12 Obsolete Technologies Americans Still Use

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In my apartment, the cordless phone sits right next to the 2,400 baud modem ... in my drawer of outdated gadgets. My last VCR sits at the bottom of a landfill, buried right next to my VHS copy of "Y2K: The Movie." But for some consumers right here in America, ancient technologies are still a part of everyday life as they continue to buy brand-new cassette tapes, subscribe to dial-up Internet and make calls from a pay phone.

“It can take a surprisingly long time for technologies to really fall by the wayside,” Steve Koenig, head of Industry Analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association, told me. A CEA study indicates that only 13 to 15 percent of consumers are early adopters, while more than 60 percent are content to wait a long time before upgrading to newer and better technologies. Whatever the underlying reasons, these 12 timed-out technologies just refuse to die.


1. Dial-Up Internet

The last time I had a dial-up account, I set it to download the Starr report. I said bye bye bye to Earthlink right after that and started getting jiggy with a broadband connection.

However, according to a December study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 4 percent of American adults still use a modem to get online. That’s more than 10 million people accessing the Web at 56.6 or slower speeds. Some of these folks are among the 6 percent of Americans who live in areas without broadband access, while others either can't afford or are too cheap to pay for high-speed services.

More: 13 Tech Sounds You Don't Hear Anymore

2. Pagers

In the early 1990s, there was no greater status symbol than a pager. If you carried a beeper, that meant that, like a trauma surgeon or a Fortune 500 CEO, you were important enough to be reachable at all times. Within a few short years, cellphones replaced pagers because they let you send and receive calls and text messages directly, a huge improvement over running to the nearest phone to return a page.

Despite the huge popularity of mobile phones, there’s still an active market for pagers. According to the CEA, in 2012 Americans bought approximately $7 million worth of new pagers, somewhere under 10,000 units. If you want to be reachable, but not too reachable, pagers provide a built-in excuse for avoiding phone conversations.

You might imagine drug dealers, who are paranoid about wire taps, using pagers for illegal activities. However, many doctors and hospitals find pager networks more reliable, particularly in emergencies where cellular systems tend to go down

More: The Best Smartphones of All Time

3. Dot Matrix Printers

Is that the sound of a printout I hear? Just let me grab my ream of green-and-white striped paper from the closet and we’re good to go. According to research firm NPD, Americans bought just less than 20,000 brand-new dot matrix printers in 2012. You can still find an entire channel on Amazon.com for dot matrix printers with pricing starting at a lofty $205, more than double the least expensive inkjet.

So why would anyone want to use the best printing technology of 1983 in 2013? Apparently, many point-of-sale, warehouse inventory and other business systems still require carbon copy and multipart forms that work only with the hard impact of a dot matrix printhead and its continuous tractor feed. And, really, who can blame businesses for not modernizing their processes to use inkjet, laser or thermal printing? They’ve only had a couple of decades to think about it.

More: 13 Tech Technologies My Newborn Son Won't Use

4. PDAs

Oh, how I miss my old Palm Pilot. Sure, it was grayscale and I had learn the Graffiti alphabet to write on it, but it lasted forever on a charge and fit easily in my pocket. Later, I loved my Cassiopeia more, because it had a color screen. However, my love affair with PDAs came to an end when I got a smartphone that could not only keep my contacts and appointments, but also connect to the Internet from anywhere.

However, according to the CEA, last year there were 350,000 new PDAs sold in the U.S. Are there just a whole bunch of people pining for old-fashioned organizers? Not quite. CEA’s Steve Koenig told us that a number of vertical markets still use PDAs for data collection in places as diverse as warehouses and hospitals.

More: The Must-Have Apps for 2013

5. Pay Phones

Good news for costumed superheroes and Maroon 5 fans, the U.S. still has 305,000 working pay phones, according to the American Public Communications Council (Q3 2012 data). But those public handsets are not made for decoration. The APCC also estimates that people used those phones to place around 50 million calls in 2012.

Why would anyone need a pay phone in 2013? Low-income users who can't afford a cellphone may need a pay phone to communicate from the road or, if they have no landline, to communicate at all. Users whose cellphones run out of juice or can’t get service rely on pay phones in a pinch. Still others may use these phones to remain anonymous when they call.

More: The Biggest Smartphones in the World

6. 13 Million Blank VHS and Cassette Tapes

These days you can download music or stream it from an online service. Or you could act like it’s 1985 and wait for your favorite songs to come on the radio so you can tape them. You can record TV for later viewing on a DVR, play it via on-demand cable or stream it from a service like Hulu. But, if you think DVRs are for wimps, you can still rough it with a VCR.

