* Apple:
** Their product range during the tail end of the 1980s and early 1990s had degenerated from the insane greatness of the classic AppleMacintosh to the extraordinarily bland Performa range; although the Powerbooks sold well, and the Power Macs and Quadras got good reviews, none of the company's products were particularly exciting.\\
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Strapped for cash, Apple even took to licensing clones of the Mac hardware, which raised money in the short term whilst eating into long-term Macintosh sales. The company was in pretty bad shape before Steve Jobs came back in 1997 and the original [=iMac=] was released in 1998. And it took them a few more years after that to finally get rid of the mess that the classic Mac OS had become.
** Some of Apple's more pessimistic fans think it's entering a new Dork Age with OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8. iPad sales are slowing, in part because people don't upgrade tablets nearly as often as they do phones. Nobody seems to know for sure what Apple has in mind for Beats, which it purchased in 2014. Getting a free U2 album? Great. Having it downloaded automatically onto your iTunes library? Not so much.\\
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Jony Ive's signature flat, Helvetica-soaked design language (replacing a previous, less-harmonized appearance that a lot of people found excessively skeuomorphic on both platforms) has been a BaseBreaker since debuting with iOS 7, iOS 8 is buggy (and, according to a class action lawsuit filed at the beginning of 2015, so bloated that it's not leaving enough room for user content), and the biggest thing Yosemite brings to the party is the debut of the Swift programming language, something most users will never write or even see a single line of code in.\\
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Ironically, those same naysayers generally find Apple's ''hardware'' to be the best it's ever been. (That is, unless you're not a fan of the current design of the Mac Pro, a black cylinder the approximate size of a mini-beer keg with a ton of expansion possibility, none of it internal, meaning lots of dongles and breakout boxes to clutter your desk.)
* In TheEighties, Coca-Cola decided to change its secret formula that most of the world had been drinking for the better part of a century. Ironically, the "New Coke", as the media dubbed it, tasted more like Coke's chief rival, Pepsi (part of the whole point, actually). Die-hard Coca-Cola drinkers said "TheyChangedItNowItSucks" and Pepsi drinkers kept on drinking Pepsi. This new formula actually made Pepsi the number-one selling soft drink for a while, partly because most of its advertising during the period was [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_hvOBnsirI "Hate the New Coke? Drink Pepsi!"]] Pepsi actually saw the New Coke blunder as such a major win, they gave all their employees a day off in celebration. New Coke was eventually rebranded (quietly) as "Coke II" but faded to its death in the late 1990s and finally perished in the early 2000s. This debacle became a running joke for ''years''. Even in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', the "Slurm" episode poked fun at it.
** Of course, if they ''[[MagnificentBastard "knew"]]'' this would happen and that their sales would skyrocket once they re-released the old formula in the form of Coca-Cola Classic, it would be one of the most successful {{plan}}s [[http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/newcoke.asp of all time]]. Considering all the other [[ExecutiveMeddling dumb ideas corporate executives have]], it wouldn't be the one bit surprising if it were true; eventually a dumb idea has to pay off, right?
*** When questioned about that very possibility, an executive cryptically replied "We're not that smart and we're not that stupid."
*** It's not cryptic. Coke based its decision on one of the most heavily-researched marketing investigations you could imagine, and ''everything'' came back saying that people preferred New Coke. As it happens, it became an object lesson that market research can't always get it right no matter how certain it seems. Coke did what pretty much everybody would have done in its place. Then, when they realized their mistake, did an about-face and restored the product. In fact, in many ways it's the pinnacle of a good management team: smart enough to make the rational choice based on evidence and smart enough to change that when the evidence changes. Plus, it gave them the opportunity to quietly move from higher-priced sugar to cheaper high-fructose corn syrup; any complaints about the change were muffled under the cheers for the return to the (otherwise) classic formula.
*** The truly bizarre thing about the whole episode is that just a few weeks before they rolled out New Coke, they ran a promo featuring Bill Cosby touting Coke as "more refreshing" because it was "less sweet" than certain other cola beverages. It seems that Coca Cola's management was somewhat schizo...
