Feeds

Ten technology FAILS

Tech that might have revolutionised your life but you have now completely forgotten

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

OpenDoc

Early in the 1990s, bright sparks at Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Novell and WordPerfect decided that the answer to the accretion of features that was beginning to bog down the productivity apps of the time was to rethink the relationship between documents and applications. Documents, they said, should be standalone entities able to contain any type of data and not be tied to specific apps, which would no longer be monolithic programs but small editors invoked when the user clicked on an appropriate data type. So, click on some text and the word processor app would be loaded. Click on a table in the same document and the spreadsheet module would be loaded. Users could pick different editors from different vendors, but work in the one document.

Novell OpenDoc primer

This was going to kill Microsoft Office? Yeah, right

For Microsoft, with its OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) technology, it was all about beefing up Office. For the others, it was about loosening Office’s dominance of the productivity software business. No prizes for guessing which of the two is still being used today. OpenDoc ended up requiring too much memory - the editor apps weren’t as lightweight as intended - and with no standard way of encoding for each type of data, one bitmap editor module could not necessarily open a picture worked on in another bitmap editor.

PDAs

Was the Personal Digital Assistant a fail? It’s true that what we now call a smartphone is heir to the PDA and, if you count all the organisers that the likes of Palm, Sony and others sold in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the PDA, as a category, proved incredibly successful. But what about the PDA as originally conceived? Even today’s iPhones and Androids don’t quite provide the automated, intelligent organiser that Apple CEO John Sculley had in mind when he coined the term PDA back in the mid-1990s. His notion, to be embedded (kind of) in the Newton MessagePad, was of a device that constantly tracked its user’s activities, learning and eventually anticipating what they wanted to get up to - in short to be the digital equivalent of a PA.

Newton MessagePad 120 - open

Apple made several MessagePads - here, the 120 - but never delivered a true, working PDA

Apple didn’t get it right then and even its Siri, which sits voice recognition on top of a search engine, isn’t sufficiently sophisticated to organise your life for you. Apple’s Newton was a flop and was out-paced by the more basic, cheaper Palm Pilot, which was never tried to be anything more than a digital diary and contacts list.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Next page: Plays For Sure

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.