For fun, here’s a list of ten pieces of technology that I once used, but are now obsolete for my purposes. I’ll also list why I now consider it obsolete technology, and what’s replaced it.
1. Landline telephone
Replaced by: cell phone
Landline phones are something I grew up with, of course. Cell phones as a kid were something only owned by the very wealthy; see the 1987 movie “Wall Street” for an example. After college, I had a landline house phone (corded, then eventually cordless).
My first cell phone, a Virgin Mobile model, was bought in 2003, and mostly served to supplement my landline phones. I eventually bought my first smartphone (a Palm Pre) in 2009, and have since upgraded further. Eventually, I finally cut off landline service a few years ago. Since I infrequently receive phone calls, it didn’t make sense to pay for two phone lines. My smartphone also was much more functional than my landline phone ever was, plus I always have it with me away from home (such as at work, on vacation, etc.). Switching to prepaid service also helped save even more money.
Replaced by: DVD player, DVR
I’d had a VCR since the 90s, and taped plenty of TV shows (“Animaniacs,” “Star Trek: Deep Space 9,” etc.) with it.
By the 2000s, though, DVDs started to emerge, and with me getting my first DVD player in 2001, my VCR usage started to decline. By the mid-2000s, I’d mostly stopped using videotapes save to record TV shows. The VCR was finally retired when I bought a DVD recorder (remember those?) in the mid-2000s, and transferred my remaining videotapes to DVD-Rs. In 2009, I switched to a cable company DVR, when I upgraded to a flat-screen TV.
3. CRT standard-definition TV
Replaced by: LCD HDTV
In 2009, I replaced my 20″ CRT TV set with a 32″ LCD HDTV. However, it wasn’t replaced due to any reasons of obsolescence, but rather my old TV had finally started to die (despite being only five years old), and the only models left on the market by late 2009 were all flat-screen TVs.
Buying a new set did let me upgrade my cable service from analog to digital, which also let me get a DVR (see #2) and high-definition television.
Replaced by: MP3 player, smartphone
The Walkman was a popular item for me in college and for years afterwards, letting me listen to radio and play some of my music (on cassette tapes). Upgrading to a Discman also let me play my CDs while out and about, albeit at the risk of the Discman skipping if it was a cheaper model without anti-skip protection.
In the mid-2000s, I had finally upgraded my computer to a model that’d let me make heavy use of MP3s for the first time, and so converted my music collection from CDs to FLAC/MP3 files. I soon bought my first MP3 player, a Sandisk Sansa model. It was eventually replaced by an iPod Nano (the “fat” third-generation model). Finally, the iPod was replaced by my smartphone.
I still have my old Walkman in storage, kept on hand on the off chance I ever needed access to my now-aged cassette tapes. Though between having replaced most of them with CDs/MP3s and being buried in a closet, the need for such hasn’t arisen…
5. Dial-up Internet access
Replaced by: broadband Internet access
Everyone who got online in the 90s is familiar with the sound of a modem dialing up an ISP. Unfortunately, everyone who recalls that also remembers how glacial Internet access was at 56kbps. Or catalog ads proclaiming 56kbps modems as having “blazing speed”…yeah, right.
Fortunately, I upgraded to DSL in the mid-2000s, which greatly improved Internet usage. No more sending off for Ubuntu CDs, when instead I could download them myself!
Replaced by: debit card, electronic transactions
Like much else, checks have fallen by the wayside in favor of electronic transactions, including the usage of online payments and debit cards. However, I still use checks for one item, paying my rent. Looking over my records, the last non-rent related check I’ve written was for a one-shot purpose seven months ago.
7. Paper bills and bank statements
Replaced by: electronic bills/transactions, online banking
Like the check example above, I’ve switched from paper bills and paper bank statements to their online equivalents. This also makes paying bills much faster and easier, and saves on stamps. It also means not having my apartment clogged with (or a need to shred) paper copies of bills and bank statements unless such is absolutely needed; for that, I can easily print copies from their websites.
8. Film camera
Replaced by: digital camera, smartphone
In the mid-2000s, I bought my first digital camera, replacing years of film camera usage. While film-based cameras were dying off by then, going digital also gave plenty of advantages: only printing out the photos I really wanted; easily storing them on my computer or online (Flickr, etc.) instead of in bulky photo albums; and being able to see right away if a photo taken was any good.
While some might claim the digital camera itself is waning in favor of smartphones, I still use a stand-alone digital camera for important occasions, such as vacations or family holidays. I’d rather not trust my most important moments solely to the cameras on my smartphones. There’s also that my smartphones, until my recent switch to the Nexus 4, tended to be anemic for photo-taking.
Replaced (mostly) by: Reddit
While I still like Usenet, I admit my usage of the Internet service has greatly fallen off, just as its usage has by the online public at large.
The closest substitute to Usenet nowadays might be Reddit, which replicates some of its functionality (text-based conversations).
Reddit also has some advantages over Usenet:
- Moderated topics (easier to control spam/trolls)
- Easier to link to pictures or video
- Since it’s a website, it’s not a service an ISP can drop at a whim or require paying a third-party for access
There’s also disadvantages, of course. The lack of Usenet’s free-wheeling nature and heavier moderation means some of its rules might be more restrictive, such as what’s allowed to be posted (links to one’s own blog, etc.).
10. Paper planner
Replaced by: smartphone, Google Calendar
Each year, along with paper wall calendars (which I still buy for decorative reasons, plus being able to see the month at a glance), I also used to buy a new paper planner. I’d use it to write down my schedule of future events: dental visits, vacations, weekly chores, and so on.
Starting in 2011, however, I permanently moved to using Google Calendar instead. Google Calendar’s free, plus it ties easily into my various electronic devices—desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. No scribbling out cancelled or changed events, either.
That about does it. Is there any technology you no longer use or have replaced?