Technologies We Grew Up With That are Now Obsolete

sphen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
871
Reaction score
753
Credits
10,429
I did not want to hijack an existing thread, so I am starting this one. In a draft of a previous post, I wrote about technologies that existed when I was young that no longer exist. In that thread, I wrote:

Look around the room. Any room. Nearly anything you see that uses electricity did not exist when we were young. That "we" covers many members here, too.

I could wax poetic about all of the old technologies that have come and gone since then, but will leave it to others to have fun with this thread. My main point was that if you are not passionate about "lifelong learning", then technology may not be a good career choice.

Here are the two examples that I was going to use for that other thread, but later deleted them. I wish I had saved that text, but will try to recreate it here:

Dial Phones:
The phones in our house were all dial phones. The phones were connected directly to the wall with a wire. The tiny "RJ" modular connectors were not around. The phones were rented from the one national phone company. You were not allowed to own your phone.

Core Memory:
Before RAM, there was core memory. Core memory was tiny little ferrite rings with multiple wires running through them. The current flow could change the magnetic polarity of the ring to represent a "0" or "1". Yes, each ring held one bit. My partner worked in QA inspecting them for a core memory manufacturer. She has told me about the difficulties of inspecting and working with the tiny little rings and wires.

I worked for a company that built custom computers with core memory, and we used to joke that you could turn them on and they would start running perfectly, because the core memory from the final test remained intact through the shipping, delivery, and installation processes.
 


Analogue phones, (what you probably referred to as 'dial phones') - not many houses had one, most people used to have to use a public phone box, & that could be anythng like 200yards away.

A cathode ray tube, single channel, TV set - BBC - our first one had a 9" screen with a (glycerine, I think) magnifier screen added for family viewing.

Horse drawn vehicles, electric were just beginning to emerge, & the rare petrol motor van - only rich people had a car.

Transport was by train, bus, or cycle - else you just walked.

Street lighting was by gas lamps - electric didn't appear until the late '50s.

I just remember milk being delivered by an urn in a cart pulled by a horse, it was ladled into your own jug - followed by horse drawn milk cart, using glass bottles.

Our baker was the first to have an electric delivery van.

Distric nurses, & policemen, used bicycles.

By heck, I must sound ancient, to the youngsters of today, who may never have seen or heard of these, but I'm only in my 70s. ;)
 
I still use CRT TVs with an analog to digital receiver box connected.
No point in getting new as long as what I have works and beside ain't nothing worth watching on TV anyway imo.
We used POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) until we recently got fiber internet with VOIP phone system a few years ago.
When I was a kid we used to have a milkman and got milk in glass bottles.
We have wind up wall clocks and wind up mantle and book shelf clocks all working as good as the day they were made.
We still play Record Albums on a turntable and several working Vacuum Tube AM & FM & Short Wave radios we use.
We still use VHS tape machines to record the few old movies we want to watch.
Why buy new when what we have still works.
Oh yeah I forgot to mention the old incandescent light bulb flashlights that we have scattered about the house.
We also use carbon batteries because alkaline batteries are garbage and leak and ruin the devices they are used in.

I could go on.
 
Last edited:
A cathode ray tube,
LOL televisions with heavy rounded screens that showed noise when the reception wasn't fully acceptable. VHF and UHF, while toward today a few UHF channels became "standard" (such as Telemundo and Univision how I had known them in NYC, they were UHF channels 47 and 41 respectively) while others became part of a cable subscription.

Flimsy EGA which was supposed to replace CGA which was considered "kid's stuff". VGA quickly superseded EGA. Indeed, CGA looked horrible, grimly dim to do graphics, the whole screen flashed in GW-BASIC/BASICA while scrolling a BASIC program listing LOL, and if one didn't do the "vertical retrace" thing through assembly language trying to do direct video writes to memory it would go "Merry Christmas".

Cassettes! Here was where Maxell slowly and steadily went down in quality. Cassettes in the 1980's looked kewl especially the Type-II. But in the 1990's from Maxell they turned into ugly grey cartridges which weren't to be taken seriously anymore. And the C-90's failed impressively if there was any humidity. Sometime before I bought cheap cassettes imported from China/Taiwan or somewhere, called C-60 but some of them didn't even do 20 minutes per side, and they were better quality than those later Maxells. The cassette recorders from Radio Shack in particular didn't respond well after a year to repeated recording and playing, and trying to demagnetize the playback heads was a pointless and expensive exercise.

I have to add that many years ago, I bought a single "independent" cassette deck from Radio Shack for over 100 USD, and it was noticeably lower build quality than pretty much the same unit a decade ago. The search buttons were the first thing that broke on that thing. That deck and those bad Maxell Type-II tapes didn't get along as well as I hoped.

