Segway listed as #1 on list of 50 worst inventions.,28804,1991915_1991909_1991902,00.html?cnn=yes&hpt=C2

I really don’t agree with more then some of this list. And I really don’t think the Segway should be #1

Note that the list (when viewed in full as a list) states “in no particular order”.

Some of them I can see making that list; others I haven’t even heard of…

I think that the list should probably be split into two ore more lists. One would be the least practical inventions (or most over-hyped), which could include the Segway. The other would be worst inventions, that would include things that made the world worse by their invention (i.e. Agent Orange).

The reason why the Segway was a “failure” was for two reasons: price and usability. It had nothing to do with the technology or design of the device.

Price: If the Segway was priced brand new at under $2000, it would have really flown off the shelves. $5000 was too much for many people.

Usability: The Segway is only really useful in walkable neighborhoods. Like those with sidewalks. Unfortunately, this country decided that pedestrians were second class citizens to cars and either stopped building proper pedestrian facilities or built half-baked solutions which pose a real danger to any pedestrian who uses them. As such, everyone in the US stopped walking as much, obesity rates soared, and there was no real useful place to use the Segway.

Unfortunately, I really think the Segway came out about ten years too soon. Within the last decade (especially in the past few years), there have been strong efforts in cities across the country to build more balanced streets, with new bike lanes, improved sidewalk and pedestrian facilities, etc, new light rail and streetcar systems, etc. If Segway teamed up with urban planners designing rapid transit or commuter rail lines, it could solve the “last mile problem” that public transit lines suffer from in less densely developed areas (bikes could also do this with the added benefit of free exercise in the process).

I don’t know what criteria the author(s) is using for “worst.”

Even though many things on the list (like Farmville) are mindless, it is still an EXTREMELY successful application.

The list names things like the Segway, which is extremely clever and technologically advanced but has no purpose for most people; as well as “New Coke” which wasn’t appealing to any consumers; and finally Farmville, and extremely popular web-game.

I am disappointed to see so many “Top X list of ____ in the last century” articles recently coming from TIME. This is how people lose respect for news magazine; Rolling Stone seemed to take this route through the years as well, now it is a very popular, but junky music magazine with less than satisfying articles.

And yet, ironically it gets people talking about their articles… :wink:

The reason I think the segway is on the list is that fact that it’s part of a long list of inventions that had inventors claiming “this will revolutionize/change the world!”. Its a claim that no inventor should make, i personally think the phrase is cursed, because if you and your invention don’t achieve that your invention will be marked as bad, or a failure due to the expectations you put on it.

I wonder how many inventions the author of this article has. It frustrates me to see popular publications throw stones and painting a negative picture regarding inventions.

The lead-in to the article claims these inventions are “zany to the dangerous to the just plain dumb”. So, I suppose that these are the most zany, dangerous, and dumb inventions. I don’t consider the Segway dumb, dangerous, or zany, so this article is silly to me. TIME is out of touch with me, I suppose.

Andy B.

Same as most people…none…

I haven’t invented anything for an hour or two. I need to get back to work.

This list is entertainment, folks. Just like those lists that rank “The Top 50 Schools in the Nation”, it’s there to entertain and amuse readers long enough that they might buy the magazine or see a few more online ads.

And it succeeds.

In fact, I thought it was a pretty funny list, and reasonably well reserached. It containing some inventions that had unintended consequences, some that really are evidence that militant dolphins will one day rise up and outsmart us all, and others that were simply incredibly overhyped.

The Segway has to be one of the highest ranking inventions of all time when it comes to the hype to impact ratio.

Thanks for pointing me to this entertaining list… I’d love to invent something that gains sufficient popular momentum to make it on a list like this!


I think the segway should be on here. In my opinion it is incredibly dangerous for the non existent benefits. My design professor investigates segway accidents and needless to say we watched quite a few accidents caught on film including someone breaking there neck due to the battery failing without warning. Just some food for thought

How does the Segway compare to mopeds, motorcycles, and motor scooters in that regard?

Cars can be extremely dangerous and cause death if the brakes fail without warning. Taking showers can be extremely dangerous and can break your neck if you slip on a bar of soap. Walking can be extremely dangerous if someone driving a car is texting and swerves off the road onto the sidewalk.

I’m sure there are many more than 50 inventions that are worse than those listed. How about the golf club that is powered by a shotgun shell? It might be useful if you need to putt 200 yards. Or the head-mounted fan powered by a jaw attachment? You could chew gum furiously and not break into a sweat.

Now here’s one that’s silly but functional:

All of these activities have clear benefits.

I am not going to lie, at first I assumed it was just a funny article that had touched a nerve (and it may well be).

Perhaps the author decided he needed 50 inventions but couldn’t be bothered to do the research. He seems to be using several definitions of worst. For example, Agent Orange did its job. Was it nice to work with? No, it had some pretty nasty side effects. Now, the Segway, I would classify it as a failed invention. It does its job but it did not revolutionize transportation.* There is no way that it deserves to be on the same list as Agent Orange.

As for the rest of that list, yeah, I would say thanks for the laughs but it wasn’t actually that funny.

*I think once battery technology improves the Segway could replace cars for short range travel (in warm climates).

Hahaha. You better or you might not get a gold star for the day. Everyone knows that you need to invent something or revolutionize an industry to get a gold star. :rolleyes:

I have a feeling that many inventions that should have been patented never were, and many patents that are issued are frivolous.

I’ve got an idea. Let’s take a cheap and stable bicycle and turn it sideways, rotate the wheels 90 degrees to remove all stability, add some motors and battery and electronics to make it unaffordable, and change the world? As an added bonus, it’s now so wide that it’s a hazard to everyone. It was a non starter from the get go. I have no problem with it’s #1 ranking.

The tens of millions of people that died of malaria as a result of banning cheap and effective DDT aren’t here to argue with its inclusion in the list.

The change from R12 to R134A (part of the CFC eco-scare) is very debatable too. We still have training wheels on when it comes to understanding global climate, and contrary to some blowhards opinions, it’s not “settled science”. Objectively, the change from R12 to R134A accomplished very little to nothing at huge cost. If that were the reason for it’s inclusion in the list, I’d agree.

No love for the Pontiac Aztec? It’s shrunken clone, the Toyota Prius, is doing quite well. The Ford Edsel would have been a better automotive choice, but maybe the list authors aren’t old enough to remember that ugly duckling.

What about riding Chris’s point? Motorcycles get you from A to B just like a car, yet are significantly more dangerous. (and also MUCH more fun, just like a Segway)

Going back to sdcantrell56’s point, I find it hard to believe Segways are incredibly dangerous. I’m sure accidents occur, and they can result in serious injury (although I would hazard most result only in scraped knees and injured egos). I took a 3.5 hour Segway tour in D.C. a few months ago for 60 bucks. One of our guides had been working for their a few months, the other for over a year. Neither of them had led a tour where someone fell off. I would think that if accidents were common (outside of our guide’s experience) insurance premiums would be so high it wouldn’t be profitable to run a Segway touring business.

And speaking of funky patented inventions, Skroback’s Roadable Airplane is pretty out there. :yikes:

They are more than non-existant, they are negative, as a friend of mine (an avid biker) yells at segways as they pass him, ‘Segways make you fat’.

I wish the Segway were a bit cheaper. I have about a 1.3 mile commute from my bus stop to Shaker High every time I go to a meeting. The sad thing is I think this is the kind of use the Segway is intended for (the “last mile”) but the price is simply far too high. I could get a crappy car and use that to drive the entire way for that price.