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Technology I Used But My Grandkids Never Will ~Obsolescence

Updated on September 9, 2013

Ah, the GOOD Old Days... Or Were They?

Remember typewriters with ribbons?
Remember typewriters with ribbons? | Source
Old typewriter ribbon, black on the bottom, red on top.
Old typewriter ribbon, black on the bottom, red on top. | Source
Oh yeah, the tangled mess that could be created with these things!
Oh yeah, the tangled mess that could be created with these things! | Source
Ah, that old "dial" telephone. And the noises it made while the dial spun. Memories!
Ah, that old "dial" telephone. And the noises it made while the dial spun. Memories! | Source
If you were lucky, you had a "pretty" phone in a color.
If you were lucky, you had a "pretty" phone in a color. | Source
Wow, this thing reminds me of something you'd see today in an OLD government office!
Wow, this thing reminds me of something you'd see today in an OLD government office! | Source
Boy did seeing THIS picture ever bring back memories! And these things were COOL when they first came out!
Boy did seeing THIS picture ever bring back memories! And these things were COOL when they first came out! | Source
Old VHS tapes. Boy did they ever take up ROOM! If you go into second hand stores you'll find piles of these.
Old VHS tapes. Boy did they ever take up ROOM! If you go into second hand stores you'll find piles of these. | Source
UGH! I used to HATE when this would happen!
UGH! I used to HATE when this would happen! | Source
Good ole Scooby Doo! Scooby snack anyone?
Good ole Scooby Doo! Scooby snack anyone? | Source
Remember camera's that used rolls of film? Made nearly obsolete by the invention of digital cameras.
Remember camera's that used rolls of film? Made nearly obsolete by the invention of digital cameras. | Source

Sometimes You Just Shake Your Head And Say "When Did THAT Go Out Of Style?"

I can remember back when I was growing up that whenever a new technology was introduced, people would think (whatever it was) is the latest and greatest technology available and they would rush out to buy it. Just to be able to say "I have one of those!" That was a huge deal. To have the latest and greatest back then, all the neighbors would look at you with that envy look like "well, looks like the Jones's are doing well!"

I was thinking about some of those old things, things that when they first came out were amazing.. surely technology will never invent something better than this! Was I ever in for a surprise! Today, technology changes so often that if you buy something "new" today, it is obsolete (or on the way to being obsolete) within six months. How times have changed!

I can remember the days when it seemed as if everyone had a home phone, which for most was a land-line phone. And usually it had a rotary dial on it. Those were advanced for back then. An even bigger advancement was when push button phones came along. I also remember when people rented their phone from the phone company for a few dollars a month! Remember that? Or am I dating myself here?

I have read the occasional story even today of someone (usually someone who lives WAY out in the sticks...someplace pretty isolated) who is still renting that phone. By now, it's been calculated that they've paid around $20,000 easily for that phone...ah, those were the days... or were they?

I was thinking the other day about how there are things, like the rotary phone with a CORD, that my grand-kids will NEVER even know existed except from reading about them in books...or by hearing stories about them from Grandma or Grandpa. I remember trying to talk on the CORDED phone years ago while a little brother and his friends were running through the house screaming, and they would almost RIP that cord from the wall by running into it!

Just try talking to a new boyfriend on one of those puppies sometime... kids these days have NO IDEA how rough we had it back then! You'd have to try to duck into a LINEN CLOSET, tangled cord and all, just to get any privacy!

Then when I went to school, after walking five miles, uphill, in a snowstorm... When we had papers that were due, if they needed to be typed, they were typed on an old manual typewriter... with keys that moved upward when you pushed down on them, and those keys would make an "imprint" of the letter on the paper. And those typewriter ribbons! Remember those?

They were usually black on the bottom and red on the top. When you'd try changing them, they would sometimes end up in a tangled MESS that needed to have the knots patiently removed. Ah, the good old days! Ugh, not so much.

