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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?

MS-DOS

What it was
The operating system that powered the original 1981 IBM PC. And then a bunch of clones of the original IBM PC. And then the vast majority of the personal computers on the planet.

What happened
The simplistic answer: when Windows 95, the first version of Windows that didn't require DOS to run, came along, it rendered DOS obsolete. (Eventually - some people happily ran DOS and DOS applications for several years after Win 95 debuted.)

More thoughtful answer: the moment that the Mac brought graphical-user interfaces into the mainstream in 1985, it was the beginning of the end of the drab, relentlessly text-based DOS.

Current whereabouts
DOS refuses to die. It seems to me that I still see it in use at small independent businesses such as antique stores and dry cleaners - the kind of outfits that don't bother to change something that still works, even if it's a decade or two out of fashion.

It's the inspiration for FreeDOS, an open-source project with a thriving community. And Microsoft still offers MS-DOS 6.22 for download to customers who subscribe to various volume-licensing plans. Why would the company bother if there weren't people who still needed it?

Lotus 1-2-3

What it was
The world's most popular spreadsheet -the first killer app for the IBM PC, and the spreadsheet that replaced the original killer app, VisiCalc. It was also the flagship program in Lotus's SmartSuite, an office bundle that provided Microsoft Office with real competition in the mid-1990s.

What happened
A variant on the fates that befell WordPerfect, Harvard Graphics, and other major DOS productivity apps. Lotus thought that IBM's OS/2 would replace DOS, so it focused its energies on that OS, then had to play catch-up when OS/2 went nowhere and Windows caught on like crazy.

Starting in the 1990s, it turned its attention to its Notes collaboration platform, and seemed less and less interested in desktop applications - specially after IBM bought Lotus in 1995. That gave Microsoft plenty of opportunity to make Excel competitive with 1-2-3 and leverage its place in the Microsoft Office suite. By the late 1990s, 1-2-3 was a has-been; Lotus last upgraded it in 2002.

Current whereabouts
IBM still sells that 2002 version of 1-2-3, which it cheerfully calls ‘the latest release'. But it's so disinterested in the product that made Lotus a software giant that when it recently introduced a new suite that includes a spreadsheet, it named that suite after a different old Lotus package - Symphony.

NEXT PAGE: PageMaker and After Dark

  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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