The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

By Deane Barker on May 27, 2006

The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time: I remember 90% of these. AOL is singled out as the worst, but there are some real trips down memory lane in here.

The Cuecat:

Readers were supposed to connect the device to a computer, install some software, scan the barcodes inside the ads, and be whiskered away to advertisers’ websites. Another “benefit”: The company used the device to gather personally identifiable information about its users.


[…] push quickly turned into a drag, as PointCast’s endless appetite for bandwidth overwhelmed dial-up connections and clogged corporate networks. In addition, PointCast’s proprietary screensaver/browser had a nasty habit of commandeering your computer and not giving it back.


Full of features, easy to use, and a virtual engraved invitation to hackers and other digital delinquents, Internet Explorer 6.x might be the least secure software on the planet.

And the Sony rootkit fiasco:

The discs’ harebrained copy protection software installed a rootkit that made it invisible even to antispyware or antivirus software. Any moderately clever cyber attacker could then use the same rootkit to hide, say, a keylogger to capture your bank account information, or a remote-access Trojan to turn your PC into a zombie.



  1. Being in Dallas I knew people involved in the :CueCat. It was amazing to me to watch people I knew and respected working on campaigns based on such a inane idea. I still have the one the Dallas Morning News sent to subscribers. Although I never did plug it in.

    Some of the other 25 on this list look like personal grudges. Sure a lot of Zip disks died, but they sustained the graphic arts industry for a few years and it was CD-R and broadband that killed the Zip. If you use disk failures as a reason for putting the Zip on this list, then Number 1 should have been the Mini-Diskette. (the 1.44 mb “floppy”).

    The three you chose in your post were truly bad products – most of the others were just irritating, needless or poorly executed. And that list could go on forever.

  2. I agree with you about the Zip disk. Even if there were some problems, it really was a solid product for a lot of years when there were no real alternatives.

  3. I was cleaning my closet the other day and found my CueCat in the bottom of the drawer (Radio Shack was giving them away).

    I’m still hanging on to it because I know I’m going to run across a barcode-reading project at some point.

  4. I finally got around to reading through that list, and I just have to take issue with the inclusion of the Mac Portable. Was it a wonderful machine? Heck no, but what was the alternative on the PC side? A 286-based laptop running DOS 4? I think I’d rather walk barefoot across broken glass than work with that.

    And their assertion that the “Portable wouldn’t run on AC power” is totally false; it shipped with an AC adapter that would run the machine just fine while it charged the battery, which would keep it running for 10 hours or so. There were issues if the battery were pulled, but workarounds were developed not long after its introduction to overcome that.

    It was heavy and clunky, but a machine that “severely strained the definition of ‘laptop'”? I don’t think a good definition of “laptop” had been developed in 1989. Certainly not deserving of being in a 25 worst list.

Comments are closed. If you have something you really want to say, tweet @gadgetopia.