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We'll admit, the Segway may not be the one of the most well-thought-out products of all time, but it serves its purpose for those that like to draw attention at California beaches or those who just need to scoot around in New York City without moving their legs. So it comes as quite a surprise that TIME magazine lists the Segway amongst the "50 Worst Inventions" of all time.
The list includes some things that we would definitely consider to be the worst creations, products or ideas ever. For example, leaded gasoline. Whose amazing idea was it to stuff that toxic material into gas. Likewise, the Pontiac Aztek makes the list and we all know how hideous that thing was. Or how about the Mizar flying car, which was part Ford Pinto, part Cessna, and as a whole, a disaster.

As we glanced over the list, we found a few things that were an everyday part of our lives years ago – Betamax, hydrogenated oils and asbestos, for example – but understand why they are considered awful now. Look over the full list of the 50 worst inventions after the jump, but be warned that it may take you down the part of memory lane better left forgotten.

[Source: TIME Magazine]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Segway!?
      That's just nuts.
      Was it a marketing winner that found a huge user-base?
      No.
      Was it a failure as an invention!?
      Far from it...
      You will be seeing the offspring of that tech pop up again and again going forward.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. I think it's ambitions were the failure part though. It was supposed to revolutionize transport or something :P

        I think it's an interesting test of high tech robotics that were really cool at the time, which have lead to walking robots, iPhone gyroscopes, things of that nature..
        • 5 Years Ago
        We're talking about [waste of] Time magazine here, not something with tech cred. This is the same magazine that put a reflective cover on the man of the year edition... But I think there are a lot of good inventions on this list that people misconstrue as bad because they don't understand or appreciate them for what they are.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So just because something didn't live up to grandiose hype but still managed to be great... it qualifies as one of the top 50 worst inventions???

        ------------

        And you is the A-hole that "invented" spam email.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hasn't GM already copied it for their personal mobility vehicle (Puma?)
        "GM and Segway are developing an electrically powered, two-seat prototype vehicle that has only two wheels. It could allow people to travel around cities more quickly, safely, quietly and cleanly - and at a lower total cost. The vehicle also enables design creativity, fashion, fun and social networking."
        (source: http://www.netcarshow.com/gm/2009-puma_concept/ )
        • 5 Years Ago
        So just because something didn't live up to grandiose hype but still managed to be great... it qualifies as one of the top 50 worst inventions???

        ------------

        And who is the A-hole that "invented" spam email?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The segway is an excellent invention that just sadly horribly priced. If they came out at $500, they would have sold a ton.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah. The only way the Segway qualifies is if you compare reality to the hype for the product. Some people were suggesting that future cities would be designed around it and it would change the way we live. It sucked in some high profile investors.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Leaded gasoline... sounds like something for sale at the pump in China.. LOL..

      Oh industrialized society.... you just keep 'em comin.. okay? :P
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good point about DDT. Asbestos also saved a lot more people than it ever harmed. But CFC's and leaded gas turned out to be pretty bad ideas, and remarkably they were both invented by the same person, Thomas Midgley, Jr., who was eventually killed by another of his own inventions in a bizarre accident.
      • 5 Years Ago
      People forget why Leaded fuel was invented. Back in the 1920's there was a fuel crisis and people feared we were running out of fuel. The leading approach at the time to increase fuel economy was to increase compression ratio, but the available fuel at the time was too easily prone to knock (i.e. low octane). Leaded fuel was introduced to enable high-compression, more fuel efficient engines. It wouldn't be till 1937 that catalyst cracking would allow for higher octane fuel to be make without leaded additives, but by then the leaded fuel industry was already established.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think we have a winner here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Like BetaMax, there are many products listed that were actually great inventions but perhaps marketing flops. The Pinto, as uninspired as it turned out to be, was a great "invention" if that's what you want to call it although small cars had been around since when, but poorly implemented to compete in a changing world. This list is not accurate to its title.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Leaded petrol did its job in the day of non hardened valves and seats in engine heads, without it our cars would of been in a workshop every 3 months getting fixed. Technology fixed that problem in the end though with new metals. As for Betamax, it was superior to VHS, but the marketing gurus won the public over with it (even though Betamax was the format used by most top quality broadcast standard video cameras until HD came into being). Whoever created this list really didn't do much research, was a deadline looming? They also left out IE, its crap, are you listening Micro$oft???????
        • 5 Years Ago
        Interesting stuff. I started driving in the 90's so i've been fairly oblivious about pre-90's tech. Always wondered why there were stickers on the dash of a few cars that said 'UNLEADED ONLY'...

        Looking at the engine bay of a modern gasoline engine makes me want to cry. It's like the ICE is on life support compared to say.. a 70's motor. I'll take a Tesla too :P
        • 5 Years Ago
        I thought that lead was supposed to increase the octane, preventing detonation... meaning that engines could be designed to run at higher compression, thus producing more power?

        As for the valve seats, you kinda have a point. I think we could have used alcohol though. But we used lead up until the 80's, and only quit using it because it didn't jive well with catalytic convertors.... wtf!!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        In Australia Unleaded was introduced in 87, we had a choice of Super (which had lead) and Unleaded fuel.
        The cars running around then didn't have the knock sensor technology, or the engine heads to run unleaded pre 87, they also run mostly carby's, not EFI. Lead in fuel did its job until science came up with something better.
        Oh i just noticed im in Autoblog Green, sorry. Yes Lead is nasty in fuel, i do totally agree.

        Give me a Tesla anyday :p
      • 5 Years Ago
      DDT - had it continued to be used malaria would be extinct by now and millions of lives would have been saved.
      Also Betamax was a superior format to VHS, but VHS won out because of porn, everyone knows that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Blu-ray holds 50 gb max."

