Audio Cassettes were really useful when they first came out in the 1960s. No longer did one have to carry around large records, as you could use small tapes instead. While A-Track and Vinyl records were possible to play in some cars, the standard vehicle could easily fit in cassette players. They were cheaper to add in, and no major special designs were really needed. Now people could listen to music more, on cassettes, which they could have more of in smaller spaces.
Cassettes could also be used in recording devices, allowing you to record things on the radio and listen back to them. They could also be used in smaller recording devices or portable music players. They were revolutionary for their time and were at their height around the 1980s and 1990s. However, this little thing called the Compact Disc started to become useful in the early 2000s. Just as small and portable, it overtook tapes while cars added CD players to further alienate the cassette.
Made Obsolete By: Electric and Internal Combustion Engines
The Steam Engine was a miracle of technology when it first arrived in the 16th Century. We used steam to power things as early as the 1st Century AD. Yet to do this with larger objects like trains or ships, a true engine needed to be made that could handle all the moving parts those things came with. Thomas Newcomen was the original inventor of the steam engine in the early 1700s but James Watt’s critical improvements in the late 1700s led to steam engine use being widespread.
In fact, Watt’s invention is considered to be one of the catalysts to the Industrial Revolution taking off in Europe. Yet the steam engine, while useful, was no match for electric and internal combustion engines. Gas and Diesel were easy to come by for many years and lasted longer than steam. That allowed traveling longer distances and was MUCH cheaper to use. It would also become essential to the first automobiles too. Thus, putting the steam engine in the realm of obsolete tech products.
Made Obsolete By:Digital Transition, Cable and Satellite, Streaming Services
Analog Television was pretty much how we all watched television ever since it was first invented, as TVs worked off of analog signals to gain access to networks. Once TVs came around, networks began to pop up with what we’d now call “classic programs.” A lot of this was made for the entire family to enjoy, and every country seemed to have its own set of shows that would come on early TVs. Things changed, however, when cable hit the world by storm in the 1980s.
Now there was a paid service where you could get extra channels beyond the few networks available to you. Of course, being a paid service, very few people felt the need to get cable initially. Analog Television was still primary for most. However, this all changed, especially in the United States, when a forced Digital Transition took place. Analog was taken offline and replace with digital signals. This sprouted up new digital networks, but many ended up buying cable or satellite packages.
Before the Icebox, a lot of food used to go bad much quicker than it should. Although spices helped to stop this a bit, we knew that cold meat would last longer. The question ultimately was how to keep it cool. That answer was solved with the Icebox. Of course, we knew the concept. We used some form of freezing or cooling dating back to the 1700s BCE. However, the Icebox made more sense than previous methods. Some of which included underground cellars, caves, etc.
Thomas Moore’s Icebox was invented in 1802 and could be placed in the home. It looked a lot like a cabinet with the best version being wrapped with tin or zinc on the inside, using cork, sawdust, or even seaweed for insulation. A large block of ice would be inside a tray at the top of the Icebox. It would be a huge hit, doing the job of keeping things cool well. Yet it would join the realm of obsolete tech products with the arrival of the modern refrigerator. It was great while it lasted!
When cell phones first came around, they looked a lot like a brick with an antenna. For the most part, the developers used technology that the Armed Forces had been using for decades and formed the original cell phone with it. As time went on, phones would get much smaller. By the 2000s, the infamous Flip-Phone hit the world by storm. It was easy to use, compact, and several even connected to the internet! Yet this was nothing compared to the Blackberry.
The Blackberry was technically the first smartphone, as it could be useful for numerous needs. Also small and compact, it could handle a lot. Even former President Barack Obama notably had his Blackberry on him often. Both phones would fall out of style drastically when more powerful smartphones hit the market. Once Google got in on things with Android, numerous phones came about. However, very few compared to the powerful Apple iPhone. Considered the most powerful phone ever.
Video Home System (VHS) Cassettes/Video Cassette Player (VCR)
Period of Use:1970s To Early 2000s
Made Obsolete By:DVDs/DVD Players
Video Cassettes were a huge invention. They were truly great to record on, which led to many video cameras using them to record at-home material. Yet these same tapes would also be developed further. The Motion Picture world realized that after a movie hit theaters, they could further get money out of people. While they might go to the theater to see a movie one time, they might also buy that same movie for at-home viewing several months later.
For those who could not see the film when it was in theaters, it would allow the Movie Studios to get money out of those people too! That led to Video Cassette Players being needed, which pretty much everyone had along with many VHS tapes. This would last for several years until discs became a popular medium to put movies on. DVDs began to take off, leading to DVD Players rising in popularity too. Both essentially killed the VHS/VCR world, making them both obsolete tech products.
When we reference “early siege engines,” we mean the type of weaponry an Armed Forces unit might use to breach the walls of a fortified area. This might include things like the simple ram, used to bash through doors. This also includes the use of projectiles, especially boulders/rocks as well as fire. The most unique might be arrows, both the regular-sized versions and the much larger type shot using Ballistae equipment. Catapults were also notable aides in all of this to send projectiles.
