39 obsolete technologies that will baffle modern generations

(Pocket-lint) – Developments in know-how are available in leaps and bounds, which means it would not take lengthy for brand new devices to turn out to be out of date shortly after they attain their goal market. A number of trendy applied sciences, reminiscent of cell phones and computer systems, supply the power to do lots of the similar issues that these older devices have been able to, however in a smaller and extra transportable varieties. 

That is why we’re taking a nostalgic stroll down reminiscence lane, among the greatest, finest and most memorable devices from the final century which have been outdated, outmoded or simply pressured into irrelevance by higher, trendy applied sciences.

You may keep in mind many of those, however there are many the youthful technology that do not.

WikipediaPublic telephone booths

Public phone cubicles

The enduring cellphone sales space; basically a monument to phone’s historical past and now only a vacationer attraction or someplace to shelter from the chilly.

The general public cellphone sales space has now been rendered out of date by the rise of the cell phone. There’s not often going to be any want for a coin-operated phone when you’ve got one in your pocket.

PexelRotary telephones and wired landlines

Rotary telephones and wired landlines

One other piece of know-how that nears obsoletion after being changed by a pc that we supply round in our pocket. The wired phone dates again so far as 1844 and it has seen many iterations through the years which have since handed.

One such variation was the rotary dial phone which featured a dial organized in a round structure so the consumer needed to flip the dial for every digit off the cellphone quantity they have been attempting to name.

Besides maybe as a novelty, rotary telephones are lengthy since a factor of the previous. Wired landlines are following shut behind as trendy smartphones are simply acquirable, way more private and inexpensive.

WikipediaDumb phones

Dumb telephones

In a world of smartphones, these quaint cell phones principally did nothing however name, ship textual content messages and maybe, if you happen to have been fortunate, assist you to play a cheeky recreation of Snake.

They’re now completely antiquated and kind of out of date. The precursor to the fashionable cellular, they have been extraordinarily helpful of their time and have been fortunately operating for days with out cost, one thing which we sorely miss.

WikipediaPagers and beepers

Pagers and beepers

Pagers have been initially designed and constructed within the 1950’s however they did not actually take maintain when it comes to recognition till the 1980’s. These one-way communication gadgets have been typically utilized by emergency companies, medical doctors and security personnel who wanted to be reachable always, even when away from a landline phone.

The rise of smartphones within the early 2000s noticed the decline in using pagers and beepers however as a result of sturdiness, resilience and higher protection they continued to see use for a number of extra years and, for example, Canada was nonetheless paying as a lot as $18.5 million for its pager service in 2013.

WikipediaPersonal digital assistant (PDA)

Private digital assistant (PDA)

The forefather of the fashionable cell phone, the non-public digital assistant provided restricted entry to quite a lot of trendy capabilities we have come to count on, together with web entry, phrase processing, touchscreen performance and extra.

They shortly turned out of date when smartphones began to realize favour, however earlier than that point they have been a agency favorite with businessmen internationally.



LaserDisc was a type of area of interest codecs of know-how that was primarily common amongst videophiles and movie fanatics. Though it was the primary format of optical video storage, out there from 1978, LaserDisc failed to realize mainstream recognition as a result of expense of the gamers.

LaserDisc provided higher-quality video than VHS and Betamax and the know-how behind it was the muse for compact disc, DVD and Blu-ray in later years. Regardless of by no means going mainstream, it wasn’t till 2001 that the final video titles have been launched on this format and a complete of 16.8 million LaserDisc gamers have been offered worldwide.

Max PixelDigital Versatile Disc (DVD)

Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)

DVD was the evolution of the digital video format developed by tech giants Panasonic, Philips, Sony and Toshiba. With a excessive storage capability, it turned a medium for pc recordsdata, software program and high-quality video. DVD had many advantages over that of earlier magnetic storage codecs, together with bigger cupboard space, but additionally sturdiness that meant that in principle, the discs might have a lifespan of as much as 100 years.

