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Blast from the Past: Vintage Technologies That We No Longer Use

Design, Resources | Feb 17, 2010

Most of the technologies that we have used in the past have been eclipsed by the remarkable technology that we use today.

Advances in their design have occurred in tandem with the advances in technology in this digital era, with many large products being redesigned and miniaturized into amazingly small sizes.

While we may laugh at the fact that anyone ever found this technology to be cutting-edge, we can’t discount its place in history as a forerunner for all of the technology that wouldn’t exist today without its dinosaur ancestry.

Here is a quick look through history at vintage technologies that we no longer use.

 

1. “Super 8/8mm” Handheld Video Cameras

Kodak invented the Super 8/8mm film format in 1965. Soon after, handheld film cameras flooded the market and the living rooms of people everywhere were filled with families watching the hi-jinks at Freddie’s sixth birthday party.

 

2. Betamax

Betamax was developed by Sony in 1975, a year before the ultimately more popular VHS format was invented as a response to Sony’s attempt to control the format of the industry.

 

3. VHS Format

Invented by JVC, VHS was the predominant video format by the 1980’s, despite what some argued was the technical superiority of the Betamax format.

 

4. Laser Disc Players

Initially marketed as “Discovision”, laser discs were the format choice of tech enthusiasts who had the money to put together a collection until the DVD format came out.

 

5. Phonograph

The phonograph, or gramophone, was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 and was on the mass market by the turn of the century. The gramophone was replaced by the considerably less bulky record player in the latter half of the twentieth century.

 

6. Turntables

Record players are still in use in DJ booths, recording studios, and radio stations all over the world.

 

7. HAM Radio

An estimated six million people are still involved with this hobby that began at the start of the 20th century. HAM radio operators communicate with each other over short wave radio. HAM radios have been featured in many popular movies, including The Shining and Contact.

 

8. Reel to Reel

The first tape recorders were reel to reel and were the preferred technology for professional sound designers until digital formats rendered them obsolete.

 

9. Cassette Tape Recorders

These devices were considerably less bulky then their reel to reel ancestors, and were used mostly for transcription.

 

10. Transistor Radios

Transistor radios typically only picked up on the AM band and were a ubiquitous sight in schools and businesses in the seventies.

 

11. Cassette Tapes

The compact cassette was originally developed for transcription purposes, and its users quickly realized that they could use it to record music and make “mixed tapes”.

 

12. Boom Boxes

Associated with hip hop, break-dancing, and other aspects of eighties culture, the boom box was introduced in the late 1970’s as portable, all-in-one music devices. Earlier models took huge quantities of batteries and were very heavy.

 

13. Telegraph

The telegraph was the precursor to telex and fax machines. Used by shipping operators and for military uses, the telegraph required a skilled operator to transmit and receive messages.

 

14. Telex Machines

These machines used radio and/or microwaves to transmit information over the airwaves. Variations of them are still in use today for communications by the hearing impaired.

 

15. Wang Calculators

No, we didn’t pick that just for the headline. In the seventies, Wang manufactured mini-computers that were a cut above your standard accounting computer, with exciting features like a FORTRAN IV compiler.

 

16. Analog Telephones

While exactly who invented the phone is a topic of debate, the first patent was awarded to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. They have evolved from rotary dial models to smart phones that we can use today to surf the internet.

 

17. PDA’s

Considered one of the biggest tech flops of all time, the Apple Newton was sold at a huge price point compared to other Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) that were on the market. Personal digital assistants were electronic timekeepers for the times when you couldn’t fit a computer in your pocket. The Newton’s development laid the groundwork for Apple’s hugely successful iPod and iPhone. Who’s laughing now?

 

18. Portable Televisions

Portable televisions, such as Sony’s Watchman, were an idea that came a little before the ability of the media to catch up to it. With a limited selection of channels, they never really caught on.

 

19. Walkman

The Walkman was invented for the co-chairman of Sony, Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to his favorite operas on plane trips. It was initially marketed as the Soundabout in North America, but the “Walkman” name was used for the product up until the present day.

 

20. Discman

Two years after the mass production of the Compact Disc, Sony released its portable player for it. While they were popular with audiophiles, who appreciated the quality of recording, earlier Discmans would skip and didn’t allow for the popular “mix tapes” until it became possible for computers to “burn” CD’s.

 

21. Pagers

Pagers were commonly used from the seventies to the nineties, when widespread adoption of cell phones rendered them obsolete for mass market use. They are still used by emergency responders as they are not subject to network outages or similar disruptions in communication.

 

22. LED Watch

The watch pictured is the Pulsar, the first LED watch. The watch’s designer was inspired by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, having worked on the timepiece props for the movie.

