Actually DIVX is a 2for. DIVX was the invention of a law firm and the dearly departed Circuit City. Though it was poorly received, CC decided to focus on it to the exclusion of DVDs and DVD players. Because it was a rental disguised (and priced) as a purchase (calling all ECAD companies) it wasn't just disliked but viewed as dishonest. By the time the matador delivered "el estoque final" to DIVX, CC was behind its rival, Best Buy, and never recovered. Its once thriving rental business croaked even earlier. DIVX is a very excellent example of how not create, deploy, or bet the farm on *a* new product.
I was puzzled to see the iMac G4 in that list since it was only one phase in that Apple desktop line, which became THE Apple desktop line. The big deskside units are still around but only in a high end pro model for graphics and animation.
As for Betamax, that was a marketing failure not a technical failure.
In most cases, the so-called turkeys were fairly predictable. Either the product was different from where the mainstream standards were heading, or the product was quickly surpassed by another, and/or, in most cases, the product was offered by an overly greedy company that wanted to keep it all inhouse, and the world passed it by.
Beta fits this to a tee. VHS, from the beginning, supported longer recording times (2 hours vs 1 hour, initially), supported stereo audio, and was licensable. (The stereo sound feature was soon replaced with the HiFi versions of VHS, and Beta too, all of which had stereo audio. But in the original low-fi versions, VHS had the stereo and recording time advantage, and therefore my support.)
ATM is another example. While it was the only game in town originally, for anything faster than 100 Mb/s, the virtual circuit nature of cell switching wasn't where the Internet was heading. So packet-switched techniques like Ethernet soon caught up with ATM speeds, and the rest is history (although ATM is still used in the WAN).
Related to this, ISDN and BISDN. Remember them? Packet-switched Internet Broadband access took their place. Because circuit switching, virtual or otherwise, was not where the connectivity field was going. Too much state info had to be retained. Way too complicated, eventually.
Intel and IBM CISCs soon caught up with Alpha and the RISC CPUs. But they were glorious in their day, weren't they?
Steve Jobs had the genius of turning Apple into a company that sells fashion-setting gadgets to Gen X and Gen Y. Had it not been for that, Apple would have been a shadow of its current self, IMO, as it was before Steve took the reins again.
I disagree. At least in the U.S., ISDN was a huge failure that was hardly deployed anywhere. I actually had an ISDN line for a few years, as did some of my colleagues -- it was provided by the company so we could work from home and put in even more hours :)
Outside of that small group of us, I never met anyone who had an ISDN line, whether for personal or for business use.
By the time 56K dial up modems arrived, any chance ISDN had of gaining traction quickly died.
OK Frank, I stand corrected - at least in the US. In Australia, and from what I gather in Europe (can anyone comment?) ISDN was used a lot - maybe not at the home level but for businesses, small PABXs, etc, and the company I work for still has quite a few basic rate (2-ch = 128k) services in use, and lots of E1s (30 chan - its a T1 - 22 channels? in the US). I too had an ISDN home connection from my employer - prior to that I had a 56K modem that actually got around 40K, so the ISDN was 3x faster, so at the time it was great....
In Norway ISDN was widely used in private homes (probably also for businesses before that). You always had two 64 kbps lines, one for phone and one for the computer, but you could of course choose to use both for the computer and get 128 kbps. I had it some years ago (don't exactly remember when, 2001-ish maybe) and today I use the same copper wires with 30/5 Mbps VDSL.
yes, ISDN is widely used in europe. small businesses use multiple BRI with 2x64kbps payload each, large business use E1 carrying 30x64kbps. VoIP is gaining, but ISDN is clean, robust and gives excellent quality.
ISDN was widely used in US too, in certain markets, e.g. financial company backup circuits, but it was more widespread in Europe & elsewhere. The reasaon: $$$. The terrible state of long distance rates and 1010 PIC code abuses killed it for huge US adoption. Plus, for data usage at least, a lot of folks didn't take time to learn how to configure it. Getting that first $80K bill due to the rates mentioned would leave a sour taste. Still, it was affordable in some states like TN, where a government subsidy could get an ISDN line to your home in the 90s for about $20/mnth, while in neighboring NC it was upwards of $80 for the same service. Meanwhile, the European ISDN rates were cheap, cheap, cheap compared to US.
