What Great Gadgets Died Way Before Their Time?

What Great Gadgets Died Way Before Their Time?

We've talked about tech's biggest blunders and some of the gadgets we miss the most, but these are the wonderful pieces of hardware that have the most tragic stories — the technology that was simply ahead of its time.

These are gadgets and pieces of tech fashioned into greatness after their extinction where consumers, experts, and bloggers can see more clearly with the added benefit of hindsight. Whenever I think about a gadget that died before its prime, my thoughts inevitably turned toward the Sega Dreamcast. When I bought this quirky little guy back in 1999, I was enchanted by the idea of having a display in my controller. Crazy Taxi's graphics looked amazingly stellar (for the time.) Not to mention that the Dreamcast was the first console ever to come with a built-in modem so you could play online.

The Dreamcast's forward-thinking hardware really wasn't the problem though. It was the third-party desert in which it resided. Although it had a few good titles, it never acquired the expansive catalogue needed to beat back the upcoming challenger, Sony's PlayStation 2.

Do you know some other sad stories of tech simply being to awesome for the general public? Are there examples of tech before its time in the here and now? Will we all someday be looking back at Google Glass and regretting the error of our ways (probably not)? Let's give these wonderful innovation some of the praise they deserve, even if it is too little too late.



    Britten V1000 motorcycle

      There's still one around! Andrew Stroud rode it again a few years ago at Broadford. At least we can see the magic of John;s work in the current superbikes, so it's not entirely lost! Blue and pink - who would have thought it would work so well!

    HP Touchpad... and yet it still lives on after being rebirthed as an Android tablet by many modders.

    Atari Lynx

      16-bit colour handheld gaming in the 1980s. And it supported rotating 180 degrees to be more lefty friendly!

      (you got in first - deleting mine)

      +1 Great little system.

      I feel one of it's major downfalls was that it really wasn't all that portable. It needed 6 AA batteries that only lasted about 2 hours.

    Amiga CD32. Such an amazing console, so ahead of it's time. "The world's first 32-bit CD based games console", supported full-motion video, had some great games, although missed any standout flagship titles, and was cross-compatible with the Megadrive/Genesis six button controller. Plagued by third party hardware issues (namely the SX1 expansion module), but perhaps it's biggest shortcoming was that Amiga had failed to anticipate the transition of 3D graphics into home games consoles. Shortly after launch, the Sega 32X was released, and then the Atari Jaguar (also should be on this list!), then the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation. The public lost interest in traditional 2D gaming, and the CD32's fate was sealed.

      From memory it was also quite expensive, that with poor titles and average hardware. It kinda sealed its own fate.

    Looking at the Dreamcast makes me pine for the heady days of 1999 when it was the first 128-bit console that came out onto the market and marked the beginning of the sixth console generation.

    I recall as a 14-year-old lusting over pictures of the Dreamcast in Hyper magazine, astounded at the graphical power of the console (anyone remember the first screens of Shenmue?) and the advancement in videogame technology. It was new, it was (at the time) powerful, it was innovative, and it represented the future of gaming. It was all those things, but in just two short years it died too soon and unfairly.

    But make no mistake - the Dreamcast was ahead of its time. It set up the things today that we take for granted in console gaming without any thought such as a built-in modem for online multiplayer gaming and internet browsing, second-screen gaming, DLC, voice input, and so on.

    Vale the Sega Dreamcast and other great gadgets that died before their time.

    Last edited 24/11/14 11:33 pm

      32bit system processor.
      128bit graphics engine.

    National Technic CD4 (compatable discrete true 4 channel surround sound) not quadraphonic. You needed special CD4 records that were hard to get. This was in 1975. Brilliant sound and still woks well to this day.

    Yeah the Dreamcast was great. My mate had one and it really felt like a cut above.

    Eventually he sold it at Cash Converters and boy did he start to regret it about a day later.

      I threw out my megadrive and mastersystem 2 15 years ago when I moved. Have regretted that ever since! Made sure to keep my ps1 and ps2. My daughter now loves the ps1!

    Zune, every part of it. As an overall ecosystem nothing else has come within a bull's roar of it, before or since. Two years after its demise it remains far and away the best substitute for a bricks & mortar record store and a CD/vinyl collection. Where very other option available feels like a spreadsheet app designed to do nothing more than organise a bunch of files on a drive that just happen to be music files, Zune feels like it was lovingly crafted by people who care about music as much as you do. I've tried a lot of metro apps, mainly because X-Box Music is so terrible, but nothing I've tried comes close. Even on WinPhone, Zune on WP7.x was much better in every way than the new music app and using Zune to keep my phone synced to my PC worked much better than the stupid multiple apps we now have (one for the desktop plus a metro app). I really can't imagine using anything else in the foreseeable future. And my ZuneHD remains my all-time favourite gadget.

      A great gadget and system ruined by an awful name and limited release.

      "When will people by our gadget?" - Bill Gates
      "Zune Bill, Zune." - some card

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