With quicker web speeds, video streaming know-how and different superior codecs reminiscent of Blu-ray – even 4K Extremely HD Blu-ray – in the marketplace, DVD is probably going nearing the tip of its lifespan. In the meantime, different codecs of DVD such because the 1080p-capable, Blu-ray rival HD-DVD by no means actually even took off within the first place, very similar to the fabled LaserDisc.

WikipediaFloppy disks

Floppy disks

Floppy disks have been a sort of knowledge storage medium that initially appeared within the Seventies. The primary was the 8-inch floppy disc, able to storing simply 80 kilobytes of knowledge. Because the floppy disks obtained smaller, their storage capability grew and by the mid-Eighties the three.5-inch floppy disk was capable of retailer a good 1.44 MB.

Floppy disks have been sadly susceptible to magnets and warmth, and simply corrupted. By the Nineteen Nineties software program measurement meant many disks have been required for many functions (Adobe Photoshop required over a dozen disks to run) so CD-ROMs started to take over. The floppy disk now solely lives on as a save icon in most software program functions.

No ZakuFax machines

Fax machines

The common-or-garden fax machine was basically a contemporary model of the telegram. For a few years, it allowed individuals and companies to transmit scanned paperwork from one cellphone quantity to a different. The recipient would have the enjoyment of a printed copy of the doc bursting forth from their machine. This was all carried out by a transmission of audio frequency tones that have been deciphered on the different finish.

Like lots of the applied sciences on our listing, fax machines have largely been rendered out of date by the invention of e-mail, the web and developments in computing applied sciences.

Public Area PhotosCompact cassette tape

Compact cassette tape

Audio brother to VHS and Betamax cassette tapes was the compact cassette tape. Initially launched in 1968, compact cassettes used the identical magnetic tape know-how to ship inexpensive audio to the lots. They have been used as both clean tapes that might be recorded onto (through dictaphone or boombox for instance) or as pre-recorded cassettes of music albums. Cassettes is also used to retailer different knowledge and have been subsequently used as a storage medium for early residence computer systems.

Cassette tapes gained recognition within the 80s however by the 90s have been outsold by compact discs which quickly turned the usual format. Nonetheless, cassette tapes continued to promote and it wasn’t till 2001 that they honestly started to die, at the very least in pre-recorded codecs. Clean tapes have been nonetheless being offered proper up till 2012. Of their heydey, cassette tapes offered as many as 442 million within the US alone.

We’ve hazy reminiscences of preventing cassette gamers to rescue chewed up tapes and spending hours twizzling them again along with a pencil.

WikipediaVideo Home System (VHS)

Video Residence System (VHS)

Within the late 80s, VHS cassette tapes turned the favored customary for residence video. Whether or not used for recording household movies or rented for the native video retailer to look at the most recent blockbuster, these small reels of magnetic tape wrapped in plastic housing introduced pleasure throughout the lands. Until after all, somebody forgot to rewind the tape you rented or a sibling recorded over your copy of Terminator 2.

The rise of DVD noticed to the sluggish however regular demise of VHS and, by 2008, DVD changed VHS because the favoured video know-how each for recording and movie distribution.

WikipediaDigital Audi Tapes (DAT)

Digital Audi Tapes (DAT)

The digital audio tape was the brainchild of Sony and provided a digital recording functionality however with an analogous design type to the compact cassette tape in a smaller format.

DAT was able to recording at a better high quality than CD and likewise boasted the power to quantity tracks and skip proper to them very similar to a CD. Nevertheless, because of the price of this format it by no means actually caught on at shopper stage however was utilized in varied skilled markets and as a pc knowledge storage medium.

With lacklustre gross sales of round 660,000 gross sales since 1987, Sony introduced it will cease manufacturing of DAT machines in 2005. The format was basically outdated by onerous disk drives and reminiscence playing cards however continues to be in use in some areas.

WikipediaOverhead projectors

Overhead projectors

A classroom basic, the overhead projector was a easy but fantastic system for projecting photos, textual content and drawings onto an acceptable display.

Clear sheets of acetate have been used rather than paper to allow presenters to transpose their shows onto the display in entrance of the category. Though probably nonetheless in use in some school rooms, these projectors have probably been rendered out of date by trendy projection know-how and computer systems.