The CEA says that, in 2012, around 13 million blank cassettes and VHS tapes were sold in America. Though the association no longer tracks sales of new VCRs, you can still buy a DVD / VHS combo recorder such as the $149 Toshiba DVR620 and the $198 Magnavox DV225MG9. CEA doesn’t track cassette recorders anymore, but it reports that 15,000 cassette-based car stereos were sold in 2012, so the old-fashioned mix tape is alive and well.

More: 13 Technologies You Won't See in 2013

7. Landline Phones

As of mid-2012, 34 percent of adults lived in homes that didn’t even have a landline, but that hasn’t stopped the remaining 66 percent from not only using their connections but also buying new hardware. According to CEA data, in 2012 Americans bought 5 million corded handsets and 21.5 million cordless models for a total of 26.5 million landline phones. No word on how many of them are shaped like footballs, hamburgers or mallard ducks.

More: The Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life

8. CRT TVs

While many of us still have old-fashioned tube TVs at home, most electronics companies have stopped making them, and for good reason. Not only are tube TVs dated and ugly, but the effort of procuring the necessary parts, building new units and paying to ship these heavy devices overseas just isn’t worthwhile for manufacturers.

Despite the drawbacks, Americans bought 10,000 CRT TVs last year, according to NPD. Many of these sets are apparently targeted toward children. If you want your kids to suffer with low-definition broadcasts just like you did at their age, Disney currently sells a tube that looks like Lightning McQueen from the movie "Cars" and another that’s pink-and-princess themed. There's a Barbie tube too.

More: 10 Must-Watch TV Apps

9. 35 Million Rolls of Film

These days, every cellphone comes with a camera, you can buy a point-and-shoot digital camera for under $100 and high-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras capture amazing photos. Considering that digital images appear instantly, you can edit and share them online or print them an infinite number of times without losing quality, there’s little reason to use an old-fashioned film camera.

However, there’s no stopping the Americans who, according to NPD, bought a mind-buckling 35 million rolls of film last year. Some of these folks are young hobbyists who like using lomo cameras and others just don’t want to part with their Polaroids.

More: Camera Shootout: Apple iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy S4

10. Windows 98 and 2000

While most people drive modern cars with fuel injections, air bags and power steering, there’s always somebody who won’t part with their 1977 Honda Civic, no matter how poorly it runs on today’s highways. If it worked fine during the Carter administration, it should work fine today, right?

By the same token, Net Applications reports that 0.05 percent of U.S. PC users are still careening down the information superhighway in computers with Windows 98 or Windows 2000. The Computer Industry Almanac estimated that, in 2011, the U.S. had 311 million PCs in use. So you can figure that there are more than 150,000 people using an operating system from the last century.

More: Best Laptops 2013

11. Fax Machines

Fax machines became essential office devices in the 1970s, but 40 years later, with email, instant messaging and the ability to send fax transmissions by computer, there’s no need to own one. Still, standalone fax machines refuse to die, perhaps because businesses require signatures on contracts and it’s just too easy to grab a piece of paper, scribble on it and feed it through again.

According to NPD, Americans bought 350,000 fax machines in 2012, which was down 14 percent from 2011. That means more than 700,000 of them were sold in the last two years alone.

More: 10 Terrible Tech Frustrations My Son Will Never Have

12. Vinyl Records

People were buying LPs back when Elvis first became popular, but vinyl records just won’t die. In fact, they’re making a comeback. Even though digital downloads and CDs are easier to use, more durable and hold a lot more music in a smaller space, some audiophiles just prefer the sound of vinyl.

After years in obscurity, the LP business is thriving again with more and more new albums coming out on the ancient media format, including the latest releases from Daft Punk and Vampire Weekend. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Americans bought 4.6 million vinyl records in 2012, up 17.7 percent from the year before. While that’s a pittance compared to the 118 million digital albums sold last year, it’s not insignificant.

More: 5 Great Headphones with Their Own Audio Apps

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Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • Photographer Says:

    When you're a professional photographer (and I am one) You damn well know that there's lots of good reasons to chose film over digital. Reasons that range from an artist's vision to a journalist documenting an important event on super 8 & 16mm because of the difficulty of some being able to tamper with the "facts" captured on these mediums

  • Ash Miller Says:

    Also the less complicated a device, the easier it is to write well coded firmware, these new devices, 90 percent of them come out with bugs, then the firmware updates fixes one thing makes another worse, the code is complex enough one person cant grasp it and write it alone and make sure its 100% flawless. iphones and android devices, os bugs, apps that don't work well, spammy apps, I recently removed everything but stock apps on my S5 besides two apps by reputable manufacturers I needed. sometimes these devices are designed with hardware flaws that cant be fixed by firmware updates, and do they recall them, nope, your stuck with something that has features that it claimed to have but 1 or 2 don't work period. cheap plastic, weve gotten to where we buy too much crap, even though I love technology, it would be nice if say Samsung came out with the galaxy s5, built it to last 10 years and kept the applications within its ability to perform, so I don't have to upgrade, crt tvs looked great, now making one big enough for a large open are living room wouldn't be easy so ok we are on 1080p flat panel screens with LED lighting, good idea when they work right, they don't need complex apps, just hdmi ports, problem is your old content looks like crap on them, but now we are working on 4k??? come on give me a break, I can hardly distinguish pixels on my 55inch 1080 across the living room to the tv, 4k isn't going to make a difference, and for the record, 3d is awful and makes your head hurt. so we have blu ray, hd gaming consoles and 1080p tvs, lets let this last a good twenty years, and for petes sake put the nichicon capacitors and other hq parts in them so they can last that long. its not that much more expensive to build them right. xbox 360 is a good system, we don't have to upgrade to the next one that doesn't offer anything really better. just give us an upgraded 2tb drive to store new games, the quality is great on the 360, I only bought the wiiu because its predecessor looked horrible on the newer tvs.

    Ive always bought accords, they build really good vehicles, ive had an 09, an 11, a 12 tsx wagon rip:( and now a 14, all have been great but the 14 has introduced this touch radio controlled system, and guess what, bugs, now it can only see a certain number of files on my flash media, the integration with the phone for Pandora and other streaming radio is buggy, touch screens are hazardous in this application, were making things worse and better at the same time

  • Ash Miller Says:

    Im not sure why pdas pagers and old versions of windows haven't died out, I know a lot of people asking me to repair their computer and I ask how old is it and they say oh 7 years, im like dude just replace it, it will cost enough to fix it labor and parts than a new base model.

    were still trying to get people off fax, we use digital signatures on pdf documents

    I still own a crt console from the very early 80s, it still works like new, ive spent a total of probably 10 bucks to keep it going replacing a few capacitors, 40 years not bad at all, I don't use it as my living room tv but it gets used in my office and isn't going anywhere until the crt goes out.

    Vinyl is just cool as hell as someone else mentioned, I don't even use new players, ive got a vacuum tube driven rca console and a slightly newer Magnavox console that's the size of a dresser, that's a conversation piece especially when you can play modern music at a good quality sound, nobody makes 8 tracks anymore but I have a few that I still play but they sound worse than cassettes

    I still have many vcrs and cassette decks, I don't record on them anymore but watch a lot of content I have recorded, the only thing I have taken the time to digitize was home movies, and I have a bin full of store bought and mix tapes I love lol.

    im an early adopter, but I refuse to banish my old technology to the dump if its well built and has lasted forever. new vcrs wont live long if played to much, but a solid metal one from 1980 will last forever if properly taken care of and a few belts replaced here and there.

    this old music stuff is funky cool, big wooden tvs and stereos, they didn't make anything better looking since the good hard wood ones went by the wayside, now most houses aren't even set up for furniture entertainment centers, but they were so clutter free, imagine a 40 inch tv inside a wooden case with high quality speakers on either side with intricate designs and fabric covering behind them, open the lid, bluray, dvd, and cd player all in one, an aux jack and Bluetooth capable, built in amplifier, storage compartments that can be removed and game consoles, cassette players, whatever tech you wanted, and a turntable on the left being built so they could be mounted in a bracket to drop in and plug right into hdmi, built in roku device, extra hdmi ports, more than a dinky two that a lot of tvs come with, coax for hd air tv. built of real wood sitting in the corner of an older style living room that wasn't meant for fireplace tvs. the thing would operate seamlessly with one remote. one plug, no ugly tvs on the wall with wires hanging out, no crappy tv stands with glass trays, hell id buy it, I miss the home tech as furniture age. hell I miss good furniture, I cant fine a decent computer desk without spending 5 grand on something huge that I don't need

  • Pluto revenge Says:

    Lighten up guys.the guys got a right to his opinion. I happen to agree with him.these old old technologies are better left behind.

  • joe Says:

    well sir, i still use windows 2000, avoids the tedious activation process, must use 56k modem because local exchange has no adsl available, wireless usb broadband to expensive, still have a landline phone as i find the mobile phone plans expensive, no i dont live in ethiopia i live in australia.believe it or not.

  • Steve Says:

    Yeah, this is an older article but it still comes across as, "Me no use this anymore, so it old and stupid". Not everybody cares about, or can afford to, run to the Apple store the second the latest untested piece of crap comes out. The only thing I still use on that list is a landline because we get horrible reception here, but calling something obsolete just because you in particular don't use it anymore is just typical tech snobbery. And talk about being cheap- making people click 12 pages so you can scrape up more revenue to buy the latest iPhone...

  • bowlweevils Says:

    Oh, another one.

    JP is also wrong. You can sign a document that was emailed to you in a field that allows information entry and then email it back (or have it stored in a mutually accessible place).

    All you have to do is have an indication that you intend the entry of your name to have the effect of a signature. So something like a field with the word "Signed" or "Signature" immediately in front of, following, above, or below the field counts as a signature for the contract.