        30gb is a double layer hd-dvd disc.
        it takes a double sided, double layer HD-DVD disc to hit 60gb.

        50gb is a double layer, one sided blu-ray disc.

        That 100gb disc is not experimental, it is a 4 layer disc, and modern players can read it with a firmware update. But frankly, we have not needed that capacity for any movie. I think even lord of the rings fits on one double later disc :P

        I forget what company made one, but a 400gb disc was made in 2008 that can be read by current players with a simple firmware update.

        There have been talks of a 1tb disc also.

        2160p, stereoscopic/3d capability? yahh

        I mean, HD-DVD could have been developed further, but the consortium just didn't have their crap together in time, plus the discs themselves just weren't as capable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If it makes me feel better to value the opinions of the porn industry... who are you to take that away from me.

        I agree about the many reasons why that battle was won. But this isn't Engadget.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Same reason Blu-ray won over HD-DVD. As porn goes, so goes the format media.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @neptronix
        Check you facts. Blu-ray holds 50 gb max. 100 gb is only experimental, on yet to be released future players, just like the 51 GB yet to be released HD-DVD. At the time of HD-DVD's demises there were as many titles on 25 GB Blu-rays as on 50 GB.

        HD-DVD's demise came first by Sony buying off Warner Brothers. Toshiba already had worked an exclusivity deal with WB, but $500,000,000 was enough to bring them over to the blu-side.

        http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08012/848675-96.stm

        When the WB switch didn't completely kill HD-DVD, Sony sold its cell processor technology to Toshiba in a sweethart deal in exchange for Toshiba dropping HD-DVD
        • 5 Years Ago
        Porn wasn't a factor for Blu ray vs HD-DVD. Porn was more widely availble on HD-DVD:
        http://www.lifespy.com/2007/has-sony-killed-blu-ray-with-no-porn-policy/


        It also wasn't a factor with Beta. Beta was first, Beta co-existed for years for years with VHS. Both were on the market in 1975, by 1981 beta still had 25% of the market. Pretty good for a failed product. There were down under 10% about a decade after they started, it was only well after a decade that Sony pulled the plug on consumer Betamax.

        VHS won in the end (after a long battle) because licensing was cheaper and more manufacturers took up VHS driving down the price faster and the longer record times.

        Porn had nothing to do with it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        lol
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's no comparing HD-DVD to Blu-ray, HD-DVD was *far* inferior and died a quick death because the discs held 1/3rd of the data that blu-ray can ( 30gb max VS 100gb max ). They also had very weak copyright protection, which is why the movie studios picked that format.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @neptronix

        If you're going to make claims about what blu-ray can you you might want to include refences. 100 gb blu-ray is not commercially available, nor would a firmware update be able to make a two-layer reader read four or more layers. Since the US isn't a big set-top blu-ray burner market when compared with Asia, we may not get it for years.

        http://hothardware.com/News/BDXL-Takes-Bluray-To-100GB-Territory-Backwards-Compatibility-Is-Out/

        "Bottom line: current players won't be able to read or utilize these new discs, so there's a broken backwards compatibility link that will no doubt cause lots of debate from those who invested in Blu-ray just a short while ago. "
      • 5 Years Ago
      Number 25 on their list: Pop-up ads. What displayed on my computer screen when I clicked on the Time Magazine link? A pop-up ad.

      Hypocrites.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a miserably stupid list. Prototypes that never worked in the first place. Good ideas that didn't became popular. Dumb ideas. Outright scams. All mixed in with environmental disasters and pseudo-disasters.

      There was nothing wrong with CueCat. It just needed to be integrated cheaply with a mouse. "How this was easier than a typing a link"? Everyone in the world agrees that typing in a long URL is a pain, stupid.

      Where are nuclear weapons, residential coal boilers, Thalidomide, car alarms?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Completely off base. They termed the list wrong. Betamax was excellent compared to VHS anyway.

      They may have named the list "most overhyped" or "most prominent technologies failed at marketplace" or something, but not the "worst inventions"
        • 5 Years Ago
        All i'm saying is that if you expect it to be intellectual reading material, you are sadly mistaken. That's the nature of the publication. Do not expect it to be anything other than an opinion piece with some science and facts interwoven. That's just mainstream media.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It;s TIME magazine, they're always serious, even when they're being stupid and irrelevant
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. You look down the list and realize they are very shallow judgments by people with little understanding which would not be out of place in in a middle school poll. It is really a list of uninformed judgments of what they think is not cool.

        Of course it is very amusing until you think that these are the same people who are explaining current events to you and telling you what they think about them. If I subscribed, I think I would cancel at this point and write them a letter explaining my reasons in words a 14 year old can understand.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't take it so seriously, guys :P
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yea, they have no idea. The evolution of BetaMax is still widely used in every TV station, known as BetaCam. It hardly failed. Just because VHS could be sold cheaper didn't make it a better technology. A lot on the list I agree with but BetaMax is way off base.
        • 5 Years Ago
        50 biggest waste of "Time" yep you made it! Keep up the good work!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wait. Betamax? Crox? Hehe ... ok, this is a silly list.

      ABG is really expanding their focus. Or is it losing their focus?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Pinto, while not a car worthy of endearment (especially by today's standards) did not have a problem with explosions any more than any other car of that era did. Statistics proved that. This is just a list that someone wrote without thought, on their way to work to meet a deadline. The internet isn't killing journalism, poor journalism is killing journalism.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, Ford would like to have more failures like this if it brings in the profits the Pinto did.
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