After Hours

Who made the worst PC ever?

Who made the worst PC ever? There are so many to choose from, it's hard to pick just one. But, that's what you've got to do in our poll. Pick the worst PC and see if it compares to the opinions of other TechRepublic members.

By and large, the computers made today are pretty reliable. Sure, sometimes companies have problems like Dell did a few years ago with bad capacitors on motherboard but compared to the pieces of... equipment... that were sold in the 80's and 90's, we've got it pretty good.

Who made the worst PC ever? There are so many options to choose from, it's hard to choose. Below is a list of some of the worst ones I could come up with. Rather than include current manufacturers, I've only listed makers who's brands are, quite rightly, on the ash heap of history.

Pick the brand you thought was the worst or click Other and sound off in the Comment section:

161 comments
The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

They built the worst. Then to back it up had the worst customer service ever. I had an EVESHAM laptop that a couple of keys went on after a year. Sent it for repair. 3, yes 3 months later it returned with cracks around the side / base, battery that would not charge and the WLAN card was missing.

rlcomp
rlcomp

Packard Bell made the worst machines ever, there was always something about them that made them evil. E-Machines are up there with Packard Bell, especially when somebody tried to convince me that Packard Bell makes E-Machines yada, yada, yada. I told him Tri-Gem made E-machines, not Packard Bell. However Tri-Gem made a decent low cost PC.

victoriabreton
victoriabreton

emachines, their confiquered settings on hardware,etc are prevented from proper and normal updating..

m1keh
m1keh

I'm not surprised that there is 000 comment on the AT&T/Olivetti PC6300 and its successors. I was the AT&T West Coast Regional Tier 3 Contact (whew!) with Olivetti America Technical Staff for the PC6300, 6300+, etc. The machines worked well and were, for the most part, very compatible with the IBM BIOS. Stupid glitches like changing the addresses of Baseline DOS services did occur but we were able to stay on top of them - mostly because AT&T was unable to sell the things in a quantity large enough to keep us busy... the 6300 had a double set of system boards, a Video card that also bridged the two system boards(!). The best feature of the 6300 was it's video. Totally compliant with the IBM modes, it also offered a set of higher resolution modes that were accessible through MODE command lines, GWBasic and assemblers. Some of our best clients were developers in the Gaming industry who immediately began to use the higher res video modes. I provided Technical Support to AT&T Sales and Marketing teams that serviced specific industries. This meant hours standing on the floor at various conventions and Product Shows hosted in Las Vegas. Large Companies were AT&T's bread and butter, and the various industry events netted AT&T millions of dollars in revenue from large PBX and telephone systems. The Sales people could sell telephones all day long. But (BIG but) well over 90% of the ones I worked with had absolutely NO idea what a PC was, what it was supposed to do, etc. and were unable to answer the simplest questions - with one exception - they ALL knew that the PC6300 would run Flight Simulator - the Gold Standard of "IBM compatiblity". I once heard a rep. tell a potential client that the PC6300 "has 64 kilo bits of RAMS" , then giggle like a little girl. How do you sell a product with a sales force like that?? You don't, and AT&T futzed around for years trying to sell PC's - some good, some very Not-So-Good. I honestly don't know if they still offer PC's or computers in any form. I kept a PC6300, along with a PC6300+ (a 286 processor), for years until space limitations forced their retirement, Both of them retired in working condition.

SirMykol
SirMykol

Probably Olivetti. They teamed up with ATT and tried to create their own system...failed miserably. I wouldn't even count Zenith in there because they were a completely different animal...not truely meant to be a PC more that a hobbiest's machine. I am suprised, though, that I haven't heard anything about the Sinclair QL.

secerov
secerov

Do anybody remember Sir Clive Sinclair and his prodigy QL ???

pccoder28
pccoder28

My Packard Bell, Win 3.1, with a 486, 16 MB RAM, a tape drive and a hard disk of a size I can't remember, worked for several years before I sold it. Aside from Windows woes, it was a great system; I got more work done with it than I can do on Vista in a given space of time. With Borland's Turbo C++ and OWL, I was in second heaven! HPs have always given me fits: one early failure (timer chip), overheating on my HP laptop, crapware removal woes, so why did I buy them? Cheap! Worst ancient computer: TRS80, with Level II BASIC, 4K RAM (not a misprint), cassette instead of a hard drive and expensive for what you got...overheated and it interfered with radio reception, but you could use that as a rudimentary music generator (really! I think I got that idea from either Creative Computing or Byte!). I had fun though, until I tried to upgrade the memory to 16K and fried the thing!

unprofitableservant27
unprofitableservant27

I have to go with Acer. I do agree with the majority of people voting that of the available choices, Packard Bell was the worst, but I have got to give Acer a big thumbs down because they are still trying to sell their pieces of...equipment. They are just ultra low-grade. People I know are still not realizing that most of the time, you get what you pay for, and they are ending up sorry.