The unsubstantiated rumor at the time was that MA BELL was set to roll out ISDN but then they got split up. I used ISDN for a couple of years to work from home. It worked pretty well for my graphical schematic capture and didn't cost as much as a T1 line.
ISDN was never deployed by the telcos that still had to book years' worth of depreciation on their CAS T1 switches. In Europe, on the other hand, which was still building-out higher capacities, the switch from CAS E1 to ISDN-E1 happened much earlier. Same could be said of the massive build-out of coax cable for TV when fiber optics already existed (though in that case the cost of terminal equipment was still high).
It is my understanding that ISDN is still use for Conference Calling for limited video support from site to site, but may be going away. From an etremely widespread perspective ISDN never made a big splash, because Cable Modem Broadband came along as well DSL. Like a lot of things that came from the phone company it was too highly priced and difficult to get installed which caused a slow rollout for consumers. Probably not a Turkey, but maybe a Roasting Hen !
No list of technology turkeys would be complete without Microsoft Bob and the IBM PCjr.
The IBM PS2 architecture is pretty close to a turkey, though maybe not quite. The microchannel bus didn't take off and everyone else moved on to faster processors before the PS2s did. They were pretty amazingly put together with mostly snap together fastener-less construction.
While the IBM PC jr had a great marketing engine behind and good penetration on the Chalie Chaplin's tramp as a iconic figure awarness by general public. IMO the cheese keyboard projected suboptimal quality from a first-rate company: IBM.
May I take a side trip and talk about service stations not checking oil or washing windows? When marketeers asked consumers if they'd buy from such a station, their response was an overwhelming, "No way!" That is, until some stations did just that with gas a few cents cheaper. People voted with their pocketbooks.
That was the same problem with VHS and Beta. Beta was far superior, but it cost more and recorded less. It was great for recording movies, but for time-delaying "I Love Lucy"? Get real.
Every time marketing makes a comment such as, "The customers won't buy it without ..." I ask, "What are they willing to pay for ...?" Some features almost come for free, but most do not.
Sure, a few people will buy luxury cars, watches, and techno-goodies just because of the snob value. Most of us are content to go to Walmart or Fry's and pay a lot less for just the features we need.
The trick is, ask the right questions. Don't get overwhelmed with 'gotta have's'. They're traps - turkey traps, if you will.
As another side note, the superiority of Beta is pure urban legend.
First off, if the Beta image was better than the VHS image, it was only because the initial Beta tape speeds were faster than the VHS speed. That's why VHS could manage 2 hours, where Beta could only record for 1 hour. But that advantage went away soon enough, as Beta and VHS went to multiple hour recordings.
Another technical difference is that Beta did not move the tape away from the heads, when it was put in rewind. Which is why all those stand-alone tape rewind trinkets were sold (even to hapless VHS owners, of course, gotta make a buck). To keep the tape from depositing oxide and wearing the heads, when rewinding.
The bit about stereo sound I already mentioned, which VHS supported, at least in their format, if not in all the players, from the beginning (and Beta did not).
Beta failed primarily, I think, because Sony wanted to make all the machines (i.e. they were more expensive), and they recorded for fewer hours. That's hardly a winning proposition. They never caught up again.
I feel I need to clarify: Beta did not necessarily lose in the marketplace because of its technical shortcomings, compared with the earliest VHS players. But it should have, IMO. I don't buy that it was superior at all.
Both Beta and VHS had no space between recorded tracks on the tape. The method that Beta used to cancel the adjacent track pickup, a 180 degree phase shift incarrier signal, was superior to the method used in VHS, a 90 degree progressive shift, and resulted in a higher signal to noise ratio. This was especially noticable in the background of darker scenes.
Bert, the method used in VHS to record hifi stereo was a wavelength-driven recording layer. Audio was laid down in a fairly thick layer (thick due to wavelength) in the tape. Then the video was recorded on top, but didn't penetrate the thickness of the tape. So you had both audio and video, one above the other. Trouble was playback. The heads for audio and video were separate, and as a result, tapes didn't always interchange between machines. You could get good tracking of video, or audio, but not both. Sony's hifi stereo was part of a single rf feed to the heads. Also, the cassettes were more compact and robust than VHS. For years afterwards, professional news gathering was done on the Beta format... not VHS. Beta failed because it cost a few bucks more than VHS, and the public doesn't want technical superiority when viewing copies of Sex in the City. They want cheap.