Floppy disks! Before I had my very own computer that could use one, I tried to stack up on 5-1/4-inch things LOL. I had a Tandy1000HX which came with one 3-1/2-inch drive. It was OK but decided to mess it up a bit with a program that made it a "little bit" faster. It sounded horrible but got the job done. The 720KB capacity disks were more reliable than the later ones with 1.44MB capacity. Especially Fuji let me down really hard here, thought they were the quality leaders. Those floppy disks failed one after the other while I had a flimsy Compaq computer, the only one I've ever owned with any AMD CPU, bought it at Radio Shack, came with Windows98 and 100MB Iomega ZIP drive which quickly became worthless. The ZIP disks were mostly used to store MP3 files. The ZIP disks were also mad expensive, as prone to failure as the floppies and before they thought about the 250MB ones. :/
 
Good old Maxell UDXL II cassette tapes still have a few boxes of NOS.
Yep those you had to take care of or they went bad.
I remember always having to clean the rubber pinch rollers and tape heads to keep the tape oxidation off of them.
Still have my cassette recorder works good.

Pioneer CT-F9191
 
a
Out of curiosity how old are you.
I am not ignoring you, but choose not to answer. Among the technologies mentioned above, I remember:
  • POTS Telephone: We still have a POTS (plain old telephone service, aka landline) phone today. We use a cordless system with built-in answering machine. I keep two phones attached for emergencies, one at each end of the house. They do not require batteries or any other source of power, other than the landline itself.
  • CRT television sets: Our "large" (ha!) family television was black and white and had a varactor tuner (click) for VHF. UHF always sucked. Can anyone forget what the TV looked like when you turned it off? The picture gradually shrunk and faded until there was a tiny white dot in the middle of the screen that faded to black. The remote controls eventually grew up and left home. :-(
    • Remote Control TV: My grandparents had a remarkable TV with an actual remote control. The remote had two buttons with tiny spring-loaded hammers that hit metal tuning rods inside. They made a "ping" or "tink" sound. One button was on, louder, louder, loudest, off. The other button cycled through channels. It was amazing for its time, but was often in need of repair. The TV repairman came to your house of course.
  • Neighborhood Bakery Truck: The Helms Bakery truck would pass through our neighborhood every day playing a tune, like an ice cream truck. People bought their bread and other baked goods that way. I remember the school field trip to have a tour of their bakery operation. Today it is a historic area with a nice music venue for jazz and other music. See:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helms_Bakery
  • Milk Deliveries: The milkman delivering milk in glass bottles on our doorstep.
  • Wind-up / Weight Driven Clocks: We still have wind-up and weight-driven clocks. My favorite is a Vedette from 1905. The chimes are rich and delightful. We have an eight-day hand-carved cuckoo clock from the Black Forest that we bought on our honeymoon. They shipped the clock home, but I carried those heavy weights in a backpack all through Europe. By the way, you need a longer chain and a higher mounting point than a typical 8-foot ceiling to get 8 days out of it. We have had to replace the mechanism three or four times - the soft brass wears out. Eventually it will die when the clock repair shop people get too old. They already are. As sentimental and meaningful as that cuckoo clock is to us, our children fight over which one will get stuck with it when we are gone. :-(
  • VHS Video Recorder: We still have a VHS player/recorder in running condition. We have a few movies that we watch on rare occasions. It is very fancy, with a special bar code reader that reads bar code stickers you put on the tapes with info on it. I never tried that feature.
    • Our first VHS recorder had "piano key" buttons, a 24 hour clock and a click (varactor?) tuner. To record a show, you set the channel manually, pressed the PLAY and RECORD keys together to lock them down, and set the start time. It had a 24 hour limit, like an alarm clock. At the appropriate time, the VHS recorder turned on and recorded whatever was on that channel until the tape ran out.
  • Cassete Recorder: I have a Pioneer high fidelity dual cassette player/recorder, not Nakamichi (which we lusted after, but could not afford). It has various noise reduction options, bi-directional, auto-azimuth, etc. I have not used it in a while. I have a box full of various high-fidelity tapes, mostly from Maxell or TDK. I still have the cleaning and demagnetizing tools.
    • -> Does anyone remember the little break-off tabs that turns the cassette tape into playback only? Just like mounting a filesystem in read-only mode, huh?
  • Radio Shack: I still miss them. Does anyone remember Heathkit?
That addresses what I saw in the posts above, without exposing classified info. Need to know not demonstrated.
 
