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Top 20 Most Impactful Technology Failures of All Time


Whereas technological developments have benefited our lives in numerous methods, the street to success has typically been suffering from half-starts and outright disasters. We’re not speaking about minor glitches, like Adobe Flash inflicting computer systems to crash or smartphones failing to cost on wi-fi charging pads, however main blunders which have led to main monetary losses, deaths, and disgruntled shoppers.


Learn on to find some of these cringe-worthy horror tales and the unfavourable footprints they’ve left.

1. Hoverboards


Trailblazing in all of the mistaken methods, hoverboards have been extraordinarily fashionable in early 2015—that’s till their propensity for overheating and catching hearth doused their reputation. Movies began popping up everywhere in the Web of hoverboards catching hearth whereas being ridden or charged. Goal and Amazon quickly banned their sale, and so did a number of airways and america Postal Service.

2. Apple Newton

Developed by Apple, the Newton was a serious pioneer within the PDA (private digital assistant) class of private computer systems. It might take notes, retailer contact information, and acknowledge and translate handwriting into textual content.


Nevertheless, the Newton’s excessive worth ($700), cumbersome dimensions, and flawed handwriting recognition function made it extraordinarily unpopular with shoppers. The gadget’s incapability to acknowledge handwriting was mocked in well-liked tradition, together with an episode of The Simpsons. Ultimately discontinued by Steve Jobs upon his return to Apple, the Newton was Apple’s final foray into the hand-held market till the launch of the extensively profitable iPhone.

three. AOL


Initially often known as America On-line, AOL was a serious participant within the early days of the online. It’s On the spot Messenger was an early pioneer of social media and prompt messaging. At its peak, AOL offered dial-up, e-mail, and net browser providers to tens of millions of People. AOL ultimately misplaced many of its subscribers to rivals with quicker ISPs and free providers and is now a shadow of its former self.

four. Sony Betamax


A serious casualty within the videotape format struggle of the late 70s and early 80s, the Sony Betamax was the arch-rival of VHS. Despite the fact that Betamax was technically superior to the VCRs produced by VHS, the latter was cheaper and its tapes might maintain longer hours of video. Shoppers most popular the ever present VHS and Betamax was ultimately phased out.

5. Google Glass


Initially touted as a revolutionary piece of wearable tech, Google Glass was surrounded by a robust media buzz. Nevertheless, many early reviewers thought-about its means to secretly report movies “creepy” and shoppers have been turned off by its exorbitant price ticket. Bars, eating places, and different business institutions quickly banned the use of Google Glass for safety and moral causes, and Google discontinued the product in 2015.

6. Nintendo Digital Boy


In terms of digital know-how, few merchandise have been as blatantly deceptive and poorly designed because the Nintendo Digital Boy. That includes a cumbersome head-mounted show, the video games featured crude, low-resolution monstrosities that have been removed from VR. Ultimately discontinued resulting from poor gross sales, the Digital Boy did get the general public to focus extra on VR, paving the best way for at the moment’s VR pioneers.

7. Mars Local weather Orbiter


Launched on December 11, 1998, by NASA, the Mars Local weather Orbiter was destined for Mars. The robotic area probe was supposed to review the planet’s local weather and pave the best way for different missions. In 1999, the probe was misplaced someplace in area at an estimated loss of $193m. The mishap stemmed from software program developed by Lockheed Martin, which had transformed a set of numbers into incorrect models. It stays one of NASA’s most embarrassing blunders.

eight. Ford Pinto


Initially debuted in 1970, Ford’s Pinto was in style with shoppers on account of its compactness and affordability. Referred to as “The Little Carefree Car,” the Pinto was related to 27 deaths as a consequence of its faulty design. The car lacked the normal bumper that cushioned collisions and its fuel tanks lacked reinforcements. In consequence, when the Pinto was rear-ended, the gasoline tank was more likely to puncture and combust. Occupants have been unlikely to flee because the doorways had a bent to jam shut upon impression.

Following 1972’s Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Firm, Ford was ordered to pay tens of millions in punitive and compensatory damages to victims.

9. Chrysler Airflow


Produced by Chrysler between 1934 and 1937, the Airflow featured a streamlined physique which made it much less vulnerable to wind resistance. Many years forward of its time, the Airflow additionally featured a singular chassis association that improved weight distribution and offered higher driving and dealing with. Removed from being embraced by shoppers, gross sales have been poor and Chrysler was pressured to discontinue the mannequin. It stays a outstanding instance of a forward-looking car that was rejected by the general public.

10. OctoAuto

Refusing the embrace the usual four-wheel design for automobiles, Milton Reeves believed that six and even eight wheels would give passengers a smoother experience. Whereas he’s thought-about a visionary for inventing the Variable Velocity Transmission and muffler, Reeves is notorious for making an attempt to promote the OctoAuto to the American public.


The OctoAuto had a second axle within the rear and one within the entrance, leading to an elongated, eight-wheeled physique. The general public was turned off by the automotive’s excessive price ticket and unwieldy design.

Auto producers have discovered their lesson following the OctoAuto’s flop. Thus far, automobiles with greater than 4 wheels are typically relegated to off-roaders and specialist automobiles.

11. Knight Capital Group

As soon as a serious participant within the international monetary market, Knight Capital Group acquired into some very popular water on August 1, 2012, when it induced a serious inventory market disruption. An error in Knight Frank Group’s inventory buying and selling software program algorithm prompted this system to deploy tens of millions of unapproved trades, main the corporate to lose $440m in 30 minutes. Issues went downhill fairly quick and Knight Frank Group was acquired by one other firm in December 2012.

