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Dearly Departed — Companies and Products That Didn't Make It 462

Esther Schindler writes "Some products just didn't deserve to die. But they did, because the companies made bad business decisions. Dearly Departed, revisits several favorites — from minicomputers to software utilities — and mourns the best and brightest that died an untimely death. What companies or products would you add? Which of them deserved to go?"
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Dearly Departed — Companies and Products That Didn't Make It

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  • quick summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by call -151 ( 230520 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:22PM (#19988651) Homepage
    Quick list for those who don't care to click through one per page for 19 pages:

    DEC, Tandem, Apollo, Borland, Amiga, Commodore, Ashton-Tate, Fox, Central Point Software, Quarterdeck, Gould, Infocom, Sequent, Poquet,
    Taligent, Word Perfect, Lotus, and Compuserve are the "dearly departed"

    I can't comment much on the PC-heavy end of the list, but DEC stands out to me as the one
    which least deserved to die. DEC Western Research Lab was a fantastic place with a great deal of innovation and freedom, and
    watching it shrivel and die was painful.
    • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:27PM (#19988725) Journal
      Since the story was submitted by Esther Schindler, can we call this Schindler's List?
      • by Timothy Chu ( 2263 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:48PM (#19988955) Homepage
        > Since the story was submitted by Esther Schindler, can we call this Schindler's List?

        You mean that these companies are all still surviving in a bunker or warehouse somewhere? Send my love to WordPerfect 14, wherever she is!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TonyMillion ( 545370 )
        I used to work for a company that made escalators and elevators.

        They were called Schindlers Lifts

    • Re:quick summary (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:47PM (#19988935) Homepage
      I can't comment much on the PC-heavy end of the list, but DEC stands out to me as the one
      which least deserved to die

      Really? Have you actually programmed on a DEC system? That was the most abominable IO record access semantics I have ever met in my career. An average homework written in pascal for a CS course consisted of one page of open declaration followed by 5 lines of homework. Totally nuts. Add to that the joke known as the BSD Unix subsystem (your best friend if you want to hack a DEC). Add to that the totally insane file/node/resource naming convention. I had that sorry excuse of an OS pwn3d left right and center anytime I liked. It was done mostly to run rogue or nethack which were prohibited by the club of religious freaks in charge of the computer system (I understood that they constitute a happy sect much later). It ended with getting a pre-expulsion warning and the equivalent of a campus ASBO where I was not allowed to enter a terminal room. No thank you. It deserved to die. Even the really clumsy early PC Unixes were so much better, it was simply unreal.

      Borland deserved to die as well. While it had a fantastic DOS/protected mode compiler and runtime it never understood the idea that future will be ruled by resource editors and visual controls. I have had to deal with their visual controls on Mac (yep, Turbo Pascal 1.x for Mac System 8), Windows (both TPW and Dephi) and I have even tried to implement a graphical extension of the Vision stuff. It deserved to die. Anything else aside a rapid application development environment that did not understand the value of ready controls and resources did not belong on the market. Microsoft came with their lame, buggy, but usefull foundation class libs and wiped the floor. No surprise there.

      I can continue with the list. Every single one of them had serious technical reasons to depart. While we may have some fond memories of them - good bye and good riddance. Unless you feel masochistic to write an RMS open statement and build a GUI with TPW (or god forbit TP for Mac).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by call -151 ( 230520 ) *
        Really? Have you actually programmed on a DEC system? That was the most abominable IO record access semantics I have ever met in my career.
        Indeed I did. Every system had/has its quirks, and it's not fair to compare the VMS environment to modern ones. DEC produced a great deal of interesting things, and if that is your biggest beef with them, that's pretty minor in the scheme of things.
      • Re:quick summary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Frumious Wombat ( 845680 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:26PM (#19989317)
        Yes, I have, and I still miss them. Your problem was that you (apparently) tried to use Unix on them, rather than VMS, and the common language interface (which allowed you to do system calls and fancy string handling in fortran 77). Once you grokked the Orange Wall [tmok.com] (and later Grey Wall) [louisiana.edu], VMS was easy to manage, and rock solid. It used funky networking of course (CMUTEK tcp/ip still gives me shudders), but if you had all VAXes, then DECNET was no big deal. Truly a loss, and superior to many of its successors.

