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Tech Disasters

John Dvorak, in PC Magazine, lists he 10 worst software disasters of all time. There are all sorts of "bad," but he focuses on bad software that was hyped as the next big thing and then proved to be a huge flop despite all efforts. Here's his list (read the article for details on each):

10. Microsoft Bob (1995)
9. Combined category [programing languages]
8. MicroPro Easy, the word processor (1985)
7. Windows 1.0
6. Microsoft Access (circa 1985) [not the database software]
5. TopView (1984)
4. Lotus Symphony (PC) and Lotus Jazz (Macintosh)
3. Framework
2. Microsoft OS/2
1. VisiOn

I would add #11 to that list - Quarterdeck's DeskView/X

Of that list of 11 how many of those have you used?

Related: Microsoft Bob has staying power.


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Comments (19)

Not a one. There go my geek... (Below threshold)

Not a one. There go my geek credentials.

Four of them.Pity ... (Below threshold)

Four of them.

Pity me.

I installed a bootleg copy ... (Below threshold)

I installed a bootleg copy of Symphony.... POS... since there were no uninstall routines at the time, I deleted it after about a one week trial.

Off topic a little bit.... I still have original Windows 2.0 on 5.25 inch floppies... and every other piece of software I ever purchased.

Back in the day, I used to really like a menu/disk navigation program called Magellan... it was an indespensable tool for me.

Madfish, are you refering t... (Below threshold)

Madfish, are you refering to Jonathan Potters Directory Opus Magellan (Originally for the Amiga, but ported to Windows), or something else?

Magellen for the Amiga was/is just about the nicest GUI replacement I've ever worked with.l

Let's see...Supporte... (Below threshold)
Mike S:

Let's see...
Supported AutoCAD on OS2...
Used Framework for engineering specifications...
Used Symphony for hydraulic caculations...
Installed and played with Windows 1.0 but you couldn't actually run anything on it...
Owned a copy of PASCAL but never got around to installing it...

I think my geek cred is safe...

I've supported every one of... (Below threshold)

I've supported every one of these dogs at one time or another except for VisiOn and Bob.

Has Dvorak put together a list of brilliant failures? I've supported lots of those, too.

My high school had Framewor... (Below threshold)
David C:

My high school had Framework circa 1985-6, and I actually liked it a lot at the time. For its day, it was pretty cool. And nobody used a mouse much then, so the lack of a mouse interface didn't seem as crazy as it does now.

I also used Microsoft Bob very briefly when setting up my Dad's first PC, and quickly realized it was too ridiculous for anybody to bother with.

I think the Magellan refere... (Below threshold)

I think the Magellan refered to is the Lotus menuing system.

MS BOB should have been #1.... (Below threshold)

MS BOB should have been #1.

I've been working on various digital devices since I had a pdp-11 in my garage. (yeah I was/am hard core)

Never worked with a single one of them. I know crap software when I see it.

I loved Symphony. I cried ... (Below threshold)

I loved Symphony. I cried bitter tears when it quickly passed away.

My dad had Windows 1.0 on f... (Below threshold)

My dad had Windows 1.0 on floppies. I installed it once during a reformat, and it wasn't that bad.

Don't you mean IBM's OS/2? ... (Below threshold)

Don't you mean IBM's OS/2? They were trying desperately to compete with Windows 3.1 back in the day -
I was an OS/2 administrator.
I saw Bob once - it was stupid.

Beth..Originally, OS... (Below threshold)

Originally, OS/2 was a joint effort by Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft bailed out and went 'Windowed'. My first experience was installing an OS/2, token ring network in 1990.

I would add the OOP concept to this list of losers.

I used them all at one poin... (Below threshold)

I used them all at one point in time or another, except BOB. LOL! But I loved Magellan. Now that was an awesome piece of software.

I believe Java deserves an ... (Below threshold)

I believe Java deserves an honorable mention. In 96 it was hailed as the language to end all languages. It would be used in everything from applets to toaster ovens. It was relentlessly hyped by marketdroids who had no idea what they were talking about.

Combine that with Sun's technical incompetence, hubris, and complete inability to understand desktop software and you can see why, while Java is popular on servers, not too many people are rushing out to buy consumer products made with Java.

One of the worst single pieces of software ever was that used to power the Arianne rocket. The rocket crashed due to a bug, costing about $500 million.

Other boondoggles include the software used to run Denver's airport.

I taught myself symphony ou... (Below threshold)

I taught myself symphony out of boredom once. Horrid, horrid stuff. I don't think it's even possible to make a spreadsheet more difficult to use.

I heard a legend about the ... (Below threshold)
Mike S:

I heard a legend about the MS- IBM split over OS2 many years ago and though I cannot vouch for it's truth, I'm sure someone (who isn't as lazy as I am) can confirm or deny it... the story certainly fits the personalities involved.

MS had contracted with IBM to produce the code and there were disagreements about who would own what when all was said and done. The Redmond folks had some ideas about how the interface should behave and the IBM folks weren't interested.

John Canavino (sp) and Bill Gates had a meeting at a restraunt in Manahattan to discuss the pace and deliverables of OS2. Bill arrived early, by cab, and John was late, arriving in a limo.

After a non-productive meeting, John left without offering to pay for any of the lunch (not even a tip) and didn't offer Bill a ride to the airport. Bill had to hustle a cab and almost missed his flight.

Upon his return to Redmond later that day, Bill called a meeting and told his developers to finish what they had for delivery to IBM and any additional ideas they came up with were to be saved for a new product, not yet called WindowsNT.

Java deserves a mention. </... (Below threshold)
Mike S:

Java deserves a mention.

My quote when a vendor touts it's latest java enabled app?

Oh, Java, one size fits none.

Well, lets give the propell... (Below threshold)
Stephen Walker:

Well, lets give the propeller a twirl. I still have the full set of disks for MS Bob. I was a tester. We did some other software at the same time that did market well. Picture It is one of the modules. As far as I know Win 1X didn't get out very far. We did some run times for Aldus when they ported Pagemaker, but Pagemaker 3.3 ran on Win 2.X runtime. The only other runtime were Word and Excel which didn't really move until Win3.
I still have a copy of Xerox's Framemaker. Framemaker was the PC competitor to Pagemaker when Pagemaker's only platform was Mac. Framemaker would run on a 8086. Most print shops would accept Pagemaker or Framemaker files. This was long before people had decent printers of their own. I still remember being the guy with an HpIIP. The lineup went down the hall all day, I couldn't use my computer.
I don't think we shipped any copies of OS2 other than Alpha. All Beta and Commercial were shipped by IBM. We shipped NT3.1 Beta in place of the OS2 Beta.

Stephen Walker






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