 

23. TV Watch

While the concept of this watch was attractive, it faced the same lack of channel availability issues as the Watchman.

 

24. Seiko Wrist Computer

The smartphone of 1984: this took the idea of the “computer watch” to a whole new level. Think this is too much? Consider the nuclear watch, whose invention was rumoured in this Time magazine article. Be very glad that never happened.

 

25. Calculator Watches

The eighties saw watches infused with more gizmos than ever before. The most ubiquitous watch in geek culture was the calculator watch. Since most of us now have computers attached to our hips, it is no longer necessary. Unless you’re Dwight Schrute.

 

26. CRT Monitor

Just when you thought you were done with vacuum tubes in your computers, they put them in your monitors in the form of cathode ray tubes (CRT).

 

27. Massive Mainframes

While mainframes still exist, they generally don’t take up entire rooms or store information on magnetic tape.

 

28. Typewriters

While some writers still swear by them, most writers remember when they swore at them and have happily moved on.

 

29. Dial-Up Modems

The dial-up modem was used everywhere until cable internet and DSL became available to the masses. While they are still in widespread use, everyone who has one wants to upgrade.

 

30. Zip Drive

This short-lived technology was the bridge between 3.5″ Floppy Disc and CD storage.

 

31. Slide Projectors

These were classroom and office standbys for years, and were replaced by digital projectors and smartboards.

 

32. 8″ Floppy Disc

If you wanted to save one or two word processing documents, you could do it on these. Their smaller relatives are still in widespread use.

 

33. 3.5″ Floppy Disc

The 3.5″ Floppy took over from its bulkier cousin with larger storage and a less destructible design. It had largely been replaced by the late nineties by CD’s, DVD’s, USB drives and other more convenient computer storage methods.

 

34. Polaroid Cameras

While these cameras were largely replaced by digital cameras, the trademark has recently been purchased and the buyers are trying to breathe new life into the brand by hiring Lady Gaga as a spokesperson.

 

35. Home Movie Projectors

Super 8 home movies and educational films were shown on these simple projectors. While they are still used in some schools, they have been largely replaced by digital projectors and the fact that you can now burn most home movies to a DVD.

 

36. Vinyl Records

Vinyl was the dominant music format for the 20th Century. From your grandmother’s old 78’s to the single 45 format, vinyl was perfected over the years to be as acoustically correct and cheap to press as possible. While they are still in use by DJ’s and radio stations, records have for the most part been relegated to the garage sale heap.

 

37. CRT Television

The first widespread use of television was in Germany beginning in 1929, and the German Olympic Games of 1936 were the first to be broadcast on television. Televisions remained out of the reach of the middle class until the 1950’s, when their ownership boomed globally and television shows became more popular. Cathode ray tubes gave way to the technologies that we use for television now, making sets less bulky and furniture-like.

 

38. Tape Drives

Remember when backing up the computer meant changing the tape in the tape drive and letting it back up overnight? We’re so glad those days are gone too. The clunky old tape drives of the past didn’t store a lot of data and it would often take multiple tapes to back up important data. Old-school programmers started out as “tape-apes” doing backups as junior programmers.

 

39. 8 Track

Stereo 8 was more commonly known as the eight track tape. It was the portable format of choice for a brief period in the 70’s before cassette tapes took over.


Disclaimer: This is not a complete list. Among others, we have purposely omitted featuring vintage computers, game consoles and others as some of these would merit their own post and we may cover them in future posts.

Compiled exclusively for WDD by Angela West.

Have we missed your favorite piece of vintage technology? Feel free to post it in the comments section below.


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  • http://twitter.com/michalkozak Michal Kozak

    Well, I still have betamax and vhs tapes, as well as vcr and phonograph, analog telephone and walkman somewhere ;D.

    And that’s not all ;x. My walkman is still working, analog telephone too.

  • http://timwoodsdesign.com/ TW

    #1. “Super 8″ is actually a film movie camera – there was no video or audio. The 8 refers to the film width “8mm”.

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      We did mull over calling it 8mm, but since the film sizes changed from camera to camera, we went with the more common “Super 8″. Technically, every camera was not a Super 8, but it was a generic term people used to refer to these types of cameras back then. My dad had one of these and hopefully the films have been destroyed for posterity! See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_8_mm_film

      • Dave

        “Super 8″ was never used generically, as I recall. There were two formats. Originally, “8mm” was the first format. Then when “Super 8″ came along, the old format became “Regular 8″. “Super 8″ had smaller sprocket holes which allowed for a larger image area, and a magnetic oxide strip for recorded audio. “Regular 8″ was silent film only. Another distinction was that “Regular 8″ cam on 16mm wide stock with sprockets down either side, and was on reels. “Super 8″ was 8mm wide, sprockets down one side and was in a cartridge. With “Regular 8″, you exposed one side of the film, then turned over the reel and exposed the other side. During processing, the two halves were split and then spliced end to end to give you a full length 8mm movie.

