One of the biggest understatements of all time could arguably run along the lines of saying that technology is helpful. Technology, from the earliest flint knives and stone axes to space travel technology, are fruits of evolution that, in turn, has helped us evolve – and that is putting it mildly!
Technological advancement, however, does not happen without a significant amount of trial, error, and, sometimes, tragedy. Below are some of the gawp-worthy tech fails of yesterday and today.
• Wings of Wood
Sometime between 1003 and 1010 CE, Kazakh Turkic scholar Ismail ibn Hammad al-Jawhari set out to prove that, with a little technology, people could fly. While in the town of Nishapur, he constructed 2 wooden wings and fitted them to himself with rope. The determined scholar climbed to the roof of the mosque, jumped, and plunged to his death.
• Chariots of Fire
In 1896, steam-powered bicycle inventor Sylvester H. Roper participated in a speed trial, and died. The reason for his death, however, is not entirely clear. We know he had a heart attack, and we know he crashed. In what order, well, that is a mystery ripe for speculation.
• Like a Puppet On a String
Thomas Midgley junior is the Voldemort to environmentalists’ Harry Potter. He was the American chemist and engineer who invented chlorofluorocarbons, better known as CFCs, and the petrol additive that contains tetraethyl lead, also known as TEL. He basically opened the door to the hole in the ozone layer and incalculable damage to the planet. During his middle years, Midgley Jr contracted polio. The disease resulted in severe disabilities, and he had to be helped in and out of bed by others. To make life easier for them, he designed a rope and pulley system as only a chemist-engineer could. He got tangled up in the ropes and was strangled to death.
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• Don’t Call Me, Maybe
On 15 January 1990, US telephone company AT&T’s reputation for having one of the most dependable of all networks took a serious knock. It all started with a faulty line of code for 1 little switch at one of the company’s 114 switching centres. A small malfunction shut the centre down for a few moments. The centre was not down for long, but the re-start sent out a signal that caused a domino-chain of trips and resets at centres throughout the country, effectively shutting down the network.
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• Out With a Bang
Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Need any more be said? For those who do not know, cannot remember, or choose to not remember, the mobile device entered the market to critical acclaim, and the praise continued until battery defects of which the tech giant was unaware made batteries explode. The manufacturer tweaked a few things, claimed to have fixed the problem, and issued replacement devices with batteries that exploded. Galaxy Note 7 production ceased in 2016.
• Feet of Flames
In the original story of Snow White, the witch-queen meets her end when the supposed good guys put her feet in red-hot iron boots, causing her to what was euphemistically termed dance until she died. Around 2016/2017, hoverboard owners very nearly met a similar fate. The idea of a self-balancing 2-wheel scooter sounds like fun, but the wretched things tended to catch fire. While being used. In the USA, the postal service, as well as American, Delta, and United airlines, banned hoverboards from aircrafts.
Have you had any close encounters with dramatic tech fails?