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The 40 best dying or dead technologies

A spirited send-off for the best tech of yesteryear


Technology evolves at a breakneck speed, which means today's most-used technology could just be a fleeting memory by tomorrow. We've rounded up 40 once-commonplace activities that are rapidly approaching extinction.

15. Checking your answering machine

Status: Seriously ill

"Hi, you've reached the answering machine. I'm still around, but most people are now using dial-in voicemail instead of me. What a bunch of ungrateful little...BEEP!"

16. Enjoying complete privacy

Status: On life support

In the face of constant monitoring by Google and the many forms of GPS tracking in our lives (social networking shoe, anyone?), privacy has become a rare and precious commodity within the connected world. Speaking of which, that's a nice shirt you're wearing today.

17. Making someone a real mix tape

Status: Deceased

Websites like Mixtape.com and Songza may attempt to fill the void, but the art of laboring over a custom-made mix tape tailored for a special occasion or a special person - as romanticised by John Cusack's character in High Fidelity - seems to have gone the way of electrical appliance repair and blacksmithing.

It's a damn shame, too, because mix tapes made great gifts for dates (and by ‘great' I mean ‘potentially highly prized by the recipient and yet incredibly cheap and easy to assemble').

18. Wearing a calculator watch

Status: Deceased

Affectionately dubbed 'the nerd watch', the calculator watch once served as a proud badge of a person's abiding amusement with mathematics - as diagnostic as a pocket protector.

Nowadays, the only sure way to ascertain an individual's true geek quotient is to test their Star Trek knowledge.

19. Seeing pages of phone sex ads in the back of magazines

Status: Showing signs of illness

Those naughty numbers may still exist, but cybersex and the scandal-du-jour phenomenon of sexting have stolen most of the spotlight from landline lovin' these days.

It's true that lying about yourself and your various physical characteristics is just as easy when you're talking on the phone as when you're typing on a keyboard - unless the lie is 'I don't sound like Donald Duck' - but online the person you're communicating with can't hear that repellant note of desperation in your voice.

20. Using a public phone box

Status: On life support

Now that everyone and his dog has a mobile phone, public phone boxes are getting tougher to track down. Translation: Superman is screwed.

21. Dialing on a rotary phone

Status: Nearly deceased

The ease of touchtone dialing has made active use of rotary phones a novelty, though it isn't clear whether those old Bell telephone models will ever become truly rare, since they were built to withstand thermonuclear attack.

Broadband speed tester

NEXT PAGE: Storing data on a floppy disk

  1. They're now nearly obsolete
  2. Chatting with the SysOp
  3. Checking your answering machine
  4. Storing data on a floppy disk
  5. Flipping on an incandescent light bulb
  6. Sending documents via fax


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