We've rounded up the 25 best tech products that may be long gone, but we'll never forget them. How have they managed to hang on for so long?
What it was
The first popular presentation-graphics program, released back in 1986 when many of the slides it produced really did end up as slides. For years, it was the flagship product of Software Publishing Corporation, which was forced to run disclaimers explaining that the product had nothing to do with the university of the same name.
Harvard Graphics was far better than PowerPoint for a long time. Little by little, though, PowerPoint narrowed the gap. In the 1990s, being a only little better than a Microsoft application was a recipe for disaster - especially if your product was a stand-alone application that competed against one that was part of Microsoft Office.
In 1994, SPC laid off half its staff; in 1996, it merged with Allegro New Media; in 1998, it released Harvard Graphics 98, its last major upgrade.
In 2001, graphics software developer Serif acquired Harvard Graphics - cheaply, I'll bet - and has kept it kept alive. But it's on life support: Harvard Graphics 98 is still for sale, along with a few other variants. There's no mention of when any of them last got an upgrade, but the fact that Windows Vista isn't mentioned in their hardware requirements isn't a great sign. Nor is the lack of any reference to the Harvard line in the list of products on Serif's own site.
What it was
A research project at legendary computer company Digital Equipment Corporation that became the first widely popular web search engine soon after its launch in December, 1995.
In 1998 it was acquired by Compaq, which tried to turn AltaVista from a search specialist into a Yahoo-like portal. In 2000, Compaq sold it to dot-com investment firm CMGI, which later sold it to Overture Services (the former GoTo.com).
In 2003, Overture itself was acquired by Yahoo. By then, AltaVista had lost most of its personality and its users - and Google become really good at the stuff that AltaVista had pioneered before there was a Google.
There's still an AltaVista, but its traffic is minimal and it seems to be nothing more than a reskinned part of Yahoo.The site that started as a great piece of technology from one of the world's great technology companies is now just a name. Sniff.
NEXT PAGE: Webvan and CompuServe
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