26 episodes

Not all tech products succeed once on the market, and some are killed off with little warning. Flashback looked back at failed tech products to see what we can learn by studying their demises. Hosted by Quinn Nelson and Stephen Hackett.

Flashback Relay FM

    • Technology
    • 4.8 • 153 Ratings

Not all tech products succeed once on the market, and some are killed off with little warning. Flashback looked back at failed tech products to see what we can learn by studying their demises. Hosted by Quinn Nelson and Stephen Hackett.

    On PC Clones & The End of the Road for IBM’s Personal Computer Business

    On PC Clones & The End of the Road for IBM’s Personal Computer Business

    IBM quickly lost control of the market it had helped create, going from industry-leader to quietly exiting the personal computer business in just a couple of decades.

    • 38 min
    Later IBM PC Models

    Later IBM PC Models

    The first IBM PC kicked off what would be a line of computers that would be sold through the 1980s. This week, Quinn and Stephen hit the high points of this beige wave.

    • 45 min
    IBM's Search for an Operating System

    IBM's Search for an Operating System

    With its PC built, IBM needed to find an operating system that would run on it. Its choice would change the computer industry forever.

    • 26 min
    Building the Personal Computer

    Building the Personal Computer

    The IBM Personal Computer was developed in a shockingly short period of time. This time, Quinn and Stephen discuss the machine's hardware as well as some of the company's earlier attempts at personal computers.

    • 28 min
    The International Business Machines Corporation

    The International Business Machines Corporation

    This season on Flashback, Quinn and Stephen are covering the rise — and fall — of IBM's PC business, but first: some background on the enormous company that Apple and so many others lived in the shadow of back in the 80s.

    • 45 min
    Windows Vista

    Windows Vista

    The story of Windows Vista is a complicated one. Born from a long and troubled development cycle, it wasn't free of problems at launch, but hardware OEMs and others didn't do much to help its reputation.

    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
153 Ratings

153 Ratings

James887 ,

Entertaining!

A very enjoyable podcast with lots of information and a reflection of the tech past

Rishió ,

Magic Cap

Love this podcast! Having owned a Newton, Magic Link and Palm Pilot back in highschool, I’m brought back to to the genius of these devices, what we brought forward from them, and what we left behind. I even was part of a Magic Cap users club where we got to meet the CEO along some remarkable people like Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson. I’m only on the first episode, but look forward to future ones. I hope they get to BeOS!

Gilligan887 ,

Great concept, so-so execution

I love the concept of this show, and do find it enjoyable overall. The hosts have a lot of energy and their choices of topics is solid. However, in every episode I’ve listened to so far, they simply lack enough information about the given topic to have the meaningful insights that I suspect most people listening to this type of show probably want. I don’t expect _insanely_ deep-dives, but in many cases the insights provided are little more than “I skimmed the Wikipedia article; now let me tell you about it”. It’s enough to whet your appetite about a particular topic and set you off to do your own research, sure, but I personally want more than that.

Yes, BeOS failed, but why was it interesting in the first place? It wasn’t simply “it played media well” — when you ran it on then-current Mac hardware, you really saw the differences between the hardware capabilities and the software capabilities first-hand in a way you simply hadn’t before. This was an era where Finder copies could block the whole machine and MP3s would skip when you clicked in the menu bar, yet BeOS could boot in seconds, play multiple MP3s at once, copy [n] files in parallel, and so forth. Sure, the OS was nowhere near as complete as Mac OS and was really only for hobbyists, but as a proof of concept to say “here is what modern OS unpinnings can do on this hardware”, it was fairly amazing, and it had a “cuteness” and a “kinda sorta like the Mac” UI that differentiated it in that community compared with, say, Linux, Windows, or OS/2, which had the more modern OS features but didn’t appeal to Mac users. This is all somewhat touched on in the episode, but they missed the real “meat” of the topic.

In the episode on AOL Instant Messenger, the hosts do a fine job ascribing the importance of AIM and some of its various features such as away messages and profiles. And they admittedly do talk about how it essentially set the user experience standard for messaging platforms to come, which is great. But how can you meaningfully have a conversation about internet chat without even mentioning ICQ — which totally dominated in the years before AIM — and how AIM joined later and basically eradicated it? Buddy lists weren’t particularly novel; what was novel is that ICQ and predecessors, much like email, were fundamentally designed around the message as the atom: “they send you a message, and you can reply back”. In AIM, it was about the conversation. In other platforms, you basically had to pre-announce that you wanted to have a longer conversation, which has often-undesirable social implications. By contrast, the design of AIM’s conversations view worked well for single messages, but also provided the possibility of a long conversation organically developing. This was critical, but mostly overlooked in terms of what it brought to the space, and how it still influences well beyond “you have a buddy list and a chat window”.

I’ll keep listening, but it’s shame that this show isn’t achieving more than “well, there are probably a million better resources to learn about any of these topics, but at least this one is convenient to listen to in my car, and if one episode piques my interest, I can at least look it up later”.

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