        And then there were 16mm format cameras for the serious hobbyists and many filmmakers used this format. This was the same film stock as Regular 8, but exposed a full frame and wasn’t split during processing, obviously. Audio was usually done optically along the edge of the film.

  • http://www.visualswirl.com/ Chris Thurman

    I think half those items are sitting in my parents’ basement. It all looks like junk today but it’s only a matter of time before the iPod, laptop computers, and cell phones will be on that list as well.

  • http://www.austinknight.net Austin Knight

    I think old school technology had some good aesthetics, i’m a fan of vintage.

  • John Fink

    Tape drives are not in the past, they are very much in the present. They are still manufacturing new drives with larger capacities and faster throughput rates, and they outstrip in terms of cost and ease any other backup method for archiving large amounts of data.

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      Hi John:

      Thanks for pointing that out; we’ve made a minor correction to make sure people knew we were talking about the old style tape drives.

  • http://www.loveishs.com/ tanya

    I still have a transistor and a VHS player at my home. I just love to collect these things.

  • John Furness

    Likewise, vinyl and turntables are far from obsolete. Visit any indie record shop, and you’ll find more new music on vinyl than any other format.

    • Steve

      Indeed. There has actually been an increase in vinyl production since 2007 and I’m now seeing more and more non-dance tracks and albums for sale on vinyl in regular music shops like HMV and Virgin.

  • http://bonetgraphicdesigns.com/blog MC

    I still use a lot of the technology listed here. I have a good mix of the old and the new in my house. When one fails, the other takes over. I used to live in an area that had a lot of power outages – I watched my favorite shows in a portable TV and listened to the news in a hand held radio. Best part is, I don’t need to have a data contract on my portable TV to turn it on and get the channels! ^_^

  • http://blog.insicdesigns.com insic

    Boom Box and Turntables I see one in my grandparents stock room. CRT monitor I still have one, but not in use.

  • http://www.digitalwerkstat.com Eduardo Portillo

    what about the 8-track!

  • Bill Moody

    You mention cassette and boom box, and turntables and vinyl as separate techs when they only work with each other. You missed fax, banda and teletext! Technosaurus! Great list btw thanks x

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      We had fax, but decided too many offices still use one to put it on. Really, the long title of the post should have been “Technology that was widespread at one time but no longer is”, but this was shorter ;).

  • http://pixolomew.com Lee

    Great post, it’s so easy to forget all these things that were considered hi-tech in their day. Although I must say, I still have to use 3.5″ floppy’s in my place of work as the technology there hasn’t quite caught up yet!

  • http://www.evelt.com/ joel k.

    Cassette Tapes!? NO I still use’em :)

    Pagers are still in use by large corporations and the us military.

    Slide Projectors is still being sold in the millions (only more sophisticated)

    8″ Floppy Disc OMG i have a chess game on a floppy i still keep (i just cant part from it :( )

    boy did I love this post; Keep it up

  • http://cmsx.us John Coonen

    I sold all of these at my last garage sale. Trip down memory lane.

  • Slobo

    Dunno about Zip drives being indestructible, remember click of death?

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      The discs; not the drives. My Zip drive went “click of death” on me and that is when I abandoned the technology.

  • Steve

    Some good selections on this list, but you shouldn’t have chosen the word “use” if you’re going to include turntables and vinyl records. Those might not be “necessary” anymore, but they’re used all the time. Vinyl is increasing in popularity as a format for bands to release their music physically in a collectible way, and of course DJs use turntables all the time.

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      Hi Steve:

      I included most of the technologies as “things most of the world doesn’t use anymore”; of course there are still niche uses of all of these. One of the main reasons I included vinyl was because I received a promo copy of the Ting Ting’s album on vinyl, had nothing to play it on, and just downloaded the album with the code they included inside. I am a huge vinyl fan myself and have hung on to most of my old Beatles/Zeppelin/Stones albums even though I have nothing to play them on… although the USB record player over at ThinkGeek is starting to look attractive!

      • Steve

        “…I received a promo copy of the Ting Ting’s album on vinyl, …”

        I hope you burned it :p

  • http://junkiee.net Nina

    Great stuff, although my grandma still uses the VHS :P

  • http://ngin.de Schoschie

    Nice list, though I must strongly object to the ZIP drive entry:
    »Zip Drive — This short-lived technology was the bridge between CD and DVD storage. These tough little disks were indestructible and built to last.«
    Anyone who ever owned a ZIP drive knows that these things were anything but indestructible and certainly not built to last. In fact, they failed very, very often. I had *three* of these drives because of the frequent failures. Try googling for the click of death :)

    Also, the picture for the 8″ Floppy Disc entry actually shows a 5,25″ floppy disk. And they are not in widespread use at all anymore, unless you want to include collectors of retro 80s hardware.