12. Samsung Galaxy Notice 7


One of the most important tech scandals to hit Samsung, the Galaxy Notice 7 debuted to rave evaluations and powerful gross sales. Nevertheless, issues turned darkish fairly shortly when customers reported that the handsets had a bent to blow up because of a battery defect. The Galaxy Word 7 prompted fires in automobiles, houses, and lodge rooms, and quite a few movies of the handset exploding have been shared on social media.

Samsung provided consumers alternative handsets that have been assured to not explode—solely to have many explode. By October 2016, manufacturing of all Word 7s was halted, inflicting the corporate to lose $17bn in gross sales.

13. Netscape

At its peak, the Netscape net browser was the business chief and had over 90% market share. Nevertheless, it’s preeminence was ultimately overshadowed by different tech corporations. The turning level within the 90’s browser conflict got here in 1997 with the discharge of Web Explorer four. For the very first time, Web Explorer was extra practical than Netscape Communicator.


Whereas Microsoft progressed with the discharge of Web Explorer 5, Netscape floundered. When the latter’s launch of Netscape 6 appeared, it was a sluggish, ungainly mess. Each the browser and the model have since slid into oblivion.

14. Segway


Designed and marketed as a revolutionary new mode of transport, the Segway is a customized motor scooter that riders management by leaning in a single course or one other. Regardless of a serious endorsement from Steve Jobs, the Segway by no means actually took off with shoppers. Perhaps it was the surprising $5,000 price ticket or the regulatory points that accompanied it. Whereas technically not a failure, it did not reside as much as its hype and is now primarily utilized by mall cops and postal staff.

15. Ariane 5


Manufactured underneath the course of the European Area Company, the Ariane 5 was meant to review the Earth’s magnetosphere. Sadly, the plan went down in flames on June four, 1996, when the primary Ariane 5 rocket ignited its engines and commenced ascending. The rocket flipped 90 levels within the incorrect path and ultimately self-destructed in a ball of liquid hydrogen.

The European Area Company estimated the full value of Ariane 5’s improvement at $8bn. Extensively acknowledged as the costliest software program glitch in historical past, the catastrophe was attributed to the software program making an attempt to stuff a 64-bit quantity right into a 16-bit area.

16. Air France Flight 4590 Concorde


On July 25, 2000, Air France flight 4590 left Charles de Gaulle Airport and went down virtually instantly after takeoff. The aircraft landed in Gonesse, a Parisian suburb. The crash, which was the primary deadly crash in Concorde’s 24 years of common passenger service, killed all 109 passengers and 4 individuals on the bottom.

A earlier takeoff from one other flight had left a bit of titanium alloy strip on the runway. Throughout flight 4590’s takeoff, a bit of the particles ruptured the aircraft’s left tires. The tire disintegrated and a bit was lodged underneath the gasoline tank, resulting in a leak and ignition. Following the catastrophe, each Air France and British Airways put in new tires on their planes that would repel titanium strips at excessive speeds.

17. Serpukhov-15 bunker False Alarm

A serious software program glitch in 1983 might have began World Conflict Three. The glitch occured within the Soviet Union’s early warning system, which despatched an alert that the USA had launched 5 ballistic missiles. The officer on obligation, Lieutenant Stanislav Petrov, stated he had a “funny feeling in his gut” that the alert was incorrect. He additional reasoned that if the US was actually attacking the united states, there would have been greater than 5 missiles.

Petrov didn’t absolutely belief the accuracy of the early warning system and reported the detection to his superiors as a false alarm. His smarts prevented a catastrophe—which simply goes to point out that human evaluation continues to be wanted to information know-how.

18. Basic Motors EV1

Earlier than there was Tesla, Basic Motors had the EV1, the primary mass-produced electrical automotive. Obtainable between 1996 and 1999, the EV1 was successful with green-minded shoppers, however was ultimately scrapped by GM, which finally determined that producing electrical automobiles was unprofitable. The rollout of the EV1 was riddled with different shortcoming that crippled its success: First, the automotive was solely out there in California and Arizona, as colder climates might hurt its battery life. Second, the EV1 was by no means bought, solely leased to shoppers.

Amidst protests from environmental teams and electrical automotive lovers, this system was scrapped and most EV1s have been despatched to the crushers. Nevertheless, the present success of Tesla proves that there’s a marketplace for these automobiles, and extra commercially viable variants are more likely to seem sooner or later.

19. 1991-2001 Ford Explorer


The Ford Explorer was extraordinarily fashionable with shoppers through the 90s, however ultimately misplaced its prominence out there after the Rollover and Firestone Tire Controversy. It was found that the early era Explorers have been top-heavy and had a bent to rollover throughout emergency dealing with maneuvers. What’s extra, many Explorers have been outfitted with Firestone tires, which had tread separation points.

The mixed impact of these flawed designs led to 240 deaths and three,000 catastrophic accidents. Ford recalled the Explorers in 2001 and changed greater than 6.5 million defective tires. Although the mannequin was redesigned in 2002, it by no means regained its prominence within the SUV market.

20. DeLorean DMC-12

The DeLorean DMC-12, which was made well-known by the Again to the Future franchise, had a really checkered real-world historical past. Manufactured by John DeLorean’s DeLorean Motor Firm, the DMC-12 was affected by quite a few points, together with poor engine air flow, heavy gull-wing doorways, and a badly conceived design.

The DMC-12’s substandard fame and excessive price ticket stored gross sales low, and its destiny was sealed when the corporate went bust within the early 80s.

Writer: Andrea Bernice Roth

Andrea Bernice Roth is a tech freelance author from Lengthy Seashore, California. She co-manages an artists’ collective together with her associates to encourage photographers and different artistic minds to showcase their expertise.