webmaster
webmaster

I think Dell and Packard Bell share the title for me.

tyner
tyner

Anyone else remember the Apple Lisa?

carrilion
carrilion

The little Dauphin DTR (Desktop Replacement) PC was way too ahead of its time.

mikewbc
mikewbc

The first three machines I built for work were on an Asus MB, with AMD t-bird 1000, tobshiba HD, no name memory, Future Power Monitor, D-link Nic. I ended up RMA the MBs twice, the hd were part of a recall and lawsuit, two had the tabs for the processor fan brake off the socket cooking the CPUs, memory would fritz out, and Monitors all had to be RMA once for repairs, and the company went bankrupt before I could get the second RMAs done. Even the power buttons on the In-Win case's died and had to be RMA. Now I build only Intel processors, on Intel boards with Segate drives and Kingston memory. The only thing I haven't found is a basic sturdy case company to stick with!

glen2gs
glen2gs

I think it was called the Sterling...later called Timex..it was made in the UK...programs on cassette tapes.

lgamoran
lgamoran

Leading Edge might be on the list, but my Model D got me started and as a novice I was able to do what I needed to do, so it worked for me!

dbristol
dbristol

For those of you that were around - in the 70's Coleco released the Adam. Adam was a cpu, monitor and printer package. Called the "Cabbage Patch PC" due to the fact that no 2 were the same - you could not scavenge from one system to repair another.

donahl01
donahl01

The worst p.c. was the coleco Adam remember that?

airacobra
airacobra

IBM with the NetVista. Period. They went from a respectable personal computer series (the Aptivas) to the most buggy, poorly manufactured, and underperforming home PC made to that point. Throw in Windows ME (serving as virus-fest pro tem) and you have the most lackluster computer, from drawing board to delivered goods, ever made. I personally believe it was the reason that IBM got out of the home PC business.

vicpf51
vicpf51

Packard Bell has to be the worst. I read horror stories about DOA units. I liked the TI-994A and Commodore 64 which got me started on pcs

still_learntoo
still_learntoo

Texas Instrument - I paid $1,500 for a laptop with Win95 installed just before Win98 was introduced - then found it couldn't be upgraded to Win98. When I phoned told "TI has sold computer production to Acer. Call them". Acer responded, an E-msg - "Your laptop can not be upgraded due to configuration" Never did get an answer to what that meant. Kind of gets to you when you make loan payment on something that no one will take responsibility for.

ken
ken

Am I that old, that no one else came up with this one? What company made that anyway? Huummmm. IBM? Loved that chicklet keyboard, though. [NOT!]

squirrelpie0
squirrelpie0

Back in the Dark Ages- pre 2000- I saw good and bad in all the mentioned makes. Reseating chips and cables back into motherboards was just part of the mystique of being a computer guru In the 90s and post 2000 I saw a lot of dead Compaq Desktops. A lot of others were 'No Name' boxes with failed peripherals like HDs. To day most of the probs seem to be dust balls in the CPUs, corrupted drives or inadequate resources (RAM) rather than outright hardware failures. In notebooks too many low end Toshiba Satellites , particularly 100s and 105s with dead motherboards have shown up on my doorstep. Dell, HP, & Compaq notebooks all seem pretty good. Most common problem is still lack of RAM and unpartitioned HDs with everything dumped into a C drive, so when the OS corrupts- and they all seem to, sooner or later- you have a struggle on your hands to rescue that precious data. Let's face it most 'users' don't understand or care what's happening in that box. It's jsut their car and they want to drive it when they turn the key.

celmert
celmert

Mac, obviously. Such as distraction, doesn't run any software I need it to run.

for_merlin
for_merlin

I think the worst ever PC has not been made YET. Other than the ones I hand assembled, tweaked, etc,

elangomatt
elangomatt

I have heard many many bad things about Packard Bell computers, but I have had two Packard Bell's (my first two windows computers actually) and I never had a single problem with either one of them.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

Who can forget the nightmares of the IBM PC Jr's "Chicklette" keyboard? The frightening thought is that IBM made a ton of money re-packaging those suckers into digital numerical controllers.

kehoffman
kehoffman

emachine - At least Packard Bell mostly worked. The early emachines had a 3 month power supply.