    And although I agree with you that the technology used is outdated, Vinyl Records and CRT Television are not gone at all.

    And, as someone has mentioned above, Tape Drives are still heavily used in datacenters.

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      Notice I said the disks; not the drives. Mine died quickly as well :). I also still have a CRT television, but I think you’ll agree that it is definitely going extinct as downward pressures on plasma and other HD format TV prices continue.

  • Dona

    Great article! I still use CRT monitor and listen to vinyls and tapes occasionally, haha.

  • http://www.maxliebscher.com Maximilian Georg Liebscher

    I disagree with

    5. Phonograph
    16. Analog Telephones
    21. Pagers
    34. Polaroid Cameras
    36. Vinyl Records

    Phonographs and Vinyl Records are simply cool, such as Polaroids, which is preparing their comeback (http://www.polapremium.com). Pagers are still really useful when you can’t or won’t carry a mobile with you. Aaaand: Analog Telephones can still be used in case of a power blackout, because they have their own energy grid.

  • http://rebzmedia.com Chris

    A lot of times I wish I still owned a VHS player for some of my older movies and home videos.

    • slimdave420

      Gee Chris, instead of wishing you had a VHS player, get your ass down to Walmart and buy a combo DVD/VHS player. They can be had for less than $100 bucks. Then not only can you watch your old (damn people it’s not like technology from the 1880’s for christs sake, it was only a few years ago dvd took over from vhs) VHS tapes your can transfer them to DVD.

  • Quique

    I disagree with #27. Mainframes still can take up an entire room like some IBM i Series models.

    • gojo

      And most large companies still use magnetic tape.
      Not the big round tapes, the small cartridges. Usually in a big robotic silo.

  • JP

    What about MiniDiscs?

    I am now in the process of digitizing all of my Cassette tapes, VHS tapes, and photos. I wish I had done it sooner because the picture/sound quality is rapidly decreasing.

  • http://www.designlovr.com ximi

    Very interesting collection.
    Even though I lived to see (and use) some of these older technologies I’m kinda glad that we moved on ;)

  • Ivan

    “This short-lived technology was the bridge between CD and DVD storage. ”
    I think you mean the bridge between floppies and CDs? The ubiquitous zip carts were the 100Mb and 250 Mb models. There was a 750Mb but it never thrived.

  • http://www.impressivewebs.com Louis

    “Seiko Wrist Computers” — that is hilarious, I’ve never seen one of those before.

    • Phill

      Yeah I had one of these. It was actually pretty cool. It was not a computer at all really, but was a data bank, similar to the Casio one shown below it. The functions were actually exactly the same. You did not actually wear the watch with the keyboard on it, as the picture shows. You wear the watch on its own, and that only has the 4 buttons to allow you to retrieve data. To add or edit data, you took off the watch, and connected it to the keyboard. So the keyboard was a seperate unit entirely, and you would carry it around in your pocket or bag until you needed it. This way, the watch looked a little more stylish than the typical calculator watch style data-bank. The model shown here is the really early plastic one…there were some quite nice chrome/silver ones soon after this.

  • Michael

    Corrections
    – the floppy is not 8″ it’s 5 and a quarter inch.
    – the zip drive bridged the gap between floppy and cd
    – #9 should read “less bulky THAN their reel”

    Apart from that I enjoy this sort of post once in a while.

    • regeya

      “the floppy is not 8″ it’s 5 and a quarter inch”

      Looks like an 8″ to me. God help me, I’ve used an 8″ disk before. I used to help Mom get caught up on stuff after-hours at one of her jobs in the 80s. They had these wonderfully clunky IBM word processing units that stored documents on 8″ disks.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floppy_disk

  • http://www.webtechwise.com/ Omer

    What an awesome collection! really brings up nostalgic memories… :-)

  • Robo

    I’m still using tape recorder :), but only as speaker system connected to computer.

  • Jeff

    Have to disagree with vinyl or reel to reel being eclipsed by current technology. Not only are they still popular, but they have yet to be eclipsed by current technology. Any audiophile will tell you that CD’s are lower fidelity than Vinyl. Also reel to reel is still the preferred recording format in many studios. In both cases the technology makes things easier and cheaper but sacrifices quality.

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      Hi Jeff:

      I completely agree with you on both vinyl & reel to reel. I think we are looking at the mass consumer market rather than specialist niches with this post.

