The Island of Misfit Mac Products

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Forget the Grinch. Hang Charlie Brown and his crummy little Christmas tree. You want to talk about enduring images from holiday TV specials, the discussion begins and ends with the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That's the mythical land where unloved, unwanted, and unusable toys were sent to cool their heels -- the train with square wheels, a cowboy riding an ostrich, and a Charlie-in-the-Box, just to name a few.

If such a land exists -- and who are we to question the veracity of beloved animated Christmas specials? -- then it stands to reason there's a similar island for misbegotten Mac products. Think of it: somewhere on a forgotten archipelago, there's a guy typing away on a clunky PowerBook, using RAM-devouring software, and waiting desperately for the arrival of Copland. And, if the following items are anything to go by, he's not exactly brimming with holiday cheer.

Apple PowerBook 5300 Who needs an open fire to roast chestnuts? This 1995 laptop release will do just fine. The 5300's lithium-ion battery would overheat while charging on AC power, causing the occasional explosion. Apple fixed that problem, only to find that the 5300's casing cracked easily, its power plug sometimes snapped off, and its circuitry was prone to a host of power supply problems.

Microsoft Word 6.0 Bad enough this installment of the word processing application sported a decidedly Windows-like look. Worse that it consumed 25MB of hard drive space. But Word 6.0's ultimate sin was its turgid speed -- it seemed to take eight days and eight nights just to launch the application on older Macs.

CorelDraw 6.0 After eight years as a PC-only product, this graphics program debuted in 1996 as part of a 200MB+ suite of applications. To Mac users, it was like finding a lump of coal in their stocking; performing simple tasks took a maddening amount of time. And the minimum 16MB of application RAM required by CorelDraw was enough to run rival products Illustrator and FreeHand simultaneously.

eWorld Apple plunged into the online community waters when it launched this service in 1994 to go against the likes of America Online, Prodigy, and CompuServe. A year-and-a-half and less than 150,000 subscribers later, eWorld shut its doors and shuffled off to the spirit realm.

Microsoft FrontPage 1.0 Nobody likes picking on Microsoft -- except for Mac users, the U.S. government, and anyone who had to install Windows 95 -- but this Web-authoring application could have turned even the kindest of souls into a software Scrooge. Sporting an unwieldy interface, the bloated FrontPage performed about as speedily as your uncle after one too many eggnogs. Bah, humbug.

Canon Home Video Edition A home video editor without FireWire support? That's like eggnog without the booze -- it can be done, sure, but what's the point? This relatively recent arrival to Misfit Island also features an awkward, Windows-like interface, limited editing and titling tools, and a complete inability to export your finished product to a video device. After just a few minutes of fumbling around with Home Video Edition, you'll need that good stiff drink of holiday cheer.

Aladdin StuffIt Deluxe 5.0 Aladdin's compression utility hit the market with more bugs than a decade-old fruitcake. Thankfully, version 5.5 corrected many of the flaws, saving Aladdin from a permanent spot on Santa's Naughty list.

Sony MD Data Drive Sony saw this elfin-size portable SCSI drive as a storage device. But, since the drive didn't use the Apple file system, it had to translate files into a proprietary system. The result? You could burn a Yule log in the time it took to store something on the mini-disc drive.

Apple PowerTalk If you build it, they won't come . . . at least, users didn't with this integrated e-mail technology that Apple included in the Mac operating system. PowerTalk let you attach e-mail into any document. But it didn't fire up the faithful; only 10 percent of System 7.5-based Macs had PowerTalk installed. PowerTalk died in 1996 when Apple announced it wouldn't be included on the upcoming Copland OS.

But that's another island entirely . . . .

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