Over a third (34 per cent) of Macworld online readers voting in this week's poll think that Apple's most foolish invention was the one-button mouse.

They share their regard for Apple's one-button mouse with the man behind the first Mac – Jef Raskin.

Raskin decided to opt for only one button because he "figured that if there was only one button, there would never be any question on what you have to press." However, he now admits: "I think this was probably a mistake. One of the reasons I made the mistake is that there is a certain school of industrial design that says designs have to be simple, uncluttered, and clean. In particular, don't put writing on it except for brand names or logos.

"If we had had a multiple-button mouse with two keys, labelled something like Select and Activate, it would have been much easier to use, but the idea of putting writing on keys did not occur to anybody, including me. If I was designing one today, it would have two buttons and they would be labelled."

Coaxing Pippin

Another 25 per cent of the 2,021 readers voting think that the Pippin – Apple's attempt at a multimedia device designed for people who want to play back CDs and surf the Net – was Apple's most foolish invention.

The Pippin was released in Japan and then the States in 1995. It was a joint project between Apple and Bandai - the Japanese entertainment company behind the Power Rangers. It was Mitsubishi, rather than Apple, who manufactured the machine.

It was powered by a Power PC 603 processor running at 66MHz, with 6MB of RAM, a 4X CD-ROM drive, 128KB of Flash RAM, stereo sound, and a 28.8bps external modem. There was no floppy or hard drive.

In the words of one Macworld reader: "Pippin...what were they thinking of. Underpowered and ugly with few or no games."

Another reader is less critical: "Pippin was just too far ahead of its time. Apple's mistake was pricing it too high when compared to the original PlayStation."

Welcome to my eWorld

eWorld, first launched in 1994, is the choice of 10 per cent. It was a Mac-only proprietary online service that Apple offered in conjunction with AOL.

The eWorld community was a colourful, graphical user interface that used the metaphor of a town square, with activities around familiar buildings. But after one year of service, eWorld had only signed up 90,000 subscribers. Apple added limited Internet support in 1995 to make the service more appealing, but by September 1995, eWorld had only 115,000 members.

Apple announced the demise of its eWorld online service in March 1996.

Coping with Copland

Copland gets the vote of 8 per cent. Copland was supposed to save Apple from the advent of Windows 95. It was to bring modern operating-system features to the Macintosh such as pre-emptive multitasking and protected memory, while maintaining backward-compatibility.

But Apple killed the Copland project in 1996, having spent millions of dollars on its development. Some of Copland's technologies made it into future releases of System 7, and ultimately Mac OS X.

Permission to speak

OS X Permissions gets the vote of a frustrated 8 per cent of Macworld online readers. Permissions is Apple's way of ensuring that, in an office where Macs may be used by several people each user can keep their work and preferences separate to another users.

As a result, in Mac OS X different users have different permissions to access files and folders. If a team wishes to share files it is necessary for the creator of each file to set the permissions so that their colleagues can use it.

This can be a time consuming process, and unfortunately, according to Apple, there is no easy fix as it is inherent in Unix.


The ill-fated Cube gets 4 per cent of the vote. The Cube, unveiled at Macworld Expo New York in July 2000, didn't even make it to its first birthday. Although touted as a compact, noiseless, designer computer, it proved too pricey for most Mac fans.

Added to this, a number of hardware problems and reported problems with cracks in the casing didn't help sales of this design icon.

To choosy

The Chooser gets 4 per cent of the vote. This was a program included with every version of the Classic Mac OS – but removed from Mac OS X.

The Chooser was designed to handle devices that connected to the serial ports on a Mac, particularly printers and the original AppleTalk network connectors. However, users found the Chooser concept difficult to understand – when they wanted to choose something they had to go to the Finder, when they wanted to find something they needed to look in the Chooser.

Newton's law

The Newton - one of the first ever PDAs - gets 3 per cent of the vote. It was released in 1997 – but early models were bulky, expensive and bug-ridden, leading it to be widely ridiculed.

A former member of the Newton development group Larry Tesler believes the Newton failed because: "Apple didn't implement key customer requirements uncovered during market research for the design phase of the product." Tesler claims he warned Apple that the Newton would not be able to recognise handwriting as was claimed, but that his advice was ignored.

Apple killed Newton in February 1998 even though fans demonstrated in the car park of Apple's Cupertino campus.

What a waste

Apple's Wastebasket gets 1 per cent of the vote. Only UK Mac users had the pleasure of being able to put their unwanted documents in the Wastebasket, in a bid to meet the eccentricities of the British. Around the world other Mac users were chucking their garbage in the Trash.

The Wastebasket – which at the time looked like a Trash Can – became universally known as Trash after Macworld Editor Simon Jary told Apple's Peter Lowe that since the icon looked like a Trash can it was wrong to call it a Wastebasket.

The Trash can icon was then replaced with the icon we know and love in OS X – wouldn't you know it... it's a wastebasket.