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80,259 News Articles

25 technology products: gone but not forgotten

These classics will be forever in our memories

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?

Personal Digital Assistants

What they were
The handy-dandy, pocketable gadgets that started as organisers in the early 1990s and blossomed into full-blown computing devices, from the pioneering Apple Newton and Casio Zoomer to the enduringly popular Palm PalmPilot and Compaq iPaq lines.

What happened
By 2005 or so, stand-alone PDAs were rendered almost entirely superfluous by their close cousins known as smartphones, which started out big and clunky but eventually did everything a PDA did, and a lot more. Despite occasional attempts to reinvent the PDA - such as Palm's ill-fated LifeDrive - almost nobody chose to purchase and carry a phone and a PDA.

Current whereabouts
I'm not sure when any manufacturer last released a new PDA, unless you want to count the iPod touch as one. (And come to think of it, I can't think of a strong argument against calling it a PDA.) HP, which acquired the iPaq line when it bought Compaq, still sells four aging PDAs under the name.

Palm, meanwhile, maintains an eerie ghost town of a handheld store, which still lists three models but says they're all sold out. Amazon still has Palm PDAs in stock, though, so they're not quite dead. Yet.

Packard Bell

What it was
A PC manufacturer (named after a venerable but defunct radio company) that dominated the retail home PC market in the early 1990s.

What happened
Numerous products in this article fell on hard times in part because of rubbish business decisions by their owners, but no other one did itself in so quickly and so self-destructively as Packard Bell. Its computers were cheap in part because they were terrible, and backed by just-as-terrible customer support.

When rivals such as Compaq started selling reasonable computers at reasonable prices through retail stores, Packard Bell started to flounder. The decision by NEC to take a controlling interest in Packard Bell in 1995 seemed bizarre even at the time, and soon Packard Bell machines were hard to find.

Current whereabouts
The brand name never died in Europe, and after a couple of further changes of ownership, it ended up as an arm of Taiwanese PC giant Acer in 2008. It now makes laptops, desktops, displays, MP3 players, and desktops.

NEXT PAGE: Amiga and Floppy disks

  1. These classics will be forever in our memories
  2. Hayes modems and the Mini Disc
  3. Monochrome displays and Hercules graphics cards
  4. PDA's and Packard Bell
  5. Amiga and Floppy disks
  6. Zip disks and the Z80 microprocessor
  7. dBASE and Netscape
  8. MS-Dos and Lotus 1-2-3
  9. PageMaker and After Dark
  10. Havard Graphics and AltaVista
  11. Webvan and CompuServe
  12. VCR Plus+ and Circuit City


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