15 Pieces of Technology That Will Soon Become Obsolete

Who didn’t love learning about simple machines in school? Basic mechanisms such as a lever, a screw, or an inclined plane laid the foundation for incredible innovation that makes our lives so comfortable.

However, the technology we have relied on for generations has a shelf life that is growing shorter by the day. The growth of rampant consumer technology, especially in electronics and smart products, will render many inventions obsolete. Which inventions will we have to kiss goodbye one day, and are we happy about this?

1. Keys

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There is something comforting about having physical keys in your pocket — losing them may trigger a fight-or-flight response for some people. Can we just leave these inventions alone, please? As long as there is brass or nickel and enough willing locksmiths, why must we move toward smart security? We know what happens when some smart hacker breaks an entire neighborhood’s access codes. Moreover, who hasn’t seen The Purge?

2. Digital SLR Cameras

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For a while, digital SLR cameras were all the rage, used in many high-brow movie and TV productions. However, Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai announced in 2021 that the “EOS-1D X Mark 3” would be Canon’s last model, ending a three-decade period, after which the company would be shifting focus to mirrorless cameras. A perfect metaphor for digital SLR cameras is my relationship with them.

In years past, I enjoyed (and still do very occasionally) going on photo walks with my Nikon DSLR, shooting in raw, and spending hours editing my shots while listening to suitably matched music. Nowadays, the camera sits in its case on a shelf, and my Samsung smartphone has taken over — I must break out that poor Nikon again.

3. Calculators

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Those of us born deep enough into the last millennium will recall desperately wanting a Casio calculator wristwatch. When the first kid to own a calculator watch wore it into class one day, I was in awe of this child. He could tell the time (in futuristic digital format) while being able to multiply 98,760 by 3,4565 — and tell his impressed disciples. We all know why calculators will become obsolete one day — will they start appearing on Antiques Roadshow?

4. Debit and Credit Cards

Businessman with credit card
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Can we please just agree that some technology reaches an apex that can’t be bettered? The credit card has served us well, providing an effortless method for making payments. Before you think, “But what about phone apps?” remember that credit cards require no battery in emergencies. Regardless, some people are tired of carrying a half-ounce plastic disc, so they have microchips implanted under their skin. While it must make life easier, the implications of having credit card theft minor in comparison to losing a limb or finger — please stop this.

5. Shopping Bags

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Grocery shopping is moving into unnerving territory for adults over a certain age. Many people enjoy the physical act of browsing the supermarket and carrying their groceries out in shopping bags, though this will likely change. The question is, how? Colorado’s plastic carryout bag ban began this year after passing a vote in 2021, though how it will be enforced is still unclear. We can agree that some form of plastic bag replacement is necessary, considering how many of them go to waste. Almost 80% of plastic bags end up in landfills, according to National Geographic.

6. Alarm Clocks

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Growing up in the ’80s was fun for a youngster, and alarm clocks came in many varieties — from the simple bleating block with its red digits to giant tea-making machines. In Britain, a “teasmade” machine was for those who thought waking to a cup of made tea was preferable to getting up and making one. The invention didn’t do so well, though teasmades are still common in catalog merchants such as Argos.

Does anybody even use alarm clocks these days? Like most people, my 30-minute snooze alarm setting wakes me up to ambient sounds highly preferable to the digital banshee of yesteryear.

7. Parking Meters

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We still see parking meters everywhere but for how much longer? There are already dozens of app-based parking payment systems requiring a quick numberplate search. Parking will be at the center of much innovation, considering how prominent cars have become in society. In most major cities, parking apps like the ParkNYC app allow city visitors to pre-book spots, saving time and stress. Moreover, gig economy parking space rental apps are bringing much-needed competition to monopolized city zones.

8. Cash Machines

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Sadly, as physical cash falls further into the Sarlacc Pit of centralized bank digital currency (CBDC), we will see automated teller machines (ATMs) go with it. There is a moral dilemma with a digital currency; many critics point toward the state having total control over consumer spending, following a China-style social credit scoring system for citizens.

