Thursday, June 28, 2007

Barbie PC 2nd-Worst PC in History

PCWorld has just released a list of the "10 worst PCs of all time," with Mattel's Barbie PC (circa 1999-2000) coming in near the top at number 2. Here's the blurb:
Back in the late 1990s, the "concept PC" was all the rage. Goodbye to boring beige boxes, hello to creative, colorful computers. But instead of being sleek and stylish, the Mattel Barbie PC was merely pink and putrid. (And her blue and yellow brother, the Hot Wheels PC, wasn't any better.)

Trying to sucker parents by gluing toy parts to a crappy low-end system is bad enough; what's worse is that Patriot Computer, which manufactured these boxes for Mattel, went belly up in December 2000. More than 3000 customers who dropped $599 on these suckers got burned.

The good news? Unlike the dolls, the Barbie PC did not feature a string that caused it to say "Math is hard" when you pulled it.

Ouch! No mention, unfortunately, of any connection this particular "concept" might have had with the concurrent mid- to late-90s movement to bridge the gender divide in computing, through the creation of girl games, after-school programs, etc. The Barbie PC is a great example of "kiddie tech" as crappy, branded versions of mainstream technologies -- it's good to see it singled out in PCWorld, since kids' stuff isn't always considered alongside "adult" or regular products, which probably contributes to lower standards in quality, design, etc.

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