When you want to send a message to someone you probably head for your email account, rather than a telegram. However, once upon a time, technologies such as the telegraph, typewriters, fax machines and even record decks were depended on.

These technologies served their purpose for a while, then either evolved into cheaper, faster, better forms or simply disappeared. Yet some - such as fax machines, landline phones, and instant cameras - just refuse to die, despite better digital alternatives.

Here are ten technologies that should be dead and buried, yet still cling to life.

1. The Telegraph

At the telegram's peak in 1929, more than 200 million were sent. However, by 2005, that number had dwindled to 21,000 in the US. This decrease resulted in Western Union sending its last telegraphic transmission on January 27, 2006.

Subsequently, iTelegram took over Western Union's telex network, though you can access it via the web. It's still a fairly pricey form of communication however. Western Union is still around too, though its primary customers appear to be internet scam artists hoping to dupe suckers into wiring them money.

2. Typewriters

In the age of web tablets and smartphones, typewriters are a bit like Fred Flintstone's car - strictly for cave dwellers. Yet people still buy and use them. In 2009, for example, the New York City Police Department made headlines when it spent nearly $1m on typewriters, mostly so it could continue to use multipart carbon forms for processing evidence.

Still, the typewriter's primary market appears to be snooty novelists who claim they cannot compose on any technology introduced since Hemingway died. Case in point: last December, author Cormac McCarthy's 1950's era Olivetti Lettera 32 portable sold for an astounding $255,000 at auction. Proceeds were donated to the Santa Fe Institute. McCarthy promptly went out and bought another $20 manual typewriter to take its place.

NEXT PAGE: Fax machines

  1. From fax machines to typewriters
  2. Fax machines
  3. Cash registers
  4. Cathode ray tubes

These obsolete technologies didn't get the memo about their extinction - maybe because someone wrote it on a typewriter and faxed it to them.

3. Fax machines

Despite advances in internet fax services and the availability of dirt-cheap scanners, this office machine of the 1980s is still with us - more than half a million of them were purchased over the past 12 months, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. It's not just people who still wear shoulder pads and buy Cyndi Lauper albums. These screechy, annoying gadgets continue to attract lawyers, insurance companies, and others nervous about the authenticity of signed documents without an ink-based scribble on them.

"Their endurance is in part a testament to the failure of digital signatures that would allow us to email certified copies of contracts and similar documents," says NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin.

"As with electronic voting machines, there remains a level of societal scepticism over the viability of digitally certified documents."

As for the rest of you? Get over it, writes Tom Adams, VP of marketing for Protus, the parent company of online fax service MyFax.

"Fax machines are just so 1980s," he says.

"If you're still using one, it's time to put it in the attic next to your legwarmers and that copy of The Breakfast Club on VHS and move to an internet fax service instead."

4. Landline telephones

According to the latest survey from the US National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 25 percent of Americans have ditched their landlines for a mobile phone. Another 22 million or so Americans pay for a VoIP service. Still, that leaves well over 100 million households firmly tethered to a landline

Why? Because nothing says "I've fallen and I can't get up" quite like a landline. Only five percent of US adults age 65 or older live in wireless-only households. As that population gradually moves toward the pearly gates, landlines will likely follow.

5. Turntables

CDs and MP3s were supposed to kill the long-playing album for good. Instead, vinyl LPs have clung to life - and along with them, the turntable. Sales of vinyl albums in the US actually increased last year, from 1.9 million to 2.8 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan, though that's still just a drop in the ocean compared to CDs (374 million) and digital tracks (1.2 billion).

These days, you can get a digital turntable that plugs into your PC and converts groove-laden tunes into digital files for carrying on your iPod. Either way, this is a good thing; life's just better when listened to at 33 and 1/3.

NEXT PAGE: cash registers

  1. From fax machines to typewriters
  2. Fax machines
  3. Cash registers
  4. Cathode ray tubes

These obsolete technologies didn't get the memo about their extinction -maybe because someone wrote it on a typewriter and faxed it to them.

