Linked by David Adams on Tue 13th Dec 2011 02:38 UTC, submitted by estherschindler
Geek stuff, sci-fi...

Carol Pinchefsky contemplates commercial skipping DVRs, and other tales of really good technology that vanished, in 7 Awesome Bits of Tech That Just Freakin' Disappeared. As Pinchefsky writes: "...It got me thinking about awesome technology that we somehow ditched. The airship? Awesome. Slide rules? Awesome awesome. Mir Space Station? Boss-level awesome. And now just thinking about wristwatches with calculators makes me suffer a sense of short-term nostalgia (as in Douglas Coupland's Generation X). Here are some of the coolest features and products that we’ve lost along the way to 2012.

Order by: Score:
hypercard
by TechGeek on Tue 13th Dec 2011 03:37 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

Hypercard may have gone away, but Director was basically its replacement. It basically took the card stack and changed it into a sequence of film frames. Most of the technology was eventually added to flash, but there are still a lot of people doing stuff with Director. Lost of shockwave games still out there too.

Reply Score: 5

RE: hypercard
by frderi on Tue 13th Dec 2011 20:36 UTC in reply to "hypercard"
frderi Member since:
2011-06-17

I think one of the key issues with HyperCard was just that it just was trying to be too much. While being a noteworthy tool when it came out, more specific tools like the spreadsheet, database applications like FileMaker and Access, and later on programming tools like Director and other RAD environments were just more focused towards trying to solve a specific set of problems instead which made them ending up better suited for solving each of the problems HyperCard tried to tackle in one sweep.

Also, when HyperCard came out, the personal computing experience was conceived in a stand alone, single user, computer centric environment, not a multi user networked model which became increasingly important when personal computers got linked together in a network and people started collaborating trough it. Most of the more specialized stand alone applications like spreadsheets and database applications eventually had network features like ODBC connections and centralized data storage bolted on which allowed them to work on centralized data, which proved elementary in their success for surviving in a multi user central data environment.

If anything, the story of the demise HyperCard is just proof in history that even platform-based technology needs to be tailored to and built for solving real-world problems rather than being an interesting technology by their own right.

Edited 2011-12-13 20:37 UTC

Reply Score: 1

2 that I miss
by Kivada on Tue 13th Dec 2011 08:34 UTC
Kivada
Member since:
2010-07-07

are Laptops with a trackball like my ancient Powerbook 180c. I found it far more comfortable then I do a touchpad.

Another is AMD's canned XGP http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/ati-xgp/Pages/ati-xgp.a... external mobile GPU. It allowed you to supplement the onboard GPU when powering an external screen or much more interesting, allowed you to drive the laptop's screen off the XGP GPU with a top end mobile GPU, the only version released was the HD3870m but they also demoed an updated version based around the HD5970m. Only 2 laptops I know of ever had this the Toshiba Amilo SA3650 and later the Acer Ferrari One 200.

There are several youtube videos of the XGP though:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iqrm_2Gqu8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slPrSSv7G4w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWZJykGjo7M

Sucks cause I could go for a nice 15" based around the A8 series APU with the option of having an HD6990m AMD's fastest single chip mobile GPU http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/ati-xgp/Pages/ati-xgp.a... Yes, I too hate that mobile naming convention makes absolutely no sense... But it'd be great to just have it attached to the TV, just plug in the laptop and grab the wireless kb and mouse.

Edited 2011-12-13 08:36 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: 2 that I miss
by pandronic on Tue 13th Dec 2011 09:13 UTC in reply to "2 that I miss"
pandronic Member since:
2006-05-18

Perhaps it would had been more interesting if they would've had provided a generic box with just a pcie x8 slot into which you could've plugged any video card. That would've truly been awesome.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: 2 that I miss
by Kivada on Tue 13th Dec 2011 09:42 UTC in reply to "RE: 2 that I miss"
Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

Perhaps it would had been more interesting if they would've had provided a generic box with just a pcie x8 slot into which you could've plugged any video card. That would've truly been awesome.


Difference there is heat, power draw and size. These where MXM card mobile GPUs and allowed for crossfire by daisy chaining them.

What you are talking about would be more like the ViDock http://www.villageinstruments.com/tiki-index.php?page=ViDock Expresscard slot adapter, could take any sub 75w PCIe card, came empty or with an HD4670. Problem with it is the fact that Expresscard is PCIe 1x bandwidth, so it doesn't take much from a modern card to fully saturate it. It looks like they now sell models that support up to 225w, but still crippled by Expresscard. It's simple to test, tape up your GPU's contacts so it can only run in 1x mode vs 8x-16x. Between 8x and 16x the difference is usually negligible, but between 1x and 8x is night and day.

