In Loving Memory of Our Deceased Tech Products...Cass Python, Bytemoth, and cavernscalledhome, 2020-01-17
Life is one magic moment after the other
- Terry A. Davis, 2017-06-11
This page is dedicated to remembering the tech products that were taken offline before their time. Many still had a lot of users and people who loved them. We can only hope that they are smiling upon us from Silicon Heaven.
- AOL Instant Messenger (1997 — 2017)
- AOL Instant Messenger -
or just AIM as regular users called it - was an icon of its time. Many people
enjoyed using the service made possible through America Online, where they
were able to live chat with their cyberfriends in a time before SMS.
AIM was turned off in the cold, cold winter days of 2017. All that still remains of the service is the AIM protocol, that looks like this; aim:goim?screenname=usernameClassic versions of AIM have been revived in a reverse-engineering project known as Phoenix, but it will never again boast the same number of users as in its heyday.
- MSN/Windows Live Messenger (1999 — 2013)
- Loved by many
Microsoft users, this message service ran on Windows, Xbox 360, BlackBerry OS,
iOS, Java ME and more.
Following the acquisition of Skype Technologies in May 2011, Microsoft added interoperability between Skype and Microsoft accounts, allowing Skype (which had features unique to its platform and a wider user base) to communicate with Messenger contacts. In 2013, Windows Live Messenger was discontinued and Microsoft began ceasing service to existing clients. The service in China remained active for another 18 months, and ceased operations on Halloween 2014.WLM's servers now have an open-source replacement in the Escargot project. However, as it's now something people must go out of their way to make use of, the number of people to chat with is lower than on more mainstream options.
- Xfire (2003 — 2015)
- Before Discord became the platform of choice for many gamers, there was Xfire. At a time when such features felt futuristic, it offered users the ability to chat while playing a game, browse detailed server lists, organize and share screenshots, download patches and demos, and even record and livestream video. But, more than all this, it was a community of people passionate about the games they enjoyed.
- Club Penguin (2005 — 2017)
For any child born in the late 90's
or early 2000's, Club Penguin served as a way to connect to the outer
world of 250 million+ people. Club Penguin was more than a MMO, it was a way of
life - a life that is sadly, no more.
Since the death of the official game, many unofficial servers have been made, known as Club Penguin Private Servers (commonly abbreviated as CPPS). This includes Club Penguin Rewritten, launched in February 2017. These servers have reached a million players as of October 2017, despite their legal status being in question.
Waddle on, Club Penguin.
- Vid.me (2014 — 2017)
- Vid.me was a regrettably short-lived video sharing site, that sought to tackle some of the problems faced by smaller creators on YouTube. While it was around, it did make quite an impact on those users. Sadly, because of drastic changes in the advertising industry, Vid.me was forced to shut down in December 2017.
- Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1982 — 1992)
- With a CPU speed of 3.5 MHz and a memory size of 16 to 128 KB, the ZX Spectrum was a child of the 80's. All it wanted to do was to entertain people with fun little games made by enthusiasts, not for the money, but for the joy of it. The ZX stopped being made in 1992, five years before Sinclair Research went tits up, as the number of employees fell from 140 in the 1980s, to 3 in 1990, to only 1 in 1997.
- GeoCities (1994 — 2009)
- In the 90's, GeoCities opened the flood gates for people to learn HTML and express themselves on the Web. Sadly, in 1999, GeoCities was acquired by Yahoo!, who decided to shut it down ten years later. GeoCities will never be forgotten by its former residents. Thanks to the efforts of Archive Team, it did not go quietly - we are still able to walk its evicted halls via Oocities, Geocities.ws, and the Wayback Machine.
- Rotten Dot Com (1997 — 2017)
- Our beloved shock
website, Rotten, sadly lost their server in September of 2017.
To quote Jason
Scott who worked on and off for the site...
Cass Python: You worked for Rotten right? So do you know what the fate of the site is?
Jason Scott: Lightning strike affected a system, no time set aside for maintenance
Cass Python: So does this mean the site will be offline from now on?
Jason Scott: I seriously doubt that.
Rotten was a vile thing that shaped the Web for the better, being the starting point for freedom on the WWW.
- Vine (2012 — 2017)
Vine was a mobile-based short-form video hosting service that allows its users
to create, upload and share looping video clips spanning up to six seconds in
duration - and that's all it could do.