6. Cash registers

Ka-ching! Despite the emergence of computerised point-of-sale systems that can automatically track inventory, identify your top-selling products and best customers, and simplify back-end accounting, thousands of retail stores still rely on what's essentially a cigar box that can do simple maths.

"The basics of the cash register haven't changed since it was invented 127 years ago," notes Tom Greenhaw, founder of CashierLive, a company that offers web-based point-of-sale software.

"While [it] might be powered by electricity now, it still can't tell you what your store has in stock (and it never will). Computers with point-of-sale software are expensive, which is why a majority of small retailers still stick with the dying cash register. But web technology is finally coming to eliminate the cash register."

Basic cash registers - and really, cash itself - are analogue dinosaurs in the digital jungle of financial transactions. It's time for them to check out.

7. Instant cameras

Like their distant cousins the snooty novelists, many camera buffs eschew digital for the comfort of darkrooms and the aroma of developer fluid. Even the venerable Polaroid Instant Photo is making a comeback.

The original Polaroid company filed for bankruptcy (for the second time) in 2008 and had its assets purchased in April 2009 by a private holding company. Despite that, the newly revived firm has introduced an updated version of the One camera that, yes, uses instant film. That trip down memory lane will set you back £55 for the camera - plus a steep £1 per shot. Polaroid has even hired pop diva Lady Gaga as "creative director". If Polaroid can survive Lady Gaga, it may be with us for a long, long time.

8. Disc drives

Shiny plastic platters of all kinds - CD, DVD, even Blu-ray - are destined to eventually follow the various floppies, Zip discs, Click drives, and other portable storage media into the digital graveyard. These days, many of us get our software via downloads and our entertainment streamed to whatever device happens to be convenient. Yet discs and disc drives persist.

"You can download almost anything today and stream much of what you can't download," says Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group.

"Flash drives have dropped substantially in price, and we don't really need more than 64GB anyway (and you can get that in an iPod). So why don't we say hasta la vista to the disk drive and finally move to something lighter, more robust, and less noisy?"

NEXT PAGE: Cathode ray tubes

  1. From fax machines to typewriters
  2. Fax machines
  3. Cash registers
  4. Cathode ray tubes

These obsolete technologies didn't get the memo about their extinction -maybe because someone wrote it on a typewriter and faxed it to them.

9. Cathode ray tubes

Cathode ray tubes have all but disappeared from offices, living rooms, and retail shelves. Yet more than 90 million CRTs were sold last year, says an MIT report - almost all of them to Asia and Latin America.

Why? Because they are both durable and cheap, and - guess what? - they still offer higher-quality pictures than LCDs and plasma sets, according to the image calibration experts at DisplayMate. Also in high demand: old, discarded CRTs, because their lead-lined glass is needed for manufacturing new ones.

10. CB Radios

Though not as wildly popular as they were, thousands of Citizens Band radios are sold each year.

Geeky greybeards will remember that the first CompuServe chat forum was called 'CB Simulator'. From there it's easy to draw a direct line to today's chat, IM, and Twitter clients. Still, in the era of ubiquitous 24/7 communication, CB radios are a relic, argues Jim Gardner, president of marketing consultancy Strategy 180, who bought his first Cobra CB radio in 1977 (his handle is 'Moonshiner').

"Although not 10-17 (urgent), my 10-20 (position) on the issue is that given that the peak of CB radios' mainstream adoption coincided with bell bottoms, disco, and orange shag carpeting, the advent of push-to-talk mobile phones should have buried this icon of bad Burt Reynolds films years ago," he says.

"After all, some conversations are simply better 10-21 (on the phone). 10-4, good buddy?"

Though we take exception to the "bad Burt Reynolds films" swipe (Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run are minor classics), we tend to agree: It's time to bring the hammer down.

See also: The 40 best dying or dead technologies

  1. From fax machines to typewriters
  2. Fax machines
  3. Cash registers
  4. Cathode ray tubes