Apple and IBM may have started the 64-bit craze in 2002, but AMD and Intel quickly followed suit. The elephant in the room, however, was that nobody could think of a serious reason why the average PC user might need to be able to access 16 exabytes of RAM.
64-bit OSes still lag behind the 32-bit versions and the applications aren't there, but who cares? After all, it's not how many bits you've got -- it's the cores that matter. Or something.
6. Carly Fiorina. Call her the anti-Steve Jobs. During her 1999-2005 tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina proved that she could reverse decades of geek goodwill and alienate customers like no one else. She oversaw the spin-off of HP's well-respected instruments and medical equipment business, outsourced its beloved calculator division, then issued 7,000 pink slips. Under Fiorina's tenure, HP brought in more profits from printer ink than PCs. But she'll be remembered most for HP's acquisition of Compaq, among other dubious efforts to give the "stodgy" HP a more consumer-friendly face (does anyone remember the licensed iPods?).
HP's stock price sagged under Fiorina, but she still walked away with a $21 million severance bonus. Not bad, considering that HP began in a garage with just $538 in capital.
5. Digital rights management. Has any industry ever invested so heavily in a technology that its customers didn't want? Again and again, media companies keep racing to market with one new twist on digital copy protection after another, then offer up their own failures as "proof" that the market isn't ready for downloadable content.
It's strange, too, when you consider that every DRM scheme yet invented has been quickly compromised. Some experts believe that the whole concept of DRM technology is inherently flawed. Still, as encouraging as Steve Jobs' recent statements have been, it's difficult to speculate on when the media giants will give up on this harebrained idea. Greed is a powerful motivator.
4. Paperless office. Who needs paper? For years, office managers have been rubbing their hands at the notion that databases, spreadsheets, e-mail, and digital documents can replace traditional ledgers, forms, and faxes. But while saving the environment is a laudable goal, the truth is that it's actually harder to preserve digital records than the old-fashioned kind.
Increased regulatory pressures have helped fuel a cottage industry around information lifecycle management, but the real-life capabilities of these products are a far cry from their lofty ambitions. Meanwhile, digital record-keeping presents security and privacy risks unheard of in the days of locked filing cabinets. The paperless office may finally be here, but it's enough to make you wish for a good, old-fashioned memo pad.