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80,259 News Articles

10 obsolete technologies that refuse to die

From fax machines to typewriters

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

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