One issue that commentators are not addressing is digital currency’s effect on homeless people, service staff relying on tips, and, more importantly, older people with less tech knowledge. Furthermore, how will middle-aged men bet on golf holes?

9. Charging Cables

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While most households’ “tech drawer” resembles a black-and-white jungle canopy (or is that just mine?), we will not need cables in the near future. You can imagine those working on the cusp of tech innovation living in smart device Nirvana already — Mark Zuckerberg’s house is most likely a cable-free paradise. However, for those of us living in the real world, the wireless land of milk and honey is not far around the corner.

10. Cable Television

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It’s been a wild ride for the modern generation’s television fans. Those of us from humble origins once sat with the entire family watching a television set in the corner of the living room on a screen the size of a laptop — there was no remote control.

However, when the first video cassette recorders became affordable, life changed forever. Now, we could record our favorite shows and do something else — providing someone pressed record at the right time. Since then, satellite dishes, cable boxes, TiVo boxes, and on-demand streaming have changed the landscape forever. Of course, cable TV will disappear one day. Commercial trends watchdog Insider Intelligence says by 2024, more than a third of American TV owners will have stopped paying for cable.

11. Reading Glasses

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A well-established part of growing old is sight impairment. It may affect people from a young age, though for most people, vision fades with time, so even the most genetically endowed humans need reading glasses—or do they? An FDA-approved company called Vuity has engineered eye drops that alleviate short-sightedness, nullifying the need for reading glasses. Such innovations may one day lead to treatment for all forms of eyesight problems. Could glasses just become a fashion accessory?

12. Remote Controls

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My family would have loved a remote control for our ’80s Hitachi television. Changing channels entailed taking turns to get up and flick between Britain’s four terrestrial channels: BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, and Channel Four, which was an exercise — there was no remote.

When we finally got a Panasonic wide-screen TV with a remote control, a new dilemma emerged. Now, instead of fighting over who changed the channel, we fought over who had remote control rights — invariably, my older brother annexed the remote. What are the chances we will need remote controls in the future? One might say, “Remote.”

13. Cash Registers

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Supermarket checkouts were once a vibrant end to your grocery run. The cash register still provides a welcome social interaction for many people — stay-at-home parents, older people, and those living with disabilities.

However, over the past decade, many chains have seen a rise in self-service checkouts, with several companies abandoning cashiers altogether. Thankfully for tech-phobes and more socially inclined customers, there is hope — several big-box stores are backtracking on their self-service features, citing customer confusion. Maybe this is a small setback for Skynet — their plan for complete automation of our shopping experience will remain on the top shelf for now.

14. Thumb Drives

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The thumb drive has been a trusty companion for data hoarders since its introduction in 2000. Transferring large data files on computers was difficult before external hard drives (or flash drives) and their micro versions arrived. But we all know where data’s fate lies: up in the air — or, more precisely, in the cloud. Who can remember the last time they needed their thumb drive?

I use Google Drive for nearly everything I do; I now pay for cloud storage. The sad thing is that if I just cleaned up my drive, I would have 100 GB of storage, which is more than enough. Shamefully, some of us choose to pay $3 per month in perpetuity rather than spend a few hours cleaning our files up — and this is why hard data storage is becoming unnecessary for many.

15. Landline Telephones

Landline Phone
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Hilarious videos are floating in the ether showing Gen-Z kids trying to negotiate a rotary-dial telephone. One particular clip sees two teens trying to dial numbers using the rotary dial, which becomes like a video game challenge for them. Curiously, they decide a zero is the one number that needs a full turn of the rotary. Eventually, the lads figure the puzzle out, though it symbolizes how disparate the device and the demographic are.

Many of us still have a landline, but who even uses them anymore? I don’t even know my landline number. Moreover, who even uses phone numbers when they have WhatsApp?

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