The top 15 vaporware products of all time

What might have been...

Honourable Mentions

Apple Copland

145351-Copland-1_b

While "Pink" continued to slowly run aground as Apple/IBM's Taligent, Apple still found itself needing an operating system that took a great leap forward from System 7.5. Code-named Copland, this new operating system was to include pre-emptive multitasking (the type of multitasking we enjoy today, versus the less-efficient cooperative multitasking that earlier versions of the Mac system software offered); a full-colour, shaded interface (up to that point, Macintosh GUIs still echoed their black and white origins); and multi-user capabilities. As time progressed Copland picked up more planned features, such as QuickDraw GX, themes, and user interface improvements, while the development team's productivity dwindled, bogged down by the increasing requirements and the need to get a growing number of developers up to speed.

145351-Copland-2_b In 1996, Apple--most notably, CEO Gil Amelio — was referring to Copland in public as the forthcoming System 8, and the usual prerelease hype — including trade-show demos, T-shirts, and other swag — got into gear. Apple eventually had to give up on the unworkable Copland, with its technologies only starting to appear in Mac OS 8. Apple got its great leap forward a few years later with Mac OS X.

Sky Commuter Cars

145351-SkyCommuter_b

What are the persistent, defining visions of the future? Marauding mutants, to be sure, but also jetpacks and flying cars. Though the jetpacks are (mostly) on hold, researchers continue to tease us by working on various kinds of flying cars, envisioning a utopia of uncluttered roadways and conveniently forgetting the first 20 minutes of The Fifth Element.

One such attempt was the N2001C--the Sky Commuter car, a personal vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) plane designed by Flight Innovations. The details are sketchy, but the upshot is that after more than $6,000,000 in funding, the project was shelved. An eBay auction claiming to be of the last Sky Commuter prototype in existence caused some excitement (and raised some sceptical eyebrows) in January, but you can see one yourself by taking a trip to the Halsons Helicopter Museum in Tennessee.

Oh, well. No Sky Commuter, but at least there's still the Falx Stalker or the Transition (a light aircraft that folds its wings to drive on the road) to look forward to.

XtremMac MacThrust G4

145351-XtremMac-MacThrust-G4

In 1999, Swedish company Xtrem promised the XtremMac MacThrust G4 — an overclocked Macintosh (a rarity in the Mac world) that could hit 1.2 GHz. There was just one problem: The fastest PowerPC G4 processor at the time was a mere 500 MHz. Xtrem claimed that it could achieve the incredible speed increase by exploiting existing features in Apple's hardware, and, of course, by cooling the daylights out of the CPU.

Xtrem missed its August shipping date, and then its January shipping date. By February the company had relaunched its Web site and retrenched on specs: The new XtremMac would hit only 1.066 GHz. Meanwhile, Mac G4s had climbed to 733 MHz, and the few Mac users who weren't sceptics collectively shrugged. If it ever got released, no one noticed.

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Emru Townsend

PC World
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