The Least Useful Electric Computer Systems Ever Made

The computer has been a regular fixture in the vast majority of homes for over 40 years, and during that time there have been some very good, some poor and some so bad they need an electrical installer to come in and remove them.

Ever since the late Sir Clive Sinclair first sold a computer for less than £100 ready-built, computers have fulfilled several roles in the household, from amusing diversions to family finance organisers and have become an essential part of how we live and work in recent years.

Of course, not every computer is as capable as that ideal suggests, and some are so bad that their only practical purpose is to serve as expensive, unwieldy paperweights.

Apple III

Whilst Apple is a computer and consumer electronic behemoth now, in 1980 Steve Jobs’ company had its first major catastrophe.

The late Steve Jobs became infamous for his lack of compromise, and his major priority for the Apple III was that it ran quietly, so it had no fan, air vents or useful heat dissipation.

This led to the chips popping out of the circuit board, a near-100 per cent failure rate according to Steve Wozniak and technical support suggested dropping it onto your desk to make the chips reset properly.

Commodore Plus/4

Often known to fans of the brand as the “Commodore Minus 60”, the Plus/4 computer was a low-end home computer with the selling point of having a built-in software suite that required a very expensive disk drive to function properly.

It was a low-end budget machine but was marketed as a major upgrade, fooling nobody and highlighting the kind of marketing skill that would lead to the company going bankrupt less than a decade later.

Sinclair QL

A supposed Quantum Leap for computing, the QL was intended to be a serious business machine after Sir Clive had found success with the low-end but truly beloved ZX Spectrum.

It was a terrible machine that sold even worse, releasing with several notable flaws and was heavily reliant on the proprietary Microdrive format that had already failed.

It was so bad that Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux, learned to code primarily so he would have software to use on his QL.