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80,258 News Articles

25 technology products: gone but not forgotten

These classics will be forever in our memories

We've rounded up the 25 best tech products that may be long gone, but we'll never forget them. How have they managed to hang on for so long?

When it comes to tech products, we can frequently be heard uttering the words 'what became of…'. In some cases computer products are like old soldiers - they just never die.

They stay on the market - even though they haven't been updated in eons. Or their names get slapped on new products that are only available in other countries, or obsessive fans refuse to accept that they're obsolete - long after the rest of the world has moved on.

We've checked out the whereabouts of 25 famous technology products, dating back to the 1970s. Some are specific hardware and software classics; some are services that once had millions of subscribers; and some are entire categories of stuff that were once omnipresent.

I focused on items that remain for sale, in one way or another, and not those that were once popular but are no longer used despite being widely available.

Dot-matrix printers

What they were
The printer you probably owned if you had a PC in the house any time from the late 1970s until the early to mid-1990s. Models like the Epson FX-80 and the Panasonic KX-P1124 were noisy and slow, and the best output they could muster was the optimistically named 'near letter quality'. But they were affordable, versatile, and built like tanks.

What happened
Beginning in the early 1990s, inkjet printers from HP, Epson, and Canon started to get pretty good - their output came far closer to rivaling that of a laser printer than dot-matrix ever could.

And then, in the mid-1990s, inkjet makers added something that killed the mass-market dot-matrix printer almost instantly: really good colour. (I still remember having my socks knocked off by the original Epson Stylus Color when I saw it at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1994.) There was simply no comparison between even the best dot-matrix printer and a color inkjet.

Current whereabouts
Nobody ever thinks about dot-matrix printers anymore, but they haven't gone away - some retailers still stock them. That's because they have at least two valuable features inkjet and laser models can't match: because the dot-matrix printhead hits the paper with a hard whack, they're perfect for printing multiple-part forms, and their use of tractor-feed mechanisms rather than dinky trays lets them print thousands of pages without a paper refill.

Consequently, small businesses everywhere refuse to give them up. It won't startle me if there are still Epsons productively hammering out invoices and receipts a couple of decades from now, assuming we still use paper at all.

NEXT PAGE: Hayes modems and the Mini Disc

  1. These classics will be forever in our memories
  2. Hayes modems and the Mini Disc
  3. Monochrome displays and Hercules graphics cards
  4. PDA's and Packard Bell
  5. Amiga and Floppy disks
  6. Zip disks and the Z80 microprocessor
  7. dBASE and Netscape
  8. MS-Dos and Lotus 1-2-3
  9. PageMaker and After Dark
  10. Havard Graphics and AltaVista
  11. Webvan and CompuServe
  12. VCR Plus+ and Circuit City


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