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After 10 Years, Segway Falls Short Of High Hopes

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After 10 Years, Segway Falls Short Of High Hopes

Technology

After 10 Years, Segway Falls Short Of High Hopes

After 10 Years, Segway Falls Short Of High Hopes

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/143062995/143063416" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Melissa Block and Guy Raz mark the 10th anniversary of the public unveiling of the balancing scooter called the Segway — a device that was predicted to change our world. It only did 10 percent of the volume expected and became something of a joke.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of a technology that hit the market with high expectations - in hindsight, impossibly high.

DEAN KAMEN: What Henry Ford did in the last century for rural America is what this device will do in the next century for city dwellers.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

That's inventor Dean Kamen whose secret invention had two code names, Ginger and It. People in the know used words like revolutionary. Steve Jobs predicted it would be bigger than the PC, but the public had no idea what it was until December 3, 2001, when Kamen unveiled it on "Good Morning America."

RAZ: We're talking about the Segway. The self-balancing scooter weighed roughly 100 pounds, could go just over 12 miles an hour with a price tag starting at $5,000. Now, while many tech experts were wowed, not everyone was impressed with Dean Kamen's invention or his hyperbole.

KAMEN: I believe the Segway HT will do for walking what the calculator did for pad and pencil.

JON STEWART: Adding, or what the beer hat did for both beer and hat.

BLOCK: That's Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" shortly after the Segway's unveiling. Well, 10 years later, walking has certainly not gone the way of the pad and pencil and since its splashy debut, the Segway has made few headlines except when President George W. Bush toppled off one.

RAZ: But the device hasn't been a failure, either. About 100,000 have rolled off the assembly line in the last decade and the company turned a modest profit early last year, more than enough to require a calculator.

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