Reply Score: 2

RE: 2 that I miss
by kenji on Tue 13th Dec 2011 20:49 UTC in reply to "2 that I miss"
kenji Member since:
2009-04-08

are Laptops with a trackball like my ancient Powerbook 180c. I found it far more comfortable then I do a touchpad.

+5

I can't do without the trackpoint on my 3.5 year old thinkpad. A track ball would be even better! Who decided that touchpads were superior anyway?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: 2 that I miss
by Morgan on Wed 14th Dec 2011 15:22 UTC in reply to "RE: 2 that I miss"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Who decided that touchpads were superior anyway?



Apple did, if memory serves. They were the driving force in notebook/laptop technology in the 90s and when the PowerBooks started shipping with touchpads, PC makers started following suit with cheaper versions.

I do miss the trackpoint on my first laptop (TI TravelMate 4000m, high school grad/birthday present from my estranged father in 1995) and I also liked the LCD-mounted trackball on my old Compaq notebook. I forget the model these days, but it was white(!) and had a Pentium MMX CPU. I bought it used around 2000, upgraded it as far as it would go and it was my mobile computer for about three years.

The first time I owned a laptop with a touchpad, I almost returned it. It was horrid! I eventually conformed, though I kept a USB mouse handy and pulled it out whenever I had the desk space.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Tue 13th Dec 2011 09:32 UTC
Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

IR beaming

Before the days of ubiquitous WiFi, the Treo (see Graffiti, below) and the Palm III used a unique method to transfer files between two phones: infrared beaming. To send files from one phone to another, we just placed them near each other, pointed them at one another, and selected “Beam” from the Treo’s menu. These files were as simple as business cards and as complex as applications.

Seriously, it was totally cool to beam a business card to a potential client, although certain potential dates were less impressed. (It wouldn’t have worked out with that guy anyhow. He obviously wasn’t geeky enough.)

What the hell happened?

Just as video killed the radio star, IR beaming was effectively eliminated by the Apple App Store, which replaced the ability to download apps from a centrally controlled system, rather than peer to peer.


Errr no. Bluetooth killed IR beaming, and for good reason too.

Bluetooth has a higher bandwidth for faster transfers and didn't require direct line of sight (which was a royal pain in the arse!).

Reply Score: 10

RE: Comment by Laurence
by Kivada on Tue 13th Dec 2011 09:43 UTC in reply to "Comment by Laurence"
Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

I miss having the IR though since the real fun was making it a universal remote.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Tue 13th Dec 2011 09:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I miss having the IR though since the real fun was making it a universal remote.

True, but these days you can get iOS / Android apps for set top boxes and HTPCs. Granted it's not as fun though

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by Morgan on Wed 14th Dec 2011 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That was one of the reasons my third Palm device was a Sony Clie, it had a built in high output CIR transmitter that worked with Sony's own universal remote app. It also worked with custom apps available around the 'net. It made for a great replacement for the three remotes in my living room.

Time was when I could whip out my PDA in a lobby, and while browsing the (admittedly limited) mobile web via WiFi, I could surreptitiously change the TV to something besides Bloomberg or the Country Music Channel.

Yes, I've grown up since then. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Usenet
by IndigoJo on Tue 13th Dec 2011 09:51 UTC
IndigoJo
Member since:
2005-07-06

I was on Usenet in the mid-1990s and spam was a huge problem - a lot of groups had no legitimate content, only spam, and those that didn't were flooded with it anyway, particularly if they weren't moderated. You had to use your real email address, which made it a magenet for junk email (some added "remove-this" tags, but some account providers did not allow this).

Finally, the biggest problem of all was that only one forum was meant to exist for each topic, so there was one forum (or at most two or three, one in the "alt" hierarchy and another in "soc" or "rec" and perhaps another in a national hierarchy) for, say, a whole religion which could easily lead to fights. It was old technology which suited an Internet that wasn't a mass medium. Web forums, and web-enhanced email groups such as Yahoo groups (originally eGroups), just offered more flexibility.

Reply Score: 4

Ah Replay
by wocowboy on Tue 13th Dec 2011 10:02 UTC
wocowboy
Member since:
2006-06-01

I had a ReplayTV, just threw it out a couple years ago when it stopped working. I loved it. It had much better software than TIVO, easier to use, and that wonderful commercial-skip feature that worked like a charm. I knew it would not last and it did not. Today's DVR fast-forward function is a mere shell, so crippled you watch more of the commercials than you skip.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Ah Replay
by ricegf on Tue 13th Dec 2011 13:01 UTC in reply to "Ah Replay"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

We had one as well, but that wasn't the coolest feature to me.