    The same is true when you go to the supermarket and sign your name on the screen to approve the purchase when you have gone over your credit card's no-sign limit ($25-$50 usually).

    Basically if you make it clear that writing your name somewhere is intended to have the effect of signing a contract, then it does have that effect.

    Again, I am an attorney, and have done plenty of work specifically on IT law, including research specifically on the validity of signed emailed contracts - in 2002 when there was still a bit of question regarding whether every state allowed it.

    Many European nations do not allow this, however, or have strict value limits on what can be contracted electronically. Then again, many European nations require that a notary be present when certain contracts are signed to verify that the person signing them is really the person who is authorized to do it. It adds a few hundred euros to the cost of your contract, and results in notary being a viable career rather than something that the librarian does for free or $5 at the shipping company store.

  • bowlweevils Says:

    Sim Says is totally wrong about the legality of emailed contracts. They are perfectly, entirely legal.

    I am an attorney, and have been for 11 years now. I have emailed contracts to other countries - they are valid.

    Right now I am working from home for a law firm in another part of the city. I am part of a group of law firms working on a complex anti-trust case with firms located around the nation. The head firm is in California. I am working on this through an agency in New York.

    Every week I send my work report, signed, by email to the law firm, which then approves of it and signs it, and then sends it to New York. The agent in New York then sends a payment authorization to my bank, and money appears. This was authorized by a contract sent by me to the agent in New York.

    So for me to get paid, 4 rounds of emailed contracts need to be done.

    More importantly, all of those privacy policies and terms of use that websites have and make you click on, those are all contracts. You don't even sign them. You don't even send an individual email. Just clicking the box = contract formed.

    I don't know who Sim Says is, or what rock he's been hiding under, but emailed contracts have been legal since the 1990s.

    Fax machines still sell probably because there are organizations where they know that certain messages are going to have to be printed out anyway, so sending them directly to a fax machine skips the step of having a person have to give the command to print them.

    Also, certain contracts cannot be sent by email. Prescriptions for restricted pharmaceuticals cannot be sent by email or phone, depending on the state. They must be faxed or brought directly to the pharmacy.

    Which is the type of business that still buys fax machines, because even if the prescription can be sent by email or phone, it is often easier to just get a fax because then any one of the staff working can pick it up from the stack of faxes and fill it, and there's no concern about whether all the prescriptions emailed were printed, or all the phone calls were written down.

  • bowlweevils Says:

    You know who still uses pay phones in 2013?

    People who locked themselves out and locked their cellphone in.

    And finding one was damn hard.

  • Daniel Ferreira Says:

    Interesting. Today I asked myself why the hell laptops still have a modem. Obviously, there had to be a reason, so I did some search and find about fax over internet, which I have needed more than once but never knew how to make it work!

    About internet and computer "experts", every time I search the web for technology issues I find mostly crap like this. I know "experts" have to get something to write about, but why they keep copy-pasting text to meet the deadline is beyond me. I learned about computers in technical books and scientific papers, not in newspapers and computer magazines because I had always feel disgusted with such lack of knowledge and erroneous advice.

    This guy, as most "experts" in the web, newspapers and magazines, learn most of their advice at the coffee table. That's the fact. And that's why bad technical advice propagates so quickly over the internet. Because there are too many of this "experts" who would hardly understand a scientific paper on RAID, magnetic disks, holographic storage or whatever. So much for "expertise".

  • Jim Says:

    Commenters, & even the author himself, list thesis-defeating reasons to use many of these products (and omit many more). By definition, a technology is not obsolete if there's still a need for it - this article might better be titled "Interesting Reasons why 12 Obsolescent Technologies are Still Useful".

  • Dahn Says:

    HP3000 is still used because equipment was specially made for the connector. I used a modem to give me access to my desktop computer at work, as I suspected my employer would try to "see" my private correspondence. I have a landline, so when the cell towers are out, i can use the phone. I have a world globe as it gives me a better feeling than a flat screen map. I don't use facebook or Geni since I would loose all meaning of having "verification questions" on most web sites. I use FTP and FINGER extensively. I know of XT's in use as quality assurance terminals.

    In much of Europe and Africa countries are attempting to go cashless and use smartphones or credit/debit cards and prevent gray/black transactions. I disagree as we saw the foodstamp program in the US and various power and communications outages would prevent people from purchasing supplies when they most need them.
    A second reason is that with the new wireless credit cards, a card can be stolen (copied) without access to the card, with cash, I can loose some cash, but at least I know it was stolen.

  • Mike Barter Says:

    Dial up, CRT, Film rolls, Dotmatrix printers, were all latest technology of their times.. ;-)

  • Gail Says:

    Our security system requires a land- line. Upgrading would be several hundred dollars for equipment plus a significant increase in our monthly monitoring fees.