How could anyone forget the Intel iAPX 432. Aside from putting Intel in the position where IBM needed to save then from bankruptcy, it caused all of their beta customers (GTE, among others) to write off 10's of millions of 1984 $'s.
VHS won because of "pre-recorded" content AND specifically "ADULT" pre-recorded content. no more, no less ! Electronic News Gathering (ENG) exclusively used Beta and so did almost every cable / local broadcast..., but the comsumer paid for pre-recorded content. VHS companies went to Hollywood (both mainstream and Adult) and that was the deciding factor. End of Story.
I remember people who were in broadcasting, and I don't think they were using much Beta at the time of the VHS/Beta home format battle. They were using true professional formats like U-Matic and Betacam.
I think you are referring to Betacam rather than Beta. Betacam used a Beta cassette but ran through it in 15 minutes. Adjacent track pickup was no longer a factor due to the gap between tracks, and less compromising needed to be done in the bandpass filters.
IBM was not immune - Topview, and even OS2, though some argued it was better than Windows in it's day.
Some that I have been involved with: Ashton-Tate's Friday (circa 1984), National Instrument's BridgeView and HiQ.
And what about the latest HP gaffe, or should I say, 'gasp', in iPad's territory?
My favorites: Quadaphonic, LaserDisc, new Coke, smokeless cigarettes.
Quadraphonic lives on in spirit at least in x.1 (where X=5), surround sound, THX, etc., but yes, in itself, never lived up to the early hype.
Laserdisc actually did better than the typical turkey, and set the stage for CD/DVD. But who remembers RCA's boondoggle SelectaVision Capacitive Electronic Disc (CED) system? I'm just happy I did't lay any hard earned 1980's bucks on one of those puppies.
My eyes convinced me that Beta was a better format than VHS, and all films released at that time were available in both formats. Beta HiFi, which came out first, easily outperformed VHS "stereo" and could have been a game changer had JVC not released HiFi the following year. The war was lost to simple greed, not picture or sound quality. Sony didn't license Beta initially to other makers, and then later (too little, too late) to a small handful. By that point, everyone and his brother were making VHS machines, and price competition effectively shut Beta out of the volume mainstream consumer market. The final insult in this sad tale was Sony eventually caving in to produce VHS machines too.
LaserDisc was pretty good - and was financially successful in Japan.
The irony is that most people thought it was some kind of digital standard when the recording was essentially a single RF carrier wave that was broken down into video and audio. Even the digital portion was just PCM encoded into part of the frequency spectrum. They also added Dolby AC-3 by recording over one of the analog stereo channels. I tried listening to the AC-3 stream as analog audio, and it sounded like some sort of patterned electronic noise.
Sanyo introduced Beta VCRs that sold for less than $200, and that unthreaded the tape during FF/REW to reduce head wear, but the video rental stores voted with their purchase budgets that they would have more VHS rentals out than Beta rentals, so they stopped purchasing Bata videos and that killed the last of the Beta VCR sales.
It was a good product, but it took them 15 years and five hundred million dollars to bring it out. Beta and VHS were available by that time, with an inferior picture, but you could record with them, and that killed the Selectavision product, which in turn was a major factor in killing RCA (plus some really bad CEOs).
People here working for Philips in Eindhoven still argue why the Video2000 recording system did not win from VHS. The Video2000 system was far better. It became a turkey not due to the fact that 'adult nature movies' were not available on time, but due to the fact that 9 on 10 of those V2000 recorders did not work properly ! ;-)
Anyway... It reminds me: Lots of those things with 2000 in their names went bust, isn't it ?
How about DLP rear projection TV's? There were a few guys putting out DLP rear projection TV's, but they got wiped out pretty fast by LCD projection and then by flat LCD and plasma TV's. DLP's still in big projectors though......
DLP rear projection was not a flop. It was the best technology available in large HD screen sizes for the price until large screen LCD superceded it. I have one in my house as my main TV, and since it's completely compatible, there's no reason to replace it. Not so my HD DVD disks ...
I agree 100%. We have a Samsung 50-inch DLP TV. It's about 5 years old and it works great. Back then, DLP was a much better value than LCD. Of course, when the DLP breaks we will probably replace it with an LCD or something similar.
