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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.

31. Flipping on an incandescent light bulb

Status: On life support

More and more nations are saying so long to the traditional incandescent light bulb and encouraging their citizens to use relatively ecology-friendly, energy-saving bulbs. Cartoon characters getting 'bright ideas' have yet to adapt, however.

32. Sitting in front of a CRT monitor

Status: On life support

I won't miss staring at blurry, hard-to-read text on a CRT screen. But I will miss the dramatic effect of seeing one of those bad boys dropped from a third-story window. Flatscreen monitors may be more aerodynamic, but they just don't blow up as well.

33. Playing music on a cassette

Status: Nearly deceased

You can try to rewind, but the life of the cassette is on its last legs. If anyone knows a practical application for four boxes of late-1980s, early-1990s rock tapes, please advise.

34. Going to the local music store to check out CDs

Status: On life support

Local music stores are becoming harder and harder to find. Here's hoping that the remaining few can manage to hang on. Losing them would leave a cultural void that iTunes is not equipped to fill.

35. Getting an ISP trial CD in the post

Status: Deceased

Ever wonder how many of those CDs ISPs sent out over the years? You're not alone. But no one seems to know the answer. The supply of marketing material appeared endless, right up until the mailings stopped a few years back.

People who devoted their time to collecting or shunning the discs haven't figured out what to do with themselves since (nor have I figured out what I'm supposed to use for coasters now).

36. Looking up numbers in the Phone Book

Status: Showing signs of illness

Phone companies still hand them out, but printed phone books have definitely seen better days. The combined influence of the web and of phone services such as 118 has sharply reduced everyday use of phone books; and today the traditional walking of fingers through wood-pulp pages seems antiquated to many tech-friendly families (and wasteful to many green-friendly families).

37. Using carbon copy paper

Status: Nearly deceased

With even low-end printers now able to scan, copy, and possibly make toast, you don't see old-fashioned carbon copy paper too often, making carbon paper a candidate to join purple-on-white graph paper any day now in the museum of antiquities. And I doubt that anyone's complaining.

Broadband speed tester

NEXT PAGE: Sending documents via fax

  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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