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80,258 News Articles

The 15 biggest technology failures

Gadgets that didn't revolutionise the world

We've rounded up the top 15 big ideas that were supposed to revolutionise technology, but beyond a few prototypes they never actually appeared. In some cases we're glad they didn't.

Glaze3D Graphics Cards

Graphics card makers have always played a game of spec leapfrog, with each company squeezing higher resolutions and higher framerates out of graphics chips as new technologies appear and components become smaller and cheaper.

In 1999, the Finnish company Bitboys Oy announced the first two cards using its Glaze3D architecture, with even the less-powerful of the pair promising render speeds that were spectacular by the standards of the day. They weren't playing leapfrog so much as doing long jumps. The not-so-secret secret behind the Glaze3D family's amazing performance numbers was that the chips relied heavily on embedded DRAM, bypassing the bottlenecks that came from using external memory.

While the numbers were enough to inflame any gamer's ardour, including Apple gamers as the Glaze3D family promised to be Mac-compatible, the overall reaction to the news could best be described as cautious optimism; many people adopted an 'I'll believe it when I see it' attitude. Still, most folks gave Bitboys the benefit of the doubt. After all, the company and the people behind it already had a reputation for their graphics architecture work, and they had partnered with Infineon Technologies to produce the chips. Would Bitboys' unconventional method actually work?

We'll never know. For two years, the company missed release dates. Of course, during those two years the rest of the industry didn't sit still. As new technologies came along (for one thing, DirectX went from version 7 to version 9), Bitboys promised that Glaze3D would support them; the company also increased its performance claims, adding a third, even more powerful chip to the family. Ultimately (mercifully?) everything came to a halt when Infineon stopped producing embedded DRAM in 2001; lacking a manufacturer, Bitboys threw in the towel. Bitboys went on to produce processor designs for the mobile graphics market, and ATI acquired the company in 2006.

NEXT PAGE: The Atari 2700 and the Secure Digital Music Initiative

  1. The gadgets that didn't revolutionise the world
  2. The Amiga Walker PC and Sega VR
  3. Glaze3D Graphics cards
  4. The Atari 2700 and the Secure Digital Music Initiative
  5. Whatever happened to the Action GameMaster
  6. The Apple Interactive Television Box
  7. Taligent and Microsoft Cairo
  8. The saga of Silicon Film EFS-1
  9. What happened to Project Xanadu?
  10. Honourable mentions

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