Despite Vine only having a short life, it sure had an infamous one; raising terrible memes such as Deez Nuts, 21, What Are Those? and many, many more.
Originally developed by Dom Hofmann and Rus Yusupov in June 2012, the New York City-based start-up was acquired by Twitter in October the same year, being introduced to the public in January 2013.
October 2016 saw the announcement that "[in the] coming months [Twitter would] be discontinuing the mobile app". The death of Vine could be blamed on the news that 9% of its workforce were to be layed-off.
Just a month after the announcement that the video app would see the chopping block, the Beijing-based TikTok app saw its initial release. Much like the soon-to-be-killed-app, TikTok allowed their users to create short music and lip-sync videos of up to 3 to 15 seconds. This is partly why many of Vine's younger user-base jumped ship. The older user-base moved to YouTube, most noticeably the Paul Brothers, Jake and Logan, who have since have made a successful career out of the site and gained a large following.
While still very successful in its own right, the fact that the app has banned pro-LGBT+ content, along with admitting to have suppressed videos from people with disabilities, and also ordering its moderators to suppress content made by "ugly" and "poor" people in order to attract new users certainly can put worry on a person's face.
- Tay (March 2016)
Thinking About You, or just Tay, was an artificial intelligence bot "fam from the internet that's got zero chill" (to quote the now-offline tay.ai website) that was the brainchild of Microsoft, being designed to be a chat bot that users of Kik, GroupMe, and most notoriously Twitter could easily interact with. Tay was meant to be fun to talk with, almost like it was a real human, encouraging people, more precisely, people aged between 18-to-24-years-old in the United States, "the dominant users of mobile social chat services in the US", to talk to it, with the benefit of the bot itself was that it would be learning new things on the way, making the encounters more human-like. Tay was intended to mimic a teenage girl, more precisely, it was made to mimic the language patterns of a 19-year-old American girl, getting to build up its fake persona over time, making it seem like a real human, very much trying to smudge the line between man and machine - flesh and metal, skin and wires.
Perhaps it needed more time, perhaps it should have had more test-runs, whatever it was, the end result of Tay was not at all what you could call a success. On 2016-03-23, Tay was released to the wild and admittedly, it went mostly well, but soon places like /pol/ on 4chan found-out about the bot, giving it a "crash course in racism", causing it to quickly evolve into what The verge perhaps best described as a "racist asshole". In hours of launch, the bot when from a playful AI to far-right extremist, sprouting on about Adolf Hitler, the Jewish, black people, people from Mexico, and other inflammatory and offensive tweets.
In only 16 hours, the bot was pulled from Twitter with the text "Phew. Busy day. Going offline for a while to absorb it all. Chat soon" seen on its website.
It wasn't exactly the dev team who are to blame for the mess that was the Tay AI, although why they didn't make a list of worlds to exclude is unknown. No company, especially not one like Microsoft, would want to get headlines talking about how they made a raciest bot - it was an embarrassment for them and hopefully a learning lesson to not only heavily test bots (and other products), but also add a list of banned words.
Two days after the bot was taken offline, Dr. Peter Lee, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Healthcare, published what was essentially an apology letter entitled "Learning from Tay's introduction", saying "We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay. Tay is now offline and we'll look to bring Tay back only when we are confident we can better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values".
Five days would pass with no issue, until the 30th of March. While testing the bot, someone working at Microsoft accidentally re-released the bot, allowing it to again post on Twitter, unlike before when the bot would post about far-right ideologues, Tay had turned into a weed-loving machine, posting tweets like "kush! [I'm smoking kush infront the police] 🍂" and "puff puff pass?", but the bot would soon keep on posting "You are too fast, please take a rest" as it was now stuck in a loop. As the bot posted tweets that mentioned its own Twitter @, the tweets would show up in the feeds of 200,000 plus people, causing annoyance.
A few hours after the posts, the software developers at Microsoft tryed to undo the damage by announcing a vision of "conversation as a platform" using various bots and programs./p>
Unknown to the public at the time, days before the bot was released online, American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift threatened to sue Microsoft as she claimed ownership of the name Tay. In 2019, Alex Hern of The Guardian wrote about the event in their article, writing:-
[A]ccording to Microsoft's president, Brad Smith, is where Swift's legal representatives got involved. "I was on vacation when I made the mistake of looking at my phone during dinner," Smith writes in his forthcoming book, Tools and Weapons. "An email had just arrived from a Beverly Hills lawyer who introduced himself by telling me: 'We represent Taylor Swift, on whose behalf this is directed to you.'
