Technology has always been a huge part of our lives, no matter how much we might try to stay away from it at times. In modern times, it's impossible to be connected to the world and what's happening around us without the help of technology. Technological inventions have greatly helped us become a more functional and united society throughout the years.
Today, we take you back in a journey through time and take a look at 20 pictures of old technology that have been rendered obsolete (most of them!) but serve as great reminders of an older, more magical time.
20 Radio Newspaper
This invention goes way back to 1939, when it was thought that it would be a great idea to innovate in the field of journalism. This idea consisted of radio transmissions that would transfer the newspaper device to people’s homes, only then printed in huge rolls of paper that could reach a length of nine-feet. Each page took 15 minutes to transmit, which seems awfully slow compared to how easily we have access to newspapers and magazines now. It was probably what lead to the invention of the fax machine, another one long thrown to the side.
19 Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
After rotary phones and before smartphones, the personal digital assistants, or PDAs, were the ones to have in your pocket. They looked like small computers, much like the recent smartphones, but they were actually quite limited in terms of functionality, including internet access, word processing, touchscreen functionality, and more. It was hard to get the touch screens to work too, even with the pen to help. It's a technology that quickly became obsolete.
18 Slide Projectors
Slide projectors appeared back in the 50s and, for quite some time, were even used in schools to give students some visual stimuli during classes, helping them understand the material better. These projectors were also used for home entertainment, used simply by putting on a slide show of individual frames of images, one by one. When video projectors became available, these quickly became obsolete.
17 “Super 8/8mm” Handheld Video Cameras
Kodak invented the Super 8/8mm video format in 1965 and that's when handheld video cameras flooded the market, becoming quickly famous for "travel size," and being way smaller and more portable than regular cameras back then. Ever since then, they were slowly reduced in size over the years until it reached the size of a small square that could fit in your hand.
Typewriters were (and still are) incredibly charming, which is one of the reasons why they are still used nowadays by the lovers of the vintage style. It was a writer's best friend back when its foundations were laid all the way back in 1575, and although in the modern world we have laptops and tablets, typewriters are still an incredibly nostalgic way to write on paper.
Betamax was the earliest version of the video cassette tape format, released back in 1975. It was developed by Sony and quickly gained fame due to it at-home accessibility. These became obsolete when another technology followed: the VHS format back in the 80s. However, surprisingly enough, production continued until 2002, but when VHS and even CDs became obsolete, in 2016, even the cassettes themselves stopped being available.
The phonograph, also called gramophone, was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison and introduced music to the homes of people all over the world. It was, however, enormous and took up a lot of space, and was then replaced by the record player in the latter half of the twentieth century. Still, phonographs, much like typewriters, still hold incredible charm and value in the market.
13 HAM Radio
HAM radio was actually a service and hobby of an estimated six million people in the world (that are still involved in it!) that brought people together from across the world. This technology enabled people to talk across the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones, over a short wave radio. It was even featured in iconic movies such as The Shining and Contact. Doesn't that sound interesting?
Telegraph was the technology that appeared in the 1830s by Samuel Morse and was what inspired the telex and fax machines. It was normally used by shipping operators and the military for several uses, and they normally required an operator to transmit and receive messages that actually knew how to understand morse code. It's still fascinating to this day.
11 Wang Calculators
It's not just the funny name that makes this an interesting old technology to add to this list but also the fact that, in the seventies, Wang Laboratories started manufacturing mini-computers, without the standard screen, that possessed exciting features like a FORTRAN IV compiler. Fortran is a computation language used by scientist to write computer programs with extensive knowledge in hard equations, which made the Wang calculators appealing to many.
10 Seiko Wrist Computer
Yes, we know, it looks absolutely ridiculous, but the Seiko wrist computer was the smartphone of 1984. You could wear it on your wrist and it acted like a computer watch, paired with a keyboard and everything. Now, everything has a touchscreen, but back then, this was the only way to type into this (not so) stylish wrist computer. Thankfully enough, this never really took off.
9 Floppy Disks
Who doesn't remember the colorful floppy disk? They were invented back in the 70s and acted as a data storage medium that could be inserted on a computer. The first was the 8-inch floppy disk, only capable of storing 80 kilobytes of data, but with time they became smaller and when the 80s came along, floppy disks could store up to 1.44 MB. Impressive, right? Not really. Floppy disks were also vulnerable to heat and magnets, rendering them useless, which was why the CD-Roms quickly took over. Floppy disks remain a memory of older times.
These bad boys appeared all the way back in the 50s, but they didn't really become popular until the 80s came along. These weren't really effective ways to communicate every day, and were merely used by emergency servers, doctors, and safety personnel. When smartphones came along in the 2000s, pagers were rendered useless due to lack of durability, resilience, and coverage.
7 Moonlight Towers
Before scattered street lights came to be, moonlight towers, or moon towers, were the lighting structures used in the late 19th century to illuminate areas of a city or town at night. They were most common in the 1880s and 1890s in the United States and Europe, but were quickly replaced by individual street lamps.
6 Dot Matrix Printer
We're not even gonna talk about the old obsession with making machines a dirty white color. Instead, we're gonna talk about dot matrix printers, introduced 40 years ago, the printers that became the standard printer for quite a while, before being replaced by ink-jet and laser printers. The problem with them? They were extremely slow and made way too much noise, even if they did get the job done in the end.
5 Answering Machines
Answering machines were frequently used back in the 70s to the 90s, and you can even catch them in shows like Friends. They were used in people's homes to answer phone calls and record caller's messages. It was, however, very unpractical, and with the rise of smartphones, voicemail became a thing that would come naturally as part of the technology device, not the sole purpose of it.
4 Hi-Fi Coffee Table
Motorola first came up with their own version of a coffee table all the way back in the 60s and it featured an amazing mix between mid-century design and technology. Inside a beautiful wooden mid-century sideboard/coffee table, you could find a vinyl player and an AM/FM radio. It's actually a wonderful piece of decor and technology, and we're not sure why it hasn't caught up to modern times.
3 Reel To Reel
Believe it or not, reel to reel was the preferred technology to professionally record audio, even used by sound designers until digital formats rendered them useless. It first came to be in the early 1940s, but it mainly gained cult status when it was used in several iconic albums back in the 80s. It's still a rather stunning piece of technology, even if no longer used.
2 Telex Machines
Telex machines used radio and/or microwaves to transmit information over the airwaves, and it was mainly used before the 80s when fax machines took over and replaced them. Despite having been replaced 40 years ago by other technologies, some are still used today for communications by the hearing impaired. Who would have thought this nearly obsolete machine would be so important for the impaired?
1 Rotary Phones
When it comes to phones, we’re now used to carrying them in our pockets, a smart and small device that is almost like our personal pocket computer. However, back in the late-1800s, rotary dial phones were the only thing people had to communicate with each other. These phones featured a dial arranged in a circular layout and you had to turn the dial for each digit of the phone number you wanted to reach. Now, they serve as amazing decor for vintage lovers and there are even accessories for your phone that mimic the rotary phones’ mouthpiece.