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History's 10 most cringeworthy tech blunders

Mortifying moments from tech history

IBM exec inflates resume

Jeff Papows' tenure as head of IBM's Lotus Development division was successful from a business standpoint, but in 1999 it emerged that he had falsified his resume and made some less-than-truthful claims to co-workers through the years. Instead of being a Marine captain and a heroic jet fighter pilot, he was a lieutenant air-traffic controller. Rather than a Ph.D. from a prestigious university, he had a degree from a correspondence school. And it turns out he wasn't really an orphan after all.

With an upper lip apparently made of steel, Papows refused to be publicly embarrassed, claiming that the errors were the result of water cooler talk that took on a life of its own. Nor was IBM particularly mortified, allowing Papows to stay on the job until he resigned in 2000 to lead an internet start-up.

iPhone bills kill trees

If the iPhone had been introduced a few thousand years ago, it would have been carried into the capital city on a palanquin and those en route would have prostrated themselves until it passed.

Fortunately for those who rebel against that sort of pomp, there were also a few embarrassing moments for Apple, such as when the company eliminated its 4GB model and cut the price of the 8GB model by $200 (£100) in the US just two months after the devices had launched. Even ardent fanboys and girls used language that was so surprisingly sharp that Apple agreed to give early adopters a $100 (£50) store credit.

But the most embarrassing iPhone moment came at the expense of the device's US mobile operator, AT&T. The company's extraordinarily detailed billing process resulted in some users receiving bills in August that ran dozens or even hundreds of pages long, as captured in blogger Justine Ezarik's video of her unwrapping a 300-page iPhone bill. (It came in a box.)

Without actually admitting embarrassment, AT&T said it would start sending out more svelte bills to iPhone users.

Kid cracks porn filter

It goes without saying that it's a good thing to protect our children from pornography and other unsavoury elements available on the internet. So who could blame the Australian government for a project that would provide a so-called porn filter to parents?
The problem was that the software, released in August of this year, cost $84m - and that a 16-year-old Melbourne boy, Tom Wood by name, cracked the filter in about 30 minutes. Young Tom's assessment: "It's a horrible waste of money."

A federal official responded by saying that the government knew all along that some kid would come along and crack the scheme and that "the vendor is investigating the matter as a priority".


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