The coolest feature *by far* is that the DVR acted exactly like any other computer on the network, and shared the TV recordings as (I believe) unencrypted mp4 recordings!

So I could trivially connect to the ReplayTV over the LAN and download the latest Columbo, then watch it in a window on my Linux computer while I worked (I think I was using Mandrake back then :-D ) or drop it on my laptop's disk to watch on my next flight.

The true potential of technology, unencumbered by DRM and the walled gardens of today. *sigh*

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Ah Replay
by slashdev on Tue 13th Dec 2011 15:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Ah Replay"
slashdev Member since:
2006-05-14

No. The killer app feature that ReplayTV had...was show sharing! You had a "Send Show" button. Most people forget that you could actually share shows between people across the internet (not just locally) using ReplayTV. there were even networks created dedicated to specific channels, so people would agree to just record a certain channel. THAT was revolutionary. Had it continued, bit torrent would not have risen, Hulu would have been much different, etc.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Ah Replay
by Alfman on Tue 13th Dec 2011 18:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ah Replay"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Just to highlight the "state of the art" today.

Cable vision's current line of digital cable boxes (background: Cable Vision is a monopoly of cable/broadband services in this area) prohibit fast forwarding through commercials all together in ondemand and recorded programming.

Since they've switched entirely to proprietary digital broadcast service, we have to rent cablevision's equipment for every TV hookup (most channels aren't enabled for standard QAM digital broadcast), even if you intend to use a digital tivo in front of it.

Look at how they charge monthly equipment rates (above and beyond the usual cable programming fees):

Digital Cable Box, HD Cable Box or DVR $6.71
Remote Control $0.24
Premium Programming on Additional Outlets $1.50
Digital CableCARD $2.00

Talk about being nickel and dimed, none of these are really optional for people to use the service, and they need to be multiplied by every TV in the house.

So, while digital TV has the potential to do wonderful things, it's just increasing costs and imposing ever more frustrating limitations to the end users.

Personally, I'd forgo the service all together, but other people in the house watch TV, and it's bundled with internet.

Reply Score: 3

Graffiti
by Dave_K on Tue 13th Dec 2011 15:37 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

As much as I liked my Palm back in its day, I can't say that I've ever missed Graffiti. I'd take it over the Newton's attempt to recognise normal handwriting, but even a tiny little keyboard was a big improvement.

Does anyone remember the Fitaly virtual keyboard for Palm?

http://www.fitaly.com/fitaly/fitaly.htm

It came with a sticker that covered the handwriting entry area, so didn't take up valuable screen space like an onscreen keyboard. The Fitaly's touch screen optimised layout really did make a significant difference when compared with onscreen Qwerty.

That was easily the best thing I ever bought for my Palm, more than doubling my text entry speed. I'd like to say that it made me more productive, but what really made it worthwhile was how much more fun it made playing all those old Infocom text adventures.

Of course, as with all the better alternatives to Qwerty that have appeared, familiarity beat superiority and Fitaly never really took off.

Reply Score: 4

bhtooefr
Member since:
2009-02-19

...and Polaroid even sells them, still.

Nowadays they're a cheap digital camera with a built-in color thermal printer.

Reply Score: 2

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

You can still buy instant film cameras.
http://www.fujifilm.com/products/instant_photo/films/instax/

Reply Score: 3

Maybe they just sucked?
by deathshadow on Wed 14th Dec 2011 10:48 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

No offense, but most of these... sucked in the long term... Though in many ways they were like 'critically acclaimed' movies that NOBODY would ever want to watch apart from movie critics... or single thirty-something women...

Let's see...

Commercial Skipping -- well... this one's pretty much spot on. Not much to argue, It was a great feature that was bound to get sued into the ground.

IR Beaming -- infrared communications SUCKS. There, I said it. It sucks with TV remotes, it sucks with car locks, it sucked on the PC Jr Keyboard, and it sucks so bad NOBODY EVER used the IR serial built into most older laptops...

You want to know why IR died? Low-band FM RF, Bluetooth and 802.11 adapters that make pennies look big.

Graffiti -- handwriting sucks. It sucked from Xerox, it sucked on the Newton, it sucked on the Treo, and it still sucks today! Sure, it looks cool, but it's never been anything more than a gimmick. If handwriting didn't suck so bad the typewriter would never have been invented. I would rather have a keyboard than some stupid gesture or handwriting nonsense; but then I'm the guy who'd kill for a laptop with a model M in it. Throw into this category voice recognition -- which every three to five years some company puts out a new one, claiming it's ready for practical use -- and it's not even close to being real world functional or useful... to the point of making you run screaaming back to the nice safe predictable reliable fast input device to stand the test of time -- the keyboard.

