What Ever Happened To…

January 26, 2009

For over a decade IPv6 has been touted as the next generation protocol for the Internet. While IPv4 has served the public well since its inception, as early as 1990 it was clear that IPv4 simply didn’t have enough address space to keep up with the phenomenal growth of the web. So in 1994, the gurus got together and finalized IPv6. But solving a problem on paper, and rolling that solution out across the world-wide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computers known as the Internet, takes time. Despite the inevitability of IPv6, on the whole, only a handful of industry leaders are ready to deliver.

Which brings us to SoftLayer. If you follow web hosting news at all, you’ll know that here at SoftLayer we recently solidified our position on the technology forefront by announcing native IPv6 support across our entire array of data centers. If you’re interested in checking out the complete press release, you can find it here. If you are interested in knowing the nuts and bolts of IPv6, I’d recommend taking a look at the IPv6 information page found here. However, if like me, the real burning question on your mind is: “what ever happened to IPv5?” then look no further my friend. You’ve come to the right place.

Unfortunately, the answer is not nearly as exciting as the question. It seems that in the late seventies, an experimental protocol was developed for the internet community, and that this protocol (known as ST2), got dibs on the magical designator of the number five. ST2, like a lot of inventions in the computer industry, didn’t make it. So I thought as a tribute to IPv6’s fallen comrade, IPv5, I’d list a couple of other computing faux pas. Enjoy!

Apple III

Apple III

Designed as a business computer and the successor to the popular Apple II, the Apple III was a commercial disaster. With a starting price of over $4K, an operating system with the appropriate acronym SOS, and reports of the machine becoming so hot floppy disks would come out of the slot melted down to putty, the Apple III quickly found its way on the list of products discontinued by Apple Inc.

Atari 400

Atari 400

While the Atari 400 itself was not a total failure, it is best known today as the poster child for how NOT to design a keyboard. Marketed as a durable and spill resistant alternative, the flat, zero feedback, sealed ‘membrane’ keyboard was actually chosen by Atari execs because it was vastly less expensive to manufacture than a traditional keyboard. Not only was it nearly impossible to tell if a key had actually been depressed when typing without looking up at the screen, but the deadly ‘break’ key sat right near the often used backspace key. Hard not to feel sorry for anyone who had to peck out more than a command or two on this bad boy.

Windows ME

Windows ME

Rated 4th in PC World’s top 25 worst tech products of all time lists, the acronym was quickly redubbed around the world from the intended Millennium Edition to Mistake Edition. Users reported problems with installing it, getting it to run, getting it to work with hardware, getting it to work with software, and even getting it to stop running so they could go back and install an OS that did work!

Microsoft BOB

Microsoft BOB

Ever wish instead of a desktop interface you interacted with your computer via a big yellow smiley face? No? Apparently you are not alone--evident by the announcement and subsequent retraction of the 1995 software offering MS BOB. The idea behind BOB was to create a replacement for the Windows interface that would make computing more friendly for the everyday user. A noble idea but one implemented poorly. To date, MS BOB has been Microsoft’s most visible product failure.

Google X

Google X

Perhaps the shortest lived and most mysterious on my list is the Google X Site. Google X was nothing more than a search home page, styled after the Mac OS Dock from OS X. There was a quote on the bottom of the page that read: "Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you." Exactly one day after its release, Google pulled the page without sighting a reason. Could it be Apple copyright attorneys weren’t so flattered?

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