        I miss my VAXstation and the 11/785.

        turbo pascal 2 was also great, but they never cleanly made the transition to the Windows world. I'm sorry to lose the simplicity of TP2 (which would be great now because you'd just link it to other libraries, rather than rely upon Borland's oddball implementations), and there was always the attempt to be different, such as Turbo Prolog.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rs79 ( 71822 )
        "Really? Have you actually programmed on a DEC system?"

        Candy ass. Real man used to toggle in bootstrap code via bit switches to start up a PDP 11/20. A bit later a few of us were playing with a little thing called "Unix" on 11/45s. A funny languaga called "C" came out of this. I watched as my cubemate wrote a programme now called "gcc".

        The elegece of the PDP instruction set made this easy if not easier. I shudder to think where we'd be today if it were not for those machines and I defy anybody to point to a
    • Re:quick summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by frdmfghtr ( 603968 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:50PM (#19988963)
    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )
      printer-friendly link [cio.com]

      Acquisition by Symantec killed Central Point Software. The DMCA buried it.

      They made Copy ][ Plus for the Apple II series and other similarly named software for other platforms. C2+ was the essential piece of software at my high school, for students and teachers alike, back when copy protection itself was an art form (double spiral tracks on 5.25" floppies), not like the typical, "If this block on the disk is readable, refuse to run," protections of later years. (However, 8.2 was much
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gilesjuk ( 604902 )
      Commodore deserved bankruptcy, the Amiga didn't.

      Commodore failed to develop the Amiga and didn't know what to do with it. Dithering between marketing it as a business computer or a games machine.

      About 6 years after I got my A500 in 1987 they finally released a new chipset, it was a stop gap hack until the long awaited AAA chipset came out. It never did appear due to bankruptcy. Rumour has it that they were still flying the company jet around right to the end.

      If AAA had been released when the A3000 came out
    • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:16PM (#19989209) Homepage
      When Ken Olsen made his famous comment in 1977, it set the tone for DEC to ensure it quickly lost relevance in the computer world. And when DEC did finally come out with PC's, they were proprietary at a time when the proprietary designs were slowly losing out to the IBM PC.

      By the time the Alpha chip was released, the company was already doing very poorly. By the time Robert Palmer took over, it was not clear to anyone at the time that DEC would ever again be relevant. I don't know if he was the right man for the job or not, but he basically started parceling out bits of DEC to whoever would buy it. My experience is you can't cut your way to profitability, and when Compaq bought DEC, it was never clear to anyone why they would be interested. I believe DEC took out Compaq on it's way to the bottom.

      I find it amusing now that Ken Olsen tries to claim that he was not anti-PC. My personal opinion was the Ken Olsen was anti-PC because it was pretty clear that cheap boxes would soon be as powerful as the "minis" that DEC had for sale. He knew he'd eventually be squeezed from the bottom end by PC's and there was no place to grow on the top end.

      My only reminder of DEC is a copy of Digital Unix with all the manuals in the original box that I keep on a top shelf to remind me of what DEC used to be. Personally, I'm not surprised that DEC failed, I'm more surprised how little time it took they basically went from being the #2 computer maker to irrelevance in 5 years and then they were gone 5 years later.
      • by Kenshin ( 43036 ) <kenshinNO@SPAMlunarworks.ca> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @07:23PM (#19989821) Homepage
        By the time Robert Palmer took over, it was not clear to anyone at the time that DEC would ever again be relevant.

        But DEC was simply irresistible!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Locutus ( 9039 )
        Funny how their quick slide down coincided with their newfound friendship in Microsoft. DEC all of a sudden become enamored with Microsoft and were telling their customers they need to move to Windows and DEC would be there to help. The trouble was, Windows sucked back then too and once DEC users got going, they were looking for another vendor in hopes of a better experience if not a better price on the systems. I also remember DEC System Engineers being way too bullish on Windows even though it multi-taske
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        DEC failed for several basic reasons, but primarily it was due to a lack of marketing muscle.

