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Back In Time: Tech We No Longer Use

You may be familiar with hearing stories from your parents and grandparents about the technology, or lack of technology, they had back in their day. The TV was only brought into homes in the 1950s, and for many, they didn’t get color on their TV until the 1970s and 1980s. In the last 40 years, there has been a huge shift in the technological industry, and we have gone from the first mobile phone which was 10 inches long and could only be used for 20 before needing a recharge – to phones which act as fast as, if not faster, than some computers.

Technology is, of course, a fundamental part of our lives, and it is easy for us to forget what was normal back then. There are a ton of different devices and technologies which have gone and are long forgotten. There’s Betamax, turntables, fax machines and more which have been replaced with technology like DVDs, apps, and online  cloud fax services. Here are some of the long lost technologies which we never use in this day and age.


Betamax was one of Sony’s successes, and it was a form of videotape. You could watch videos on these small square devices and even record items if you liked. However, once VHS was released, Betamax was overtaken in the market and never seen again.


You may remember the company JVC. They still make cameras and camcorders to this day. Back then they took the world by storm with the release of the VHS. We all remember these cassette style tapes, and they were the most popular way to watch films, TV box sets and to record shows on too.


You may know this better as a gramophone- and it was invented in 1877 by none other than Thomas Edison. Rather than a record player, most people would choose to have this stylish piece in their homes. People do still buy these today for decorative purposes.


Remember the radio used in the shining? That’s HAM radio. It was used to communicate over a short distance, but of course, has been made somewhat obsolete by the existence of mobile phones. However, some people still love to use this technology.


The breakthrough in recording shows and films came with this handy device. It enabled you to place a blank tape inside and it would record a certain amount of footage. Most of these came with those little square letter stickers to spell out what you’ve recorded- although most of the stickers ended up being used by the kids to decorate the walls.


These small tapes are what inspired the term ‘mixtape’. If you are too young to remember the cassette tape and what they look like, cast your mind back to Guardians of the Galaxy– because that’s what Star Lord keeps on him at all times in his little tape player.


The boom box was quite possibly one of the most famous pieces of tech in the 1970’s. Teens everywhere would take their boom boxes out into the streets and dance to it. It was essentially a giant speaker which you carried around and topped up with batteries to keep it running. Synonymous with the era, but rather impractical to carry around these days.


Before fax machines were all the range in office environments, we were blessed with the telegraph. However, it wasn’t a technology just anyone could use to transmit messages: it had to be used by a skilled operator, and for this reason, was often used in the military to transmit and receive tactical messages.


Before the rise of the smartphone, people would use the traditional telephone which was often mounted on the wall. The first phone was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, and use a rotary dial to contact people.


Portable TV’s used to be the answer when you wanted to go camping but not be sat bored stupid for hours on end. However, the fad didn’t last too long because the screen was tiny and the channel selection was pretty poor.


The Walkman was another one of those pieces of technology which defined its age. In the 90’s and early 00’s these were literally everywhere. Think of them like a very chunky iPod. You could listen to all of your favorite music in one place without having to carry your CD around with you all the time.


As we said above, there was a time when if we wanted to listen to our favorite music on the go- we would have to put our CD inside a portable disc player and hook it onto our jeans. The portable CD player came with a set of headphones and meant that teenagers would be lost to their parents for hours, listening to hip-hop and rock music.


Used commonly in the emergency services to this day, pagers were a form of communication which you could strap to your belt and carry around with you all day long. They would alert you to a message from a friend, family member or colleague and you could answer. Of course, when the mobile phone began to gain popularity, this device was used less and less in the wider world.


If you think that the idea of the Apple watch is original, then you’d be wrong. Back in the mid-80’s the idea of a computer watch took off and was almost like the smartphone equivalent of the 80’s.


Mainframes do still exist, but they don’t need a whole section of the building in order to keep the information and data safe. Since the time when these were invented, we have gotten much better at compressing information into a small space.


Typewriters are one of the most famous tools which have gone out of fashion in the last 50 years. In the olden days, authors would write entire novels on their typewriters, but these days they seem to be mainly used to furnish and decorate hipster cafes.




UrbanGeekz Staff
UrbanGeekz Staff
UrbanGeekz is the first to market tech blog focused on covering content from a diverse and multicultural perspective. The groundbreaking videocentric multimedia platform covers technology, business, science, and startups.