Way back in the early Aughts, Dean Kamen was a little-known inventor with a few world-changing inventions under his belt — most famously an electric wheelchair that could climb stairs. But his next invention, a well kept secret, was generating so much buzz you could barely hear yourself think.
All he told us was that his new invention would revolutionize transportation. The media filled the airwaves with theories as to what the wunderkind Kamen was crafting. It was a personalized jet pack. No, it was a flying car. No, it was the first mainstream hydrogen powered engine. All we knew was this — THIS — was going to change everything. A watershed moment in human history.
What we got was the Segway, an electrically powered sidewalk transportation thingy that terrorized old ladies and dogs as it schlepped the upper-upper-class who were too slovenly to walk a block and a half about their daily business. Yup, it was a douchebag-mobile.
OK, so this was clearly another application of the inverse-hype law. Nothing can live up to the kind of expectations we had for this thing, even if Kamen did have a hydrogen powered jet pack up his sleeve (er, on his back?). That's forgivable. And certainly, the certainly-Jewish Kamen has created many other helpful, insightful inventions. Many of which could someday change the world.
But the man invented the pet rock of the new millennium with all of the same embarrassments of frivolity and uselessness that come with such a thing. And we just can't let that go.