Anachronisms and Obsolete Technologies

What turns of phrase do we use that were inspired by obsolete technology, and what technologies have you seen in your lifetime that are no longer used?

This post was inspired by a post on my son J’s blog. He told about explaining to a little girl what a cassette was, because she had never seen one.

Here are a few of mine, that come to mind.

Technologies that I have personally used that then became generally obsolete:

  • 45 RPM and 33 RPM records and albums (audio)
  • Reel to Reel Tape Recorders (audio)
  • 8-track tape cartridges (audio)
  • cassette tapes (audio)
  • the Walkman type music player (audio)
  • VHS and Betamax video recorders (video)
  • tape drive for personal computers (data)
  • floppy discs (8″, 5 1/4″, 3 1/2″) and drives (data)
  • the slide rule (computation – replaced by pocket calculator)
  • the pocket calculator (computation – replaced by PDA’s)
  • PDA’s – Personal Digital Assistants – replaced by Smart Phones and particularly the iPhone in my case.
  • CRT based computer video
  • Black and white TV
  • telephones with dials instead of buttons (voice).
  • Party lines for telephones in rural areas (there were six families on one line when I was a kid).
  • RS-232 data interface on personal computers (data)
  • Centronics printer data interface on personal computers (data)
  • Dot Matrix printers (still in use for specialized uses like check printing)
  • Floor mounted dimmer switches for auto headlights
  • Floor mounted starter switches for autos (obsolete about the time I learned to drive)
  • Computer networking interface Arcnet, replaced by Ethernet.
  • Typewriters (still in use for specific dedicated functions)
  • Hand-held Transistor Radios (technically not obsolete, but nobody uses them to listen to music anymore.)

Technologies now in use that (I think) will soon be obsolete:

  • Telephones with wires
  • Non-cellular home telephones
  • CRT based television
  • Projection type big screen TV
  • CDs. Will be replaced with iPod or iPhone type devices.
  • DVDs. Within around ten years, all media will be delivered via download.
  • Ink jet printers (will be replaced by laser printers as laser photo printing improves – it’s being kept alive now only because they make so much on ink refills)
  • Wired computer peripherals.
  • Microsoft Windows (OK, I threw that in there because Mac OS X is so much better – snort).

Technologies that didn’t exist when I was a kid, and my approximate age when I encountered them (not necessarily when they were invented):

  • Home Air Conditioning – I was about 14 when we got it. Not sure when it became commercially available in window units.
  • Color TV – (teens)
  • Transistor Radios – (teens)
  • Personal Computers (20’s) and all related hardware.
  • Software for personal comptuers – ANY software. Word processors, spreadsheets, anything.
  • Pocket Calculators (20’s)
  • Cell Phones! (40’s)
  • Digital Video Recorders (DVR’s) (50’s)
  • the Internet – (40’s) (yes, I did programming and other work on computers for nearly 20 years before the internet came into common use!)
  • The graphics user interface – Windows (late 30’s) I’ve used EVERY version of Windows except server versions – and happily abandoned it for Mac OS X two years ago.
  • ATV’s – (early 50’s) – they had been around for quite a while before I got one. I was in my 20’s when the three-wheelers were invented.
  • AR-15 class weapons and polymer pistols (50’s)

This list is probably not comprehensive. Anybody got any more to add?

-Popgun

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3 Responses to Anachronisms and Obsolete Technologies

  1. J says:

    I remember seeing a laserdisc in 4th grade. I think that’s what those were called. It looked like a cd, but it was the size of a record. I was blown away.

    You left newspapers and magazines off your list. I think they’re on their way to extinction pretty quick too. Any business based on for distribution should be a little nervous actually.

  2. J says:

    *based on paper*

    Been that kind of day.

  3. Popgun says:

    Hi, J;

    Good point about the paper based press. I think devices like the Amazon Kindle will phase them out directly, while the internet will have an impact as well.

    -Popgun

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