So "it" is simple, especially given its most impressive feature, it's ability to balance itself, already existed in a previous Kamen invention. But despite its overall simplicity, I wasn't experiencing overwhelming disappointment either, once it was released and people actually saw the Segway in action. At least there was less disappointment upon seeing the Segway in person than there was seeing the drawing of the Segway after the "leak". For those who were disappointed with the drawing early this year, all I can say is, "You saw it on the Internet. What did you expect?"
Is Segway really Earth shattering? Not in my opinion. Greatest thing since the PC, as Steve Jobs is quoted to say? No. Bigger than the Internet? One would think that this was Al Gore's thought, but even John Doerr, venture capitalist behind Netscape and Amazon, was impressed with "it" to this extent. I don't think it's hardly bigger than the Internet, but upon release of The Segway, I could begin to see the potential for such a device and how it could effect or change the life of someone that doesn't even use the Internet.
All of the hype seems to have been originally generated from a former collaborator of Kamen's that loved to write and couldn't keep his mouth shut. In reflection, this person reminded me a bit about the staff of Tom's Hardware (in a good way). Give us a picture of the Northbridge, the CPU socket, the Benchmarks, but not the motherboard because the Non-Disclosure Agreement doesn't allow it. Beautiful!
You see, this insider never revealed what "it" ever was, but alluded to the "greatness" of the invention by quoting words of praise from people in technology that had an opportunity to try "it" out first hand, early on. This hype had lead to investigations into Kamen and his latest patent requests. The Internet, being as near infinite tool for information and misinformation as it can be and usually is, was used to uncover very early on that "it" might simply be a two-wheel scooter... and then interest died.
Apparently, this drawing of a scooter satisfied the curiosity of some; while others scoffed that "it" couldn't POSSIBLY be a "toy".
Why would Jobs, Doerr, Bob Metcalfe (founder of 3Com), and Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) stand behind this invention and say that this may be the greatest thing since sliced bread? I supposed you'd just have to ride one.
Even Good Morning America's co-anchor Diane Sawyer looked at The Segway during it's official unveiling on 12/03/2001 on the show, and had nothing more to say then "That's IT?"
I just smiled and said, "Please tell me it flies".
Not until she hopped on her own Segway and had a chance to zip around the park outside of the studio did she begin to understand. Her inner child came out as she zipped around with one leg off of The Segway's platform. She begged Kamen if she could ride through the obstacle course designed for the "professional" Segway riders present during the release. Kamen seemed mildly annoyed, but what did he expect.
Co-anchor Charlie Gibson showed a bit more refrain by limiting his hijinks to riding The Segway with his hands stuffed in his pocket. "I'm moving forward! I'm moving backwards!" he exclaimed. So that's the draw. The Segway moves without a throttle and has no brakes.
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