  • noah hollinger Says:

    shut up we need all this stuff just f u

  • ria Says:

    As the old saying goes "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". I get really fed up with clueless people who assume just because something is new, that it must be better.

    Windows 98' was a good, reliable, stable system; I didn't have any security software when I used it, never needed any. Since changing to XP and Win 7 I have spent untold amount of time wiping my OS from my computer/reloading the OS and my software; much money on security suites; (and yes I read all the info from pcworld and several other websites/magazines to learn about and buy the best security ware). To no avail, usually once a year, my computer is attacked beyond the security suites capability to block, remove or quarantine the invader because of all of the security holes of the OS editions after '98.

    As said by others LP's sound 100 times better. Not to mention there is a feeling that you get with LP's that you don't get with CD's; playing CD's are a cold impersonal experience.

    REAL cameras provide one with higher quality pictures. Somebody please explain to me what is rational about keeping all of your pictures on computer???? Between possible drive failure, computer attacks, a missing or stolen laptop, privacy issues (Anyone with the knowledge could hack into your computer system steal your photos, delete them or worse yet photoshop one of your pictures and use it for criminal means such as ID theft). What happened to family or friends getting together sharing memories while filling photo albums together??

    My family only buys CRT Tv's, flat screens are tacky, I don't want my tv on my wall. I have a DVD player, but use my VCR much more. Wouldn't part with it and about to buy 2 more.

    New is better??? Perfect example of how this is a NOT, everybody needs to know that the CFL light bulbs can be deadly. They contain lithium and mercury, it is advised that if you break one you should call haz-mat to clean up the mess. A lady reported that she did just that, her house was cordened off and it cost her between hundreds-thousands of dollars to have the mess cleaned up (it has been a while since I heard the story so I forgot which). The Republican Congress requested that in 2007 Bush not pass the law and in 2010 for Obama to repeal the law to slowly do away with incandescent light bulbs (companies in the US had to stop manufacturing bulbs above 60watts a year or so ago and will continue doing away with them, the 40-60 watt bulbs go away next year). Studies have shown that the CFL's cause many health problems. (Ellen Silbergeld professor of enviromental health sciences at John Hopkins university conducted and reported one such study)

    We now live in a society that has no attention span, vain, materialistic and never satisfied or grateful for anything. How can one be grateful for anything if you BELIEVE that you need to run out and buy every gadgit and gizmo that comes out? Throwing away expensive things that you just bought last year because you just GOTTA have the lastest model that comes out tomorrow.

    One last thing, because of the publics materialistic attitude at large, everybody gets screwed. Gone are the days when companies provided choices, strived to make products that were made of lasting materials,and well constructed. The public long ago (around the 80's) started the trend of accepting what ever crap companies threw out in the market place instead of demanding the continuation of products made with high standards. So what do we have now? No choice, everything looks the same, the use of crappy material that easily fall apart even on high dollar items, and poor construction.

  • Jennifer Lantrip Says:

    Fifteen to twenty percent of all Americans live in areas with poor cell phone and broadband service. We don't have a choice, we have to use what works so we use fax machines, pay phones, landline phones, dial up internet and the "old" operating systems that work well with a slow connection. Major telecom companies are not interested in serving us (particularly in rural areas) and we pay a lot more for service than internet royalty in urban areas. How about an informed article on the changes that are needed for us to get the service we need and deserve?

  • TJ Says:

    This guy is completely clueless. Pagers DO have a purpose (such as hospitals), as do fax machines, and everything else this dolt author mentions. Oh, and while vinyl albums do have wow and flutter, the sound of vinyl over digital is so much better, fuller, and richer. There is a LOT less loss and compression, and digital doesn't even come close to comparing vinyl

    Oh, and not everyone has access to broadband connections, hence their use of 56K modems. And NOTHING is more reliable than POTS landlines over copper. NOTHING!

    Avram, you may have a degree in English, but you certainly are no geek. In fact, you sound more like a newbie.

    Me? I've been in the IT industry for nearly 30 years, and give guys like you... those who hold master's degrees, or higher.

  • James Says:

    I still prefer a CRT TV. The specs of my 1990 27" Sony may not be impressive on paper, but the picture looks fantastic. It can keep up with most of the similarly sized flatscreens and has a wider color gamut than any of them. Also the specs like contrast ratio are so inflated that they're meaningless. A good CRT properly set up can produce a higher contrast picture in real world conditions, despite the LCD's bogus 10,000:1 (in a dark room) spec. I have a newer LCD upstairs due to the smaller space it takes, but if size was no object I'd choose a CRT any day.

    Some people are obsessed with the latest and greatest for the sake of having the newest of new, but I figure if it ain't broke, don't "fix" it. Not everything old is bad and not everything new is better.

  • Tom Says:

    How could Windows 98 NOT be better than Windows 8? It's 90 releases later for cripe sakes!

