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Gadget Show Live - 3-7 April, NEC -
Sir Clive Sinclair’s electric tricycle the C5, which flopped spectacularly in the 1980s, has topped a list of the biggest gadget disasters of all time.

The poll of 1,000 gadget-lovers was carried out by Gadget Show Live, which takes place 3-7 April at Birmingham’s NEC ( The top ten tech tragedies were voted as:

1.         Sinclair C5 – the one person electric tricycle designed to revolutionise commuter travel but simply became an object of ridicule
2.         Rabbit mobiles – the location-specific telephone service that promised mobile capability but failed to deliver, bagging just 10,000 customers 
3.         Betamax video – widely considered as superior tech to VHS but lacked the marketing prowess to beat its rival
4.         MiniDisc –developed by Sony to supersede the digital cassette tape but quickly replaced by recordable CDs
5.         Laserdisc - failed home video format replaced by DVDs
6.         Sega Game Gear – the 8-bit handheld console that couldn’t compete with Nintendo’s GameBoy
7.         The Squarial – the BSB square-shaped rival to the Sky dish
8.         E-mailer telephone – the Alan Sugar Amstrad-made office 'superphone'
9.         Pizza scissors – completely unnecessary spatula/scissor combination to cut a slice of pizza
10.       DAT – the digital audio tape - another Sony home recording invention and the precursor to the doomed MiniDisc                                                             

The  Sinclair Research C5 is a battery-assisted electric tricycle invented by Sir  Clive Sinclair and launched by Sinclair Vehicles in the UK in 1985. Steered by a handlebar beneath the driver's knees and sitting very low to the ground, the aesthetics of the C5 were ridiculed by the media and general public. Its top speed of 15 miles per hour did little to help its cause and the C5 was widely hailed a  commercial disaster, selling less than 20,000 units.

“Gadgets like the Sinclair C5, pizza scissors and e-mailer telephone failed to take off because they misjudged consumer demand and were designed to solve problems that simply didn’t exist, but there are many other reasons why gadgets fail and it’s not always because the products are poor,” commented Sally Bent, marketing manager, Gadget Show Live.

“Look at the Betamax, for example, this was widely acclaimed to be superior to VHS but a lack of marketing prowess pushed it out of the market. And Sony’s MiniDisc and Sega’s Game Gear were great bits of kit that were simply overtaken by competitor products.”

Based on the popular Channel Five programme, Gadget Show Live is the leading consumer tech event in the UK showcasing gadgets that have never been seen before in the UK. It takes place from 3-7 April at the NEC in Birmingham.
© Chris Baylis 2011-2015