  • http://www.codesquid.co.uk Codesquid

    Wow, so much nostalgia! I remember having to take such good care of floppy disks or I’d love all my work! Now we have dropbox and USB sticks that can hold thousands of times as much data and cost a hell of a lot less to use!

  • http://www.thiagomoura.com @euthiagobiz

    CRT Monitor is very usefull here in Brazil… =P

  • eric

    i collect old vinyl, you can’t beat vinyl man, theres something about pounding some turbo lover off a turntable that amps me up LOL

  • craig

    I assumed the zip drive comment was completely sarcastic.

    Even if the drive itself didn’t wipe it, I felt obliged to handle the disk like a piece of sculpture.

  • http://www.lakeshorebranding.com Chris Campbell

    Well I still have my two way pager and boom box in storage, maybe its time to let go. lol Great list.

  • Andre

    Forgot the slide rule.

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      … and the abacus! I was actually fascinated with the abacus when I was a kid. Tech without tech is the best tech of all.

  • http://www.e11world.com e11world

    I think you’re jumping ahead on many of these.
    I one of the people that always has the latest (and BEST) gear/gadgets in technology among all of the people I know but I still have/use:
    VHS
    Cassette Tapes8
    TurnTable
    BoomBox
    PDA
    Walkman
    Discman
    CRT Monitor
    Floppy Disk

    I’m sure there are many people out there who still use these or others especially outside of North America.

  • Graham

    I’m sorry, but ham radio (ham is NOT capitalized, it is not an acronym!) is a growing community by the year. I’ve been licensed since 1996 and have watched the community grow since then. There are many digital modes being created constantly and the ham radio community is invaluable and irreplaceable in emergency situations and storm spotting. My intent is not to rant, but it is strongly misleading to label it as “something we no longer use.”

    • http://kc8lpz.org KC8LPZ

      Seconded. The included photograph would be like showing a Ford Model T as an example of automobiles. Ham radio also uses some rather cutting-edge technology nowadays – it’s not just old guys chatting on vacuum-tube-powered rigs (although there’s some of that, too, and it’s good that there is). Everything from satellites in low earth orbit to APRS to digital networks, including ones linked up with the Internet.

      Besides, if this list is about consumer electronics and what “most people” use, I don’t think amateur radio is really a “general public” thing. In my area at least, hams make up something like .2% of the population – it’s a niche thing to begin with, and probably always has been, so of course most people don’t use it. I think it’s a little telling that the ham radio entry doesn’t mention why you consider it “no longer used”. In fact, it almost sounds the other way.

      Read a little about ham radio, even just on wikipedia. You might find it more modern and intersting than you think. :)

      • AE2CS

        Ham or Amateur Radio is still in use. Amateur Radio technologies include digital modes, new digital codecs, satellites… there continue to be areas in Amateur Radio that inspire innovation in the commercial world.

        Ham radio unto itself is not a technology. Lets also not forget the amateur operators who provided communications (when all other systems were down) during recent disasters like 9/11 and hurricane Katrina.

        You should have left that one out…

  • http://www.bebop-ad.com BebopDesigner

    Brilliant post!!! and excellent collection of old technologies.

    And I agree on all of them simply because THEY ARE OLD & OUTDATED… if some of this stuff is still being used for whatever reason, that’s another story (maybe for another post?)

    I must confess, I do miss some of this junk: particularly analog phones.

    BTW I own a reel to reel recorder, a typewriter, a multitrack cassette recorder and many other pieces of the past that are just laying there, gathering dust.

    Thanks for posting!

  • andy

    Actually the digital watches and wrist computers are having a serious rennaisance in Europe and Asia. Casio is back in the game for sure.

  • http://indie-preneur.com/code/an-fpoed-image-with-html-css3/ indie_preneur

    For the younger generation (myself included), don’t forget the old pen and paper.

  • regeya

    Ouch. I read through this list partially thanks to my Viewsonic CRT. :-(

    I dare you to find a LCD that’ll outperform the monitor you show here, especially in color range. If you find one, it will be considerably more expensive.

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      I have no doubt that some old technology was built better than current technologies; that’s part of what makes it so appealing to look back at what we’ve improved on and where we’ve actually slid backwards.

  • http://www.artlesspixels.com artlessbum

    I still use my CRT monitor. Although as a secondary screen already. I’m a print designer, and I can’t just rely on my LCD monitor for real colors, I still need to double check on my CRT monitor.

