10 Obsolete Inventions People Thought Were Going to Last Forever
When was the last time you actually used one of these?
Road trips used to involve a mix of stellar navigation skills and a fair amount of arguing with the person in the passenger seat about the best route. Printouts from MapQuest were a saving grace from those of us with a poor sense of direction, but soon there was no need for paper whatsoever. Once GPS came along, car rides were suddenly more relaxing—but now, even those are going out of style. Since everyone has a map app on their phones, people rarely pull out the single-use devices anymore. You can even use Google Maps to explore the International Space Station.
“Research” used to mean sitting in a library for hours, poring over encyclopedias and books. Not sure how to spell a word (like the most misspelled words in America)? You’d have to flip through a dictionary—hard to find when you don’t know how to spell it. Now, we’re willing to bet it’s been years since you cracked open a reference book instead of just Googling or asking dictionary.com. Oh, and in case you were wondering, find out how Google really works.
Wow, anyone can reach you, anytime they want! Well, as long as you can get to a phone, that is. Now that every work email goes to our smartphones, we wish we could escape. If you need a digital detox, read how to unplug on vacation.
Back in the day, you’d need to hand someone a floppy disk to pass files along. Soon those got replaced by CDs and flash drives—but even those are becoming obsolete, thanks to cloud storage. (Not sure what the cloud is? Learn these terms that will make you sound tech-savvy.)
Long gone are the days when you’d bring your film to a drugstore and wait an hour for the results. Now, you know exactly what your picture looks like when you take it, and can print it from home. Sure, your more serious photographers still have a digital camera, but most of us just use the ones on our phones. And with these tips for taking the perfect smartphone photo, those snaps will look totally professional.
Portable music players
First, the Walkman revolutionized the way we could listen to cassettes—i.e. privately while on the go. CD players got the headphones treatment too, and then we thought MP3 players would be the end-all be-all. It’s not like portable music is going away, but even digital downloads are becoming obsolete now that streaming music is so popular. No matter how you listen, find out how music can help you feel younger.
Movie rental stores
Remember the days of heading to Blockbuster in hopes that it’d have the movie you want? Or browsing the shelves until the perfect movie caught your eye? Thanks to Netflix and other streaming services, no one wants to get off the couch to pick a movie. Blockbuster is down to just ten locations (but does most of its business on-demand with Dish Network), and even the oh-so convenient RedBox is declining. Need something to watch? Pick from our list of the best romantic movies.
Even before the farewell to movie rentals, we said goodbye to our beloved VHS tapes. VHSs came to America in 1977, and had a good 20 years before DVDs followed. By 2006, more households had a DVD player than a VCR—and now streaming has pretty much replaced both. We still have a guilty pleasure of watching Disney movies on VHS when we can though. Learn if it’s time to get rid of your copies of movies.
Portable DVD players
Being able to watch a DVD from anywhere (even a car!) seemed like the perfect guard against constantly hearing “Are we there yet?” for hours on end—as long as you were careful of the danger of toddlers getting too much screen time. Now, there’s no need to pack a stack of discs for every trip. Tablets have made a device just for movies pretty much obsolete. If you don’t have either, find out how to keep your kid from having a tantrum when traveling.
Landlines aren’t gone yet, but they’re on their way out. A recent CDC survey found that just over half of households used a cellphone but no landline. And with 72.7 percent of 25- to 29-year olds using only wireless service, we can only assume landlines don’t have a great future. Whether you’re on the cell-only bandwagon or not, use your smartphone to get organized.