*** Even then, many people remember what "Original Coca-Cola" tasted like and admitted that the "returned" Coca-Cola Classic (while very close) still didn't taste quite the same. This is almost certainly due to the aforementioned switch to HFCS, as these same people agree that the Coca-Cola imported from Mexico (which uses cane sugar) ''is'' the Coke they remember from their childhoods.
** Creator/DaveBarry lampooned this in one of his books with a "test your business IQ" question that went something like "You are the world's largest manufacturer of soft drinks. You are using a tested and proven formula that has remained the same for nearly a century. Your product's name is virtually synonymous with 'soft drink' in many areas. You should:" Of the choices, one of them was "Immediately change your formula" (another, aimed at a more or less contemporaneous Pepsi PR disaster, was something like "Set [[Music/MichaelJackson a celebrity]] on fire").
*** New Coke's failure may have been averted had Coca-Cola made the decision to keep Coke-Classic ''and'' New Coke on the market at the same time, thus avoiding the backlash of Classic Coke drinkers and keeping fans of New Coke happy. They didn't go this direction initially due to serious distribution concerns and when they finally did (under the ''Coke II'' name), there was hardly any real marketing push for the drink which contributed to its slow death as described above. Notably, Pepsi Next is essentially New Coke reversed (a less-sweet, more Coke-like version of Pepsi), and it has carved out a niche in the market for itself without displacing the old Pepsi.
** Bizarrely though the whole thing got inverted in the BENELUX and France from the late 1990s to the late 2000s. Back then Coca-Cola was mainstream and pretty much everywhere, but Pepsi was almost nowhere to be found. Coca-Cola even went as far as [[https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BrcQukWIQAA2i5g.jpg to pretend that they dominated the Belgian market]] and one of the taglines Pepsi used to advertise its product in France was "ça fait depuis longtemps qu'on nous a bu" (Translated: It was a long time since we were drunk).
* In the early 1990s, UsefulNotes/LasVegas was facing stiff competition from not only [[{{Joisey}} Atlantic City]] drawing away gamblers on the East Coast (at its height, AC had over twice as many tourists as Vegas), but the looming threat of [[TheRez Indian casinos]], legalized in 1988[[note]] Technically, Indian casinos had been legal since 1976, with the case of ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_v._Itasca_County Bryan v. Itasca County]]'' serving as the precedent for the first attempts at opening casinos in TheEighties, but the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 ended the legal grey area that it existed in[[/note]], drawing away gamblers from Middle America as well. As a survival mechanism, Las Vegas began its now-infamous attempt to expand its appeal to tourists by rebranding the city as a destination for ''family vacations''. Every Strip hotel built over 1990-93 had at least one theme park-esque attraction – the new [=MGM=] Grand had an actual theme park – and theme.\\
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This backfired badly. Adult tourists who preferred to gamble and party without dodging kids were upset, hotel-casino staffs trained to operate adult-oriented resorts couldn't handle the unique needs of families, cases of parents rushing off to the gaming tables and leaving their kids to fend for themselves made the news – one abandoned child ended up kidnapped and ''murdered'' – and the theme parks turned out to be a bomb. (To [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chmQXcE8zeU&list=FLlgPdk1ZJRfvzF_byN3QZtw&index=7 quote]] [[WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy Brian Griffin]]: "The town of Vegas has got a different face / Because it's a family place / With lots to do. / While in TheFifties a man could mingle with scores / Of all the seediest whores, / Well now his children can too!")\\
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This age ended with the opening of the Bellagio in 1998, which was explicitly geared towards a very classy and very adult clientele with its fine art gallery, conservatory, resident Creator/CirqueDuSoleil show, and high-stakes poker tables. While the hotels that opened to serve families are still around, and Vegas still markets itself as being about more than just gambling, said hotels have been progressively de-themed and the city's entertainment mix now mostly excludes families.
** This was referenced and summed up pretty well at the end of the film ''{{Film/Casino}}''.
--> ''Today it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots.''