        Ken Olsen had a pet theory that having several rival projects solving the same problem
        would produce an optimum solution that would then take the market by storm. To a certain
        degree, he was right, and DEC had many elegant solutions for a while. The problem was that
        competition evolved, and each competitor zeroed in on a particular product space, and
        DEC wasn't prepared to articulate what made its product(s) better than
      • by Frumious Wombat ( 845680 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @07:49PM (#19990029)
        Ever use a DecPro? Built like tanks, wysiwyg editor with integratable charts and graphics, based on a micro-PDP processor (16-bit flat address space in 1980). Then, some nimrod decided to keep the user locked in this DEC-marketroid approved environment, and that they shouldn't be able to format their own floppies, because DEC would make more money selling pre-formatted ones. They could have just run RSX-11 or RT-11 on it, used the PDP compilers, and instantly had a large installed base with developers everywhere. Instead we got a hacked-together 8-bit processor running a copy of CP/M, and were stuck with that architecture for the next decade and change.

        With some vision, they could have been the dominant PC player and become the standard, as they already had a built-in upgrade path, and a decent installed software base. PDP-11 -> VAX -> Alpha Instead, they listened to Ken, marketed wierd machines (still built like tanks) too late (DEC Rainbows), then tried to become a PC company.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rbanffy ( 584143 )
        I am not sure if you rememeber anything not PC.

        Desktop computers were probably the only segment DEC did not have a huge influence. The PDP and VAX series pretty much set the pace for many medium-iron generations. The VT terminals were _the_ reference for terminal design and compatibility (even my IBM 3153 terminal has a VT-100 emulation mode). By the time DEC warmed up to desktop computing, the PC was the standard and everything seemed to be judged by how similar to the PC it was. VMS has influenced the Win
        • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:30PM (#19990939) Homepage
          I do remember that era very well, but the desktop PC was the harbinger of things to come. I remember well the VAX, the PDP series, they were the reference through the late 70's and early 80's. But the PC was a signal that pure processing power was not going to be enough to distinguish yourself from the pack. The PC epitomized the idea that a single hardware standard could be a powerful driver for software innovation. Companies like Sun, Apple, and IBM "got it" and they prospered. But DEC saw the idea, and it scared Ken so much that he campaigned against small PC's. His vision was a mini computer and you would "share time". He didn't "get it".

          DEC had a lot of great ideas and great technology, but I always felt that at a certain point they forgot what made their hardware and software a standard, and they ignored the reality that the landscape changed around them. Despite overwhelming evidence all around them.

          That's why I said DEC went out of their way to fail.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pimpimpim ( 811140 )
        By the time Robert Palmer took over

        Now wonder they went bust, I mean, he could sing alright, but being a rock star just gives only so little preparation for leading a high-tech company. I am glad that trend got stopped soon enough!

    • Re:quick summary (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:28PM (#19989335) Homepage
      "DEC Western Research Lab was a fantastic place with a great deal of innovation and freedom, and
      watching it shrivel and die was painful."

      What he said. The firewall was born there as well as the www search engine.

      About 8 or so years ago a few of us got calls from the white house - Ira Magazner, Clintons senior science advisor wanted to meet with all players in the domain name mess (to stab us in the back it turns out) and Brian Reid was one of those people. He was director of the NSL at DEC ("decwrl").

      The day before I got an email saying he couldn't come and that Compaq had bought Dec and he wasn't sure he'd even have a job. I asked how this could even be possible and his reply stuck in my mind quite firmly: "Compaq didn't get enough money to buy Dec by being innovative".

    • Re:quick summary (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Frumious Wombat ( 845680 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:35PM (#19989385)
      What about Wordstar? Glorious program in the early DOS era before WordPervert evolved into a usable product, ran on DOS or CP/M, excellent formatting controls, and didn't need keyboards with either function keys or arrow keys. You could have run it off an ADM3a.

      My college, after trying many arguably superior programs (XYWrite, Final Word, Wordstar), mysteriously settled on WordPerfect, probably because a manager thought something driven by func keys that came with a little keyboard template to remind you of what they did was easier. I never understood how a wordprocessor that constantly required you to removed your hands from the home-row keys was supposed to enhance my writing. Then I discovered that nobody can touch-type anyway, so it wasn't making as much difference as I thought.

      I'd still probably rather use emacs and TeX, but that wasn't even a dream on early 80s PCs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)


        For when plain ascii is "good enough".

        WordStar really did have a big influence - everyone copied their keyboard shortcuts - Borland, QuickEdit, MultiEdit, etc.

