We all know about cars, television, the internet and smartphones. But what about all those honorable “devices of the future” that haven't really made it to the spotlight? Well, at the very least we get to talk about them on this little list of technologies that were ahead of their time.
1. Digital Audio Tape
Ever since CDs started to become well-known on the audio market, audio tapes were used less and less often. Sony's DAT format, however, offering a unique blend of easy recording and good sound quality, seemed to keep magnetic tapes in the game. Although audio technicians were all over it, the digital format never caught on among regular music lovers.
2. The CD-1
The Phillips CD-1 was considered a revolutionary new use for CDs back in the day. It was a console you could use to view and listen to quality educational content right on your TV set. Unfortunately, sales were not as good as anticipated, despite Phillips' heavy marketing efforts. The CD-1 was left to the kiosk market, and then forgotten entirely once personal computers came into vogue.
3. At&T Video Phone
In 1993, AT&T came up with a video phone that was sold at the impressive price of $1,500. This was definitely a technology ahead of its time, however, and the device did not live up to its price and never really got the chance to shine, sales soon plummeting until the whole project was dropped.
4. Dragon Speech Recognition
Similar to modern day speech recognition software, this technology had potential, but it simply didn't have the practical drive to work back in 1997, at a time when advanced software was still practically in its infancy. The Dragon speech recognition software needed to learn how to recognize your voice, and even once it did, it still didn't work too well.
5. The Palm Pilot
If you wanted a smartphone or tablet back in the 90s, this was probably the closest you could get. The Palm Pilot was able to store addresses, calendars and numbers, and it even came with a stylus and handwriting recognition to make your job easier. Although at the time there was little funding for launching this kind of project, the Palm Pilot will be remembered for paving the way for the gadgets of the future.
6. Polaroid Polarvision
The Polarvision was definitely a camera before its time, and it was the first to offer similar performance as some of the mobile phones of the 2000s. However, it was developed almost 40 years ago, and its ability to capture 2 minutes of video without sound didn't really catch on like today's selfies.
7. MSN TV
Leave it to Microsoft to mess up something that would end up becoming a billion dollar industry 10-15 years later. The first attempts to combine TV and internet through a project called Web TV (later renamed MSN TV) failed since there was simply no market for it, and the MSN TV quickly faded into obscurity.
Even though many – or perhaps all – of these little inventions stemmed from great ideas that, in some cases, were even put in practice later on through more successful products, many would say they didn't shine quite brightly enough. Which one was your favorite tech item ahead of its time? Do you know of any similar technologies that I may have overlooked?