25 computer products that refuse to die

Old computer products, like old soldiers, never die. They stay on the market--even though they haven't been updated in eons

Circuit City

What it was: A chain of consumer-electronics superstores with roots that went back to 1949. For a time in the 1990s, it was the most high-profile technology merchant in America.

What happened: Two words: "Best" and "Buy." Plus misguided decisions like laying off experienced salespeople and replacing them with cheaper clueless newbies. Not to mention the fact that almost every major electronics retailer eventually falls on hard times and liquidates itself--it seems to go with the territory.

Current whereabouts: Up north! In the U.S., Circuit City is now a nationwide chain of large, empty storefronts, but its Canadian subsidiary, The Source by Circuit City, remains a 750-store powerhouse. (Confusingly--at least for us Yanks--the chain is the former RadioShack Canada.) Earlier this month, Bell Canada agreed to buy The Source; it says it'll keep the name, but I'm guessing it wasn't referring to the "by Circuit City" part. But even if it deletes it, Circuit City may not be utterly dead: The home page for its currently closed site says it hopes to restore some sort of online presence.

Egghead Software

What it was: A nationwide chain of software stores with an odd name and an even odder mascot (Professor Egghead, an Albert Einstein-lookalike anthropomorphic egg -- or was he a normal human cursed to live his life with an egg for a noggin?).

What happened: Like most tech retailers, Egghead eventually fell on hard times; in 1998, it shuttered its stores and went online only. In 2001 it declared bankruptcy and closed the site, too (bad publicity after hackers broke into its customer database apparently speeded its demise).

Current whereabouts: Even after the business collapsed, the Egghead name was worth something--$6.1 million, which is what Amazon.com paid for it in 2001. The e-tailing giant continues to sell software at Egghead.com. It's basically the software section of Amazon's own site, but it does sport an Egghead logo, just in case any loyal customers are out there who aren't aware that Egghead folded eight years ago. Sadly, the Professor is nowhere to be seen.

You may enjoy these other Technologizer stories that focus on the history of technology:

Then and Now: A Fast-Forward Tour of Gadget History

Patentmania: The Golden Age of Electronic Games

The Secret Origins of Clippy: Microsoft's Bizarre Animated Character Patents

Harry McCracken , PC World (US)'s former Editor in Chief, blogs about all aspects of technology at Technologizer.com .

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Harry McCracken

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