Ten technologies that should be extinct (but aren't)

| | Comments

Share

Got an urgent message you need to transmit immediately? Sending a telegram is likely not the first option that comes to mind. And when it's time to boogie down, you probably don't shove a cassette into your 8-track player or slap an LP onto your phonograph.

These technologies served their purpose for a while, then either evolved into cheaper, faster, better forms or simply disappeared. Yet other technologies, such as fax machines, landline phones and instant cameras, just refuse to die, despite better digital alternatives.

Here are ten technologies that should be dead and buried, yet still cling to life.

Next Prev
Next Prev yah

1. The Telegraph

Yes, you can still send a telegram, though not through Western Union. It sent its last telegraphic transmission on January 27, 2006. At the telegram's peak in 1929, more than 200 million were sent. By 2005, that number had dwindled to 21,000. Subsequently, iTelegram took over Western Union's telex network, though you can access it via the web.

Next Prev yah

2. Typewriters

In the age of web tablets and smartphones, typewriters are a bit like Fred Flintstone's car, strictly for cave dwellers. Yet people still buy and use them. In 2009, for example, the New York City Police Department made headlines when it spent nearly $1 million on typewriters, mostly so it could continue to use multipart carbon forms for processing evidence.

Next Prev yah

3. Fax Machines

Despite advances in Internet fax services and the availability of dirt-cheap scanners, this office machine of the 1980s is still with us, more than half a million of them were purchased over the past 12 months, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. It's not just people who still wear shoulder pads and buy Cyndi Lauper albums. These screechy, annoying gadgets continue to attract realtors, lawyers, insurance companies, and others nervous about the authenticity of signed documents without an ink-based John or Jane Hancock on them.

Next Prev yah

4. Landline Telephones

According to the latest survey from the National Centre for Health Statistics, nearly 25% of Americans have ditched their landlines for a cell phone. Another 22 million or so Americans pay for a VoIP service like Vonage to reach out and touch. Still, that leaves well over 100 million households firmly tethered to one of Ma Bell's bastard offspring. (No doubt many of these lines are also plugged into fax machines.)

Next Prev yah

5. Turntables

CDs and MP3s were supposed to kill the long-playing album for good. Instead, vinyl LPs have clung to life longer than Abe Vigoda, and along with them, the venerable turntable. Sales of vinyl albums actually increased last year, from 1.9 million to 2.8 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan, though that's still just a drop in the bucket compared to CDs (374 million) and digital tracks (1.2 billion). These days, you can get a digital turntable that plugs into your PC and converts groove-laden tunes into digital files for carrying on your iPod. Either way, this is a good thing; life's just better when listened to at 33 and 1/3.

Next Prev yah

6. Cash Registers

Ka-ching! Despite the emergence of computerised point-of-sale systems that can automatically track inventory, identify your top selling products and best customers, and simplify backend accounting, thousands of retail stores still rely on what's essentially a cigar box that can do primary school math.

Next Prev yah

7. Instant Cameras

The original Polaroid company filed for bankruptcy (for the second time) in 2008 and had its assets purchased in April 2009 by a private holding company. Despite that, the newly revived firm has introduced an updated version of the OneStep camera (the Polaroid PIC 300) that, yes, uses instant film.

Next Prev yah

8. Disc Drives

Shiny plastic platters of all kinds, CD, DVD even Blu-ray, are destined to eventually follow the various floppies, Zip discs, Click drives and other portable storage media into the digital boneyard. These days, many of us get our software via downloads and our entertainment streamed to whatever device happens to be convenient. Yet discs and disc drives persist.

Next Prev yah

9. Cathode Ray Tubes

In the United States, the venerable 'boob tube' has all but disappeared from offices, living rooms, and retail shelves. Yet more than 90 million CRTs were sold last year, says an MIT report, almost all of them to Asia and Latin America.

Next Prev yah

10. CB Radios

Though not as wildly popular as they were back when Burt Reynolds was, well, Burt Reynolds, vendors like Cobra Electronics and RadioShack still sell thousands of Citizens Band radios each year.

1
/12

Share

Comments

Latest UK Updated 10:23am

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message