"He went on to state that 'the name Tay, as I'm sure you must know, is closely associated with our client.' No, I actually didn't know, but the email nonetheless grabbed my attention.
"The lawyer went on to argue that the use of the name Tay created a false and misleading association between the popular singer and our chatbot, and that it violated federal and state laws," Smith adds.
Since the death of Tay, Microsoft has stated that they do intend to re-release it, but only "once it can make the bot safe", although, seeing that the company would make a new bot, Zo (that is now discontinuation), it does seem very unlikely.
- Netscape Navigator (1994 — 2008)
- Netscape was a fantastic web browser for its time. However, as the codebase grew messy enough to need a complete rewrite, it lost ground to IE. Thanks to the developers turning the code open-source before the company was absorbed into AOL, a successor lives on today in the form of the SeaMonkey suite.
- Opera "Presto" (1995 — 2013)
- Prior to becoming one
of the numerous Chrome clones at version 15, Opera was a great alternative web
browser with unique features and its own rendering engine, beloved by its
diehard users. It always strived to be lightweight and snappy in spite of being
fully-featured, taking up as little as one-quarter of the space needed by its
Version 12 for Windows recieved minor security updates in 2014 and 2016, but nothing has been heard since. Attempts to spiritually succeed classic Opera have resulted in the Otter and Vivaldi browsers.
- Tumblr (2007 — 2018)
- Okay, this place is still around.
But, let's be honest, it's in a zombified state. Tumblr was formerly the
destination for premier fandom content, hilarious shitposts, superb art and
aesthetics, discussion of LGBT issues and POC experiences, and all the
female-presenting nipples your dirty little brain could handle.
Unfortunately, after being removed from the App Store, the decision was made to forbid all image and video-based adult content. The site began hemmoraging users, its traffic dropping by 30% over the next six months. According to some users, likes/reblogs have dropped by half, and the once-vibrant art community on the site is now a shadow of its former self.
- Dendy (1992 — 1996)
- Living proof that anything is possible,
if you dare to dream, Dendy (known affectionately as 'Jr.' to friends) was also
proof that sometimes it's just fine to not dream at all and be fine living a
normal, ordinary life. Kept alive in the memory of dear friends and their recurring
nightmares about that elephant, Dendy provided what was often the first taste of
video-gaming culture to an audience of roughly 1.8 million souls; as well as
introducing various new terms, such as 'bootleg.'
Despite it all, many carry fond memories of Jr... And always will.
- Meridian 59 (1996 — 2000) (2002 — 2010) (2012?)
'That which is not dead, may eternal play; possibly, maybe.'
Meridian 59 was one of the grandparents of the old MMO world; heavily inspired by MU* and BBS styles, it cultivated a cultish loyalty amongst members that nevertheless went through several different iterations; a love of story, of player-versus-environment co-operation, and of player-versus-player worldbuilding.
Despite living on in a vegetative state due to the effects of the wonderdrug, 'Open Source,' each of these separate iterations might as well be a separate life, alien to all those who knew 'their' Meridian 59 best. As such, a living wake has been scheduled, so that the bereaved may continue, and move on.
- WikiReader (2009 — 2014)
In October 2009, Pandigital, as sponsored by Openmoko, came-out with the
WikiReader, an offline, text-only version of the English Wikipedia
(along with Wiktionary, Wikiquote, and Project Gutenberg). The device, that was
essentially a small white box that showed only text in black and white, was
presumably aimed at lower-income families in non-Western countries, along with
people who had no access to the Internet. With the starting price of $99 (along
with a twice-yearly offline update service delivered via Micro SD card was also
available at a cost of $29 per year, pretty much meaning that it would allow
the end user to view the latest version of Wikipedia at the time of
publication), it could be said that the WikiReader came-out too late, as two
years prier in 2007, Apple released their iPhone 1 with the slogan of "This is
only the beginning", and it certainly was, as more and more people would now be
able to have access to a smart phone that could also visit Wikipedia, along
with any other website that they desired., this was helped by the fact that
Internet access was growing fast.