  • Netscape? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:23PM (#19988661) Journal
    Seems to be primarily concerned wtih acquisitions that caused the death of companies. What about the acquisition and death [slashdot.org] of Netscape [wikipedia.org]? I don't think it deserved to die and it was pretty much decided in multiple settlements that Microsoft's bundling of IE with Windows destroyed any chance Netscape had.

    I've personally never used their old products but, you know, I do use Mozilla and it's derivatives and it's a fine browser. Unfortunate they didn't have a snowflake's chance in hell with Microsoft's actions.
    • Re:Netscape? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:43PM (#19988893) Journal
      Netscape killed themselves with uncanny precision long before Microsoft started bundling IE with Windows, never mind actually shipping a viable version of IE. Navigator 4 was, much like the first WordPerfect for Windows, the worst possible product at the worst possible time. Netscape's reaction to their inability to ship working software and Microsoft's ability to do so was to go whine about it to the DoJ, which promptly nailed Microsoft to the wall.

      The "Microsoft killed Nescape" meme is completely wrong, but most people who are predisposed toward MS to begin with don't realize that or simply don't care because it's inconvenient.

      Not to say Microsoft is some sort of angelical organization, but they are certainly not guilty of "killing" Netscape. Marc Andreessen and Co. are solely responsible for that. Just go read Jamie Zawinski's diary and do the math.

      • Re:Netscape? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:44PM (#19989481)
        I agree with you, and I offer a bit of evidence in the form of a control group.

        Everyone knows that Netscape lost to IE on the Windows platform, because of Microsoft bundling IE with the OS for free. What's interesting to me is that Netscape also lost on the Macintosh platform, despite the fact that Apple included both Netscape and IE for free with the OS. Even though I'm sure I'll get flamed by Slashdotters, IE was simply a better product at the time.

        The sad truth is that Netscape killed themselves with a horribly bloated and buggy product. IE may not have been the golden standard, but Netscape crashed every hour and ran slow because of the included email/IRC/kitchen sink that were bundled with the product, despite the fact that virtually nobody used or wanted them.

        (Before I made the leap to IE on my Mac, I had to dig through the Netscape.com FTP site to find the old 4.0.8 version-- the last stand-alone version they made before shoveling the crap in, and the last one that could run longer than an hour without crashing.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dedazo ( 737510 )

          because of the included email/IRC/kitchen sink that were bundled with the product, despite the fact that virtually nobody used or wanted them.

          Exactly. Netscape had gotten high on the "groupware" hype, and by the time they shipped (nay, shoved out the door) NS4 the company was in deep trouble because it had gone from building a browser to trying to be a client platform for internet communications or whatever. Lofty goals, incredibly bad execution. Any company that loses sight of is core competency becomes

          • Re:Netscape? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @07:52PM (#19990053) Homepage
            "And much as it pains some, IE4 was a far superior browser to NS4. "

            NS4 *eventually* was fine, but it took a long time to get there.

            But really, the height of the browser wars was the 3 version of both, and in that regard, Netscape blew away IE3. And in terms of long-term survival, Netscape had the right idea (groupware), they just took long to get there. Note that Google is trying a similar path; they're just being careful how they engage MS, always doing it on their terms, not MS. For this reason alone, it's clear Google is run by brighter management than Netscape.

            Don't forget, IE4 was combined in a way to put a lot of "push" access (that was big at the time) so that the active desktop would simply team with advertisements for Disney and a few other companies. It slowed the PC down so as to be useless so people turned it off. The concept was correct; it just came out about 8 years too early and was proprietary (RSS anyone?). If you fire up Windows 98 (the original) in VMWare, unfortunately the effect is gone because the companies who provided the push content no longer do it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by evilviper ( 135110 )

            People suffer from amazingly deficient long-term memory when it comes to this topic. Netscape was dead long before Microsoft shipped Windows 98, which was the first version of the OS to include IE.

            Speaking of deficient memories...

            Windows NT 4.0 came with IE2. Windows 95 OSR2 came with IE3.0.

            Windows 98, with IE4, was just the first time IE wasn't complete and total crap. Mind you, it was still crap, but not significantly enough worse than Netscape 4 to make people buy a CD, or wait two hour for the damn th

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Everyone knows that Netscape lost to IE on the Windows platform, because of Microsoft bundling IE with the OS for free.

