Iconic Tech Innovations That Are Already Obsolete
Technology is always improving upon itself, but that doesn’t mean that newer is necessarily better. While there’s no denying that our lives are better with smart phones and streaming services, there are some outdated technological advancements that still have their uses. And even when they don’t, sometimes we just love what we grew up with.
These technologies have fallen by the wayside, but they haven’t left the hearts and minds of many of the people who used them.
The first typewriters weren't commercially available until 1874, but by the 1880s, they were commonplace in offices. For nearly 100 years, typewriters became more advanced by gaining the ability to backspace, automatically enter a new line and other features.
Movies today actually aren’t "movies" at all. While digital video reigns supreme today, films — another term that’s no longer accurate — used to be made by placing images in sequential order and moving them in rapid sequence on a reel. One of the most famous examples involves a running horse.
Thomas Guide atlases and maps date back to 1915 and made navigating a world newly connected by automobiles manageable. While the company was in decline by the 90s, the idea of traveling American in a classic car with only a map to guide you still persists in the nation’s collective imagination.
Commercial Mobile Phone
We can credit the development of mobile telephones to World War II. The military's use of radiotelephony with hand-held receivers paved the way for a communications boom in the late 1940s. Following the war, Bell Labs created a system for users to make and receive phone calls from their cars.
Before IMAX and 3D movies, the latest technology to improve the moviegoing experience was Cinerama. After television became more prominent in the 1950s, theaters needed something to entice viewers out of their homes. Movie theaters incorporated expanded screens to set them apart from the home viewing experience.
Overhead Projector in Education
Blackboards were essential in schoolhouses across the world for over one hundred years, but the amount of time it took to write out each lesson cost teachers valuable time during a typical school day.
The advent of cassette players made music more accessible. The technology was created for dictation machines, but they became more and more able to clearly record sound, the music industry adopted the technology for mass music production.
Atari brought the arcade experience into the living room with the first mass-produced video game console in the early 1980s. Suddenly, friends could challenge each other to a game of pong without the embarrassment of playing in public.
CGI in Movies
The first film to utilize computer-generated imagery (CGI) was Michael Crichton's 1973 science-fiction Western, Westworld. Ironically, CGI's contemporary use, and far more convincing, was in a 1993 movie based on another work of Crichton's, Jurassic Park.
Betamax was a Japanese technology that brought video recording directly to consumers. Betacam was also prominently used in broadcast news as an easy way to edit footage onsite for up-to-the-moment reporting. Before the VCR, most home video entertainment came from Betamax technology.
The first calculators that could fit in a pocket came to market in the 1970s following the invention of the first microprocessor. Math nerds rejoiced at the ease with which they could perform complex calculations.
Most people only remember LaserDisc technology from science class. Introduced in 1978, LaserDisc players were costly. Most schools could purchase only one player that was shared throughout the campus. However, they came with unrivaled image and audio quality that pushed the boundaries of video technology at the time.
The Sony Walkman changed the way we listened to music, as well as where. Taking music on the go is something people take for granted today, but before the Walkman, they either had to listen to cassette tapes at home or lug around a Boombox.
It seems compact discs came and went in the blink of an eye. Initially developed for audio, CDs brought music from analog to the digital realm. Gone were the days of fast-forwarding cassette tapes to find the next song. CDs also became a prominent method to store data.
Nintendo Entertainment System
The Nintendo company started out in the late 1880s by selling playing cards. They branched out as a toy company in 1966 before focusing on electronics in the mid-1970s. After a few models went into production, the modern Nintendo Entertainment System was launched in Japan in 1983 before coming to the United States in 1985.
By the time Sega released its console in 1989, Nintendo was making its third Super Mario Bros. game. The 16-bit video game console offered better graphics and performance than the already-aging Nintendo, but the Sega Genesis was too expensive for most consumers.
With sales of the Super NES dwindling, Nintendo needed an answer to the Sega Genesis, which was dominating the video game market internationally. Although it only offered 8-bit games, the Game Boy became the first handheld option for those wishing to play their favorite Nintendo games on the go. Over one million units sold within the first few weeks.
Life before GPS technology involved a lot more cartography and memorization. The technology revolutionized how people navigate through cities and rural areas alike, but that doesn’t mean it was always the same as it is today.
Initially developed in the 1950s, pagers — aka beepers — became popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Most consumers purchased one-way pagers as a way to receive important messages. Eventually, two-way pagers allowed replies from the same device. Users even developed codes to communicate as an early form of text messaging.
Apple Newton PDA
The PDA, or personal digital assistant, was introduced by Apple in 1993. It was the first device to recognize handwriting and translate it into digital text. The Apple Newton PDA only lasted in production for about five years before being discontinued.
The video game console wars of the 1990s exploded with companies trying to outdo one another with graphics and gameplay. Nintendo was ahead of its time when it introduced the Virtual Boy. The 32-bit portable game console included a headset and stereoscopic 3D graphics.
Much like compact discs before them, digital versatile discs provided better quality and more storage space, leading to a new boom in video technology. When they came out, people flocked to Circuit City and Best Buy to purchase duplicate versions of movies they’d already purchased on VHS, only now as special edition director's cuts with deleted scenes and more.
The almighty MP3 changed the music industry forever. Record companies started to scramble when people realized they could download a song for free on Napster instead of purchasing a physical copy from a record store. Although the audio file types did have its competitors, the compacted MP3 became one of the most widely used.
After digital discs took over music and film, it was time for the video game industry to change. Before Playstation and Xbox took over the billion-dollar market, Sega introduced the Sega Dreamcast. It served as a bridge between older consoles like the NES and all the boom in gaming that was soon to follow.
Segways are like the Nickelback of the transportation industry. Everyone makes fun of them, but there's a small subsection of people who secretly call themselves fans. And now they are just right for a meme or brief mention in a movie.
Not to be confused with DivX, a digital video codec product brand, DIVX was offered by the now-defunct Circuit City as a video rental platform in an attempt to take over Blockbuster before Netflix came around. The format was similar to Redbox in that renters received a physical copy of a movie disc.
Myspace was where we could get together online and argue about politics before Facebook came around. The loose coding standards allowed users to have almost full control of the content of their Myspace pages. Unfortunately, most people didn't know HTML, so people were stuck listening to multiple instances of "...Baby One More Time" all at the same time.
Initially called "Cadabra," the Kindle had its name changed by Jeff Bezos after his lawyer misheard it as "cadaver." It was the iPod of books; suddenly, dozens of books could be at your fingertips all at once.
Samsung Galaxy Note
Just when everyone thought that Apple had cornered the smartphone market, Samsung offered its Android-based Galaxy Note series. There were multiple models, including the Samsung Galaxy Note, which offered bigger screens and a stylus. The Samsung Galaxy series also challenged the iPhone on performance, speed and graphic displays.
As soon as Google announced the production of its Glass brand of smart glasses, people knew they had entered the future. The idea was to provide us with a hands-free computing experience.