Not likely a know-how as such, however definitely one thing made out of date by technological developments is the easy phonebook.

These chunky paper directories included residential and enterprise listings for all of the cellphone numbers you would presumably want. Now rendered out of date by the web, these phonebooks are definitely a relic of a bygone period. But we nonetheless often see them posted by our entrance door.

WikipediaPortable DVD players

Moveable DVD gamers

With the rise of DVD and the ever falling value of the know-how behind it, because the nicely because the shrinking sizes of processors and developments in display know-how, it was no shock that transportable DVD gamers made their method to market.

Nevertheless, the scale of the discs and the standard of battery life meant that DVD gamers failed to realize widespread recognition and initially their value was prohibitive. Now, with easy accessibility to streaming video through cell phones and tablets, the necessity for transportable DVD gamers is nearly totally negated.

Public Area PhotosPortable dictation devices

Moveable dictation gadgets

Dictation gadgets, sometimes called “Dictaphones” after the corporate identify that turned synonymous with them, got here in varied codecs and used a number of totally different knowledge mediums that included each cassette tapes, Mini and Micro-cassettes. These devices have been principally used to file interviews, conversations and lectures for later word taking or write ups.

Every turned out of date as time handed by and the storage medium fell out of recognition. Digital dictation gadgets nonetheless exist, however even they’re verging on extinction as most cell phones are able to providing the identical performance with out the necessity for one more standalone system.



The common-or-garden typewriter, the dumb precursor to the fashionable pc, was in its day a marvel of know-how. A step up from paper and pen, the typewriter opened up a world of potentialities for these trying to craft novels, doc historical past or scribe propaganda.

The foundations for the typewriter have been laid down way back to 1575, however it’s not often utilized in a contemporary world of computer systems, laptops and tablets.

WikipediaSlide projectors

Slide projectors

A type of projector appeared within the Fifties and have become a preferred type of residence leisure. These projectors have been used to placed on slide reveals of particular person frames of photos, one body at a time. Typically, they have been used to point out snaps of household holidays or particular events.

Slide projectors have been rendered irrelevant when video projectors turned extra inexpensive and accessible.

WikipediaMiniDisc players

MiniDisc gamers

Maybe one of many least common codecs of optical primarily based digital storage was the MiniDisc. With a excessive storage capability of as a lot as 1GB, these discs might maintain as much as 45 hours of audio in a compact format. The MiniDisc appeared at a time when CDs have been nonetheless dominating and thus struggled to realize recognition within the market.

MiniDisc gross sales started to dwindle when MP3 gamers began to realize recognition and have been lastly killed off as a format in 2011 when Sony (the primary producer) ceased manufacturing.

WikipediaAnalogue and dial-up modems

Analogue and dial-up modems

Within the days earlier than trendy broadband and 4G networks, on the preliminary delivery of the web, we linked to the World Huge Net through analogue and dial-up modems.

These marvels of know-how required an open cellphone line and quite a lot of persistence to get working. If anybody known as when you have been linked to the ‘internet then you definitely’d instantly lose connection.  Looking the online was sluggish and painful, however it was a factor of magnificence and confirmed promise for the long run that we now dwell in. 

When you’re after a little bit of nostalgia, then simply take heed to this recorded clip of what it used to sound like. 

WikipediaWalkman, Discman and MP3 players

Walkman, Discman and MP3 gamers

A number of codecs of transportable music participant spawned over time to accommodate the popular musical medium, these included transportable cassette gamers (most notably Sony’s “Walkman”), transportable CD gamers (the additionally common Sony’s “Discman”), Minidisc gamers and MP3 gamers.

Every of those codecs of transportable music participant ultimately fell into obsolescence as different extra technologically superior gamers appeared. All of them had their advantages although. We’ve each fond and irritating reminiscences of every of those gamers, whether or not it was preventing Walkmans to avoid wasting a chewed up tape or desperately attempting to suit a conveyable CD participant right into a coat pocket.



Betamax was the earliest model of consumer-level video cassette tape format, initially launched in 1975. Developed by Sony, Betamax was the usual for magnetic videotape till it turned out of date because the VHS format appeared and dominated within the Eighties.