Last edited:
a

I am not ignoring you, but choose not to answer. Among the technologies mentioned above, I remember:
  • POTS Telephone: We still have a POTS (plain old telephone service, aka landline) phone today. We use a cordless system with built-in answering machine. I keep two phones attached for emergencies, one at each end of the house. They do not require batteries or any other source of power, other than the landline itself.
  • CRT television sets: Our "large" (ha!) family television was black and white and had a varactor tuner (click) for VHF. UHF always sucked. Can anyone forget what the TV looked like when you turned it off? The picture gradually shrunk and faded until there was a tiny white dot in the middle of the screen that faded to black. The remote controls eventually grew up and left home. :-(
    • Remote Control TV: My grandparents had a remarkable TV with an actual remote control. The remote had two buttons with tiny spring-loaded hammers that hit metal tuning rods inside. They made a "ping" or "tink" sound. One button was on, louder, louder, loudest, off. The other button cycled through channels. It was amazing for its time, but was often in need of repair. The TV repairman came to your house of course.
  • Neighborhood Bakery Truck: The Helms Bakery truck would pass through our neighborhood every day playing a tune, like an ice cream truck. People bought their bread and other baked goods that way. I remember the school field trip to have a tour of their bakery operation. Today it is a historic area with a nice music venue for jazz and other music. See:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helms_Bakery
  • Milk Deliveries: The milkman delivering milk in glass bottles on our doorstep.
  • Wind-up / Weight Driven Clocks: We still have wind-up and weight-driven clocks. My favorite is a Vedette from 1905. The chimes are rich and delightful. We have an eight-day hand-carved cuckoo clock from the Black Forest that we bought on our honeymoon. They shipped the clock home, but I carried those heavy weights in a backpack all through Europe. By the way, you need a longer chain and a higher mounting point than a typical 8-foot ceiling to get 8 days out of it. We have had to replace the mechanism three or four times - the soft brass wears out. Eventually it will die when the clock repair shop people get too old. They already are. As sentimental and meaningful as that cuckoo clock is to us, our children fight over which one will get stuck with it when we are gone. :-(
  • VHS Video Recorder: We still have a VHS player/recorder in running condition. We have a few movies that we watch on rare occasions. It is very fancy, with a special bar code reader that reads bar code stickers you put on the tapes with info on it. I never tried that feature.
    • Our first VHS recorder had "piano key" buttons, a 24 hour clock and a click (varactor?) tuner. To record a show, you set the channel manually, pressed the PLAY and RECORD keys together to lock them down, and set the start time. It had a 24 hour limit, like an alarm clock. At the appropriate time, the VHS recorder turned on and recorded whatever was on that channel until the tape ran out.
  • Cassete Recorder: I have a Pioneer high fidelity dual cassette player/recorder, not Nakamichi (which we lusted after, but could not afford). It has various noise reduction options, bi-directional, auto-azimuth, etc. I have not used it in a while. I have a box full of various high-fidelity tapes, mostly from Maxell or TDK. I still have the cleaning and demagnetizing tools.
    • -> Does anyone remember the little break-off tabs that turns the cassette tape into playback only? Just like mounting a filesystem in read-only mode, huh?
  • Radio Shack: I still miss them. Does anyone remember Heathkit?
That addresses what I saw in the posts above, without exposing classified info. Need to know not demonstrated.
Hell I lived all of that.
Yes I remember the dot in the center of the picture tube glowing because of the phosphor on the picture tube.
Yes I remember the break off tabs to prevent recording over your tape.
Never used them in case I wanted to record on the tape again.

Good old 8 Track tape players I had one of these.
cassette%2Bpalyer.png
 
I remember how excited I was when I found software that would allow you to resume your download in the event you got cut off by, for example, someone trying to pick up and use the phone, thus disconnecting your modem.

I want to say it was called GoZilla?
Web search reveals it was Go!Zilla.

Life changing.
 
Yes, I remember those tape & cassette tape players too, those break out tabs - but you just put a piece of tape over the hole to re record on them - I never had an 8-track, but I did have reel to reel.
 
Have few of these that my grand-parents and parents had and now we have and they work.
I had to take them apart and clean all of the old harden grease out of them and repack with new grease and replace the power cords.
These fans are dangerous if you have little kids around them as they can and will stick their hands in them I speak from my own experience as a child.


C. 1930s Signal Deluxe Deco Restored Electric Fan For Sale - Image 4 of 12
 
Last edited:
Have few of these that my grand-parents and parents had and now we have and they work.
I had to take them apart and clean all of the old harden grease out of them and repack with new grease and replace the power cords.
These fans are dangerous if you have little kids around them as they can and will sick their hands in them I speak from my own experience as a child.


C. 1930s Signal Deluxe Deco Restored Electric Fan For Sale - Image 4 of 12
use to tape baseball cards to them so the fan blade would just barely hit the card to make noise - drove my mom nuts
 
Most of the old stuff in our house came from my grand-parents and parents and we wound up getting it because nobody else wanted it.
But it's cool and we like old antique stuff.
 
Don't see these anymore but they used to be in some hardware stores and grocery stores and convenient stores when I grew up.
Test your tubes and then buy replacements from the store where you tested them.
My father cussed them because even when the tube tested bad the new tube never or vary rarely fixed the problem.
No photo description available.
 

Members online


Top