Twenty Things That Died This Decade

Saturday, January 15, 2011
A few weeks ago, The Huffington Post published an article called You're Out: 20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade. I'm a little confused by which decade they're talking about (2000-2010, or if they mean the current decade we're in) but looking through the list, I have to say I can't think of any other decade where the current technology of its time became replaceable at such a rapid rate. To save some space, I'm choosing only ten from their list (you can see the rest by visiting the link.) So remove your hat and let's have a moment of silence for these pop culture objects and concepts that are either RIP or dangerously close to flatlining:

VCRs and VHS Tapes
I don't care how advanced recordable technology becomes, I'll always remember when my father purchased our family's first VHS VCR in 1981 or so. WHAT a concept at the time: recording shows and movies...recording shows and movies while you weren't home...and recording shows and movies while watching a show or movie on another channel! I think he easily paid $600 or more for the machine which was considered a big splurge at the time. 

Travel Agents
Yeah, this is one career move not to pursue these days. Come to think of it, I've never met anyone who said they worked for a travel agency. Now all of you have to do is just consult Mr. Expedia.

Photo credit Gloucester, A Bottled Spider, Flickr
The Separation Between Work Life and Personal Life
I don't know about you, but sometimes I wish the two weren't so conjoined. Very few workers are allowed to have a life anymore. Mobile devices mean we are connected to our work at all times, and we're expected to be answering email up until 11 PM. Sad because most of our time should be making our personal and family life a priority.

Just another reason why I'm not a fan of the Kindle and other handheld reading devices; places that did double duty as retail providers and social hangouts are slowly being eradicated. I would also add record stores to this list. 

Someone warn Mickey Mouse that his days as a time keeper are numbered. When the time is constantly displayed on that smartphone you constantly keep turned on, who needs to look at their wrist any more?

First it was Google maps, then GPS that has made the good old fashioned paper map obsolete. Still, there are instances where I think it's beneficial to look at an entire town or section of a city all at once to get an idea of the layout of the land. 

I remember what a convenience it seemed at the time to play a CD - no more fast forwarding or reminding a tape to find the song you wanted to hear or skip over. Now even these are too clunky and inconvenient, thanks to iTunes and iPods. But what I don't like even more than the death of CDs is the redundancy of album cover art thanks to virtual music downloading and sharing.

Yellow Pages and Address Books
Let your fingers do the texting...however, for the sake of senior citizens, many of whom don't own a mobile device, address books are a necessity.

Fax Machines
I'd say I use the fax machine in my office once, maybe twice a year. Now all you have to do is scan a document and email it as an attachment. 

Hand-Written Letters
This one makes me sad. There's nothing quite as eloquent and rare today as receiving a hand-written letter. 

I'd add phone booths and public phones to HP's list...unless you're in England, you're not going to be seeing too much of these anymore.


  1. They should have added stereos unless that was "so two decades ago." I was looking for either that or a karaoke type machine for my son over Christmas and they were no where to be found,not unless you include that it may only contain an iPod dock. That was sad.

    Also K-Mart has completely fazed out CD's. RIP


  2. @Lisa - what! No more traditional karaoke machines? Some good additions there including stereos...long live the boombox.

  3. I think you can add main stream media (network news and newspapers) to this list. With 24/7 media sources the relevance of these once powerful news outlets is certainly waning.

  4. Wow! Great post. I also miss the VHS. I remember going to the video store when I was little, very fond memories. Now I rent from Netflix, there are a lot more selections on there as far as what to rent. It just isn't the same as renting VHS from my local video store.

    I saw this awhile back about the bookstores, hoping that they were just THINKING it over, not REALLY closing. I'm upset that there will be no more bookstore. Honestly Barnes & Noble & Borders were a little pricey in their selection. It was nice just to sit & relax & read a book there in my leisure time. They mentioned e-books people could use. Unfortunately it says we have to purchase the book, then download it online. I guess I'll just have to resort to books, because you can get great bargains there.

    It's crazy there are so many changes happening especially with all the advanced technology of today.

  5. @42N - good one. Bloggers and gossip sites often get the big scoop before the big gun media sources do.

    @Alessandra - I'll be very disappointed too if bookstores go completely kaput. We do have some big Barnes & Nobles stores in my whether they still have music sections that sell CDs I'm not sure. I really need to do a post soon in homage to the record store...I was sad when the one in my town closed.

  6. We still have maps in our car. They come in VERY handy.

    I was told a few years ago by a college professor that kids don't use watches anymore, just the phone.

    I still use CDs, I don't know how many times I've heard people say "My iPod crashed"; "My phone crashed"; "My computer crashed." I don't really want to loose all my great music. And I don't think you mean "the redundancy of album cover art."