Finally, electric typewriters were invented, NO MORE RIBBONS!! But still not nearly as nice as the computers kids these days (and adults) use. Just type your text on a screen today and print. Easy! Well, at least easier than those old manual typewriters. The thing is... even computers that first came out years ago are now obsolete. Some of them are pretty antiquated looking now by today's standards. It seems the only place you see these old computers these days are in government offices that haven't quite ... caught up with the rest of society yet!

And then they invented "cordless phones". Wow, how amazing! And I look back on them now and think... wow, they sure were HUGE... and the kind we had look like ANTIQUES today! We had a big cordless phone for a while that pretty much looks like this one pictured here. It was a big deal back then... how in the world did they invent a phone with NO cord? We just HAD to have one of these! They were pretty amazing "back in the day."

Today's kids will probably see the day when their grand-kids ask them to tell the story again about iPhones, how they had to use their finger to swipe across them to make a new page appear. "Tell us that one again, grandma!" Who knows WHAT technology will be like when today's kids grow up and have grand-kids of their own someday!

There were days back when our boys were little (twins) back in the late 1980's and early 1990's when I thought I'd go crazy if it hadn't been for the invention of VHS tapes! FINALLY! The kids were no longer limited to weekday afternoon cartoons and Saturday morning cartoons. All of their favorites could be brought into the living room simply by popping a VHS tape into a tape player. They could watch "Scooby Doo" until they were "Scooby-dood" out. Not really, because "mean old Mom" would come to a point where I'd have to say ENOUGH! And then send them outside to play.

But those old VHS tapes sure were nice on rainy days when "there's nothing to DO, Mom!" They could watch a movie, cartoon, whatever they liked from the trusty VHS tape collection. I look back on it now and think "those things sure took up a lot of ROOM"! You'd have to almost have special furniture just for the VHS tapes... and heaven forbid if one of them ended up all tangled up like that old typewriter ribbon... I can remember owning a few of those tangled messes that ended up in the trash from being "eaten" by the VHS player!

I think we had two of the BIGGEST "Scooby Doo" fans on the PLANET at the time, and some of those cartoons were definitely entertaining. I have to admit, Mom even began to become a Scooby fan after a while!

Today it is even easier with all of the cable channels and cartoon channels for kids. There is virtually no waiting, a cartoon can be on with just the pressing of a couple of buttons. But what has that taught kids today about patience? I imagine one of the hardest things today for a kid is having to wait in a line (heck, there are adults who can't stand it either).

Waiting ~ Back When Patience Was Considered A Virtue ~

But waiting for something back then DID help to foster patience in a person's character. I fear that today many more people (adults included) are turning into impatient "spoiled brats" for lack of a better term, because of all of this immediate gratification. Look at lines that aren't moving fast enough in a department store and see how deplorable the behavior of some adults can become.

Sometimes I look back and think are we really better off today with advanced technology? Or are the "old days" better in some ways? Kids years ago had to learn to entertain themselves, maybe by drawing, maybe by writing or by playing games and make believe ... by doing something other than staring at a flickering box. Or, heaven forbid, they might even go outdoors and exercise!

And one thing I know kids today will most likely never remember are cameras that use FILM. I doubt, unless they grow up to be huge camera buffs and love using the old film cameras, most will never have any idea how to load film into a camera, or how to wind it to the end and remove that film to have it "developed." They will look at Grandma like she is from another planet when I try to tell them about cameras that used film, and about "negatives".

Back when our boys were little, I always had a camera nearby, it was an old 110 film camera... just in case they "did something CUTE"... that camera came in handy. Oh the blackmail... I mean CUTE PICTURES I have today of the boys! Girls especially love to see the picture of "Bert and Ernie" when they dressed up that one Halloween when they were about two years old.

But I do have a feeling that my grand-kids might never know what using a "film" camera is like. In fact, by the time they have grand-kids of their own, I would venture to guess that there may not even BE cameras any more. With more and more cameras being built into cell phones, the camera as we know it might cease to exist. Professional photographer's may still use them for special occasions, but the average person will most likely just rely on their phone... or who knows what else in the future. Maybe a ring that takes pictures? A contact lens that can take a picture? Bond... James Bond comes to mind.