          Not completely. I ran an ISP at the time (1996 or so), and even when IE 3.0 came out (I still have two of the "I downloaded!" glow-in-the-dark T-shirts!), Netscape was better. We would have loved to continue including it on on our setup disks for our customers.

          But here's the thing: even though Netscape was available for free download, they got greedy - they wanted to charge us, as the

    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      The article concerned good products with bad decisions. Netscape was in the end a bad product with bad decisions. It deserved to die.

      Now, what came out of it, is a different story. But Firefox isn't dead anyway.
  • Webvan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:23PM (#19988663) Homepage Journal

    What companies or products would you add?

    That's easy: Webvan [wikipedia.org].

    I loved Webvan. My friends loved Webvan. To this day, I think it was one of the best ideas to come out of the dot-com era, even though it was one of the first companies to go under when the bubble burst.

    It is such a shame that they're gone, and the day I heard they were closing up shop (or technically, warehouse, I suppose) was a sad day indeed. Going to the grocery store is such a hassle, and I gladly paid the premium for the convenience.

    I still think that the idea is valid, and if it were done right, would be a multibillion-dollar industry. Whoever takes up the cause now, though, would have to fight not only the trials and tribulations of starting a new business, but the legacy of the spectacular failure of Webvan before it.

    What a shame. I can't believe that it's been six years since their demise.

    • by jfengel ( 409917 )
      In my area, Peapod [peapod.com] still does this.

      I, personally, really enjoy grocery shopping (believe it or not) so I haven't used them, but I've heard it's pretty good and not too expensive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by call -151 ( 230520 ) *
      The online grocery market is going strong in NYC with Fresh Direct (among others, but the market leader), which is a great implementation of the concept and has widespread use, to the point that some buildings now have cooled areas in their lobbies for Fresh Direct deliveries.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Animats ( 122034 )

      Webvan had a good idea. But they mismanaged their expansion. They got something like 3% market share in 30 cities; when what they needed was 30% market share in 3 cities. The delivery costs of low-density deliveries were killing them.

      Safeway offers something that seems similar now, but they do it by having people pick from the shelves of their retail stores. Because the stock on hand there is thin, the online system can't reserve or even see the shelf stock, and they don't do back-orders, they tend

    • by pluther ( 647209 )

      still think that the idea is valid, and if it were done right, would be a multibillion-dollar industry. Whoever takes up the cause now, though, would have to fight [...] the trials and tribulations of starting a new business...

      There are still several options available for online grocery shopping. Many existing physical stores, such as Safeway [safeway.com], have online shopping/delivery available. These stores, of course, have the advantage over WebVan that they already have a widely distributed presence so can serve

    • by nuzak ( 959558 )
      Multibillion? Please. It was hugely unprofitable then, and it's not as if it's gotten any cheaper now. Delivery in general is a low-margin business, unless you're a courier. Webvan couldn't fill in the '???' in their business plan.

      I order from Safeway, and get free delivery coupons so often it hardly ever costs me. I still get produce from Whole Foods or pretty much anywhere but Safeway, but they're still very handy for delivering 30-lb boxes of kitty litter and a dozen five-gallon water jugs to car-fr
  • Link to single page (Score:2, Informative)

    by jpetts ( 208163 )
    Avoids the 19-page ad-laden version:

    http://www.cio.com/article/print/125263 [cio.com]
  • after seven pages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:24PM (#19988679) Journal

    I gave up trying to read what promised (I'd thought) to be an interesting article. Guess I fell for the hook. Guess I haven't been to the CIO web site for a while. Guess I didn't remember the signal to noise ration for their pages (about 10dB). Guess I'll not finish their article. Guess which web site I'm never going back to.

    The meat of their article is spread across at least 19 pages, each page of which contains probably less than 100 words text. WTH? Each page of which contains 2K lines, and about 100K of text (this obviously doesn't incorporate the image load and javascript execution tax you pay for each newly loaded page). I gave up even trying to finish the article after seven pages of waiting on a semi-slow connection.

    Guess I'll wait for the readers' reviews.

    Each day the internet gets a little less interesting, a little less fun. I fully anticipate the day web pages are 100% ads, nothing else (we're close!).

    • Guess you never figured out a "print" option will usually format everything on one page...
    • I thought you were exaggerating, but I gave up after page 2. Bleh.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I fully anticipate the day web pages are 100% ads, nothing else (we're close!).