* Paul Pressler’s run as president of [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Disneyland]] from 1996 to 2000 is a textbook example of someone excelling in one field but completely failing in another. After a very successful stint as the head of The Disney Store (which itself underwent a Dork Age after he left, thanks in part to focusing on films like ''Disney/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'' and ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'' that aren't exactly merchandising-friendly), Pressler was promoted to the top position of Disneyland, which at the time was undergoing a radical change. The park was slowly losing new customers, and an attempt to add a second Disney park to the area had failed miserably. He was charged with saving money and enticing new people to the park – which he did by seriously cutting attraction maintenance and operating hours, and by homogenizing merchandise within the park down to only a few major items like T-shirts and plushies, basically turning the park into a glorified Disney Store. He then turned to saving even more money by completely shutting down smaller low-capacity attractions like the Motor Boat Cruise, and helping “trim” the budget to a massive redo of the Tomorrowland area.\\
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For his “success” at Disneyland [[KickedUpstairs he was promoted to the head of the entire theme parks division in 2000]], where he oversaw development of the long awaited second theme park in the Disneyland area, Disney’s California Adventure. The park opened to great fanfare in 2001… and very quickly became a spectacular flop. The park itself was accused of being cheap and uninteresting, with more of an emphasis on shops and dining over shows and attractions. After two years of trying and failing to fix California Adventure, Pressler resigned in 2003 to become the head of The Gap, and thankfully taking Disneyland’s Dork Age with him.
* Jack in the Box (the restaurant) had one between 1980 and 1994. Read more about it on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_in_the_Box_(restaurant) Wikipedia]]. In short, what happened was originally Jack in the Box had a typical West Coast hamburger stand feel to it: you talked into the clown's mouth to order, and advertising featured an early version of Jack as well as several other characters. But in 1980, the chain ran a series of commercials where Jack was destroyed. New marketing was toward the "affluent yuppies". The menu expanded at an alarming rate of two new items a year. They even tried to rename the restaurant to "Monterey Jack's". Around this point, the chain also withdrew from several markets east of the Mississippi, including New York state, Chicago, and Detroit. After the ''e. Coli'' disaster of the early 1990s, the company managed to get back in place and relaunch Jack in 1994. It's been successful since.
* Hardee's went through a similar dip around the same time. The chain, already taxed by buying out other chains (most prominently Burger Chef and Sandy's), attempted to cut costs buy using frozen instead of charbroiled meat patties. A 1990 buyout/conversion of Roy Rogers restaurants (based in the Northeast, where the Hardee's name was totally unfamiliar) was met with such backlash that most of them were quickly reverted. [[http://www.ourstate.com/hardees/ Issues with quality control and constant menu changes]] brought the chain to its nadir in 1997, when tons of locations were closed (most of the franchises in Detroit were sold to Wendy's or Canadian chain Tim Hortons, giving the latter its second successful American market), and the remainder was sold to California-based Carl's Jr. For the next six years, Carl's Jr. struggled in attempts to merge the two chains by keeping Hardee's still-successful breakfast menu and Carl's Jr.'s lunch/dinner menu and logo. The change was rough and slow, resulting in a schizophrenic mess of stores (some as late as 2003 still had the pre-Carl's Jr. menu and signage), but by the mid-2000s, one last ReTool of the menu to focus on "Thickburgers" seemed to finally turn things around. As of TheNewTens, Hardee's/Carl's Jr. has once again been in expansion mode, gradually filling in markets that had been abandoned in the 90s or earlier, such as Chicago.
* Wendy's went through a similar [[http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/wendy-s-international-inc-history/ plunge]] in TheEighties, due mainly to poor upkeep of its stores that created cleanliness issues, as well as a failed attempt to adopt a breakfast menu (unlike UsefulNotes/McDonalds or Burger King, Wendy's never fully got on board with breakfast, and it was only available at a handful of locations {mostly in 24-hour truckstops} before quietly being dropped in 2014). However, it was not a long-lived or detrimental decline like Hardee's suffered — by TheNineties, the chain recovered from its eighties slump, thanks to storewide renovations and a highly popular series of ads featuring founder Dave Thomas. By the mid-90s, Wendy's was considered the best in quality and service among the "big three" burger chains, and despite closing most of its international locations later in the decade, it has mostly remained at a solid #3 ever since.
