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 they were
The black-and-white CRT that most businesses and many homes used with computers from the 1970s through the late 1980s - and they worked just fine, since most DOS applications made little use of colour, and early Macs didn't support it at all.
Graphical user interfaces, multimedia, and games all made universal use of color inevitable, but it took a long time before it truly conquered computing. Well into the 1990s, lots of folks who wouldn't dream of using a black-and-white display with a desktop PC still toted monochrome laptops. But today, even a £250 netbook has a perfectly respectable colour display.
You don't want a monochrome display. But if you did, you wouldn't have trouble finding one - even Dell still stocks them. They're still out there in large quantities, being used for electronic cash registers and other unglamorous but important text-based applications. And hey, monochrome is making its own unexpected sort of comeback: my brand-new Kindle 2 e-book reader has an screen that does 16 shades of gray, and nothing else.
What it was
An extremely popular line of graphics cards for IBM PCs and compatibles. Hercules first appeared in 1982, the year after the IBM PC was launched, and was known for its high-quality text; it was as synonymous with graphics in the 1980s as Creative's Sound Blaster was with audio a decade later.
When fancy colour graphics replaced spartan text displays, Hercules continued to be a prominent brand for years, though it never dominated as it did in the early years. But in 1998, it was bought out by competitor ELSA, which then went bankrupt and sold the Hercules brand to French tech company Guillemot.
In researching this article, I've come to the conclusion that one sale or merger is usually bad news for a venerable brand, and a second one is usually near-fatal.
The Hercules name lives on, but in an array of tech gadgets that doesn't include graphics cards: Guillemot uses it for laptops, Wi-Fi and powerline networking gear, sound cards, speakers, iPod accessories, laptop bags, and more. I wish them luck. But it's a little as if McDonalds stopped selling burgers to concentrate on salad.
NEXT PAGE: PDA's and Packard Bell
- These classics will be forever in our memories
- Hayes modems and the Mini Disc
- Monochrome displays and Hercules graphics cards
- PDA's and Packard Bell
- Amiga and Floppy disks
- Zip disks and the Z80 microprocessor
- dBASE and Netscape
- MS-Dos and Lotus 1-2-3
- PageMaker and After Dark
- Havard Graphics and AltaVista
- Webvan and CompuServe
- VCR Plus+ and Circuit City