I was reading an article recently about the types of obsolescence which made me think about how fleeting things are in this life. The biggest areas of life today where obsolescence is experienced happen to be in technology. Technological advancements happen so rapidly, that some folks today are virtually being "left behind" by the speed of all of them.

Then there is style obsolescence, where something simply "goes out of style" like in clothing styles. Or functional obsolescence, such as when a new mobile phone service comes out and an "old" one goes out of business, forcing people that relied on the old service to find another.

I read a story a while back about the oldest living person in the world, she was 116 YEARS old! This means that she was born in 1896. Know what else that means? She has seen everything from the Great Depression to the Civil War to the invention of television to the first man on the moon to... today's technology with smart phones, and everything in an instant. Instant gratification was definitely NOT a "buzzword" back in her day. I found this to be amazing!

I guess I can only hope that among all of the obsolete things, the one thing that never becomes "obsolete" are Grandparents and that special relationship that they can bring into a child's life. That connection with the past fondly remembered, blended with new memories that are being created is enduring and priceless. There is nothing in this world more special.

What Do You Think Will Become Obsolete In The Near Future?

Do You Think Smart Phones And Tablets Will Become Obsolete?

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    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      You've brought up such great points, Bob! :) Yesterday's technology sure does have some terrific advantages! We were at a gallery recently looking at huge photographs (these were amazing photos of beautiful places, not snapshot type photos)... and I thought to myself you sure couldn't blow up digital pictures to look that clear and beautiful, you're right! Thanks so much for your great comments! :)

    • BobMonger profile image


      7 years ago from Carlin, Nevada USA

      Ah the times we've had, eh. But all is not lost, even though I did see a rotary dial phone made of "Bakelite" (that was before our time, too!) for sale on e-bay starting at $500. Some of our local high school kids are starting to see the advantages of the old technology. I've been asked for a manual type writer because its batteries won't ever die and it doesn't need to be plugged in. A cheap film camera's picture can be blown up with better resolution than a digital. And, yes, even books are making a comeback because they're just plain handy. I've even found someone to teach the slide rule to.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Alecia! I think you may be on to something. I noticed a difference between our sons and our two grand-daughters. Everything is so "instant" these days. Our sons had to wait for a favorite cartoon to come on. Today (for grandkids) it's either on a DVD or someone has DVR'd it for them and they can have it instantly. Although we DID have VHS tapes back then! Ha!!! (laughing because those are almost obsolete now!)

      As far as information, I know my sons know how to use a library... but it has become more convenient to get information from the Internet for sure! Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      8 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I was born in the late 80s so I'm probably around the same age as your sons. But I understand your hub as well. When I grew up, the internet was very slow and I spent five minutes on it- now two clicks and I've visited three or four pages in five minutes. It is amazing how fast technology has advanced.

      But in terms of growing up, I think we were the last generation who had a real appreciation for being imaginative and exploring things without so much technology. I think that's one thing kids now don't experience. Interesting hub, voted up!

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, teaches! I had forgotten about the hand held phone devices available now that kids can attach to iphones and ipods. Pretty funny - I wonder if it is some kind of karma thing? Thanks for sharing your thoughtful comment! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      I think it is funny that some kids want to attach a hand-held phone device to their iphone/ipod for use. It is "cool" as they say. Yes, some things of the past will be appreciated for the purpose intended. This was quite interesting.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thank you so much, Seeker7! :) Glad I could help to bring back some memories, thank you for sharing your memories! And thank you for the votes as well, much appreciated!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      8 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Fabulous hub and this has brought back so many memories!! I remember our school bought about 8 electric typewriters and the rest were still manuals. There would be a mad dash every Tuesday afternoon to secretarial class to try and nab one of the electrics instead of the manuals!! I don't know how many times my small/pinkie finger got scratched and cut with the manuals as it used to miss the end keys and slip in between - very sore!!!

      VHS recorders and tapes - the recorders were at first huge machines. I thought this was magical being able to record my favourite programmes or buy a movie I hadn't seen for years.

      But as you say, the modern technology now, will one day be as dry and dead as our favourites from the past are now. There is something exciting about that, but also very sad.

      I loved this wonderful hub - voted up interesting + awesome!


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