100000 people makes the cost of Segways needing to be £2000 - but you haven't paid for any Segway-related infrastructure. And £2000 is way out of the reach of a large part of the population.

And what the hell is wrong with a fifteen minute walk, anyway? Plus, would you rather be on a Segway or a tram when it's raining?

Quote:
And because Americans are so attached to their cars, it's hard to imagine ever doing completely without one. But in Europe, you can do stuff like go shopping and put all your groceries at a designated dropoff point where it will then be delivered to you later in the day. If your computer needs to be repaired, the repairman can pick it up from your house and return it when it's fixed etc.
You've got a rosy-eyed view of Europe. Many of us are nearly as car-dependent as America (the Irish actually on average drive more miles per year than Americans), and things like home delivery as you describe are costly and far from universally-available.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
Because bikes are inherently big, you can't navigate sharp corners with them, you can't stand in 1 place comfortably with them, you can't carry them up stairs easily
Have you never seen a folding bike?
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  #23  
Old 05-30-2005, 07:44 AM
Scott Plaid Scott Plaid is offline
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Originally Posted by Ranchoth
[url=http://www.cedmagic.com/selectavision.html]RCA
I own one of those! Phonographic video! I've got "Star Wars" War of the Worlds", "Dracula" and a few more. As with anything, there are collectors around for them. The picture quality was sloigly higher then with a VCR.
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  #24  
Old 05-30-2005, 08:49 AM
Unintentionally Blank Unintentionally Blank is offline
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Originally Posted by Scott Plaid
I own one of those! Phonographic video! I've got "Star Wars" War of the Worlds", "Dracula" and a few more. As with anything, there are collectors around for them. The picture quality was sloigly higher then with a VCR.
And most importantly, Han shoots first!
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  #25  
Old 05-30-2005, 01:53 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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[QUOTE=Beware of Doug] You'd think that after all this time the phone people would have caught on that nobody wants the goddamn thing.[QUOTE]

It's interesting to note that even in Star Trek, in all its various incarnations, anything resembling a videophone is hardly ever seen. To my recollection, the one landmark SF movie where videophones do figure fairly prominently is 2001: A Space Oddysey. The specific context in which it was used--a father talking to his little girl, is a good example of why one might actually want to have this technology available. You probably don't want to see your boss's face when he calls you at the office, but I imagine most people wouldn't mind seeing their loved ones, and it's odd that this particular application wasn't enough to push the technology further along.
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  #26  
Old 05-30-2005, 03:42 PM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
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My pick's an oldie, but a goodie:

Victor Home Recording units.

They offered you the ability to record radio programs for later listening, and were the only method availible for ordinary people in their homes (other than contracting a recording firm) until reel-to-reel tape recorders.

However, they had the misfortune to be introduced in October 1930. As a result, they were dead by the late 1930's, due to a lack of customers.
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  #27  
Old 05-30-2005, 05:35 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Governor Quinn
My pick's an oldie, but a goodie:

Victor Home Recording units.

They offered you the ability to record radio programs for later listening, and were the only method availible for ordinary people in their homes (other than contracting a recording firm) until reel-to-reel tape recorders.

However, they had the misfortune to be introduced in October 1930. As a result, they were dead by the late 1930's, due to a lack of customers.
I think my grandmother had one of these at her house. It was a big, wooden piece of furniture, with AM and shortwave radios, and a top-loading phonograph which, I think, only played 78s. I remember there were one or two blank disks intended for recording. I don't know if they ever used it, but it sure would have been fun to hear my father or uncle speaking as boys in the early 1930s.
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  #28  
Old 05-30-2005, 05:51 PM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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Originally Posted by BlackKnight
Why not just make it so you can bring your bike on the train? That would require only very minor changes, whereas what you suggest would require massive changes to infrastructure.
Here in Atlanta, you CAN carry your bike onto the train, and what's more the buses have bike racks in the front. What's more the train stations have elevators though I can tell you from experience that it ain't all that hard to carry a bike up and down a flight of stairs if it's not crowded with other commuters.
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  #29  
Old 05-30-2005, 06:13 PM
minor7flat5 minor7flat5 is online now
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I remember reading an article in some cool magazine (Popular Science?) in the late 70s that showed the inner workings of Polavision.