Eventually, we would see the use of other siege instruments on top of this, including more sophisticated models of earlier weaponry. However, while these might have been effective for a lot of things, they all became useless when planes came to pass. Now you could fly over places and drop bombs or use guns to bash through at a closer range. The warplanes effectively made early siege engines obsolete tech products that we truly don’t use much if at all anymore.
Period of Use:1970s to Present (some still use them but not as much since the mid-2010s)
Made Obsolete By:Improved Cameras on Smartphones, Normal Cameras Becoming Cheaper
Disposable Cameras are likely something even some of our children have seen because they do still exist. However, they are far less useful than they used to be. Initially, they were perfect due to being cheap and good enough to do the job, especially for vacations, weddings, or anything else you wanted to remember in picture form. You’d simply take pics until you ran out of any film to use, then go and get those pictures developed. You could usually do this at the store you bought the camera from.
However, disposable cameras have truly become useless by this point. This is for quite a few reasons. The main one is that even though they have improved, many being digital, disposable cameras are nowhere near as good at taking images as your smartphone. In fact, you’re likely to get better pictures on your phone. People also like to add pics to their social media, which is just a few clicks on your phone but not with a camera. Adding these to the realm of obsolete tech products.
Made Obsolete By:Improved Street Lights, Flashlights, and Lights From Buildings
Moonlight Towers were pretty interesting for their time and were quite useful. Some like to call them the “light towers of the street” due to working similar to how lighthouses operated. Instead of warning ships in the water, they would shine light onto the street. This was a good way to see at night, especially in cities without any other source of light to use. Since they mostly operated in cities, residential areas were not usually affected by them.
However, if one were to live in a city that had one, it could be a bit bothersome. Why did we stop using these Moonlight Towers? Simple, they became useless with improved street lights and eventually other light sources from buildings. Of course, street lights initially began by using fire to light a slow-burning candle inside. Today, they operate exclusively on electricity and come on with sensors. All of this is making Moonlight Towers obsolete tech products today.
Period of Use:Early 2000s to Present (DVDs are still in use, just not nearly as much)
Made Obsolete By:BlueRays, Streaming Services
While DVDs are still in use today, they are not nearly as common as they used to be. In the early 2000s, they came along and replaced the VHS and VCR. They could be enhanced heavily whereas VHS had pretty much reached its limit. Discs could offer a better image, bringing true high-definition video. This was a huge change, making many decide to go toward these discs. On top of all of this, they took up less space than VHS. With all that was going right for them, what happened?
Why are DVDs now a part of the realm of obsolete tech products? Simple, the invention of BlueRay. While BlueRay did not completely replace DVDs, they were able to make the video far better. Just as DVDs did with VHS, BlueRay did to DVDs. They came along and did the job better. Moreover, other newer things replaced DVDs such as streaming services. This could allow you to buy online, putting your purchased film on various services (like Vudu), removing the need for a disc at all.
Floppy Disks were incredibly useful for early computers. While a version of these discs was used in some of the earlier computer models, the one we came to know was used for personal computers. How would you get new software or games on your computer? A floppy disk of course. They were also used as storage for numerous files you might have a need to save as well. They were invented by IBM and were incredibly useful for personal computers for a long time.
Funny enough, these disks were not exactly floppy at all. However, they could appear that way if you shook them. What caused them to go extinct and join obsolete tech products on this list? Better technology. Compact Discs were more capable of handling the needs of the time. They stored more memory and offered a faster, more effective product. Video Games began to even use them to put massive files on too. Ultimately, the CD killed Floppy Disks.
Thomas Edison is the man responsible for the Incandescent Light Bulb. They were incredibly useful and gave us our initial rise in electricity. These bulbs were truly THE bulb to use for many years. We’d later find that they were not exactly the best thing for our homes or the environment. That led to the idea that we should try to improve upon them, which happened with fluorescent lamps, cold cathode lamps, and even LEDs.
Incandescent light bulbs can technically still be found, but most places have no need to sell them any longer. The newer bulbs work better and longer, even offering more light. On top of this, some countries ordered a mandatory phase-out of incandescent light bulbs. Now, these bulbs are essentially obsolete tech products we have no need for. When there’s something better and comes at a similar or lower cost, how could we not blame places for getting rid of the incandescent model?
The Typewriter was initially looked at as one of the best inventions in history. This was a great way for people to avoid having to be great hand writers, and effectively put together documents that looked great. It could also be copied far better than normal hand-written documents. Moreover, they looked more professional too. Your average writer or media member likely wrote on a typewriter every single day.
What ended up killing the typewriter, thus putting it among the obsolete tech products on this list? We’ll give you one guess… computers, it was computers. You took too long. Of course, we’re mostly referencing personal computers that could be used at home or in office buildings. Typewriters simply could not compete. For years, they were great investments for people to make and entire businesses were based around them. Yet they dropped out