22. Apple OpenDoc. Long before the Cocoa and Carbon APIs earned raves from Mac OS X application developers, Apple put its weight behind another innovative programming technology. Called OpenDoc, it was a way for developers to build applications out of lightweight, modular components. After all, what is a word processor but a text editor, a spell checker, a file manager, and a few other modules all thrown together? With OpenDoc, developers could mix and match, building their applications out of all the best bits.
Unfortunately, the concept never caught on. As it turned out, most applications weren't really as modular under the hood as they appeared on the surface -- and it didn't help that those so-called lightweight components turned out to be memory hogs that ran like molasses. After five short years, the book on OpenDoc was closed.
21. Push technology. In 1992, PointCast had a clever idea: Why not make it possible to view stock quotes, headlines, and other information in real time, without browsing the Web? Instead, the PointCast client would "push" the information direct to the desktop, all day long.
The idea spawned a horde of imitators. Unfortunately, no one foresaw the strain that all that pushing would place on the limited Internet connections of the time. Network managers banned the client, and modem-based home users balked at the ads being pushed to them along with their sports scores.
News Corp. once offered $450 million for PointCast. Two years later, the push craze had evaporated, and it sold for a paltry $10 million.
20. Copland. Some fumbles can be recovered. And it's true; today, Mac OS X is an impressive operating system. But imagine how much further Apple could have gone if it had delivered its next-gen OS when it originally intended to, back in 1995.
Copland was meant to be the modern successor to the original Mac OS, but years of political infighting had hobbled Apple's development department. For all its superior engineering talent, it became clear that it was impossible for Apple to produce a modernized Mac OS on its own. Instead, it would buy Steve Jobs' NeXT OS and use that as the basis for the Mac OS X that ultimately shipped in 1999 -- ironic, considering that Jobs had left Apple over political infighting a decade earlier.
19. Gnu Hurd. When Richard Stallman launched the Gnu project in 1983, his goal was to build the world's first completely free operating system: kernel, tools, utilities, applications, documentation, and all. Good thing he didn't start from the bottom up.
Almost 25 years later, there is still no Gnu kernel. The Hurd, as the proposed kernel is known, should have been the Free Software movement's crowning achievement. Instead it's become the poster child for collaborative software development gone wrong, topping the lists of vaporware year after year. And it's a shame -- because wouldn't it be great if there was a free OS kernel for everyone to use?