Never heard of Polavision?
It was to home motion picture film what Polaroid cameras were to still photography. Here's a picture.
Very cool process, but it came much too late for anyone to be interested; video cameras were already appearing on the consumer market.

I have always wanted a Xircom Rex PDA. This was a tidy little pda that was fully built within a PCMCIA card. So small it slips into any pocket. No docking station needed -- just plug it in to the PC card slot. Clearly, it was no good for data entry, but I just want my contacts and my meeting schedule. It's a shame that it died and I am left to carry a Palm device.
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Old 05-30-2005, 06:23 PM
Mr. Blue Sky Mr. Blue Sky is offline
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Originally Posted by minor7flat5
I remember reading an article in some cool magazine (Popular Science?) in the late 70s that showed the inner workings of Polavision.
I remember that. IIRC, you got a silent movie that lasted 2-3 minutes.

There was also the Fisher Price PXL-2000 video camera for kids.

It used HQ audio cassettes! These things go for BIG money on eBay. I understand film school students lust after them.
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  #31  
Old 05-30-2005, 07:42 PM
IAMBIC IAMBIC is offline
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Originally Posted by minor7flat5
I have always wanted a Xircom Rex PDA. This was a tidy little pda that was fully built within a PCMCIA card. So small it slips into any pocket. No docking station needed -- just plug it in to the PC card slot. Clearly, it was no good for data entry, but I just want my contacts and my meeting schedule. It's a shame that it died and I am left to carry a Palm device.
I owned one for a few months shortly after it was introduced. It came with a small pad of paper where you could jot down phone numbers and appointments so you could enter them at your computer and then synchronize. Ended up being too awkward.

I considered mentioning it in the OP.
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  #32  
Old 05-30-2005, 09:52 PM
DocCathode DocCathode is online now
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Tablet Computers

A few major companies released tablet computers in the early nineties. They bombed. Several of them (IIRC including Microsoft) tried again about two years ago. I'd use my tablet pc for some things, but it has no floppy drive and I can't get the data transfer cable to work (I may need to put a Windows 3.1 partition on this computer).

Wire Recorders

As the name suggests, you could record sound onto wire. Quality wasn't great. You needed a very long cable for more than a few minutes. Then, open reel tape machines debuted.

Re Nixie Tubes

I love those things. I wish I could pump the gas back in and reseal them.

Re Segway

The busses here have bike racks on the front. You are allowed to bring a bike onto the train (though I think they may require the purchase of bike permit)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
Because bikes are inherently big,
The Segway was what 3 feet high by 2 feet wide by a foot long

Quote:
you can't carry them up stairs easily
It's a hell of lot easier to carry a bike up stairs than to carry an 80 pound Segway.
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  #33  
Old 05-30-2005, 10:18 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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*sigh* The Cook and Clean Center

I had a miniscule apartment that had one of these...I owned just enough stuff that I didn't bother putting anything in the cupboards, I just ran the dishwasher every morning as I went to work, and everything was ready when I got home=)

Also, can't find any link online, but around 1990 or so, in the Navy Exchange catalog they had a spiffy toy, an appliance you put a washed potato in, and filled a bin with oil, and it would slice and fry potato chips and conveyor belt them out into a paper towel lined plate=) ... sort of a toy like those coffee maker/toasteroven/heating tray thingy that you can find in gizmo catalogs=)
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  #34  
Old 05-30-2005, 11:33 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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The "Echo" communication satelliteóbasically, a big, metalicized balloon that radio signals were bounced off of. There's just something oddly charming about it.
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  #35  
Old 05-31-2005, 12:06 AM
squeegee squeegee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
It's interesting to note that even in Star Trek, in all its various incarnations, anything resembling a videophone is hardly ever seen.
Maybe I'm missing your intent, but the videophone in Star Trek seems quite common. It's certainly not used as a plot device often -- I'm sure it's cheaper and more expedient to shoot Kirk/Picard/whatever talking to a disembodied voice from the bridge and receiving an offscreen answer -- but there are numerous examples of characters having discussions with a talking head on a console.
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  #36  
Old 05-31-2005, 12:24 AM
Harmonix Harmonix is offline
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along the lines of tablet PC's and PDAs

