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Fifteen Classic PC Design Mistakes

Mon, 06/15/2009 - 7:07am

Editor's Note: Each of these cautionary tales emphasize the importance of considering all the system-level ramifications in a design and how they interact with the user.

 

(The Technologizer) - There’s no such thing as the perfect computer, and never has been. But in the personal computer’s long and varied history, some computers have been decidedly less perfect than others.  Many early PCs shipped with major design flaws that either sunk platforms outright or considerably slowed down their adoption by the public. 

Decades later, we can still learn from these multi-million dollar mistakes.  By no means is the following list exhaustive; one could probably write about the flaws of every PC ever released.  But when considering past design mistakes, these examples spring to my mind.

#1 - The Apple III (1980) -

The Apple III was Apple’s first computer not devised by Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder.  Instead, a committee of engineers designed it to be the “perfect” business system.  With an absurdly high price (options ranged between $4,340 to $7,800–about $11,231 to $20,185 in 2009 dollars) and numerous bugs at launch, the Apple III was doomed to failure.

#2 - The DEC Rainbow (1982) -

In the early 1980s, mainframe giant Digital Equipment Corporation tried its hand in the personal computer market with the DEC Rainbow.  Since industry-wide PC standards had not yet been decided, DEC decided to support the two major operating system platforms at the time: Z-80-based CP/M and 8088-based MS-DOS. The Rainbow contained both these processors and was capable of booting both OSes.  Interestingly, despite the machine’s use of the 8088 and MS-DOS, the computer remained largely incompatible with the IBM PC.

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