Surprisingly, Betamax recorders continued manufacturing till 2002 and the cassettes themselves have been nonetheless out there proper up till 2016.

YoutubeDaisy wheel and dot-matrix printers

Daisy wheel and dot-matrix printers

Earlier than the occasions of laserjet and inkjet printers, we had numerous totally different black and white printers that have been basically a brief step up from typewriters.

These printers have been sluggish and cumbersome, however they did the job, even when they did make quite a lot of noise whereas doing so. 

WikipediaGameboy and Gamegear

Gameboy and Gamegear

In 1989, Nintendo launched one other gaming console that may assist it dominate the gaming market. The Sport Boy was a basic handheld gaming system, with a monochrome inexperienced and black display and a easy design. Huge gaming titles like Tetris helped the Sport Boy to promote over one million models within the first 12 months alone.

A short time later, Sega launched the Sport Gear, its color competitor to the Sport Boy. Backed by a powerful catalogue of video games from the Sega Grasp System, the Sport Gear ought to, in principle, have dominated the market, however struggled to compete with the Sport Boy, primarily due to poor battery life.

Each have lengthy since turn out to be out of date with the invention of newer gadgets, however Nintendo nonetheless leads the market with its varied DS programs.

WikipediaNintendo N64

Nintendo N64

There have been many different consoles each earlier than and after the N64, however it definitely was an ideal gaming machine and the final of the cussed cartridge-based consoles to be launched by Nintendo. Launching in 1996, the N64 got here to market competing with the likes of the unique Sony Ps and the Sega Saturn. Robust competitors apart, Nintendo nonetheless managed to promote 32.93 million N64 consoles worldwide.

The N64 is remembered fondly by many, particularly for its massive gaming titles that included Tremendous Mario 64, GoldenEye 007 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Public Area PhotosFilm cameras

Movie cameras

The standard movie digicam has principally lengthy since been pushed from the mass market by the fashionable age of the digital digicam.

Now not do we have to depend on reels of movie or journeys to the native store to get them processed. Digital cameras, SD playing cards and trendy computing programs imply we are able to snap away fortunately and see the outcomes of our pictures immediately with far much less trouble and expense.

Professional photographers and retro snappers nonetheless use movie cameras for sure creative functions. however few others.

WikipediaPolaroid instant cameras

Polaroid prompt cameras

Polaroid cameras initially got here to market within the mid-Sixties and on the time offered a marvel of know-how that allowed individuals to see the pictures they have been taking seconds after they have been snapped with out having to attend for another person to develop them. For years, Polaroid prompt cameras have been a splendidly costly marvel of photographic comfort.

In recent times, the rise of the digital digicam and smartphone pictures has meant that Polaroid’s know-how basically turned an pointless nicety and declining gross sales pressured the corporate to file for chapter twice.

You possibly can nonetheless discover Polaroid cameras and movies on sale, however it’s area of interest at finest.

WikipediaGPS navigation systems

GPS navigation programs

Many automobile producers nonetheless select to put in them in new autos, however as a standalone unit, GPS navigation know-how is nearing the tip of its lifespan.

Present smartphones are greater than able to getting the fashionable human from level A to level B with using navigation apps like Google, Bing and Apple Maps. As soon as once more, developments in cellular know-how have pressured different older know-how into obsolescence.

PexelVinyl records

Vinyl information

Vinyl information are most likely one of many oldest and most long-lasting codecs for storing audio recordings. Accessible in various codecs because the late 1800s, the vinyl file continues to be in manufacturing immediately and is one other format that is sworn to be the perfect by audiophiles and sound fanatics alike. The format has even had a gross sales resurgence of late.

Vinyl reaches our listing, not as a result of it is out of date, however as a result of it refuses to die.



Though little question nonetheless utilized in some colleges and workplaces, the common-or-garden calculator is an easy know-how that is absolutely reaching the tip of its lifespan.

With calculator apps out there on smartphones and tablets, in addition to simply accessible calculators on computer systems and laptops, there’s barely any want left for these impartial gadgets.

WikipediaNintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Nintendo Leisure System (NES)

Almost a decade after the Atari 2600 made its method into individuals’s houses, Nintendo launched the primary of its profitable gaming consoles to the world market. Backed by numerous gaming titles that included names that may turn out to be a part of gaming historical past, the NES shortly turned the best-selling video games console of its time.

With the likes of Duck Hunt, Tremendous Mario Bros and extra being first launched on this technique, the NES shot Nintendo to the forefront of the gaming business and turned them right into a family identify. Manufacturing resulted in 1995, however Nintendo stuffed the world with nostalgic pleasure in 2016 when it introduced the discharge of the NES Traditional Mini, the tiny reimagined model of the console with 30 video games pre-installed and the power to work on trendy HD TVs.

WikipediaAtari 2600

Atari 2600

One of many ancestors of the fashionable video games console, the Atari 2600 was initially launched in 1977 and was a cartridge-based residence online game system cherished and nostalgically remembered by many. Atari can be well-known for the creation of video games reminiscent of Pong, Missile Command and Asteroids, true classics that have been playable on the console.

Though the Atari 2600 was not the primary cartridge-based video games console (it was the second – the primary being the Magnavox Odyssey) it’s maybe probably the most well-known and most memorable due to the video games line-up and historical past behind it. And the faux teak panelling on the entrance, after all.

This early know-how shortly turned out of date as recreation console know-how progressed swiftly ahead.

WikipediaCathode ray tube televisions

Cathode ray tube televisions

The scientific know-how behind cathode ray tube televisions dates again to 1869, however it wasn’t till the mid-Nineteen Twenties that the know-how was first put into an precise tv set. These chunky televisions turned the mainstay of TVs for many years till know-how advances and the discharge of LCD and plasma flat display televisions pushed CRT units into obsolescence in round 2007.

Gone are the times of degaussing, bashing the aspect of a set to get it to work correctly or having to rise up to vary the channel.

Paper maps

Okay, so maps may not be technically a know-how as such, however they have been nonetheless a powerful feat of measuring and mapping again within the good previous days.

Paper maps have been additionally utilized by individuals from all around the world to navigate and journey to new locations. The appearance of contemporary digital maps, supported by GPS and satellite tv for pc imagery applied sciences has all however rendered conventional maps out of date. 

Disposable cameras

In a world the place we care extra about recycling and minimising our carbon footprint greater than ever, it looks as if such an alien idea to have disposable cameras.

There have been single-use plastic cameras that allowed you to take pictures, get them processed, then merely throw the digicam away. Insanity. Particularly at a time the place all of us have telephones in our pockets able to taking a whole lot upon a whole lot of pictures, then merely having them printed and delivered to us by an internet service. Easy. 


Once more this one is not actually a know-how, however Encyclopaedias have been rendered out of date by know-how, in order that counts in our e-book.

These fancy books have been basically a fountain of all data and details that you would choose up and absorb. That’s till Google and Wikipedia got here alongside after all. Now entry to info is so much simpler and it is a lot simpler to lookup precisely what you are eager about as nicely, fairly than having to thumb by an index. 

The Clapper

The Clapper was a easy system that plugged right into a wall socket then allowed you to show gadgets or lights on and off with a easy clap of your fingers. 

Not fairly as helpful as immediately’s sensible merchandise, however definitely a nifty gadget for the time. 

Calculator watches

When have been children at college our lecturers informed us we needed to be taught maths as a result of we would not have a calculator in our pocket on a regular basis. 

Then we obtained one on our wrist within the type of Casio calculator watches. On the time this was a contemporary marvel and across the similar time, there was additionally a watch that would work as a TV distant management. However now it appears antiquated with the all-singing, all-dancing smartphones in our pockets. 

PS/2 Ports

Have you ever seen these memes the place there is a picture like this with some caption like “I am this previous”? Effectively, that is as a result of this can be a PS/2 port. What we used to make use of to attach a mouse and keyboard to a private pc again within the heady days of the Eighties and onwards. Fortunately these fiddly ports have since been changed with USB-A and hopefully quickly, USB-C.  However at the very least they have been color coded. 

Writing by Adrian Willings.