  • http://www.purplepurplepurple.com Brad

    I’m sure a lot will have something to say about this but I think Blu-ray will be on this list in the not so near future. Come on, using an optical disk to play HD content? Doesn’t seem the way forward to me. Streaming content online is becoming easier, more readily available and more innovative ways are being created to do so. I guess some people argue that we want ‘tangible’ boxes of all our movies, but I sure could make the sacrifice, once the quality is the same (or better!) just like I have with my CDs.

  • kolin

    S*ny Minidiscs?

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      Maybe on a list of /failed technologies? I actually liked Minidiscs myself, but so many people were annoyed at another proposed format change that they just never caught on. I think they would have succeeded if they had come along a bit earlier than they did.

  • kolin

    And i still use 5 1/4″ discs to play my old BBC B games via emulation

  • http://eantz.co.cc/blog eantz

    Actually, CRT monitor is still widely used here, in Indonesia.. :)

  • http://twitter.com/z0r z0r

    Well, a CRT TV happens to be in my kitchen.

  • TracerTong

    Wonderful, I think I have a pile of old 100mb zip disks at home!

    Other I can think of are Optical and SyQuest disks!

  • Dozza
  • hellsing

    Great collection but what about analogue photo cameras (especially compacts), films and photos printed on paper?

    I have tens of thousands of photos from the last 10-12 years, but I didn’t order any prints in the last 2-3 years. While I always had 2-3 SLR film cameras in the same time, now I take around 6.000 pictures a year with a DSLR and only use a few rolls in a Pentax 6×7 camera for artistic photography. Still have photo albums, but they are all digital.

  • http://www.katzenfinch.com/ katzenfinch

    Don’t forget the SyQuest drive, the 44, 88 or staggeringly expensive 200 MB removable storage solutions that made Iomega’s Zip drives look positively rock-solid by comparison. And while we’re at it, electro-mechanical typesetting machines — does anyone else remember having a big blue suitcase full of spare parts for their Compugraphic Editwriter or Comp IV?

  • http://www.pwcares.org David

    Odd, as an Amateur Radio operator and IT specialist, I use a number of those items on a daily basis. My radios are all solid state, but there are a number of tube based systems that are working just fine today, and Amateur Radio is alive and well, even growing as people continue to see the value of it for experimentation and communication.

    I have reduced the number of CRTs in use for plasmas, but more from a space perspective. I continue to have more problems with flat screens than I ever had with a CRT.

    Massive mainframes are now called clustered file “cloud” computers, and not only are they still around but IBM continues to sell them at an incredible rate for everything from financial services to virtualization hosts.

    Vinyl seems to be making a comeback if the number of USB turntables at Best Buy is any indication, so I wouldn’t write them off just yet.

    I have an analog phone, and when they forced me to go with FiOS, I told them in no uncertain terms I was keeping my copper. Let’s face it, the old analog phone network is still light years more reliable than the over saturated, highly fragile “digital” network of cell phones and VoIP.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and update my PDA with the list of today’s meetings before my pager starts going off. Going to be a busy day…

  • pseudo:class

    Ahh Zip Drives. Anybody remember the Jaz Drive from IOmega as well? I worked in a prepress department back in the day and they were the defacto file transport medium. They could hold 1GB which was unheard of back in the 90s.

  • http://underwork.wordpress.com/ megapropser

    All mixed-up : technologies, products, formats.
    No ranking, no clear definition.
    What should I do with this list?
    What do you want to explain through your article?
    Why do you publish something like that?

  • http://www.popisms.com Rick

    I agree with all but one item on your list: the HAM radio. Since you have to have a license to operate one, this was never a consumer product (and therefore never terribly popular), but they are still in wide use today for various official business. They are used by the national weather service, police, at major events, during emergencies, and more, as well as being a hobby. I have never used one (I’m not licensed), but I know people who do, so I’ve seen how they are used in the real world.

  • KD8GRM

    I have to disagree with #7. In 2009, the FCC issued 30,144 *new* amateur radio licenses.

    As the saying goes- “When all else fails… Amateur Radio”

  • http://warstwy.com adone

    Amazing Article!!! Congrats

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com adam

    Nice, some of these are classics.

  • http://etle.designerteam.info New York Web Designer

    Wow. i gota collection 3.5″ Floppy Disc with me. Awesome cover arts….

  • http://www.birthdayfunparty.com birthdayfun

    I don’t think CRT monitors are no longer used. I personally don’t have them bu the company where I work has several for customer service people.

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    Tape is not used in recording studios for years now. 24-bit digital at 96kHz or better is common.

    Vinyl is niche. More than half of the music released each year is not even on physical media. Consumer digital is still stuck in 1980, but in studios, digital sounds much better than vinyl.

    Tape backup is being replaced everywhere with disks as fast as they can do it.

    It’s later than you think for all this stuff.

