From Hype to Disaster: Segway’s Timeline

British police said Monday that the owner of the company that makes the Segway was found dead after falling off a cliff…on a Segway. It’s a gruesome chapter in the history of an invention that was supposed to revolutionize the way we get around but that ended up going nowhere. Below, a look back at the key events for the Segway:

2001: Incredible hype builds around a device known as “IT” and “Ginger” that is being built by inventor Dean Kamen. There’s talk among tech insiders that it could be bigger than the PC. Kamen says it “will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.”

Dec. 3, 2001: Mr. Kamen unveils the “human transporter,” now known as the Segway, and predicts he will sell 50,000 vehicles in the first year. The two-wheeled device, which uses a complicated system of gyroscopes and other technology to balance, is supposed to fill the gap between walking and using a car. It goes about 12 miles an hour and uses relatively small amounts of power. Although the vehicle draws considerable interest, it seems clear already that the Segway is not going to be bigger than the PC. It does have prominent venture-capital and private backing, though, to the tune of $90 million.

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