7 dead tech brands we really miss. Kinda

They came. They saw. They went away again (sniff)


The field of consumer technology is littered with the corpses of companies that didn't quite make it.

For some of them it was a simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but for others bad management, overpriced and indifferent products are what damned them.

Here are just seven examples.

1. TAG McLaren Audio

Launching with a bang in 1999, TAG McLaren Audio mounted a high stakes assault on the world of high end hi-fi, taking its expertise from another then defunct audio company - Audiolab - and adding some Teutonic F1 sheen to a range of products that included high priced CD and DVD players, hi-fi and home cinema amps and a curious all-in-one called the Aphrodite.

Despite all its sturm und drang and flashy stands at hi-fi shows, TAG McLaren Audio's products were met with lukewarm reviews and then catastrophically poor sales. After three years of struggle it finally gave up, sold its assets, designs and name to International Audio Group (IAG), which then went on to revive the Audiolab name instead.

2. Pye

Founded in 1896, Pye was one of the UK's oldest tech companies, famous - among other things - for making the first TVs capable of receiving ITV channels and also for its record label which featured '60s artists like The Kinks, Donovan and Status Quo.

Pye's fortunes in TV declined with the arrival of cheap, transistorised sets from Japan, and by 1966 was partly bought out by Philips. Its diminished status eventually resulted in its TVs being made available for rent through stops like Radio Rentals in the 1970s with Philips taking full ownership in 1976.

Pye soldiered on on the UK high street until the late 1980s and was still making radio equipment until the turn of the century. Parts of the company still continue to trade under the Simoco and Sepura brand names - but the radio communications products they make are for professional use only.

3. Tiny / Time Computers

You couldn't miss Tiny PCs in the 1990s (slogan: think big about your PC, think Tiny). You could find its beige Wintel boxes in schools and on the high street, with its adverts plastered all over the national and specialist press.

Stiff competition, shoddy products and a reputation for poor quality customer service (the Tiny name became synonymous with Tough, It's Now Yours) forced it into the arms of its chief rival Time in 2002.

But three years and two million sales later, parent company Granville Technology called in the administrators. The names Tiny and Time were never to be seen again.

4. Aiwa

Chiefly famous for making mini hi-fis, Japanese company Aiwa scored some notable firsts during its 50 year history, including the launch of the world's first cassette recorder. Hit by falling demand and stiff competition in the 1990s, it was eventually bought by Sony, effectively becoming a subsidiary.

Several attempts to revive the brand failed - including the launch of an MP3 player to rival the Apple iPod - and the last Aiwa products finally rolled off the line in 2006. It still has a worldwide website, but most of the links are either broken or kick you over to a stark Sony page telling you that "The AIWA website has closed down."

5. Konica Minolta

Although it was never quite up there with Canon or Nikon, Konica Minolta made some cracking little film and digital cameras in the 1990s and 2000s, including the first ever SLR-style digicam the Dimage 5.

Again, stiff competition was to blame for the company's declining fortunes, despite positive reviews. In 2006 it sold its digital camera technology to Sony, resulting in the launch of that company's Alpha camera range later that year, and withdrew from the consumer market. Konica Minolta now concentrates on professional imaging equipment for medicine, business and industry.

6. Rogers

Beloved by BBC engineers, British hi-fi company Rogers journey in the UK ended abruptly in 2006. First founded in 1947 by Jim Rogers the company build its reputation in the stereo-tastic 1970s when it was commissioned by the BBC to build the LS3/5A, selling 50,000 examples worldwide.

During its history it changed hands several times, eventually falling into the hands of Chinese company Woo Kee Hong Holdings in 1993, although product design and manufacture was left in British hands.

Under Chinese ownership Rogers expanded the range and type of products it made to include home cinema receivers, plasma TVs and even car audio. It relaunched into serious hi-fi in 2006 with the curvy and colourful dB101 standmount speaker, but by then it was too late. At £400 the speaker wasn't terribly good value for money and the company closed its last UK factory in 2007. Today you'll still find Rogers products on sale - but you'll have to travel to Asia to buy them.

7. Gizmondo

A technology brand that literally turned into a car crash, Gizmondo was supposed to be the ultimate handheld games console, but maker Tiger Telematics never did take into account the huge popularity of rivals like the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP.

The result? The company spent enormous amounts of money promoting the Gizmondo across the globe, opened a flagship store on Regent Street just down the road from Apple's that remained resolutely empty and finally went into liquidation in 2006 - just two years after its launch.

One of Gizmondo's founders - Stefan Eriksson - was eventually found guilty of being involved in organised crime, but only after he drove his rare Ferrari Enzo into a ditch in Malibu. in November 2008, Gizmondo director Carl Freer announced his intention to launch Gizmondo 2, but nothing's really been heard of him or his company, Media Power, ever since.

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