  7. This is a very interesting and thought provoking post (I'll apologise with my rather lengthy rambled response now!)

    The VHS recorder.. I have mixed feelings about the demise of this item! My family were the first in our street to own one, we had neighbours peering through our lounge windows to get a glimpse!! Renting a 'video' was a real treat. Nowadays,with dvds so cheap to buy on Amazon and movies available on 'pay per view' etc, going to 'Blockbuster' has lost its enjoyment value.. The cinema is always best. Besides they took up so much space (as do cds)

    Maps.. I love my sat nav,it has releived so much stress off going on long journeys.

    I feel the same as you about written letters, they are special but with the advent of the internet and email I wouldn't be reading so much interesting stuff, emailing people across the globe etc The world is indeed a smaller place now and (for the most part) better for it.

    As for wrist watches.. don't get me started! Horology is a little hobby of mine. Watches will always be around. Young women are wearing 'TOY' watches (a fad started last summer) and the myriad of imitations from cheaper brands. Teens into Casio G Shock watches (ugly but there's no account for taste) and guys (with enough money in their pockets) are wearing Bell and Ross watches (many opt for cheaper alternatives in the same style)

    For me, you can't beat the watches of the 50's - 70's, where most current watches get their inspiration from.

    Anyway, I'm done now, I have to email my work!!

  8. Very interesting post - and kind of sad. I like bookstores alot and would never want one of those Kindle and other such things.

    I do still have my VCR but unfortunately thanks to the cable company can't do all that I used to be able to do on it like watch one show and tape another. They do this purposely so you have to give them more money for DVR which I can't afford. Wow - your first VCR cost even more than ours in 1983 - close to 425.00.

    I don't have an iPod and still like the cds and it's a shame that some places don't even sell them anymore. I did download a few songs from amazon but can't figure out how to make a cd of them that plays on my stereo and discman. It only works on my computer.

    I have very good memories of sending letters to my friend in PA in the 70's and 80's. I loved the stationary that we had. My fave was her Kermit and my Miss Piggy.

    I could go on and on about this subject but it's time for me to watch the Australian Open now.

  9. I don't know what decade they are speaking of but I was thinking that home phones are dying, and yes network television if no one else mentioned it. We will probably soon just download the shows we want to watch (the exception will be sports and live events). So I guess DVR's and television commercials will be dying as well. I just found your blog and I love it!!!

  10. @Retro Hound - What I meant was the downloading of music is making album cover art redundant, since no one is seeing least not in its original larger size. Likewise the Kindle could make book covers obsolete as well because when someone is in a public place using one, there's no way to tell what book they're reading.

    @Budd - I think I agree with you on watches...I know I'll always own one since they double as a fashion statement. I hope clocks don't go out of production, either (I love my George Nelson sunburst clock.)

    @LaraAnn - my mother has a VCR that I bought for her on eBay and it works fine with her basic cable. I still have a ton of stuff on VHS as I just don't feel like spending the money right now on the DVD versions.

    @Jo Jo - welcome and thanks for your comments! I'm happy you found my blog. Good point about network's so easy to find and watch virtually anything online now. BTW, I love your profile pic because I am a HUGE Bobby Darin fan!

  11. I read the original article, as well as you own and I found it incorrect. ALL of those things are still around, just not the way they used to be.
    Of the original list, the ones that are closest to dissapearing for good are:
    Phone sex
    Film and film cameras (almost 100% gone1)
    Dial up internet
    Hand written letters

    The rest will be around for at least another decade.

  12. The rumors of my death are "slightly" exaggerated.

    Everyone I know wears a watch and I gave three this year to friends and family.

    I use a FAX everyday and they are plentiful at the local office supply store.

  13. We still have alot of VHS tapes too and don't plan of spending money to replace them with DVDs either. My brother has gotten some of them for mom though like White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life. Our very first VCR lasted us like 19 years and our second one only 4 - they sure don't make things like they used to. I just hope the 3rd hangs in there for a while longer.

  14. I read a really interesting article about a year or so ago on things that will be no longer by the end of this century and two of them shocked me that they still existed. They were:

    Milk Men

    Actually there are over 2 million people in this country who still use outhouses! When I read that, aside from slight nausea (!), I realize how fast technology is moving and how it's given no consideration for a lot of factors. The vhs player and the tapes are still being used to a large degree, but the big companies aren't producing anything new. I was in a small town DVD store recently and saw 80% vhs.

    Corporate America wants to force us to buy new products -- it's why I see more Blu Ray and less regular DVDs at Best Buy. They want to deplete the current and then make us buy newer, so the money keeps getting passed to them.

    I still mostly buy vhs. Call me a rebel!

    Great articles and I agree, the death of the handwritten letter is so sad.


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