* Remember all those [[SarcasmMode great]] [[TheAllegedCar cars]] Detroit came out with in TheSeventies? No? A toxic combination of lack of innovation, Congress relaxing import quotas (allowing foreign automakers to sell and manufacture in the USA), and the Oil Shocks nearly destroyed the industry. It ''did'' destroy the city of Detroit itself (and most of Michigan for that matter).
** The Ford Mustang II, 1974-78. Basically a [[EveryCarIsAPinto Pinto]] with a fancier body, no V8 option and enough mid-70s chrome, vinyl, and fake wood for a much larger car. Ford was returning the car to its roots as basically an economy car with a big engine after the previous car had gotten larger and become decent road racing platform. Sales for the Mustang II were actually much better than the late 60s/early 70s Mustangs, but it [[BaseBreaker alienated enthusiasts]]. Even after it got a V8, never before or since have so many car guys been so disappointed to see their favorite sports car get ''lighter and more nimble''...
*** Meanwhile, its [[TheRival rival]], the Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird, while also feeling the effects of the new standards at the time, did not have its performance suffer as much as the Mustang did and it did not have a garish bodywork compared to other cars during the era, even though it was nearly killed in 1972 due to the UAW strike concerning about the new regulations. Not only that, but the Camaro (and to a lesser extent, its cousin Firebird), adding insult to injury, outsold its rival by 1977, because it was the only car worth getting for sports car/post-muscle car enthusiasts. To this day, the Camaro is probably the only pony car/muscle car to not have its legacy stained by WTH engineering/designing departments even during TheSeventies. The only low point in its career was the [[TheAllegedCar Iron Duke design]] of TheEighties, but that was a separate model and did rather little to hurt the Camaro's popularity.
** The same things which drove the American '''car''' into the ground in TheSeventies raised the flag of the American '''[[HummerDinger SUV]]''' in the same timeframe. [[http://www.mclellansautomotive.com/photos/B32641.jpg Jeep]] [[http://www.cartype.com/pics/203/small/amc-jeep-wagoneer-limited_ad_80.jpg Wagoneer]] was anything but dork back then.
** British cars were far worse during the period, leading to most brands falling under ownership of British Leyland which [[CreatorKiller eventually collapsed]] taking the entire industry with it. ''Series/TopGear'' couldn't find a single bright spot during the era.
*** British Leyland was problematic for many reasons. Having most of the major British car companies under one organisation was a good idea in theory. The problem? None of them knew how to work together! Having so many companies under one roof didn't change the fact that many were competing against each other in the market, this resulted in cars being a SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute of other cars, development of new models was slow, and many models were produced cheaply and quickly. The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Marina Morris Marina]] is widely considered one of the worst cars ever produced by the company, despite the amount of cars sold. Add trade union disputes, oil crises, and the "Three-Day Week"[[note]]An electricity conservation program instituted by UsefulNotes/EdwardHeath in 1974 due to a coal miners' strike, which restricted most commercial and industrial enterprises (save for essential services like hospitals, supermarkets, and newsprints) to just three days of electricity a week while TV would cease broadcasting at 10:30 PM.[[/note]] and you had the poster child for everything wrong with the industrial problems in Britain in the 70s. The company went bust in 1975. Nowadays, all the major British car manufacturers are owned by foreign organizations, while Rover sadly disappeared in 2005.
