The PC trade has produced no shortage of stinkers over the past 30 years. From luxurious messes to ridiculous designs, here are the most horrible of the worst, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the PC.
We’re every familiar with the most winning personal computers—the IBM PC, the Apple Macintosh, the Commodore 64—but what about the other side of the coin? In the 30 years since the IBM PC was launched there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of models that arrived with huge fanfare just to tank at the marketplace. These are the redundant, the shameful, and the stupid. These are the duds.
Sometimes a computer with lots of agrees dies because of poor marketing. A lot of have been done in by a high price tag. For others, it’s a design flaw. For a few, it’s a host of design flaws. And each now and then you get a machine where the extremely concept of what it’s supposed to be is fundamentally flawed. Examples of all appear in our list, often multiple times.
While every one of these machines is failures as commercial products, a few are notable for the influence they’ve had on the industry after their passing. Occasionally a manufacturer brings to market a computer that’s just ahead of its time. While the buying public rejects it, visionaries can see what it brings to the table and often re-introduce those features years later when technology and computing habits have caught up. Witness tablet computers preceding the Apple iPad.
Then there are the true Edsels,
The ones that promised so much, plus delivered so little. Because of bad planning or sheer hubris, these machines truly live in reputation, with their names—and sometimes the names of the companies who made them—becoming synonymous with failure.
The 12 computers on this list stand as both an exercise in train-wreck nostalgia and as a warning to manufacturers and customers alike. It’s as true nowadays as yesterday: Good specs and marketing are no substitute for usability. In fact, finding the lines between them is the reason PCMag exists.