20 Dying Technologies

by Allacyn - Jan 18, 2011

These days, It seems like there are new advances in technology every day – and then the next day there is another one making the one before it obsolete. Bloomberg Businessweek recently came up with a list of 20 dying technologies and some were very surprising. Read the list below and let me know what you think. Are these technologies really going to die? How long will it take for them to become completely obsolete?

Combustion engines

Oil spills, rising gas prices, pollution – all reasons for a push for new, cleaner technology. There have been a lot of options that have been played with as replacements for combustion engines. One of these taking off will require the infrastructure to support the idea – think charging stations instead of gas stations!

Consumer video cameras

Smartphones are already on their way to replacing video cameras, with many being able to record 720p high definition video. Once the video quality and capabilities on phones are improved, video cameras will be obsolete. Hopefully this is a few years off for the sake of those who just bought Flip Video Cameras!

Credit cards

Several companies are currently developing payment ideas that would do away with credit cards. Some are involving biometrics as their identification method. Imagine a day where making a purchase requires a fingerprint scan

Desktop PCs

Let’s face it, most people don’t want to be stationary. We want the technology to come to us, to follow us wherever we go. The growing number of people who own laptops, tablets, and smartphones have made the number of people who own desktop computers drop. However, I don’t think that they will die out completely (at least anytime soon). Desktop computers are capable of housing far more powerful components than laptops or tablets, making them ideal for gaming or photo/video editing.

DVDs and Blu-ray

Physical media in general is declining in favor of portable, digital formats, but why bother with purchasing an actual disc for a movie when you have access to on-demand content streamed online? Your entire library can be stored on servers somewhere else and accessed within an instant. That means no more annoying plastic cases laying around or having to devote a section of your house to your media collection.

Digital music players

As with most everything else on this list, the more smartphones become “do-it-all” devices, the less of a need there is for specialized devices like digital music players. Most smartphones come with a large amount of internal storage, but also offer a memory card slot for expanded storage, which could put their capacity over the amount most digital music players offer. Couple that with the internet capabilities, and you have a device that stores a large number of songs, and allows you to download and store more on the go.


E-Readers have just recently become popular, with Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook not only giving you a portable device that makes reading easier, but providing you with a service to give you access to most everything you would want to read. However, with the growing market for tablets like the iPad, the need for e-readers is disappearing. Tablets aren’t the best for reading, compared to specialized e-readers that are designed to reduce eye strain and make text easier to read, but combine the e-reader functionality with web browsing, media streaming, mobile gaming, and many other tools, and you get strong competition for the e-reader industry.

Fax Machines

Many will argue that fax machines are already obsolete, but there is still a market for them, especially in businesses that require their customers to fax signed documents. The problem that the Bloomberg Businessweek article states, is that fax machines were designed to convert a piece of paper into a digital document and send it across analog phone lines, where the other fax machine will convert it back into a digital document and print it out. With a scanner, you can create a digital document and email it without the extra conversions a fax machine would require.

Game consoles

As with everything else, people are looking to de-clutter their entertainment systems by opting for televisions and television peripherals that connect to the internet and are capable of streaming media. The more the technology evolves, the less of a need there will be for a separate system for gaming. This doesn’t necessarily mean that gaming will go away, so don’t get too excited ladies – he will still be able to play Call of Duty.


Are those still around? Outside of hospitals not really, but until cell phone coverage is more reliable, there will be a need for pagers in the medical field. Once coverage and signal strength is improved, you will see doctors opting for their more capable phones.

GPS systems

It was at this point in the list that we decided this list could easily be titled “Devices Smartphones Have Killed” and most of it would still apply. Most smartphones today come with GPS capability, which means one less thing to pack in the car for a road trip. There are even apps out there that will let you find your parked car in a busy parking lot. Stand-alone GPS units still have their benefits over GPS-enabled smartphones, especially for the easily lost who don’t want to deal with how complicated a smartphone can be. Aside from Grandma, stand-alone GPS systems have practically become extinct for us. When a large GPS company like Garmin starts making smartphones, you know that the two technologies have essentially merged.


Like credit cards, companies are actively developing new ways to identify people and grant them access to their possessions. Many companies are using Fingerprinting more widely, and this will only continue to grow and over time slowly fade out the need for keys. This is good news for me because I have a hard time keeping track of where I leave my keys.