  • Berek

    Your wrong about VCR’s. Many many peoples still use them to record their favorite programs. This won’t change until someone starts making an inexpensive, simple to use, DVR that doesn’t require a monthly plan. I still use my VCR everyday ato record progams.

  • drew

    The ironic part in this list is that it is sponsored by a site for making Flash websites.

    Another format that seems destined for the bin :)

  • http://www.sentril.com f. garza

    OMG! some of these things bring back memories. Great Post

  • http://www.ostheimer.at/ Andreas

    Oh my, I am old – I know a lot of those gadgets really well, plus: I still have a VHS sitting in my living room.

    Andreas

  • Charles

    I see some people have commented on other dead computer data storage media that weren’t mentioned in the article, like Syquest cartridges and Jaz disks. I have a box full of both of those. But I could probably contribute a few others that I’ve used and have sitting around in storage somewhere. Like:
    1. Punched cards (Hollerith cards)
    2. Punched paper tape (like the ASR-33 teletype used to produce)
    3. Bernoulli cartridges.

  • http://www.studiowolf.nl/ Tim

    Loved the Discman! Can’t imagine I walked with such a big thing, hehe!

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      Luckily I had a purse… they would have been rather impractical for you boys.

  • Michele

    Wow, I still use a lot of this! Almost all my TVs are CRTs. My PS3 is hooked up to a 36″ 720p/1080i Sony Tritron; it’s the best! Way better sound quality than any LCD or Plasma ever made; the whole thing is a bass box.

  • http://www.leese.info Daniel

    Nice list, but i have to disagree with some of your points, e.g.:

    – Tape Drives are in use in each and every (semi) professional company around the world (-> Media independent backup!)

    – All private households i know have, besides their DSL line, several analogue phones and use them regularly.

  • http://www.webtwist.de Webwist

    This is a great article, which brings up golden moments of history and memories: Vinyl records won´t die!

  • Boomer

    The Zip drive.

    These tough little disks were indestructible and built to last.

    Too bad the same was not true for the drives itself. :)
    I know quite some people who had their data safe away on a zip tape, but no working drive.

    Well and tape drives are by no means obsolete, they are used in nearly every serverroom for backups. Luckily we advanced from the one pictured to LTO drives which can store a few hundred gigs on one tape, and that tape changers have been invented, so no more swapping.

  • steffen

    You missed Capacitance Electronic Disc, Digital Compact Cassette and CD-Interactive. Did someone uses Digital Audio Tapes (DAT) today?

    Die gute alte Zeit….

    • http://www.workingwebcopy.com Angela West

      We were looking for mass consumer electronics and tech, sub-niches would have been a whole new article. It would be a fun one to do!

  • http://www.tofighthiv.org/goto/clair.high Clair

    I seriously want one of those LED watches. My dad had one when I was a kid.

  • http://gamesbackup.co.uk/ acekard

    Awesome past collection! My grandpa was used that Cassette tape recorder. It is not working yet but still I have.
    So adorable post. Keep posting!

  • greenthing2100

    A Fine collection you made up! But not only the “Things” get ages!

    I am unsing my Newton MP still every day.

    My father, aged 84 is now digitalizing his 8mm movies (Topic 1.). He wouldn’t call ist 8mm-Video! The recording material is half of a 16 mmm Celluloid-Film for moviepicture, running twice though the camera and cut into two 8mm stipes at the laboratory. It was invented in the 1930s. Today it takes monthes to get a cartridge (2 x 7.5 meters for just about 5 minutes of recording)!
    The Super8 Movie was invented by Kodak in the 1960s. And you did get 15 meters of “oneway” movie. The best material ever was Kodachrome or Kodachrome II (64 ASA). The quality was outrageous both in sharpness and details. It was a material B/W based color recording. The colours don’t bleech out, even after 40 years! Unfortunatelly there is only one developping factory in the US, none in Europe, and this war for a long time the hardware of Hollywoood.

    Now as my father ins “digitalizing” his archive, he feels proud, that the movies still are better than anything he was using later: VHS, Betacom, 8mm Video or Hi8. And he knows: This archive will still be alive when noone will handle with jpeg, mpeg 4, .dvi or .mov

  • http://www.eclipsedesign.eu/ Kartlos Tchavelachvili

    I miss nostalgic VHS tapes :(
    nice article :)

  • http://www.thepeachdesign.com Peach

    Nice collection of old school tech. Some of them, I wasn’t even born to see it.

  • Tolana

    To the author, Angela West: You are either a “bleeding edge” kind of technology person, or you asked a bunch of your geekier friends for ideas for this list. I’m guessing it’s the latter, because a lack of research is showing.

