TechMan Texts: 10 worst computers of all time

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As the former owner of a Fiat 128 prone to engine fires and a 1966 Opel Kadett with an unpadded metal dashboard, I know something about lemons.

So when I saw a list of the 10 worst computers of all time, I was surprised to find that I owned none of them.

Chassis-plans.com, a seller of military and industrial computer equipment, came up with this list:

Commodore Vic20 (1981) -- For $229 at the time ($743 adjusted for inflation), you got chunky graphics, 22 characters per line of type and a measly 3.5 kB of memory.

The New Internet Computer (2000) -- It relied on slow dialup modem connections and had no hard drive and no way to install software so you could work offline. $199 ($262 adjusted)

eMachines eTower 366c (1999) -- Noisy fans, faulty power supplies, bad modems and lousy tech support, all for only $399 ($543).

Apple III (1980) -- It had no cooling fan on the theory that the aluminum case would work as a heat sink. It didn't. The heat would warp circuit boards, make chips pop out of their sockets and melt disks. $4,000-$7,800 ($10,972 -$21,397)

Coleco Adam (1983) -- Coleco, maker of Cabbage Patch Kids, put out a computer that released a surge of magnetism when it turned on that erased any programs stored on the cassette drive. And the manual told users to have the software tapes inside the computer when turning it on. $600 ($1,361)

The next five losers on the list are the IBM PC Jr. with its much-maligned "chiclet" keyboard, Gateway 2000 10th Anniversary, Apple Mac Portable, Sharp RD3D notebook and netbooks in general. All the gory details are in a graphic at chassis-plans.com/blog. Click on The Worst Computers of All Time.

The Woz is coming to Pittsburgh. On Jan. 29, Steve Wozniak will speak as part of the Robert Morris University Pittsburgh Speakers Series at Heinz Hall. The Woz, as he is widely known, teamed with the late Steve Jobs to found Apple Computer. Woz built the company's first computers in Jobs' parents' garage and designed the Apple I and Apple II computers.

Buried deep within President Barack Obama's budget that will be delivered to Congress this week is $100 million for a NASA plan to lasso an asteroid and tow it closer to earth. The money would be used to identify an appropriately sized asteroid that would be towed by a robotic spacecraft in 2019 into an orbit on the far side of the moon.

Then using an Orion space capsule, a crew of four astronauts would rendezvous with the rock in 2021 for spacewalking exploration, according to a government document obtained by The Associated Press.

The project would shed light on the origins of the solar system and, officials said, enable the U.S. to develop technologies required for future human expeditions to Mars.

Geek term of the week: The Google effect -- The tendency to forget information that can be easily found using Internet search engines such as Google.

Website of the week: (Shameless self-promotion alert.) TechMan has had a longstanding interest in food, especially consuming it. The Post-Gazette's food site, pgplate.com, has recipes, restaurant news and The Forks blog about all that is edible.

Never saw that before: Sign above the door where the new Target store connects to South Hills Village: "Cart wheels lock at mall entrance."

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Send commendations, condemnations, comments or corrections to pgtechtexts@gmail.com.


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