* Food in general took a nose-dive in quality during the early UsefulNotes/ColdWar, with the American diet becoming a giant buffet of artificial chemical garbage loaded with dangerous amounts of sugar and fat with trace amounts of real nutrients.\\
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Food preservation technologies developed during WWII, combined with the perceived need to stockpile food heavy with preservatives for cold war era fallout shelters, and general public ignorance about the potential health risks of chemical additives spawned a wave of food production emphasizing price and speed over quality. Unsurprisingly, heart attack and cancer rates skyrocketed during TheFifties and TheSixties thanks in no small part to the garbage people where putting in their bodies. In America, this nearly destroyed drip coffee's reputation and spurred the organic and slow food movements as an explicit rejection of the trend. Entire websites like [[http://lileks.com/institute/gallery/ Lileks Gallery of Regrettable Food]] show some of the awful recipes to come out of this era.
* Math education in the U.S. (and, to a lesser extent, Europe and Japan) went through a Dork Age in the 1960s with the "New Math" format. It involved teaching students advanced topics like boolean algebra, bases other than 10, abstract algebra, and set theory from an early age instead of emphasizing memorization, word problems, and, well, actual numbers. The idea was to create a generation of engineers, scientists, and mathematical thinkers capable of [[UsefulNotes/ColdWar competing with the USSR]], but the results were disastrous. Most children were unable to grasp the concepts because they'd never learned basic arithmetic like the multiplication table[[note]] As a frustrated Sally from ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' [[http://www.gocomics.com/peanuts/2012/10/02#.UvEPavldUSY put it:]] "sets, one to one matching, equivalent sets, non-equivalent sets, sets of one, sets of two, renaming two, subsets, joining sets, number sentences, placeholders... all I want to know is, ''how much is two and two?''"[[/note]]. Most ''teachers'' didn't fully understand what it was they were teaching. The subjects taught weren't even that useful for their intended engineering/physical science purpose. And an entire generation thought of math as even ''less'' useful and relevant than [[EverybodyHatesMathematics children usually do]]. Today, New Math is remembered as an utter catastrophe of misguided education reform gone wrong. [[note]] Here it is demonstrated in [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIKGV2cTgqA song form]] by singer/math professor Music/TomLehrer. [[/note]]
* Many believe this is happening with newspapers. It doesn't help that many of them go through a version of the process described by Dave Barry above – they change their format to attract younger readers. The people who already read the papers don't like the new version, and the people the papers are trying to attract don't notice because they don't read papers.
* Microsoft's Windows OS seems to go in cycles.
** [=Windows98=]: It was great! It fixed the really rough parts of [=Windows95=] and made connecting to the Internet so easy!
** [=WindowsME=]: It sucked! It tried to have the reliability of [=WindowsNT=] and the user-friendliness of [=Windows98=], and promptly fell flat in both areas.
** [=WindowsXP=]: It [[LongRunners is/was]] great! Finally we have the reliability of NT and the user-friendliness of '98!
** Windows Vista: It sucked! The eye candy was not worth the resource hogging and the paradigm changes broke all the old programs![[note]] So much so that many people decided to say "Shove it" and downgraded back to XP![[/note]]
** Windows 7: It's great! Where Windows Vista failed, Seven delivers!
** Windows 8: It sucks! Microsoft tries to shove the smartphone approach on us and it doesn't mesh ''at all'' with the established desktop practice! I want my Start menu back!
*** Windows 8.1: *squint* [[SoOkayItsAverage It's not quite as bad...]]
** Windows 10: It looks like it's going to be great. They brought back the Start Menu. It's going to be a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 and 8! And for gamers, there's a new ultra-fast DirectX 12 graphics API!
* Microsoft's "Internet Explorer" browser, from version 6 to (arguably) version 9. IE 6 was the browser with the biggest market share in history for years, mostly because it was the standard for many business users who had software developed that worked great with it but it simply wasn't easily ported to something newer. As a result, people kept using [=IE6=], despite it being outdated and insecure. The compatibility requirements put 7 and 8 incredibly behind Chrome and Firefox. [=IE9=] is a return to form, but the bad reputation Internet Explorer earned with 6 is still there.
* Early on in the new millennium, the otherwise top-of-the-game Intel fell behind an increasingly competitive AMD with the Netburst-based Pentium 4. Promising to eventually break the 10GHz barrier, it instead ran inefficiently and incredibly hot. The company was finally out of the woods mid-decade with the release of the Core 2, a more modernized take on the P6 architecture, along with a steady yearly update schedule allowing for step-by-step refinements, and haven't looked back since.