  • Steven Daniels Says:

    Law enforcement cannot use digital cameras.

  • silver Says:

    It might be outdated, but it is not obsolete.

  • d33zy Says:

    I would think Fax over eMail is more secure. While a 5 year old kid is smart enough to "hack"/login onto an email account & send irate stuff, Faxing is a bit more business like as you'll need 2 text book phone numbers & the device it's self. A person with the legal paper in hand, placing & dailing it out AND its very traceable if needed.

  • KiddKong Says:

    I wouldn't say these things are obsolete since they serve their purpose. Faxes are often faster, especially if the document needs printed anyway, and are required in certain circumstances. Digital has it's advantages, though it can hardly be argued that is necessarily better than film, which has it's own advantages and leaves you with a physical negative from that event. Many audiophiles prefer records for that crackling sound on cheaper players, while others will argue that high end turntables are actually more clear than dl's/cd's ------http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDR8q0i0fv8 ----. Landlines are cheaper and more reliable (wish I had one). Plus....nostalgia goes a long way for many people. I should mention that I'm 28 and am really into new tech, but if I could go back 10-15 years when people were not glued to their cell phone/computer, I would do it in a heartbeat. I truly believe we are
    wasting so much time with it that could be used doing more meaningful things, like speaking to each other at dinner.

  • Josh Says:

    I strongly disagree with your view that landlines are becoming obsolete. Landlines offer more security than the average cell phone connection and are far less prone to weather phenomena as cell phone signals and towers are. That is, of course, assuming you don't live in a very isolated part of the US where the phone system hasn't been upgraded since the '60s-'70s...

    Another advantage to landline is the unity in phone numbers. If you want to call Aunt Meg or anyone in her household, chances are if she still has landline service, she's still using the same number she's used for decades. No need to worry about reaching a disconnected cell phone number, or calling cousin Sally on a phone number she changed three break-ups ago. When we made the decision to ditch our landline service last year, it wasn't a decision to be made lightly. We wanted to keep the same old number we had for over 20 years and be able to be reached conveniently. However, the telco had jacked up the monthy cost from $55 or so a month 10 years ago (including area calling) to $100 and rising. And since we have our own cell phones and numbers, there was no need to transfer that number to another phone and incur an additional monthly expense. Unfortunately it had to go.

    As for Win98/2k, I'm not sure about now, but a few years ago I know some software engineers - as well as regular engineers - were still using them since, in their view, it offered a more stable and less buggy platform to run certain software on than XP. Not sure if that argument could be made now though. And as others have pointed out here, they were and still are necessary to run older software.

  • Paul Says:

    Who says it has to be "obsolete"? Sometimes I scan and email, but oftentimes it is easier to just stick it in the fax machine. Several fewer steps!

    If it is easier that way for me, it is not "obsolete". Which I do depends on the task at hand.

    I get really annoyed the Tech Gods declaring what is no longer relevant.

    Another example, I take a mouse with my laptop. It is MUCH handier than using my fingers!

  • Mike Says:

    Phone landlines are used bu home security system

  • Suthrn_Chick Says:

    The landline phones are a necessity for fireman and policeman. In the event of a hurricane, the cell towers are only limited to a certain amount of wind, thus your phone lines can actually be on the ground and still work. Normally, when a storm is coming the cell companies can't keep up with the cell phone calls, but land lines are still the backup.

  • Mike Says:

    CRT TVs still sell to old school gamers. Ever tried to play old NES or PS2 games on a nice big LED screen? They look SO much better on an old CRT.

  • Jon G Says:

    Fax and CRT's aside (which I do not find to be THAT dated), my only comment is with landlines. I have a corporate BB and a personal iPhone but will never 100% rely on VoIP or cell service because they can be spotty and blink off-line.

    Another problem is my building, like many other New Yorker's I know, certain parts of their apt cannot get cell service - too close to the core of the building or just too much interference.

    Aside the better quality of my landline and never having VoIP 'phase out' due to a taxed internet connection (like giving a presentation or watching video) - it never fails, never. Even in blackouts, no problem, connection. During 9/11 - again, cell towers were slammed with load of panic and worried family members, not my land line - worked perfectly fine.

    When the 'end user' (aka those users/customers who are serviced by providers) of the internet has the same reliability of a landline, I may consider switching to VoIP, until then, landlines are still the best form of voice communication in a big city.