Next thing you know someone will slap an apple logo on a crappy chiclet keyboard and despite it still sucking as bad as it did on the Sinclair Spectrum or PC JR, boom it hits the sky... Oops, too late. (Again, Model M elitist checking in)

"Butterfly" keyboard - broke... A LOT. WAY too fragile for it's own good. Lost track of the number of them which came into my shop in the mid 90's where people had screwed it up. It was an engineering marvel, but as Mr. Scott said "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain". Laptop keyboards are rinky fragile garbage to begin with, without all that fancy sliding around...

Instant Cameras -- with really crappy lenses, washed out images, and digital cameras of comparable quality selling for what the price of three or four rolls of decent film do without a camera... They sucked, we now have 5mp digital cameras for $30 a pop at Wally World with micro-sd slots in 'em. Hell, I bought a bunch of the 2mp's on closeout at ten bucks a pop just to cannibalize lenses and the displays.

Hypercard -- while I've owned Apples (I still have a IIe platinum), I've NEVER understood the mystique of Hypercard; maybe it's because I knew how to program before the Mac was a twinkle in a Apple fanboy's eye, but the applications in it NEVER impressed me. It was mediocre at best and the ONLY thing it ever accomplished was letting greenhorns THINK they could make applications. (Though that could just be me since I can hand assemble z80 and 8088 machine language, but have a mental block that prevents me from grasping visual programming)

Of course, the article mentions MYST, one of the most dreadful games ever released... (coming from a SCI and text adventure gamer).

Usenet -- It sucked. It was a pain to configure, ISP's started charging to use it on top of your normal connection fee... binary transfers were 50% larger as everything had to be 7 bit uuencoded and split into multiple segments, the client software was nowhere as useable as a forum software from a decade ago. That it's still around is a bit like IRC... the die hard geeks stick with it, but 99% of the world could give a flying purple fish.

Lets' face it... all but one of these sucked... and sucked bad... got down in front of the giant brass monkey...

Edited 2011-12-14 10:54 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Maybe they just sucked?
by Laurence on Wed 14th Dec 2011 11:18 UTC in reply to "Maybe they just sucked?"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I liked Myst

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Maybe they just sucked?
by Morgan on Wed 14th Dec 2011 15:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Maybe they just sucked?"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Indeed! I had to buy a 2x speed SCSI external CD-ROM to play it and other CD-based games on my first laptop back in 1995, and it was worth the investment. I was recovering from cancer treatment at the time, and it gave me something fun to immerse myself in to forget about the pain and discomfort.

Dammit now I'm going to have to track down a copy of Myst and try to get it working on this 2007 era computer!

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Maybe they just sucked?
by Laurence on Thu 15th Dec 2011 10:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Maybe they just sucked?"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Indeed! I had to buy a 2x speed SCSI external CD-ROM to play it and other CD-based games on my first laptop back in 1995, and it was worth the investment. I was recovering from cancer treatment at the time, and it gave me something fun to immerse myself in to forget about the pain and discomfort.

Dammit now I'm going to have to track down a copy of Myst and try to get it working on this 2007 era computer!

I also quite liked the sequel, Riven, too.

Sorry to hear about the cancer though ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Maybe they just sucked?
by Morgan on Thu 15th Dec 2011 11:09 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Maybe they just sucked?"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Thank you. ;) That was sixteen years ago and I'm long since recovered. I'm pretty open about it on here, and I just kind of assume that the regulars know about it (if anyone even cares). I don't mean to offend or discomfort anyone by bringing it up.

Anyway, I never got much into Riven. After Myst a lot of clones came about and made the genre a bit repetitive. To this day I don't bother with the "hidden object" and similar type games as I've been there/done that a thousand times now.

As for tech that disappeared...the article mentions Graffiti but I really miss the Palm platform itself. Until very recently I regarded the PalmOne Treo as the best smartphone I ever owned. Even as much as I like WP7, there are things the Treo could do that have yet to be matched on any current platform. BlackBerry came damn close, but it still lacked the openness (regarding facility, not source code) and customization potential that Garnet had. I'm tempted to track down a Sprint Treo as a cheap but reliable fallback in case something ever happens to my Arrive. (And yes, also as a toy for when I'm bored with modern tech ;)

Edited 2011-12-15 11:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2