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20 Once-Useful Technologies You Never See Anymore

The time for the Apple Newton has come and gone.

We live in a time when technology is changing faster than we can keep up with it. These days, it doesn't take long for something that once seemed like a lifesaver to suddenly get relegated to the back of the junk drawer.

While you may have forgotten that some of these gadgets ever existed, we're here with a refresher course, rounding up 20 once-useful technologies you never see anymore. And if you want some technology that will never go out of style, check out these 15 Killer Style Accessories You Never Knew You Needed.

Mp3 Players

mp3 player

The Walkman was replaced by the Discman, and as CDs were phased out by digital music, people abandoned their Discman for Mp3 players. Now smartphones play music, and people stream music they don't technically own.


Side gigs writing typewriter

When you think about all the painstaking labor scribes used to put into creating manuscripts, being able to stick a piece of paper into a typewriter and print "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" as quick as you pleased was a pretty amazing advance. Of course, now you hardly ever see typewriters, unless you stumble into a performance art piece or find yourself in a very pretentious coffee shop. And for more things that don't belong in today's world, check out these 25 Life Lessons You Learned As a Kid That Are Wildly Outdated Today.


dial-up obsolete

Dial-up internet was amazing when it was first available. But even when it was brand new, everyone knew it was slower than January molasses. Fortunately, we have moved well beyond the days of 56k modems.

The Apple Newton

Apple Newton

Everyone (over a certain age) remembers the Palm Pilot, but what about the Apple Newton? It was the originator of the phrase "personal digital assistant" and was the first PDA with handwriting recognition. Unfortunately, it was too expensive and didn't sell very well, so Apple stopped production in 1998. However, it did inspire the development of the iPad and iPhone, so it wasn't a complete loss for the company. And if gadgets are your thing, discover The 50 Best Buys at Best Buy.

Digital Audio Tape

digital audio tape obsolete

DAT was a great way to make lossless copies of data and could record at higher quality than CDs. While the technology was really too expensive to take off in a big way, it did find a place in the professional market and was great for doing field recordings or sound for video. Sony no longer makes it, unfortunately.

Pay Phones

words that reveals age

Pay phones were incredibly useful … before everyone had a phone in their pocket, that is. Good luck finding one now. If you need to make a call without a phone, you'll have to ask a stranger and convince them you're not a thief.


Phone operator obsolete

Being able to call someone and have them tell you the phone number you needed was a godsend if you needed to reach somebody living in a place you didn't have a phone book for. The technology is still sort of around, only instead of calling a number, you can just ask Google.

Hard Disk Drives

hard drives obsolete

Hard disk drive technology has been around since the '50s, and it's slowly being replaced by solid state drives. They're faster, more durable, don't fragment, and don't make that terrifying spinning sound that means your computer is about to eat it. As prices become more competitive, don't be surprised if hard disk drives disappear completely.

Pocket Watches

Pocket watch obsolete

To be able to carry the time around with you in your pocket must have felt amazing in the 16th century. And pocket watches had a good run, remaining popular until around the time of World War I. Now, if people want to keep the time in their pocket, they look at their phones.


Obsolete, camera film

Shooting pictures on film looks better, but it's more expensive and labor intensive and is significantly less forgiving of mistakes than digital photos are. It's no wonder amateur photographers mostly use their phones to take pictures these days.


obsolete beeper, pager, vintage

Emergency responders still use pagers, but other than that, if somebody wants to let someone else know to call them without talking on the phone, they can just send a text.

Answering Machines

answering machine

Having a little tape recorder play back all the messages people left for you while you were out was certainly more convenient than having no way of knowing if you missed any calls or not. But now everyone has voicemail.

Home Phones

Obsolete, landline phones

If you ever used a rotary dial phone, you know how incredible push-button home phones were. But with so many people using cell phones as their primary means of communication today, there's little use for home phones of any kind anymore.

Video Camera

camcorder obsolete

In the past, every birthday party meant another excuse to lug out that bulky camcorder. The technology was a relatively affordable way for consumers to make home movies that could be easily viewed, but alas, it wasn't convenient enough. It doesn't get much easier than pulling the phone you already carry around with you out of your pocket and using that instead.

Lighters in Cars

car lighter obsolete

With cigarette smoking in the U.S. at an all-time low, it's strange to think that there was a time when enough people were smoking that it made sense to put a cigarette lighter in every car. For a while you could use the plug as a power outlet for devices, but in newer car models even that is being phased out in exchange for USBs.

Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras

Digital camera obsolete

In between film cameras and smartphones, there was a chunk of time when people were using cheap-ish point-and-shoot digital cameras to take photos. But as the cameras on smartphones continue to improve in quality, the need for a digital camera decreases for most consumers.

GPS Units

gps navigation improve memory

GPS was great, especially if you were traveling solo and didn't have anyone to read a map or the directions you printed from Mapquest to you while you were driving. But now Google Maps and Waze have got you covered.

Alarm Clocks

how to fall asleep

Even though it's probably not a great idea to sleep with your phone next to your bed, it's an awfully convenient alarm clock, and most people use it as such.

Cash Registers

cash register obsolete

Point-of-Sale and iPads have been replacing cash registers steadily over the last few years. While cash registers are quickly becoming obsolete, odds are you can still find one at your local cash-only artisanal cocktail bar.

Computer ports

Computer Ports

There used to be so many different cords and cables required for setting up a computer. But now, well, there's a reason it's called a Universal Serial Bus. Much like smartphones have replaced many single-use devices, the USB is replacing single-use specialty cables and making easier to keep your life well-organized. And if you want to have a better organized work space, check out these 20 Easy Tips for Keeping Your Desk Organized.

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