The OQO

It still exists, and sells, but it's yet to be a common device.
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  #37  
Old 05-31-2005, 12:29 AM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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I thought the CrossPad was a neat idea. It's basically a clipboard with a built-in digitizer, so whatever you wrote (with a special RF pen) gets saved as digital data. I used to own one and found it of some use, but the implementation wasn't good enough for everyday use. It was rather large and heavy, and the PC software for managing the data was very limited. And the RF pen wasn't very pleasent to write with.
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  #38  
Old 05-31-2005, 01:02 AM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Another one...atomic pens.

And "Go Motion," a stop-motion animation technique. (I guess it didn't go "nowhere," completely, but it's close to.)
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  #39  
Old 05-31-2005, 03:42 AM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocCathode

The Segway was what 3 feet high by 2 feet wide by a foot long

It's a hell of lot easier to carry a bike up stairs than to carry an 80 pound Segway.
My quote was that bikes are inherently big. Theres nothing stopping us apart from technology from making a segway that's not much broader across than your shoulders and weighs next to nothing.

Bikes, on the other hand, are limited by their form factor to be a certain size which means even if they weighed nothing, they would still be tricky to take up stairs.
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  #40  
Old 05-31-2005, 07:35 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
Bikes, on the other hand, are limited by their form factor to be a certain size which means even if they weighed nothing, they would still be tricky to take up stairs.
For the second time, I'll ask the same question: have you never seen a folding bike?
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  #41  
Old 05-31-2005, 07:39 AM
Unintentionally Blank Unintentionally Blank is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GorillaMan
For the second time, I'll ask the same question: have you never seen a folding bike?
I'll respond to this. A folding bike is a cute eccentricity, but you wouldn't WANT to fold and unfold it every day, twice a day, in a commute. A Razor scooter folds and is convenient to carry when folded, a bike still weights 35+ lbs and has lots of sticky outy greasy parts you wouldn't want to get up against.

Could you do it? Sure. Would you be 0.0001% of the population willing to do so? Yup.
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  #42  
Old 05-31-2005, 10:03 AM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese
My quote was that bikes are inherently big. Theres nothing stopping us apart from technology from making a segway that's not much broader across than your shoulders and weighs next to nothing.
The narrower you make the Segway, the less stable it becomes during cornering. And you stay on a Segway while riding a train? Wouldn't you have to get off and stand beside it? What if you are sitting down, is there room under the seat for a Segway?

Segways are inherently heavier than bikes. Both have two wheels and a drivetrain, but in addition the Segway has a battery and motor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unintentionally Blank
A folding bike is a cute eccentricity, but you wouldn't WANT to fold and unfold it every day, twice a day, in a commute.
Why not? I used to. My Brompton takes 20 seconds to fold, and perhaps another 20 seconds to pack into a shoulder bag.
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  #43  
Old 05-31-2005, 10:15 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unintentionally Blank
I'll respond to this. A folding bike is a cute eccentricity, but you wouldn't WANT to fold and unfold it every day, twice a day, in a commute. A Razor scooter folds and is convenient to carry when folded, a bike still weights 35+ lbs and has lots of sticky outy greasy parts you wouldn't want to get up against.