      Where have you been hiding? We're already there. Mistyped a url lately? Found a result in google that's sold the domain? And what about this guy [milliondol...mepage.com]?

  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:26PM (#19988701) Journal
    spread across 19 pages DESERVES TO DIE!!!
  • TFA is organized into 19 pages that have a small summary on each page. Let me reach into my wordbag and pull out something to describe that. Let's see..."annoying," yeah that works.
  • Divx. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:26PM (#19988717)
    The old Divx video player [wikipedia.org] is one major example of a product that deserved to die off in the marketplace. Moreover, it certainly deserved to have its name taken by a popular video encoding format [wikipedia.org]. And made into a bit character in a penny arcade. [penny-arcade.com]

    Ryan Fenton
  • by RancidPickle ( 160946 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:34PM (#19988801) Homepage
    Borland, DEC and Amiga are the ones that really stand out for me.

    I remember opening up the giant box of Borland C++ v3 floppy disks and wondering what the hell I got myself into. I still have the box, except the floppies were imaged onto CDs. A well-done, not-perfect product. Borland was very helpful whenever I had questions.

    The DEC Alpha was a great CPU. I remembering running across one at an auction, and picking it up, running home and dropping NT 3.51 on it. Solid design, built like a tank. DEC made some interesting innovative products (and yes, they did make the DEC Rainbow, which my college standardized on for, oh, about six months before it died a quick death).

    The best on the list is the Amiga. One exceptional system, designed from the ground up as a top-notch computing, video and music machine. I still have a 2000HD with a Toaster, a couple of 500s, a 1000 and a 3000. There are some tasks that PCs can't touch the Amiga, even years later. Several Spanish TV stations in South America use Amigas as their main titling platform. An Amiga with Lightwave and a toaster is a formidable video production studio, even to this day. Too bad Commodore was such a poorly-run company, they did all they could to kill the Ami. At least some Euro folks have kept up with the platform, porting Linux and developing new stuff.
  • Anti-MS zealots (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DogDude ( 805747 )
    I'd like to point out that in this list, there was exactly one company "killed" by Microsoft. Foxpro was acquired by them. More importantly MS is still keeping the project alive after all of this time. Microsoft most certainly is not the company killer that the Slashdot Groupthink make it out to be.
    • Re:Anti-MS zealots (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hurfy ( 735314 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:56PM (#19989031)
      Worst company killer is Symantec without a doubt. Everything goes in but nothing comes back out :( At least MS usually buys someone out cause they want something instead of simply to keep you from getting something from the other guys :/

      I think they scored 2 on this list alone. Including my beloved Central Point tools (which i still use on my 386) altho i could use an update to the antivirus ...

      My addition: Wang (I have our old 2200 and a PC)
      wonderful stuff but late to upgrade and when the PC came out they tried to keep it propriatary like all the heavy iron. Their PC was actually quite good but only ran their own programs :(

      hehe, i still have working versions of: Central point tools, wordperfect, the deskview stuff, and something else on list i think :)
      • Re:Anti-MS zealots (Score:4, Informative)

        by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @09:24PM (#19990885) Homepage Journal
        :( At least MS usually buys someone out cause they want something instead of simply to keep you from getting something from the other guys :/
        No, and your comment is disturbing. Microsoft has a past history of denying PC Users access to the competition. Spyglass for OS2/MAC/Unix was killed after Microsoft bought them and rebranded it Internet Explorer. So were all the Non-DOS/Windows Sub-Logic games (Flight Sim). Visio used to work perfect under OS2 until Microsoft bought them.

        Please remember who your dealing with. The text below is all recorded trial evidence, not speculation.

