Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Six Soon To Be Obsolete Technologies

At my recent high school reunion I got into a conversation about technologies that we grew up with that are now obsolete. One of my favorite down time sites is devoted to obsolete computer equipment (ah, the Trash-80!). Here is a short list of six technologies that are fading, some fast:
Photographic Film. My wife's 92-year-old grandmother may have the only film camera in the family (well, I still have analog Nikon body). The sound of the thumb wheel click while advancing the film and the click/whir of the automatic are fading. A sign that this is coming soon includes Kodak's June, 2009 announcement that they stopped producing the venerable Kodachrome. (see also: "The Music CD").

Stamp Vending Machines. The USPS is in the process of removing all Stamp vending machines from the local post offices by 2010. If one needs stamps after the post office closes one will need to go to a pharmacy, grocery store, or make use of an online service or one of their Automated Postal Centers.

The Music CD: The current CD format will go away fairly soon as the shift from physical media to downloadable content continues. Emergent technologies such as flash drives and the CD-DVD provide alternative physical formats. Then again, we still have yet to shovel all the dirt on top of analog vinyl records. (See also: Photographic film)

LCD Displays. The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays will take over from LCD since they draw less power and can operate longer on a battery charge. OLED technology is already in use in small screen applications such as mobile phones, MP3 players, car radios, and digital cameras.
Wrist Watches. Who really needs a watch for timekeeping when practically every electronic device has a clock? Watches are are more about fashion and less about function these days.

Antivirus Software. Having antivirus software installed on individual computers is becoming increasingly ineffective. The U of Mich announced a cloud computer approach called CloudAV that can identify malicious software at the network level.

What technologies do you see fading away that were once a part of your everyday life?
Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

Stamp machines -- really? Those are still very useful. I get charged a service charge for getting stamps at the bank. And I have to pay a shipping and handling fee online. That stinks.

waltc said...

I think you (or the site you're quoting) conflate actually obsolescent/obsolete (stamp vending machines) and potentially obsolescent (CDs, LCDs, wrist watches, antivirus).

I think it's *way* too early to write off LCD, given the apparent difficulty in producing large, usable OLEDs. Ditto wrist watches, for other reasons (not just fashion: flipping your wrist up to check the time is simply convenient) and PC-based antivirus software. Trust my computer's health to the cloud? That means I have to trust the cloud source entirely--which ain't gonna happen any time soon.

Note: I'd be delighted to see OLED replace LCD, but we're nowhere near being there yet. The others are different cases.

Eric Schnell said...

As always, thanks for your observation(s) Walt.

I guess I was thinking provincially on the antivirus software and failed to articulate it. I could see institutions like OSU protecting their network using a 'local cloud' solution.

OEMs like Panasonic have indicated their intention to replace LCD with OLED. It will be quite a while before LCD could be made obsolete, as you point out, since OLED development is just underway.

waltc said...

Well, yes, a "local cloud" solution could be promising... and, you know, I'd love to buy a big-screen OLED TV, but so far the best you can do is Sony's $2,000 12" technology demonstration. [I'd also love to replace our incandescent and CFL lights with LEDs; wonder when that's going to be cost-effective?]

waltc said...

I suspect that, for most of us, grocery stores replaced stamp vending machines--at least around here, nearly every grocery store (and most drug stores) sell stamps with no markup. Given the odd prices of stamps, the vending machines were probably more trouble than they were worth.

gogo said...

I happen to love my new Star Wars Lego analog wristwatch, the first I've worn in years! Everyone in the family got them in Chicago during ALA!