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Unnecessary purchase? Strangest PC extensions


 A personalized computer undeniably offers a better everyday experience. Sensing a ripe market of people craving to add external devices to a PC, manufacturers develop the weirdest gadgets. We’ve compiled a list of the strangest and seemingly unnecessary PC extensions that we’ve come across.

The computer peripherals market is a multi-billion-dollar business: keyboards, printers, headsets, webcams, controllers, docking stations, and many other devices allow us to make the most of our daily computing companions.

However, some peculiar attempts at selling gadgets might seem helpful at first glance but get stranger and stranger the longer we look. For example, a smelling device, a chainsaw-shaped input device, and even a condom for a computer are all real-life product options.

Take a look at a list of some of the strangest peripherals and extensions for PCs.

Intermatrix MacPhone

The MacPhone package. Image source.

A desire to combine computers with telephones is as old as computers themselves. In 1984, once the Macintosh hit the sales, Intermatrix decided there’s a way to capitalize on the popularity of the Mac.

MacPhone is precisely what it sounds like: a device that can be strapped on a Mac to allow calling whomever you’d like via a computer. That raises a question, why is the device any better than a regular telephone box put next to the device and strapped not on it.

The MacPhone was docked on the side of a Mac, and software held a log of outgoing calls. The device also sent DTMF signals that allowed to dial anyone in the address book quickly. All of this for $199.95.

SafeType Ergonomic Keyboard

SafeType Ergonomic Keyboard. An excerpt from a YouTube video.

With people spending more time trapped typing and clicking, all things ergonomic are increasingly popular. Unless you’re a hardcore keyboard enthusiast, typing devices seemingly leave little space for design innovation.

But SafeType thought there’s a way to shake up the stale market. Their device offers vertical typing with your palms facing each other. The user was meant to use the keyboard, similar to how accordionists use their instrument.

Equipped with a usual Qwerty layout, the device is mostly just like any other keyboard, only put sideways. What strikes most about the device is, of course, its quirky look.  

Some versions are even equipped with something that looks like a rearview mirror to allow users to see what they’re typing.

Hercules Computer Condom

An ad for the Hercules Condom. Image by vintagecomputing.com.

Obviously, this is not your everyday peripheral, but more of an oddity that we couldn’t help ourselves but include here. Back in the early ‘90s, someone took the ‘sex sells’ motto to a new level.

Enter: the computer condom. Male contraception device repurposed to ‘prevent the spread of STDs (Static Transferred Dust) and many computer viruses.’

In other words, a dust cover for a computer was supposed to be somehow more appealing due to its resemblance to a condom. Available to use for any PC and reusable, the device was sold for $24.95 + mailing fees.

DigiScents iSmell

Image by Shutterstock.

Let’s face it, everyone who has ever played a video game wanted the experience to be more interactive. Ever larger screens, quality resolution, vibrating controllers, etc., are an attempt at better merging real life with the digital.

In 1999, DigiScents attempted to go even further, promising users an ability to smell the virtual world. The idea caught on, and the company even managed to raise $20 million in investments.

The idea behind the device was to create a database of smells that the machine could replicate by mixing certain odors stored inside it. All the device had to do was to combine the right chemicals to produce the desired smell.

Interestingly, iSmell did not catch on as no one really wanted to smell everything they saw online. Apart from browsing an online perfume store, the device showed no real-life applications and did not pass beyond a prototype phase.

MicroRain MacStation

An ad for the MacStation. Image upload by u/Ponyboy214.

Since its inception in the first half of the ‘80s, the Macintosh was supposed to be a slick fit-all device meant for work, education, and free time. The neat design was and still is no small part of what Apple is selling to its customers.

However, a company called MicroRain had different ideas in 1984. The MacStation was a collection of functional units meant to be put on top of a relatively small Mac computer.

It had a printer, a disk drive, storage shelves, and a humungous look that made the Mac look like a tiny TV, wedged in a plastic box.

The Resident Evil Chainsaw

The chainsaw controller. An excerpt from a YouTube video.

The aughties offered a trove of various gaming peripherals, like a guitar to imitate a collection of greatest hits. However, the Resident Evil Chainsaw, released in 2005, is a strange addition to the mix.

Even though the game it was meant to promote did not lack gory scenes, a chainsaw controller seems unusual, to say the least.

Manufactured by Nuby Tech, the device has become more of a collector’s item over the years since its release. Unsurprisingly, not all gamers are fond of holding a chainsaw while playing something unrelated to killing zombies.


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