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10 Obsolete Technologies

Do you remember MiniDisks? How about the mechanical mouse? If so you are officially old, congratulations!

But these are but two of a long lineage of now largely redundant and obsolete technologies. Here we have gathered 10 such examples that are bound to bring a tear to your eye.

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What are obsolete products?

Obsolete products, just like tech, are anything that has become redundant in light of a newer alternative being developed. In some cases, they may even become popular as collectibles. 

“Obsolete refers to outdated computer hardware, software, technology, services or practices that are no longer used, even if they are in working condition. A technology often becomes obsolete when replaced by newer or better technology,” according to Techopedia. 

What is meant by emerging technologies?

Emerging technologies, as opposed to obsolete technologies, tend to refer to new or in development technology. If successful, they may make existing popular technologies obsolete over time.

“Emerging technology is a term generally used to describe a new technology, but it may also refer to the continuing development of existing technology; it can have a slightly different meaning when used in different areas, such as media, business, science, or education.

The term commonly refers to technologies that are currently developing, or that are expected to be available within the next five to ten years, and is usually reserved for technologies that are creating, or are expected to create significant social or economic effects,” states winston.com. 

Source: Pixabay

What are obsolete technologies?

Obsolete technologies are those that have been, for all intents and purposes, largely replaced with newer solutions. But just because they have become obsolete doesn’t necessarily mean they are not still in use.

In fact, many older ‘obsolete’ technologies are still perfectly serviceable today. 

In many cases, some ‘tech-traditionalists’ make a concerted effort to keep using older, obsolete tech. One example that might immediately come to mind is vinyl records (phonographic records). 

Whilst technically speaking obsolete, per se, many still use them as they believe vinyl has a better sound quality to modern alternatives like mp3. We’ll let you decide the veracity of their claims.

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1. Cathode Ray Tubes are now largely redundant

obsolete tech crt
Source: Blue tooth7/Wikimedia Commons

To anyone born before the turn of the Millenium, Cathode Ray Tube monitors, and TVs were a common feature of their lives. But their days were numbered with the advent of plasma and LED screens. 

This put to an end a very prestigious and illustrious run for cathode ray tubes that were first released commercially in the 1920s. Interestingly enough, CRT tech can trace its origins to the late 19th century.

One of the first examples dates to around 1897 when a German physicist Ferdinand Braun unveiled his “Braun Tube.” 

2. Typewriters have long since been replaced

obsolete tech typewriter
Source: X570/Wikimedia Commons

The typewriter is an iconic piece of technology. Once the workhorse of business the world over, today it has largely been relegated to the position of a pretty ornament or collectible.

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Thanks to the rise of computers, typewriters are rarely used by anyone except more old-school writers. 

The typewriter as we know it today was the product of centuries of small incremental changes starting sometime in 1575. At that time an Italian printmaker, Francesco Rampazetto, developed his scrittura tattile – a machine to impress letters in papers.

3. Pagers are now collecting dust

obsolete tech pagers
Source: Andrepinto40/Wikimedia Commons

Pagers, also know as beepers, were a wireless telecoms device that could display alphanumeric or voice messages. Usually a one-way communication device, pagers were widely used by emergency services personnel who needed to be reachable at all times. 

They became incredibly popular in the 1980s, but can actually trace their invention to the 1950s. 

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The advent of smartphones in the early 2000s effectively rendered these devices redundant overnight. But they continued to be used for many years after as they were more robust and had, for a time, better coverage than early smartphones.

4. Dot Matrix Printers are now extinct

You’ll still see these in use in some places, but dot matrix printers have effectively become extinct today. Once the de facto printing device of many an office, they were quickly pushed to one side with the invention of laserjet and inkjet printers.

Compared to modern printers, they were very slow and cumbersome but made one of the most recognizable tech-noises of all time. Some even might say it was music to their ears. 

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5. Do you miss “dumb” phones?

obsolete tech dumb phones
Source: MikroLogika/Wikimedia Commons

In a world long before push-notifications were even conceived of, there was a time you could own a mobile phone that could just make and receive calls and texts. Some lucky few even had the ability to play some basic games like Snake!

But this all ended with the rise of the smartphone. Now our lives are a constant bombardment of useless information and cat videos. 

Unfortunately, these early mobile phones have now largely been consigned to the dustbin. But perhaps it is time for a revival?

6. Fax machines have become obsolete

Long before email and cloud storage, people used to send documents over the phone. This might sound inconceivable to younger generations but it was once common practice to transmit documents using audio-frequency tones over a phone line. 

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The recipient’s machine would decipher the information and print out an exact duplicate of the sender’s document. Of course, this technology is now old hat and has been largely replaced by more modern, and frankly better alternatives.

But some people still refuse to part with them.

7. Floppy disks are something of the past

obsolete tech floppy disk
Source: George Chernilevsky/Wikimedia Commons

Immortalized as the save icon for most software applications today, the floppy disk was once the de facto storage system for many people around the world. They became released for commercial use in the 1970s and would decrease in size and increase in storage capacity over the next few decades. 

With the advent of CDs and the ever-increasing size of software, floppy disks were widely generally made obsolete by the mid-2000s. 

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8. Cassette tapes were all the rage in the 1980s and 1990s

Cassette tapes are an iconic image of the 1980s, but they can trace their origins to the late 1960s. But with the advent of the Compact Disk, they were practically made extinct by the mid-2000s.

In fact, it was not uncommon to be able to buy blank ones until only a few years ago. But as a medium for things like music albums, they are pretty much as “dead as the dodo”.

9. Betamax lost out to VHS

“Betamax was the earliest version of consumer-level video cassette tape format, originally released in 1975. Developed by Sony, Betamax was the standard for magnetic videotape until it became obsolete as the VHS format appeared and dominated in the 1980s,” pocket-lint.com states.

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Despite its crushing defeat by VHS as the standard videocassette format, Betamax continued to be produced until the early 2000s You could even buy blank Betamax cassettes right up to 2016.

10. MiniDisk players were a ‘flash in the pan’

obsolete tech minidisk
Source: Evan-Amos/Wikimedia Commons

For a time MiniDisk players were all the rage. These optical-basic digital storage devices had an impressive capacity of up to 1GB. 

This was ample enough to store up to 45 hours of audio playback. But they were released when the CD was still king and struggled to take dominance. 

The advent of MP3 players soon killed them off in around 2011 when Sony stopped making them. 

Source: Interesting Engineering