Obsolete technology: 40 big losers

CRT monitors, DOS prompts, video cassettes... giving someone your undivided attention during a social interaction next?

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 an Audiocassette

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 AOL Disk or CD in the Mail

Status: Deceased

Ever wonder how many of those floppies and CDs AOL sent out over the years? You're not alone. But no one seems to know the answer. The supply of AOL 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 GOOG-411 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 mimeograph paper any day now in the museum of antiquities. And I doubt that anyone's complaining.

38. Sending Documents via Fax

Status: Showing signs of illness

Why fax when you can attach? Especially since most documents are now created on computers, the facsimile may soon find itself on the endangered species list. Fear not, though, Office Space fans: The legend "PC Load Letter" will live on forever.

39. Rockin' Out With Your Boombox

Status: Nearly deceased

Your iPod may look cool, but can you balance it on your shoulder and blare your funky beats at obnoxiously high volumes? Didn't think so. The boombox-- also known as the jambox, the ghetto blaster, or the jerkface apparatus--reached its peak popularity during the 1980s, when big hair, stone-washed jeans, and bad dancing enjoyed similarly unaccountable heydays. Though updated editions of the boombox may be on the market today, the era of not being able to ride in peace on a randomly selected public conveyance on a randomly selected day is, thankfully, behind us.

40. Giving Someone Your Undivided Attention During a Social Interaction

Status: Showing signs of illness

Oh, come on--talking without simultaneously texting or tweeting is so 2008.

More Chances to Live in the Past

For further excursions down memory lane, see the following articles from our archives:

o The Floppy Rises Again

o The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years

o The Most Collectible PCs of All Time

o The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

When not distracted by Twitter, Contributing Editor JR Raphael gives his undivided attention to eSarcasm, his new geek humor site.

What technology do you miss? We'd love to see your comments, either below or on our far-from-obsolete Facebook page.

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JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
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