Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

20 Everyday Products Gen Z Will Never Use in Their Lifetime

For some people, these pictures are a walk down memory lane, but for Generation Z, they're practically vintage.

Floppy disk magnetic

How many of these do you remember?

Millennials, Generation X, and baby boomers remember and recognize using at least some of these everyday products from the past. Generation Z—people born after 1997—won’t find much use for these things today. Click on for a blast to the past that the next generation won’t understand.

23-phone-book-These 29 Things 2000s Kids Will Never Understand Will Make You Feel Old as Heck_2829869-Stephen-VanHornStephen VanHorn/Shutterstock

Phone books and Rolodexes

Long gone are the days of thumbing through a Rolodex or phone book. Yes, it’s so convenient to have everyone’s number accessible from your phone nowadays. Although, having a long contact list on your phone isn’t as satisfying as adding another card to your Rolodex. Using these things are just some of the things 2000s kids will never understand.

a close up picture of an address bookGlen Jones/Shutterstock

Address books

A physical paper address book was the original contact list. In fact, cellphone contact lists now combine both Rolodexes and address books since you can save an address, phone number, and even a picture for a contact. Don’t hold onto one of these books, and definitely don’t keep them or these other things on your desk.

Old beeper or pager isolated on white background; Shutterstock ID 697663945; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): -thananya/Shutterstock


Paging all kids born in the late 1990s and beyond! Once upon a time, getting in touch with people was a multi-step process. Pagers or beepers are wireless communication devices that display either a short message or a number to call back with a phone. Although many doctors and emergency services still use pagers today because they can be more reliable than cell phone service, the average person won’t be using this device anytime soon.

Coin-operated public payphone and white backgroundNoomm/Shutterstock


Gen Z will never understand the struggle of finding loose change to call someone from a payphone. There are still 100,000 payphones in the United States, but phone booths are one of the things that will probably be extinct by 2030.

top view of red vintage phone on white backgroundComaniciu Dan/Shutterstock

Phones with cords

Rotary phones and phones with wires are relics of the past. Almost everything is all about wireless, so there’s not a big chance that Generation Z will tangle with these once everyday things. People might not even recognize what phones looked like the decade you were born.

A close up shot of a digital telephoneKitch Bain/Shutterstock

Answering machines

Answering machines were not only a sign of independence but of importance, too. People with answering machines are so in-demand that they must never miss a call. You can leave voicemail messages on phones today, but answering machines were slightly different. People were able to tape themselves and their unique voicemail messages and change out the tapes regularly. It was annoying, but slightly satisfying, to come home to a full mailbox.

encyclopediasDumitru Ochievschi/Shutterstock


Writing a research paper seems almost impossible without the help of online databases. It’ll probably be even easier for Gen Z as technology develops, but they sure won’t need to lug any of these books around. That’s why writing papers is one of the things that were way harder to do “back in the day.”

Travel planning concept : map, smartphone, sunglasses and hot coffee cup on pink background, top view with minimal style; Shutterstock ID 524232931; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): RDNuchylee/Shutterstock

Paper maps

The glove compartment of your car likely has old papers and maybe your car manual, but people once also kept their trusty paper maps there as well. Road trips were next to impossible without the help of a co-pilot to navigate. Today, it’s easy to plug in an address on one of many different GPS apps for turn by turn directions. Any of these Google maps tricks will make your drive better, too.

Fax machine, communicationFabrikaSimf/Shutterstock

Fax machines

One of the sounds you’ve probably never heard if you were born after 2000 is the dial tone of a fax machine. Along the same lines as dial-up Internet, people hung up the phone before sending a fax because there was only one line. Now, instead of faxing, it’s much easier and almost instant just to scan and send a document instead.