  • Eddy J Says:

    bill, bill, bill.... "You shouldn’t be using your phone while you are driving. You are a hazard to everyone else on the road. That is true for even hands free units. ". You missed the point. Land lines are R-E-L-I-A-B-L-E, cell (aka radio) phones ARE NOT for the very reasons stated - coverage and power loses. As far as " a hazard to everyone else on the road" sheesh, MOST people behind the wheel of a vehicle are a hazard never mind using a cell phone. OBTW how you can spend $40,000 or more on a vehicle and NOT afford a hands free device to make your "operation" of a vehicle "safer" is beyond me.
    The final one about "digital" being easier is amusing....A. easy does not equal better...I give you the "automatic" transmission....no less than 5% less efficient than a manual and costing the world millions of gallons of wasted fuel and added heat to the atmosphere. Easy? Sure. Better? I think not.... Now off to listen to my vinyl....;-)

  • Delia Adelia Says:

    Gimmick article. Many of these items have not been 100% replace properly.
    -For instance, film is more expensive except when a picture is needed as legal proof. Authenticating digital pictures is very expensive many times more than film.
    -For operating systems. Even in business we have Windows 98 machines because some of the software does not run on newer OS and no proper substitute was created.
    And landline YOU must be kidding me. VoIP is a BOOMING business and that means land lines have been improving. And it most be nice to work in a nice metropolitan building where you mobile reception everywhere. But many people work in remote, underground (or just very inside a building) where no mobile reception is possible. Last year I went to a conference in downtown LA and the ballroom had 0 reception. And between my group with had all carriers ATT, Sprint, Verizon , TMobile, MetroPCS, Cricket, Boost, Virgin, one even carry a satellite capable phone. None had signal. Fortunately, there was a courtesy room with landlines. Or we had to go up 3 or 4 floors to get signal and some of us needed to go outside.
    Same goes with the FAX and or modem based communication. Sometimes the landline is it. So to send a document that is the only way to do it. And so many businesses has them including a very gimmicky one called Tech Media Network 801.452.####. A fax number is that for possibly people with fax machines? Also is the Tech Media main number a mobile phone or is it a LAND LINE?

  • Sharif Says:

    I still use a land line because it's reliable during a power outage, and because it is so much more convenient for a family of five. For any family related affairs, you just give out your home phone, and whoever is available at home will pick up a phone call and take care of it.
    VHS tapes are more reliable than DVD because a VHS tape degrades gradually while DVD's are either on or off (analog vs digital).
    And as for old computers, the productivity gain from simply just having a computer is enough for most people. Most people don't care if their computer is running windows XP or windows 7. The only thing they care about is if the computer will meet their needs. If this translates to word processing, web browsing, and media playback, then most any computer will do. And some people actually need those older computers to run legacy programs. It is true that they could replace it with a modern computer with a virtual machine, but there's no reason to do so if you've got a perfectly good, functioning computer.

  • ELH Says:

    While dot matrix may be more expensive to purchase they are far cheaper to use. A new ribbon for a dot matrix may be $6.00 but will last weeks under heavy use. An ink cartridge is $18.00 but last days!

  • bill Says:

    > And the carriers have nowhere near the coverage they need. I barely get a connection at home and my drive to work has several spots where service is lost.

    You shouldn't be using your phone while you are driving. You are a hazard to everyone else on the road. That is true for even hands free units.

    As someone else stated, much/most cell phone usage is unnecessary - just inane blather or time wasting game playing. Several times I have seen two people walking down the sidewalk (side by side), texting each other instead of simply talking directly.

  • bill Says:

    > A lot of people still use film because it produces a different look — seldom as sharp as digital

    I disagree somewhat:

    1) The resolution of digital cameras still does not equal that of a fine grain film. They are getting better, but have a long way to go.

    2) Pixels are approximations as they are rectangular. This often makes the reproduced lines jagged. When the resolution improves, this will become less of an issue. With film, the rounded grains make this less obvious.

    3) The number of colors that can be produced digitally is limited by the amount of storage required. For film, the number of colors is essentially infinite.

    4) With film, you can have superimposed colors - with digital you have to compromise with them being side-by-side - so the eye does the blending, not the reproduction media.

    On the other hand, there are a number of digital advantages:

    1) Modern digital sensors are far more sensitive than film. This allows taking acceptable available light pictures in dimmer light than is possible with film.

    2) Digital imaging is far less expensive than using film.

    3) You can immediately look at what you have obtained - rather than waiting until after the film is processed.

    4) If you shoot in RAW, there are all sorts of image processing techniques that are difficult or impossible with film.

  • Keith Says:

    I can't agree that landlines are obsolete. It is a relatively inexpensive communication method and it works. The same cannot be said about cell phones. The handset manufacturers are more interested in selling me a mobile entertainment system with the latest wiz-bang features than a better phone. (Yes, these things can actually be used to make phone calls) And the carriers have nowhere near the coverage they need. I barely get a connection at home and my drive to work has several spots where service is lost. At least I have the privilege of paying a ridiculous amount of money for this spotty service. No, cell phones are still just an expensive convenience item.

    And for vinyl, the LP is still the best...