    1) You call the list “vintage,” and title it as “technologies that we no longer use.” However, a good number of these things — CRT monitors, tape back-ups, vinyl and turntables, reel to reel, analog phones, ham radio, pagers, boomboxes — are still in use. Some are widespread like the boombox — even if you restrict your definition of boombox to a portable radio/cassette player. (I would argue that it has simply evolved. The concept of an all-in-one portable sound system is still in widespread use.) Other technologies have simply found niches, like pagers and reel to reel. I think maybe you threw “vintage” in the title because it’s a buzzword these days.

    2) Judging by the comments above, the article used to say that Zip drives were tough and indestructible. It’s been edited now, but that only proves your ignorance on some of these technologies.

    3) Did anyone ever really use the TV watch or the Seiko wrist computer? I thought this was about “technologies that we no longer use” — meaning that at some point, you *did* use it.

    4) You contradict yourself when listing the floppy discs. On the 8″ floppy disc (which still has a picture of a 5.25″ disc), you say “Their smaller relatives are still in widespread use. ” Then the very next entry is for 3.25″ floppy discs, which you say “had largely been replaced by the late nineties by CD’s, DVD’s….” Make up your mind. Or rather, do your research.

    P.S. Oh, and since you’re a writer, I feel compelled to point out that it is incorrect to use an apostrophe in CD’s and DVD’s and dates like 70’s. They are not possessive, they are plural. So they should be CDs, DVDs, and 70s.

  • http://www.bigoldtoe.co.uk Paul Murray

    Very interesting post. I remember owning a Sony minidisk player that was replaced fairly quickly by mp3 players.

  • http://www.thatfresh.com David

    Don’t forget the Mini disc… or was that just a Japanese thing. :)

  • http://www.greenandchic.com Carla | Green and Chic

    Wow, a LOT of those bring back memories; (despite being only 31, my parents were always behind the times). I would still use a typewriter now for simplicity sake if I could find a good one a thrift store. I used them up until the end of high school because computers were still for the “rich kids”.

  • http://www.anebstar.de Andre

    What a great collection!

  • http://www.foundryspot.com Jack Hughes

    I’m a 19 year old college kid, and I have a turn table set up in my room. I love my vinyls. :)

  • WillF

    PDAs, not PDA’s

    • Steve

      Actually the apostrophe is fine in this case because there are letters missing from “Assistant” (what the A stands for) and it’s a matter of personal preference. Not like when people write things like “carrot’s”!

  • http://emlakx.net emlak sitesi

    Very interesting post. I remember owning a Sony minidisk player that was replaced fairly quickly by mp3 players

  • http://www.knalle.dk Knalle

    I find it quite funny, that today the biggest purpose of the 3.5″ floppy is to serve as a save icon – there simply isn’t anything better for saying “save” with a picture :)

  • bored@stumbleupon

    nice article but some of your facts are just wrong.

  • slimdave420

    Some of the corrections i was going to present have already been addressed, i just love it when people with no personal experience try to explain things they’ve only heard or read about. Anyway cassette tapes were good for recording “mix tapes” not “mixed tapes”. It was that you mixed a lot of different music together, but you would mix the end of one song into the beginning of the next. If you could do this seamlessly and your listener couldn’t tell the ending from the beginning you a genius and a ‘mix master’.

  • http://www.ovcharski.com HD

    Haha, amazing stuff :)

  • Fill

    10 of these include “still in use” or “still used today” in the descriptions, which seems to contradict the subject of the article? :’) Still, fun read.

  • http://elizawhat.com Elizabeth Kaylene

    Why is this called “Vintage Technologies That We No Longer Use” when quite a good chunk of these are still in use today?

  • http://www.modchipstore.com r4 ds

    Should I be concerned that all of these things seem “normal” to me. Bringing back memories of my younger years. Really… BETA was MUCH BETTER than VHS!!! And tape backups… Whoa… You were a fool if you didn’t backup on tape! :)

  • http://www.anna-OM-line.com anna maria lopez lopez – anna-OM-line.com

    OMG! I must be very old because I have most of the mentioned “vintage technologies” at home! VHS, Cassete tapes, Vinyls player,transistor radio, Discman,Laser disc player, Walkman, floppys,zip-drive,dial-up modems, typewriters, various CRT monitors …etc , and even now I am wearing on my wrist a Casio Calculator watch ( golden Databank model ) .

    I must admit I am tired of new tiny glossy style, I LOVE BIG SQUARED BUTTONS! please come back!

    anna
    Auto-confessed vintage & retro lover

  • http://www.papersoup.org Brixter

    Aw how nostalgic, I saw one 8 inch floppy disk in my college and I was amazed on how huge it was compared to the standard floppy disk at that time. Now we have portable HDD, who’s laughing now.