Floppy disk 3.5" inch nostalgia, isolated and presented in punchy pastel colors, for creative design cover, CD, poster, book, printing, gift card, flyer, magazine, web & print; Shutterstock ID 1029316681; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): RDBenSlater/Shutterstock

Floppy discs

Gen Z might recognize the shape of floppy discs from the save icon. Other than that, it’s unlikely that they will need to use these discs to save information. Hard drives and USBs replaced this obsolete invention people thought would last forever.

camera photoDiod/Shutterstock

Cameras not attached to a phone

Cameras have evolved quickly over the last few decades. Gen Z will only use Polaroids because of their vintage flare, otherwise, they’ll likely stick to their cellphone cameras for most pictures. Other cameras, like disposable wind-up cameras and the digital cameras that require downloading images manually, are things of the past for amateur photographers. Images shot with early portable cameras are timeless.

close up of vintage audio old tape cassette.NatSarunyoo536/Shutterstock

Cassettes and walkmans

Imagine having to rewind a tape every time you want to re-listen to a song? That was the reality in the 1980s when the walkman debuted. The instant gratification of digital music downloads today is something most people take for granted, and it’s something Gen Z will, too. Don’t recognize walkmans? You might not be able to guess what these antique objects were used for, either.

Close up of stack of compact discMoSiwa/Shutterstock

CDs and CD players

OK, so Gen Z won’t need to rewind cassettes for their walkman, but they also won’t need to carry around a clunky portable CD player. And those giant portable CD cases that tried to prevent scratches aren’t something you’ll find the next generation toting around. If you’re still holding onto these items, however, consider recycling or upcycling them to make room.

Wall-mounted pencil sharpeners

One of the many things you won’t find in schools anymore are pencil sharpeners attached to the wall. Getting up to sharpen your pencil felt like walking onto a very small stage of sorts because of the loud noise of physically scraping down the pencil in front of the entire class.

Car window hand crank. hand crank car window handle Kevin Tichenor/Shutterstock

Crank windows

Vintage cars might look like the height of luxury, but people were rolling down their windows themselves. Manual window rollers required a bit of elbow grease, and it was easy for these windows to go off the track. Electric windows were strictly for luxury vehicles until the late 1980s. Most people take electric windows for granted now, but there are plenty of weirder car features you didn’t know you might have.

Pop culture retro attributes 80s, video cassette on blue background. Top viewVladimir Sukhachev/Shutterstock

VHS tapes and DVDs

Although VHS tapes and DVDs each had their time to shine, digital-everything makes it easy to watch movies right from your device without plugging anything in or rewinding. Much like cassettes and CDs, VHS tapes and DVDs also scratch easily and lose their quality if you use them too often. So skip buying DVDs and VHS tapes at garage sales along with these 20 other things not to buy from a garage sale.

Blue tv on pink background 3D illustrationKoksharov Dmitry/Shutterstock

TVs with antennas

Technology shrunk over the last decade. Phones are smaller, computers are slimmer, and TVs are thinner, too. TVs also lost a bit off the top as they no longer need antennas to connect to channels. Adjusting those pointy rabbit ears is a skill that most people don’t need to know how to do anymore.

Old vintage cinema movie projector with white horizontal background .jamesteohart/Shutterstock

Non-digital projectors

If you recognize carousel slide and overhead projectors, you’re probably not part of Gen Z. These non-digital projectors were all manual, but these were once some of the most important technologies in school. Here are other vintage “high tech” tools teachers used to use.

Vintage typewriter header; Shutterstock ID 584425921; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): -patat/Shutterstock


Once you know and practice where all the keys are on a laptop or phone, typing eventually becomes mindless. Using typewriters, the original form of typing, was more involved. Teachers had to give typing classes right alongside those for reading and spelling. You won’t find typing or any of these subjects in schools anymore.

stack of magazines on blue backgroundAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

TV Guides

TV Guide Magazine still exists today, but not many people use it to find scheduled TV programming. Although TV Guides are one of the things in your attic that could be worth money, they aren’t a practical way to plan your watching schedule. It’s much more convenient to flip through the channels with your remote and check the digital guide on your TV.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.