I agree DLP was not a flop. It was the price, size and performance king for large HD TVs. I have two Samsung DLP TVs. A 7 year old 42" and a 61" LED light engine version (the last generation of Samsung DLP TVs). The LED engine version is still unsurpassed performance wise. Bright, high Contrast, high refresh rate (600 Hz), excellent picture quality, low power consumption, you name it. The LED version got rid of the color wheel and high intensity bulbs which were the only downside to previous generation DLP TVs.
Can't hang it on a wall, but besides that it is still at the top, performance wise.
The only turkey here is the non-informative list presented by the author.
All of those products were revolutionary or evolutionary developments.
Betamax was a huge success, the broadcast industry used the technology in it's big brother for many years, it gave you the highest quality video and audio for the news and local events. The newton was the first PDA and probably out of all the technologies popularized the use of embedded devices in portable gear, I could probably do a thesis on the newton and how it created your cell phone.
And the guy that pooh poohed the Alpha, sheesh, give me a break, if it wasn't for the Alpha you wouldn't be driveing a 3 + Ghz CPU in your laptop.
Intel purloined the patents from Digital and that is what got them past the 50 Mhz wall they were banging their heads on.
Next you'll be banging on the very first Hondas imported into North America, well, look at them now and the North Amnerican producers, tye had to improve their quality to keep up.
tomkinsr, your point is well taken. None of the "turkeys" mentioned here were designed and marketed by total morons looking for a fast buck. (Well, at least they weren't morons.) Products rise or fall for reasons sometimes obscure, and sometimes obvious. Obvious in hindsight, that is. There are very few products out there that were released with truly foreseeable and disastrous flaws. A few, but not many. To label some of these products "turkeys" is a disservice to the designers and companies that brought them out.
The book "Hypergrowth" tell about Osborne Computer - essentially, how a company can die from growing too fast. However, that said, the Osborne also suffered from using CP/M for its operating system just a year before PC-DOS & MS-DOS were introduced and "killed" CP/M as the operating system of choice.
Um, I think the transputer ended up in most of ST's set top box chip sets. It nearly was chosen by Nokia to be their mobile phone chip, would have got it if they hadn't told the truth about cache sizes (which arm didn't...).
Probably no one has heard of this, but NABU Networks was a huge turkey mainly because it was 10 years ahead of its time. NABU Networks was an Internet precursor in the 80's that streamed games over TV cable. Those 2 years we had NABU were the best 2 years of my childhood...
Also Telidon and MTS Omnitel (Project IDA). I remember designing and building the BER equipment and running tests over Ottawa Cablevision plant for NABU with good results.
Some so-called "turkeys" were actually highly innovative and formed important stepping stones of technology. For example, I would not consider Edison's wax cylinder a turkey, but as far as I know nobody makes them anymore.
I have some portions of a NABU in my basement today. As for Telidon, I worked on those at GTE and it was a great circuit. The real turkey with Telidon, if you can all it that was the manufacturing model. We built everything and we should only have been building the board. Hm, Norpak teminals come to mind as well, when we say Telidon.
There was more to it, though. I had a PS/2, and I very much liked MCA. But the handwriting was on the wall when MCA's speed became inadequate for it to be used as a combined perpipheral and memory bus. Which was a major part of MCA's coolness.
I see it as one example of a new idea that became overtaken by events. The old ISA standard got ungraded with PnP, which took some of the wind out of MCA's sails, faster memory buses had to be introduced regardless, the PCI standard emerged, with a neat new backplane connector design that looked similar to MCA's (and very different from the crude ISA connector), and no one but IBM was using MCA. It died a natural death.
Bubble memory. Thin film magnetic RAM. Two promising technologies, both overtaken by DRAM.
Thermionic integrated micromodules, one of the wonders of the early 1950s.
The Viatron computer; now there was a market failure that sank its company.
Commercial Unix, could have killed DOS in the cradle if the vendors had sense enough to price it for maximum total revenue instead of maximum per-copy price.
Nothing wrong with coax cable Ethernet; it's superior where EMI suppression is especially important, and mandatatory under French law in nuclear power plants. It ain't going away.
DECNET 5 was designed from OSI specs and was vastly improved over DECNET 4. Customers switched to TCP/IP instead of upgrading.
Sony's memory stick.
And not electronics itself but surely can strung a chord in many hearts :
The Arts of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill (3rd Edition)
It's even got ISDN # in 2006 and pre-orders were accepted.