  • Dave Scott Says:

    I agree with labman57. Film offers something that digital does not. While it might be possible to copy tones and feeling exactly on the print, digital cannot give you the link to the past that an instant picture or a slide can-those items were there at that time and are unique. Some see them as more special and more honest than the cold and sterile digital pixels.

    I would like to see the reference for these numbers, by the way.

    Oh, and KM-I love my landline! It's dependable!

  • labman57 Says:

    One must weigh degree of obsolescence against cost of upgrade. Many people simply cannot afford to buy the latest, greatest techie gizmos ... especially if they come with a service contract.

  • Jesse Fell Says:

    A lot of people still use film because it produces a different look -- seldom as sharp as digital, but richer in tones, and somehow, more real looking. And there are superb films available to anyone who wants to try using them. For anyone interested, I'd recommend picking up a Pentax K-1000 (which you can get very cheap) and give it a try.

  • JB Says:

    Dear Author -- pagers are used primarily by doctors and nurses as required by hospitals. Privacy issues and HIPPA regs make it difficult for hospitals to easily update technology. It's inefficient but is a cheap way or hospitals to avoid the security tech they will have invest ito use phones. Its a big issue and much has been written on it that could be found with a quick web search.

  • KM Says:

    In regards to the idea that landlines are completely obsolete is somewhat off base.
    -There are still parts of the US that have horrid cellphone reception or no cell reception at all.
    -When the power goes out telephone lines still work...but your cellphone is going to go dead because you can't charge it.
    -If an emergency arises at home, I always know where my landline phone is, and don't need to worry if I left my cellphone in the bathroom, bedroom, in the kitchen, or if it fell into the couch when I fell asleep reading a book (not on a kindle).

  • A D DiSorda Says:

    @JP in your passion to disagree, you fail to even comprehend what @Sim was saying:
    (i. e. @Sim did not say you could not send legal documents via email). He said you couldn't send legally signed ones. And he is perfectly correct in saying that.
    You also completely missed his second point. He was not talking about security. He was talking about the possibility of random data corruption.
    You seemed to get it.

  • Rakesh Says:

    CRT's are still popular because:

    - Next to no input lag
    - Gamuts are still compared to CRT's, only high end LCD's (and plasma's) can match a last generation CRT's gamut (ask tftcentral.co.uk)
    - Fast response time (hail the electron beam)
    - Warm (plasma like) colours
    - Standard definition signals still look much better on a CRT (although a plasma comes close)
    - Better viewing angles than LCD's

    It took a scratch on the coating of my 24 Inch (2304x1440 max res, gaming/video was awesome) Sony GDM-FW900 FD Trinitron tube, before I replaced it with IPS-Alpha/AH-IPS panels.

  • max Says:

    Well these items might become obsolete but laptopmag will surely be obsolete sooner than that because of its "next-next-next" type of articles where user has keep clicking for the reading a little piece of the article and because of such writers who says that people are "too cheap" because they don't pay for high speed internet access .

  • DC Says:

    Obsolete does not equal not useful

  • SexyWaterBuffalo Says:

    Once again Laptop has force it's viewers to click many, many times for tiny bits of information. I thought we'd fixed this issue of you falsely inflating page clicks for your advertisers.

  • John Says:

    This article is really about the author's ignorance. His attitude is "I don't know about these things so it's time for them to go." There are good reasons why people still use all these things but he's a tech snob.

  • nofluer Says:

    Mr/Ms Pittch - perhaps from your eyrie in techland your addiction to the newest and fastest, you have failed to notice the tendency of "new tech" to attempt to take over your life? You don't own new tech. It owns you. Just for grins and giggles, try to count the number of times per day you take out your cell phone (obsolete terminology?) and just look at it to see if you may have missed a call, or a tweet, or something that you cannot live without. Then look at a cache of your tweets from saaay a week or two ago. Read every tweet you read or sent, guestimate how much time you spent doing that, then honestly ask yourself if ANY of those absolutely necessary communications changed your life or made it different in ANY meaningful way. (And TRY to be honest with yourself. No one is looking over your shoulder... or are they?)

    Then you should put the gadgets away and consider what you COULd have done with that time that would be more meaningful to yourself or to those around you or those who REALLy care about you. Are you perhaps beginning to get the idea? If not, then when you are 70 or 80 years old, if you haven't fried your brain with all those electronic emmissions, look back at your life and see what YOU have done with it that will make a bit of meaningful difference to the world and what kind of legacy you'll leave behind you when you die, and will anyone miss you, or even notice that you're gone?

  • JP Says:

    @Sim - #1 is untrue. Emailing documents is perfectly legal. What is not valid is signing via email. Remember that a fax is just a scanned image transmitted "digitally". Email is the same thing, but far more efficient.

    #2 is another falsehood. Cassette tapes are the least safe media. A very large number of hospitals are well behind the curve in technology. Same goes for medical device manufacturers which use way too much very insecure technology.

    #3 well...won't argue with that.