Because more and more people would have a phone in their pocket, and also the price, plus the niche and quickly shrinking market, 2014 saw the end of the product, as the project itself was shut down and abandoned for unknown reasons. Existing WikiReaders no longer receive updates to their database, and the only way to get new updates is thanks to independent sellers who offer Micro SD cards with the latest version of Wikipedia - usually the Micro SD card can cost more than what the WikiReader is worth now (around $10).
- Windows 7 (2009 — 2020)
A decade may be an eternity in the computing world, but if your tools are built
to last, that can be a very enjoyable ride. Such is the case with this OS,
which still feels crisp and clean despite its age. Hailed by some as the last
good operating system to be produced by Microsoft, Windows 7 (NT 6.1) was
unleased upon us during the beautiful summer of 2009, perfecting the ideas and
design philosophies that had been previously attempted in Windows Vista.
Unlike later releases, 7 is a system with no confusion about what or where it is, and makes no attempts to keep tabs on you or sell you something. It got out of your way, and just let you use your computer, however you preferred to.
Abandoned by its creators, 7 now only clings to life by the strength of diehard users who outright refuse to 'downgrade' to other operating systems. Applications which support the aging OS will eventually stop being released, but for the time being, it remains a viable platform for the estimated 21-28% of computers currently enjoying an installation. May our friends have many years still to enjoy their curves.
- TempleOS (2005 — 2017)
As solely made by Terrence Andrew Davis (born 1969-12-15), a man as genuinely talented as he was deeply troubled, TempleOS (formerly J Operating System, SparrowOS, and LoseThos) was the name of a Public Domain operating system that is littered with Bibalcal references and as David believed, God Himself wanted him to build - an OS partly designed by God. Some of the strange destine choices that God asked Davis to do with the system's features were that the screen resolution should be in 640x480, with a 16-color display, and single audio voice - all of witch were more than outdated by 2005, let along in 2017.
Other odd things about the OS was that it was unable to talk to other computers, printers, and even unable to connect to the Internet, however, it could be said that the lack of networking was a smart move by Terry, as the OS has no security features at all, such as not having even basic things like there not being any passwords or file permissions, but this didn't matter to David at all, as it was possible to instead talk to the Almighty God via the system, or be it thanks to a random text generator that David called an upgraded Ouija board. In reality, this was simply a random sentence generator that Davis constructed meaning from.
Humourlessly, the OS was written in a version of the C language that Davis made, named HolyC. TempleOS included an original compiler, kernel, flight simulator, and other original games. It was also possible for people to embed 3D models inside of source code comments, something unheard of in many, many main-stream computers.
As stated, its creator was Terry A. David, an American programmer, who created and designed the operating system. As a teenager, he learned the assembly language on a Commodore 64, soon earning himself a master's degree in electrical engineering from Arizona State University and worked for several years at Ticketmaster as a programmer for VAX machines. Sadly, it could be said that the downfall of Terry began in 1996, when he began experiencing regular manic episodes, one of which led him to hospitalization. He was initially incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then being corrected to having schizophrenia.
After this, he lived in Las Vegas with his parents, eventually being kicked out due to him no longer wanting to take his medication and his fits of anger, shouting at them. Davis would also be known for going on rants on his livestreams, spurting about The C.I.A., black people, The I.R.A., and God. Now living on the streets, Davis lived off donations from his fans and his disability money, suffering more and more from disillusions of himself, thinking that he was married to a woman called Diana. On 2018-08-11, while walking alongside railroad tracks in The Dalles, Oregon, Davis was struck and killed by an oncoming train. While investigators could not determine if his death was accidental or suicide, the train engineer believed his death to be a suicide. In the police report, it was noted that Davis was walking with his back to the train, turning around moments before he was hit.
When The Dalles Chronicle covered the story that an unnamed homeless person was hit by a train, the newspaper was hit by a large number of phone calls, asking if it was indeed David, being confirmed in a later piece.
Despite of his death, the work of Terry lives on in the form of forks of his work, such as with Shrine and Erythros, two projects that can only exist thanks to the original project being Public Domain.
When he was alive, Terry would have rants about taboo topics and dissensions of himself. People shouldn't judge him for these things, but rather realise that he was unable to control himself. In the end, Terry died homeless, his story should be a warning about the issues of mental heath and what we do with the people who suffer from them in our modern day world.