Iridium from Motorola must qualify as a class 1 turkey. Technically, putting a swarm of satellites in low Earth orbit to deliver satellite phone coverage anywhere was an elegant concept, and the satellite portion of the network was deliverable, even if visionary. But the delivered cost burden was too much for the average cellular user. A marketing and business plan failure.
Charges of $$'s per minute, plus large, heavy handsets made it the phone of last resort. Earthbound cellular networks, for a fraction of the per-minute price, triumphed. Small handsets, available from multiple competing companies were light years ahead of Motorola Cellular offerings.
Ed Stianno of Motorola was installed to fix the problems, but the service survives now as a military-oriented global network.
Iridium. What a great idea and in fact an excellent product. Anywhere in the world where cellular service is not available, an Iridium handset will work. Anywhere there is a natural disaster that knocks out all forms to earth based communications, Iridium will work. No turkey here.
If we are fortunate, 3D video both on TVs and in theaters will be the next big turkey. It is a serious waste of both effort and resources, and an embarrassing grab for more money by an industry that has become unable to do anything really worthwhile in the line of creativity. So let us all do our part by adopting a "why bother" attitude whenever any shill attempts to hype any new 3D product or development. Really, it makes a bit less sense than quadraphonic sound ever did.
Boy, I sure agree with that. In the theaters, it's okay at best, but borders on annoying, distracting, and irritating. For home use? Blech. No thanks. I keep seeing them hyped in adverts, but I really don't know their sales numbers. I might research that to see if I'm alone on poo-pooing 3D. I imagine it's like so many things - the kids love it, therefor it sells, but the parents care less. I could be wrong.
Absolutely agree here. I tried a couple of demos in the stores the last month. Can't even remember the names...but one was tolerable for 5 minutes, then gave me a headache. Another had glasses/visor that was too heavy, and gave me a headache right away. Viewing stereo photographs does not hurt my head THAT much...
So I rate them as not ready for prime time yet.
The engineering in 3D is quite an accomplishment, no question on that. It is the fundamental concept behind 3D that ought to kill it. The goal is to make our new HD video systems obsolete so that we will purchase some poorly made 3D system. 3D is a HUGE WASTE of time and resources.
One of the big reasons why Beta lost to VHS: Licensing. When JVC introduced VHS format, licenses for the tape format and the case dimensions were FREE. whereas Sony kept insisting on a fee. So finally NEC, Sanyo, and BASF gave up.
Turkeys: Don't forget the infamous 4-track and 8-track tape formats!
Everything about the JVC VHS format and marketing was designed specifically to get around the Sony patents and to compensate for the design compromises that were made to do so, for example, more tape in the cassette to get a longer recording time.
A lot of what people are calling turkeys were actually good technology for their time, that did well in the market, but just got technologically superseded. Like ISDN, 8-tracks, Iridium Satphones (my employer uses them still, a lot of places in the middle of Australia they're the only way to get comms).
OS2, micro channel and Betamax count though, all good products with issues one way or another.
And if anyone made some $$ out of selling DVD rewinders to Blondes, good on 'em, wish I'd thought of that!
Iridium is an interesting one. I can recall a lot of excitement with the roll-out. Technologically, it was a pretty revolutionary product for its time. Financially, not so much.
I think it was about a year after the system went online when there was talk of de-orbiting all of the satellites. I was always glad that it got a reprieve.
My vote is for Intel's first DSP chip. I think it was called the 9600, but I'm not sure. It never went beyond the first production run back in 1979 or 1980 or so. Intel also had a bit-slilce processor, the I-3000. It was 2 bits per slice and had no way to detect an overflow unless you added an extra slice to the ALU. The DSp predated the TMS32010, and the bit-slice predated the 2900. Intel never ventured into either market again.
Along the PC storage line, I'd propose the Imation super disk. It was a 3.5" size disk that held 100 MB of data. I believe it failed because of the dedicated drive it required and the falling price of CDs at the time.
Has anyone heard of Apple's Copland operating system? They bet the company on this new operating system, and lost. They never got it working, and the company almost went under, when they decided to just buy an operating system instead--which lead to Steve Job's return with Nextstep.
So sometimes flops, no matter how disastrous, are just momentary obstacles on the path to success.
HP TouchPad and WebOS. Or does it not count because HP pulled it?
The tech had promise, as did the OS. But the whole product line was killed. I'm sure there were a few design engineers and software developers cursing when that announcement was made.
You gotta have some Turkeys to have the Swans.
