There are two definitions relevant here. In the most commonly used sense, vaporware is a product not delivered on time but still publicized. Some argue that large companies such as Microsoft create vaporware strategically to eliminate competition; a company is less likely to continue work on a project if a big company is going to debut their own version of it.
           While many credit Charles Babbage with developing the first computer, it's important to note that he never completed a working prototype of his Analytical Engine. In this sense, Babbage earns the dubious honor of being the first developer of "vaporware," since he never actually produced an "Analytical Engine" or "Difference Engine," despite resigning from an eminent professorship at Cambridge to work on the project full-time. Babbage took up an incredible amount of resources from the British government for his work, but produced very little.
           So in one sense, vaporware is the oldest and noblest tradition in computing.

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