        While DRI and Novell were placing their hopes in DR DOS, IBM tried to end the Microsoft monopoly with OS/2. IBM started selling OS/2 in competition with Windows 3.0 in 1990. Microsoft worked hard to keep Windows applications from running acceptably on OS/2 and to prevent the development of OS/2 applications. Besides holding back technical information needed to make Windows applications work on OS/2, Microsoft prohibited users of its software-development tools and otherwise freely redistributable software modules from using them for any operating system but Windows. The lack of applications alone would have doomed OS/2, but Microsofts attack on IBMs PC business was even more damaging. In October 1994, Microsoft proposed a new Windows license that raised the royalty IBM paid to $75 per machine for Windows 95 from the $9 IBM had paid for Windows 3.1. Because IBM sold between 5 million and 6 million PCs per year, these basic terms would have raised IBMs royalty payments to Microsoft from around $40 million to $330 million a year. IBM could reduce the royalty if it agreed to Microsofts demands to "adopt Windows 95 as the standard operating system for IBM" and ensure that "Windows 95 is the only OS mentioned in advertisement." This meant nothing less than killing OS/2 to get a lower price on Windows. In July, IBM bought Lotus Development. IBM planned to bundle Lotus SmartSuite on its PCs and sell SmartSuite to other manufacturers in competition with Microsoft Office. Three days later, Microsoft completely cut off negotiations for Windows 95. Microsoft later demanded that IBM not ship SmartSuite for six months or a year as a condition to resuming Windows 95 negotiations.

        Microsoft was trying to kill OS/2 while Jackson was reviewing the proposed DoJ-Microsoft settlement. On Aug. 8, 1995, the DoJ announced it would not block shipment of Windows 95. On Aug. 21, Jackson approved the settlement. Microsoft was still refusing to license Windows 95 to IBM. With the settlement in place and the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in lost PC sales without Windows 95, IBM caved in 15 minutes before Windows 95 was announced. Microsofts Mark Baber had asked IBMs Garry Norris, "Where else are you going to go? This is the only game in town." IBM ended up paying $47 a copy for Windows 95. At the previous rate, IBM would have paid around $120 million to $200 million in royalties from 1996 to 1998, but the new terms exacted a price of $998 million and made IBMs PC prices uncompetitive with other major vendors. Ultimately, IBM had to kill either OS/2 or the PC business it had founded.

        Full text, http://reactor-core.org/in-microsoft-we-trust.html [reactor-core.org]

  • i got one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paktu ( 1103861 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:38PM (#19988855)
    Sega Dreamcast, anyone?

    Thank the Sony PR machine for that one, folks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by edwdig ( 47888 )
      Try the spectacular failures of the SegaCD, 32X, and Saturn that preceded it. They dug themselves into a giant hole - both financially and in the minds of gamers - that was damn near impossible to dig out of.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:39PM (#19988863)
    as i have learned from reading slashdot, dilbert, and hanging out in the 'linux community', all non-tech staff at a corporation are useless dead weight, hangers on with dragging knuckles and pea sized brains. if only they could be eliminated, society would become a technological utopia. marketing, sales, management, HR, and so forth, are all worthless wastes of time.

    and yet, here you come, now telling me that marketing, sales, and management are somehow 'important' and should be payed 'attention to'?

    hogwash. we all know that the perfect corporation would make products that we give away for free, have no management, HR, marketing, sales, or customer service staff, and uhm. yeah. we could all live off our wives or in our parents basement.

    i for one, will never abandon the True Software view of reality.
  • by brouski ( 827510 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:42PM (#19988891)
    Find the "Printable Version" button on the first page. Condenses everything into one page.

    Most of these "news" sites have one.
  • by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @05:44PM (#19988905) Journal
    Philadelphia Phillies
    Curling in the US
    Proper grammar any more
    Frosty Paws for dogs
    Fried food as a food group
    Dvorak as a writer
    the Pet Rock
    any Stehpen King movie adaption
    Babylon 5's 5th season
  • I have two car related additions that relate to the same nameplate.

    First, the MN12 based 1989-1997 Ford Thunderbird. GM managed to keep the larger two door coupe alive, and I see no reason why Ford couldn't have waited a few years on limited production with some minor refreshes to see if sales picked up. I think the real reason was that Ford management hated the car from the beginning, because even though it won Motortrend's car of the year when it was introduced, the team was heavily criticized internally,
    • by mlts ( 1038732 )
      I liked the 1998-1997 Thunderbird. Yes, it was a larger car, but it was perfect for people who wanted a two-door coupe that had decent performance, but could do the daily stuff too, like sticking the kid in the back, groceries, and other everyday stuff. The redesigned 2002-2005 was pretty nice, but it seemed to me more of a toy car than anything else, trying to appeal to a market segment that other companies like BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Acura, and even Lincoln have locked down.