Landline telephones

Many people are finding that cell phones and Skype are making it unnecessary to have a landline telephone, and as cell phone coverage and internet access improve, that belief will be more widespread. There are so many ways to communicate – whether it be IM, Facebook, Skype, or text messaging – that phone calls in general aren’t as popular as they once were. With the increasing amount of services cell phones can perform (and the increasing bill that comes with it), having a landline phone is becoming less and less of a priority.

3D television with glasses

Television manufacturers have a bit of a problem on their hands – people love 3D technology, but they hate 3D glasses. When 3D technology just started to become popular, people quickly realized that 3D at home wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be – it requires you to purchase and wear expensive 3D glasses. Not only could the glasses become uncomfortable, but what if you invited a friend over for a movie? The 3D experience was limited to how many pairs of glasses you purchased. Because it’s the only way at the moment to get 3D, consumers are putting up with the inconvenience, but once the technology is perfected that gives you the 3D experience without the glasses, why would anybody want to wear them?

Metronomes and tuners

No, smartphones are not the doom of metronomes and tuners, but the apps created for them sure are! There are plenty of free apps out there for Android and iOS that turn your phone into a metronome or tuner. You can even purchase accessories that allow you to plug your guitar into your phone, and then use an accompanying app to model amps and effects – turning your phone into a portable practice amp!


If they aren’t dead already, smartphones have definitely been digging a grave for PDAs since their beginning. The PDA was another step toward mankind’s goal to have the ultimate all-in-one device, and smartphones have become the successor. Much like pagers, though, I’m sure there is a specific niche that PDAs still fill that has kept them around.

Point-and-shoot digital cameras

The purpose of a point-and-shoot camera is to give the average consumer the ability to take pictures without having to purchase expensive high-quality equipment. The picture quality isn’t the same as a professional camera, but for most people, the convenience outweighs the lack of quality. Enter modern smartphones – many boasting 5-8 megapixel cameras built in to a device people carry with them at all times. The pictures from these cameras often still have that “phone look” to them, though – so once the optics can reach a comparable quality to point-and-shoot cameras, there will no longer be a need for a separate device.

Power cords

De-cluttering your desk is a high priority for most people, and with our gadget-centric lives, that can’t always be easy. It takes someone with a special kind of patience to be able to keep a PC’s cables from becoming a tangled mass of confusion. Wireless keyboards and mice helped a bit, but what about the power cords? Until recently with the release of wireless charging technology, your cordless devices still needed power cords when the batteries died. Many wireless charging stations today require a cover to be placed on your device for it to work, so the inconvenience hasn’t convinced everyone yet – but it’s only a matter of time before the technology becomes easier and more widespread.

Remote controls

You’ll never guess what is beginning to replace remote controls, too! Yep, there are apps for your smart devices that can turn them into a universal remote – but they aren’t the only ones competing for the demise of remotes. Advances in voice recognition and motion control are removing the push-button aspect of controlling your devices. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes standard… that is, unless Kinect starts a SkyNet-style robot uprising first.

USB memory sticks

They were a huge step up from floppy disks when they were made available, and even today they are still useful for transferring large files from computer to computer, but since “the cloud” has been gaining popularity, more and more people are switching to online storage for access to their necessary files. Once it becomes more convenient, I see physical storage of media and documents becoming all but extinct.

So what are the lessons learned from all of this? There were a few common themes that you may have picked up on throughout all of the items, the main point being that smartphones are taking over everything. Pretty soon they’ll come bundled with apps that cook us breakfast and clean up after our pets. In our strive to be mobile and have everything on-demand, we’re creating one device that is capable of replacing almost everything our modern lives depend on – and everything else is being upgraded to compensate.

Is this where you want the future of technology to go? Do you prefer to have multiple, specific-purpose gadgets, or one super device capable of doing everything you could ever want? Let us know in the comments!

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2 Responses to “20 Dying Technologies”

  1. By Johannes on Jan 18, 2011 | Reply

    USB sticks are essential for all techs.

  2. By Colin on Jan 19, 2011 | Reply

    That’s the case with a lot of these on the list, Johannes – they aren’t being killed off completely, but they are “dying” in the sense that they’re going from widespread use to filling a specific need, which may eventually be replaced by something more efficient. For the average user, online storage is easier because there is no physical piece of storage that can be damaged or lost, but for techs, it’s much easier to just plug in a drive and transfer the files.

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