It all follows Pareto's principle: 80% of all products are turkeys. 20% are good sellers. It is difficult to predict which ones will be losers and which will be winners.
"CueCat" - I've been trying to remember that name. It's funny how some of these turkeys come back around a second, third or fourth time and sometimes actually catch on. QR codes have essentially the same purpose as the CueCat codes, but QR codes don't require a custom reader that's tethered to a desktop PC.
The thin client PC or disk-less workstation has shown up and died numerous times. It may actually have a chance in its next incarnation with all of the online applications available now. Maybe. Maybe not.
Sometimes what is one generation's turkey is just before its time.
All of the technologies mentioned here actually had some promise when they 1st came out. I think the biggest turkey I have ever encountered was Digital Research's MPM. Actually, Gary Kildall's CPM fared much better ... till IBM and Bill Gates came along with DOS no?
Interesting discussions about the definition of "turkey." I agree that some of these were not turkeys per se when them came out. And how much of this is hindsight?
* Some were out-and-out turkeys :-)
* Some worked but were overtaken by competitors in short order - temporal turkeys? Cloudy crystal ball?
* Some were not technical turkeys, but were financial turkeys (cost too much or charged too much)
* Some were not technical turkeys but were "feature" turkeys (the customer really did not want that functionality)
* Turkeys of another "feather" that I have missed
I vote the Transputer. Good concept, but Inmos sales folk would not give details of the B004 interface boards, how to boot from Flash in memory and not across a link, or where the stack resided. They stood still like rabbits in the headlights as Motorola surged ahead with the well entrenched 680x0 and continued to serve customers well. DEC Alpha was also a nice chip, but putting in an extra disk or memory was a pioneering exercise compared to the same exercise on a SPARCstation. Poor marketing, eyeball gouging pricing rather than poor technology, but spectacular craters left in the ground as they disappeared. Oracle seems to be following the same marketing with Java, MySQL add-ons and Sun's former support for open-source. Apple's Objective-C with their 4000 page API manuals for Cocoa?
I submit the MICOM word processor system of the early 80's. Its industrial design was very similar to the Commodore PET but targeted for business/commerce use. It was very difficult to use, and being a closed system platform, got steamrolled by the rapidly evolving PC market. Apple would have gone the same way had they not come out with the Macintosh.
Another player in the commercial desktop market back then that eventually got their bird cooked was Televideo. Their systems were better than MICOMs due to the Z80-CP/M platform inside, but they too succumbed to the PC market by upgrading to DOS too little, too late. Their primary 802 family product was a rather uninspired all-in-one design (system, display, disk, keyboard) wrapped in a very DEC VT-100 looking case. They later came out with a Jetsons-looking 803 family that had the CRT in a dramatic tube-hugging enclosure mounted on a tilting swivel, attached to a vertically oriented tower, and detached keyboard.
Hey, has everyone forgotten the product that almost bankrupted Apple? Yes, the Apple Lisa, Mac's elder sister. Lisa came out and shortly after came the worst ever flub in advertising history: announcing that by waiting a few months the Mac, vastly superior to Lisa, would be available as a replacement; worse there would be compatibility issues with software between the two. It is testament to a recently departed pioneer that the company even survived.
Actually, the biggest turkey of all has been on top for years, primarily because of marketing. That is WINDOWS! The fundamental concept is that I am too stupid to figure out how to launch a program, and so illiterate that I need stupid little icons for everything. And it is best for people suffering from locked up thought processes. Just because it made a lot of money does not make it good, it just means that the marketing methods were more deadly for the competitors. I remember when I bought a computer with DrDos installed, everybody else's computers came with windows. Then DrDos was purchased and sort of went away.
i'm surprised noone has mentioned the NeXT Computer yet. yes, yes, this guy also produced spectacular failures. the pricing was off, the enclosure had to be made of magnesium and hence each piece had to be hand corrected with automotive epoxy before being hand painted. the factory in fremont was kept no matter how idle it was. initial systems shipped without hard drives because 'optical' was strategic, don't mind the 2hrs boot time.
(1) TI's magnetic Bubble memory.
I only saw one product that used it. A TI teletype-like thermal printing terminal
(2) DAT - Digital Audio Tape.
I only saw one DAT deck. They were way too expensive, and there were legal issues. The music industry did not want a tape deck that could make perfect digital copies. Soon enough, this would not matter