Maui Lion
Maui Lion

eMachines for me. I got a computer made by them once for Christmas. By February, it wouldn't turn on. Press the power button and nothing would happen. Didn't even last two months.

ksharp25
ksharp25

I had to go with PacHell (Packard Bell) because of the insane non-customer friendly support experience they had. The hardware to my recollection was so proprietary that not only could you not buy some random sound coud to replace a bad one, you had to read off to the digit, the full model/part number and get it directly from PacBell because even if you had two identical models of PC, it did not mean the identical internals were used. Frustrating beyond measure

sboverie
sboverie

In the mid 90's I was working as a consultant for a banking company. they had a portable Grid computer that we shipped to the manufacturer to repair and it would always come back with a new problem that made it unusable.

deepsand
deepsand

As I recall, it brought mixed reviews.

deepsand
deepsand

As for the TRS-80, judged by the standards of the time, it was actually a remarkable machine. Cassette? Tape was the standard storage medium of the time. Floppy drives were used mainly for bootstrapping, owing to their low storage capacities; and, the standard there was 8 in., which was hardly suitable for PCs not intended for business use. And, HDs were still too expensive for other than mainframe users. (Yes, I know that the Apple II used a floppy drive. But, it followed both the TRS-80 Mod I and the Apple I, which also used a cassette drive; and, its FDs were much less reliable than those available for the TRS-80 Mod I, Level II.) 4K RAM? More than adequate for its intended usage, given that applications were in either machine code or interpretive pseudo-code. And, as you note, memory expansion was an alternative. (BTW, if you started with 4K, I suspect that yours may have been a Level I machine.) RF interference? That was the norm then. Prior to PCs, no one gave any thought to RF interference. It was only after the problem became publicly noticeable that the FCC passed regulations limiting such; which, for Tandy/Radio Shack, led to the Mod I, Level II being retro-designed as an integrated machine known as the Mod III. Music generator? We used to do that with the IBM 1401s in 2 different ways. One was to switch the core memory at rates that were in the RF range, so that they could be received on a transistor radio. The other was to drive the print chain on the 1403 line printer at variable rates within the audio spectrum. BTW, the computing power of the TRS-80 Mod I exceeded that of the IBM 1401 mainframe. So, is the TRS-80 Mod I a candidate for "worst ancient computer?" Far from it.

dstowesr
dstowesr

When Acer purchased HP what happened to Compaq. Didn't HP take over Compaq or did they just merge? How does Compaq rate as a computer manufacturer?

Ctec2001
Ctec2001

Packard bell boldly introduced American households to Home Computing. Packard Bell was one of the most user friendly PC's and had a great styling, especially in its Windows 3.1 days. Many returns were due to User error, though Packard Bell had many mechanical problems, too few customer service agents. Also Packard Bell was the largest bargain brand PC on the market. Their PC's sold mostly to families & individuals who were 1st time users, and consumers shopping for advertised sale PC's. What about Vision computers, there were some other brands that had high return rates (problems), most of the others were small companies? Posted: 05/14/2008 @ 02:02 AM (PDT) (edited 05/14/2008 @ 02:08 AM (PDT))

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...as one that was just too expensive and a bit ahead of its time.

deepsand
deepsand

Maybe that's because I walked away from them immediately after trying to use the keyboard and failing.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

for no apparent reason. I think it didn't like the way I walked into the room. Came with Win98 and 3 months after replacing it with a completely new one, I moved it to NT4. No more problems until the crap processor (Cyrix) gave up the ghost about 6 months later. Never bought another off the shelf desktop. Never will.

RipVan
RipVan

My first was a NEC and I decided that I would never buy from a manufacturer again. I learned so much, but mostly I learned why I would never buy another brand name PC. The kicker was a Packard Bell that kept me in a chair for ten hours. I just believed I could NOT be beaten by a machine and I was determined that I would force my will on this thing. I ended that session with a "get rid of that piece of carp", and vowed never to waste time on another. I came across proprietary Compaqs after that, and vowed to stay away from those for the same reason. What a waste of time... (yes, they have gotten somewhat better since that time)

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Grids... weren't those the ones that were originally ruggedized for military use? Magnesium or Titanium cases and the works. They were supposed to have been a very good machine. Then Tandy bought them and kinda messed the company up. Tandy did however get a patent for the clamshell computer out of the deal. Grid owned the original patent on a flip top portable.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Acer purchased Gateway. However, HP did indeed buy Compaq a few years ago. They completely absorbed Compaq and it doesn't really exist anymore other than a brand for HP. I tend to think of Compaqs as HP's Entry Level brand anymore. Any new Compaqs I've seen don't seem to have the same fit and finish or guts under the hood as HP branded equipment.

seanferd
seanferd

Acer bought Packard Bell, not Hewlett Packard. Two different animals.

seanferd
seanferd

The internal hardware setup was a pain, especially the way the riser cards were positioned. The organization of files on the setup disks tended to be annoying. Most users would have a hard time pulling out drivers if they upgraded the OS to a newer version. The bundled software was also annoying, but that is similar to many other vendors. Navigator could have been an interesting environment, but didn't quite make it. As to hardware failure, I can't say I personally experienced it, nor did I ever deal with PB directly for support. Using their website was a major pain, though. Especially after they fled the States.

nixon_public
nixon_public

We had some 486 Grids back in the mid 90's. Most computers, you can unplug ps/2 keyboard connector. You better not do it to a grid. Guaranteed keyboard port failure.

rwjs
rwjs

NEC bought PB I was there at PB as a tech

Editor's Picks