** Meanwhile AMD has stumbled into this a bit with the Bulldozer architecture that is emphasizing all the parts that made the Pentium 4 fail.
* NVIDIA fell into this with the [=GeForce FX=] GPU, which used a substandard implementation of [=DirectX=] that allowed then competitor [=ATi=] (now AMD) to wipe the floor with its GPU. NVIDIA came back the next generation and stumbled a few more times but not nearly as badly as this.
* Lockheed in the TheSeventies decided to [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney bribe various government officials]] and cover up problems with the F-104. As a fighter plane, it was good; as a ''light bomber'', not so much. The scandals almost killed the company.
** In TheNewTens, Boeing was in a right mess – caught in a scandal that sent an Air Force official to prison, caught spying on [[TheRival Airbus]], the TroubledProduction and ScheduleSlip of the 787 "[[CoolPlane Dreamliner]]", and the CEO [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking having an affair]].
* The [=BlackBerry=] line of smartphones had one around the beginning of TheNewTens, due to its obsolescence in the face of the iPhone and Android-based phones, and [[ScheduleSlip slowness in developing new models]]. The latest models based on [=BlackBerry=] 10 have been well-received, and the company has returned to profitability.
* All the sad tales above cannot compare to Nokia's. Not too long ago, the Finnish manufacturer was a pioneer of mobile phones and you could hardly find anything but Nokia phones in the market. Even today, people affectionately joke about the absurd durability of old Nokia phones. However, the company failed to keep up with the times. This included: not making a serious competitor to [=BlackBerry=]'s Messenger service, not really getting into the digital music business unlike Apple, and failing to gain any meaningful foothold in the tablet market. That last one put the last nail in Nokia's mobile business coffin; they attempted a cooperation with Microsoft, but Microsoft's own Windows RT platform is devoid of popular apps (no Firefox!) and thus no one wants to use their product.
** In the end, Nokia sold their entire phone division to Microsoft outright.
* [[UsefulNotes/{{Bodybuilding}} Bodybuilding]] went into this once competitions lean towards "big muscles > all other factors". For women, the winners eventually became {{Brawn Hilda}}s instead of [[AmazonianBeauty Amazonian Beauties]], while male winners became freakishly bigger.
* One can't help but get the impression that architectural schools were infiltrated by the KGB during the Cold War, placing in vogue the Stalinist trend known as Brutalism - which produced ominous, concrete blocks of pure authoritarian coldness. The future seemed bleak for decades, until Postmodernism rode in from the West, kicked out the commies, and saved the day. The legacy of this jarring midcentury trend can be seen today on public urban buildings and state university campuses. The city of Boston, unfortunately, fell victim to Brutalism when a new city hall was commissioned. The chaotic, faded mess that ensued elicits near-universal disgust from visitors, and remains a testament to the failures of The Eastern Bloc, and its Western sympathizers.
** In the Eastern Bloc itself this DorkAge of architecture lasted until the fall of communism. Even after that new aesthetic influences reach the urban landscape rather slowly, thus the depressing views of endless concrete blocks and boxy, edgy monuments are there to stay. Yet in some former communist states what structures have been built, while decidedly ungainly and undesired (some monuments are known under {{FanNickname}}s such as 'seven-winged five-dick' owing to their lack of aesthetics), are now left in a state of decay due to intense corruption after the HoleInFlag revolutions, with no intention to improve or replace them. This has led to a sentiment along the lines of "at least they used to build stuff back then and put some flowers around it" - that the architectural DorkAge was followed by [[SerialEscalation an even bigger]] DorkAge.
* Tropicana orange juice went through a bizarre and brief DorkAge when they hired the Arnell Group (the same people who came up with the term "Pepsi gravity") to redesign their packaging. The [[http://i.bnet.com/blogs/mslk_tropicana_redesign.jpg new design]] was so ugly that it actually caused a 20% drop in sales. Thankfully, it was reverted after just a few months.