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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?

Amiga

What it was
A remarkable line of personal computers, introduced by home PC pioneer Commodore in 1985, that delivered powerful multimedia and multitasking years before they became commonplace on PCs and Macs.

What happened
Commodore had superb technology, but did a terrible job of developing and marketing it. You could argue that Amiga would have petered out no matter who owned it - even Apple flirted with death as DOS and then Windows overwhelmed other alternatives - but Commodore's decision-making sure didn't help.

In 1994, it declared bankruptcy and stopped making computers. The Amiga name went on to change hands at least four times over the next decade, sometimes being used on hardware, sometimes being used on software, and sometimes just disappearing.

Current whereabouts
Amiga Inc, the current owner of the Amiga name, uses it on games and other applications for mobile phones. It also says it's still working on Amiga OS 4.0, a product so long in the making that it's best known for how long it's been promised without ever appearing. As a former Amiga fanatic, I hope it does ship someday - there's no way a new Amiga OS wouldn't be cool.

Floppy disks

What they were
A form of removable storage, in 3.5, 5.25, and 8in variants, that started in the 1970s as a high-end alternative to saving programs on audio cassettes, then segued into serving as a handy complement to hard drives.

What happened
Until the mid-1990s, floppies remained essential. But then the internet came along and provided folks with file downloads and attachments - faster ways to accomplish tasks that had long been the floppy disk's domain, without floppies' 1.44MB capacity limitation. (Higher-capacity floppies arrived at about the same time, but never caught on.)

Much higher-capacity storage media such as Zip disks and recordable DVDs nudged floppies further towards irrelevancy. And USB drives - which provide 1GB or more of storage for less than what I paid for one 72KB floppy in the 1970s - finished the job.

Current whereabouts
Floppy drives are no longer standard equipment, but they certainly haven't vanished -in fact, you may have a computer or two around the house that sports one. New 3.5in drives and media remain readily available, and you might be able to find 5.25in ones if you hunt a bit. (8in floppies I can't help you with.)

Which leaves only one question: under what circumstances would you opt for floppies over something like a £7 4GB USB drive that holds 2750 times as much data?

  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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