Forbes

Famous flops. (computer products)(Forbes ASAP)

Some were comical dead ends. Others paved the way to gold.

It's a jungle out there. Below the lofty canopy of high hopes gleam the bones of crashed concepts and products that failed. Sometimes a product is simply dumb and dies a well-deserved death. Or it fails to evolve--a fatal flaw holds it back. Often lousy managers drag a product that should have been a contender into oblivion. Yet good news hides inside many a dud. Given the hunger and drive of the jungle's survivors, the best elements of a flop are imitated and improved, emerging in other products that do succeed. Here are 10 things that are gone but not forgotten.

PROPHETS, BUT NO PROFITS

Osborne 1 and Kaypro II Homely and huge by today's standards, the Osborne 1 and the Kaypro II were among the first portable computers. The pioneering Osborne was a market hit when it was introduced in 1981. At $1,795, it cost 40% to 60% less than other computers (say, from Zenith or Radio Shack), and it had disk drives. But an absurdly small 2.6-by-3.6-inch screen limited users to just 24 lines of text. The Kaypro, on the scene a year later, weighed in at 25 pounds (having your own Sherpa was useful). Its keyboard was integrated into the lid. Both looked like military hardware or boxed sewing machines.

But they had defined a need, and sold like crazy. Osborne shipped more than 11,000 machines in the first eight months; revenues skyrocketed to $100 million-plus by July 1982.

Ultimately, neither newcomer had the stamina to go the distance. …

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