Dean Kamen: Horse and Buggy

"When Dean Kamen, an American inventor, unveiled the ultra-secret Segway human transporter in December 2001 [after spending more than ten years and $100 million on its development], it was supposed to herald a transport revolution. It would, Mr Kamen declared, 'be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy'. John Doerr, the venture capitalist behind Amazon.com and Google, predicted that Segway, the eponymous company established to build the battery-powered super-scooters, would reach $1 billion in sales more quickly than any corporation in history. To handle the imminent consumer onslaught, Segway's factory in Bedford, New Hampshire, geared up to build 40,000 units a month.

"There was no need, as it turned out. By the autumn of 2003, when Segway voluntarily recalled all the units it had sold to repair a problem that occasionally caused riders to fall off when the machine's batteries ran low, it transpired that only 6,000 of its human transporters had been sold, at an average of $4,500 each."

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