Whispers started to emerge during the spring of 2001 about a revolutionary new mode of transportation that was going to bring the automotive industry to its knees. Codenamed “IT”, the actual product was a bit of a mystery, maybe it was a hoverbike, or a jetpack, but investors were assured that it was destined to utterly smash the competition. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, said that “IT” was as big as the personal computer. We were going to have to rethink cities!
Six months later, the Segway was revealed to the public. To everyone’s surprise, it turned out to be a two-wheel ambulation device with gyroscopic sensors that allowed you to ride while standing up, and spin around really fast if you wanted to. They cost around five and six thousand dollars, approximately the price of a used car, but in spite of the low price the company would only sell a few thousand vehicles over the next few months. The designers had overlooked one crucial fact – it looked stupid.
Even worse, people who rode Segways looked really stupid. Pedestrians pointed and laughed whenever they drove by on the street. Women left their husbands of twenty years after learning that they had purchased one. Fourth graders regularly beat up the riders for their lunch money. It was bad.
Despite their inherently mockable appearance, you can still find “IT” in several cities across the world today. You can usually spot the owner as the gawky person in the crowd wearing socks with sandals (see previous entry). A few police departments even have a Segway division, with officers who ride upon them and chase after criminals as long as they don’t run faster than a brisque jog. They may not be the wave of the future, but as long as bad taste exists, they’re here to stay.