Could you do it? Sure. Would you be 0.0001% of the population willing to do so? Yup.
I work with somebody who does a folding bike - train - folding bike commute. Assuming there's another 60 like her, that's 0.0001% of Britain covered

In any case, this is off-track - this would only ever account for a tiny segment of commuters. Replacing bikes with Segways wouldn't change anything (I don't see any cities being 'redesigned' around bikes).
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  #44  
Old 05-31-2005, 01:09 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unintentionally Blank
I'll respond to this. A folding bike is a cute eccentricity, but you wouldn't WANT to fold and unfold it every day, twice a day, in a commute. A Razor scooter folds and is convenient to carry when folded, a bike still weights 35+ lbs and has lots of sticky outy greasy parts you wouldn't want to get up against.
I've seen bikes folded up and put into a protective bag.
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  #45  
Old 05-31-2005, 02:36 PM
rjung rjung is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz
I've seen bikes folded up and put into a protective bag.
Would you want to have to do it twice a day -- folding and unfolding -- as part of your daily commute?
__________________
--R.J.
Electric Escape -- Information superhighway rest area #10,186
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  #46  
Old 05-31-2005, 02:52 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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RE: Segway


Why it will never replace my automobile-

1) No airconditioning. Riding to work in a suit when its 93 degrees and 100% humidity can't be pleasant.

2) No heat. Riding to work when it's below 30 degrees and windy can be a real bummer.

3) No roof. Riding to work in the rain and snow is going to make you nice and soggy when you get there.

4) No storage. How do I get my briefcase, gymbag, lunch, and coffee to work with me.

5) No radio. I don't feel like messing with a walkman everday. I like to just press a button for news and weather.
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  #47  
Old 05-31-2005, 03:31 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegee
but there are numerous examples of characters having discussions with a talking head on a console.
Perhaps so, but such examples seem seem less common than the ones where the character simply speaks into a speaker grid in the wall.
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  #48  
Old 05-31-2005, 04:26 PM
Moonchild Moonchild is offline
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I have yet to meet a driver of an electric car who didn't love it, myself included. As any auto manufacturer will happily point out, there are reasons why the EV program wouldn't have worked. But there are just as many reasons why it would have. A great second car for a two-car family.

There is something incredibly peaceful and joyful about driving a car that makes virtually no noise, doesn't require gasoline and doesn't emit exhaust (oh, and dramatically reduces fuel and maintenance costs). Those matters seemed to get lost from manufacturer to consumer. A real shame IMHO.
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  #49  
Old 05-31-2005, 05:21 PM
Cornelius Tuggerson Cornelius Tuggerson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocCathode
Wire Recorders

As the name suggests, you could record sound onto wire. Quality wasn't great. You needed a very long cable for more than a few minutes. Then, open reel tape machines debuted.
I know an amusing anecdote about these. The Soviet air force opted to use wires as a recording medium for audio alerts to pilots(they are supposedly not susceptible to the EM charge and would not break if a nuclear weapon was detonated close, but not too close to the plane). This design decision implied an interesting feature - it had to be a womanís voice that was recorded onto the wire as a male voice was too low key to be heard clearly enough. So during one of the routine test flights of some fighter plane the audio system kicked in and said something like:
"Engine Failure in Engine 4; Automatic Fuel Shut Off Engaged"
To which the pilot that was flying the plane responded by saying something along the lines of - "AHHHH!! HOLY SHIT!! WOMAN ON BOARD" and ejecting promptly, even though the malfunction was not a very serious one. So even such a great haven for useless technologies as the Soviet air force couldn't prevent the demise of wire recording.
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  #50  
Old 05-31-2005, 05:39 PM
Amazon Floozy Goddess Amazon Floozy Goddess is offline
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Ok, this is pretty underwhelming, and not really that cool, but it was when it came out -

Calculator watches.

My dad had one of the first kinds that came out. he got it at Radio Schlock. Big and chunky and pretty unattractive, but as a kid it fascinated me because, hey, there was a calculator in it!! And the buttons were so tiny!! Unfortunately, there was something wrong with it and it was far from accurate. I remember one time playing with it and it claimed that 2 + 16 = 28.
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