      I think Ford would be well ser
  • Be (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DuckWizard ( 744428 )
    Be, Inc. really epitomizes this for me. They had great ideas and great products, but their dull business moves caused them to die an ugly death.

    They did have an uphill struggle - nobody's going to port their major software to a platform without a userbase, but a platform isn't going to get a userbase until it has major software ported to it. Being a late entry to the PC game put them in that chicken/egg scenario and really hurt them.

    But surely they could have somehow convinced SOMEONE to port an applicati
  • by NotFamous ( 827147 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:04PM (#19989101) Homepage Journal
    Company: Slashdot

    Born: 1841

    Died: 2007 (purchased by Microsoft)

    Cause of Death: After Taco's death, his 6 year-old nephew took over the site. Most of the articles were about farts and dodgeball. Popularity went through the roof, but the kid forgot to renew the domain. Microsoft bought it and turned it into a site where people could post tributes to Windows Genuine Advantage.

    Founder: Taco Bell

    Most well-known product(s): Ascii art

    Why we miss them: Because Digg was just bought by the Microsofties

    Lasting image/quote: "Repost"

  • Deserves have nothing to do with real life.
  • Osborne Computers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sounder40 ( 243087 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:09PM (#19989157)
    OK, showing my age, but how can a list like this leave out the Osborne Computer Corp.?!? [wikipedia.org]

    Few companies since the dawn of the microcomputer have so thoroughly blown a sure thing. Heck, they called it The Osborne Effect [wikipedia.org] for a reason...

  • by BillGatesLoveChild ( 1046184 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @07:59PM (#19990109) Journal
    Greiner's article is pretty lame. If it had a bit of background or insight, it could have been a great read. But it's just a list of companies names with a bare minimum of detail. Not even a decent analysis of why they failed. At least the Slashdot comments give some insight the CIO author was lacking.

    Which brings us to DEC:

    > When Ken Olsen made his famous comment in 1977, it set the tone for DEC to ensure it quickly lost relevance in the computer world. And when DEC did finally come out with PC's, they were proprietary at a time when the proprietary designs were slowly losing out to the IBM PC.

    DEC's systems were a large computer surrounded by dumb terminals. They died because Olsen didn't want to know about the PC.

    Now remember that 'Network PC' craze of a few years back? Larry Ellison's call for a PC that was so stripped down it was just a prettier dumb terminal. When Ken Olsen heard about the Network PC, he got excited and declared he had been vindicated. The market disagreed. Olsen was an extremely arrogant man. He knew about the PC but didn't want to know about it. He hated Unix with a vengeance, preferring his DEC's own VMS (I used both: VMS truly sucked). He had a chance to form the OSF (Open Software Foundation) to unite Unix vendors, but he was sniping and suspicious. He and IBM Chariman John Akers wouldn't even shake hands in public. Unsurprisingly Microsoft rode all over them.

    He claims he was misquoted. His actions suggest otherwise: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/kenolsen.asp [snopes.com]
  • by horza ( 87255 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @08:38PM (#19990443) Homepage
    Though the Amiga was well known in the USA, I don't think anyone could dispute a great loss in the UK was the Acorn computer. First the BBC Micro [wikipedia.org], which drew many of us to IT in the first place and can be credited with making assemble language non-scary, and then the Acorn Archimedes which brought RiscOS [wikipedia.org] in 1989 (which was and remained superior to Windows95 despite over half a decade head start). They booted instantly, were bomb-proof, and encouraged people to tinker under the hood. You could knock up a GUI app in BASIC in minutes, before the idea of VisualBASIC was a gleam in the creators eye. Many of us owe our careers, the idea that IT can be fun and challenging rather than a dull money-making exercise, to Acorn. I just hope that one day in the future Linux will be able to reach the level of UI and productivity that I enjoyed over 15 years ago on my Acorn. (eg note to Beryl developers, can I please hold down my right mouse button on a scroll bar to be able to pan 2-dimensionally at will over a window?). It was to me what I guess the NeXT was to Steve Jobs. RIP Acorn.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Acorn didn't really die. The part of the company that really mattered became ARM, and now their processors are in practically every handheld electronic device on the market.

      Personally, one of the high schools I attended used Acorn computers exclusively and I found them immensely frustrating to use, but that's a perception that is very likely influenced by the fact that I grew up using Apple.

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