Dearly Departed: Companies and Products That Didn't Deserve to Die

Some products just didn't deserve to die. But they did, because the companies made bad business decisions. We revisit several of our favorites--from minicomputers to software utilities--and mourn the best and brightest that died an untimely death.

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They sued themselves to death

  • Image
  • Company: Ashton-Tate
  • Born: 1980
  • Died: 1991 (acquired by Borland)
  • Cause of Death: dBase IV and failed innovation by litigation
  • Founders: George Tate and Hal Lashlee
  • Most well-known product(s): dBase II, III, IV, MultiMate
  • Why we miss them: Arguably the first programmable microcomputer database; a whole industry was built around dBase.
  • Lasting image/quotes: "Ashton-Tate is no longer the Rodney Dangerfield of the software industry." -Industry analyst Stewart Alsop II, 1988
  • "A computer will not make a good manager out of a bad manager. It makes a good manager better faster and a bad manager worse faster." -Ed Esber, president, Ashton-Tate, 1986

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