List of obsolete technology

This is a list of obsolete technology which includes newer technologies that replaced the older ones. Many technologies that have newer alternatives have not been completely replaced.

Obsolete technology Replacement Still used for
Bathing machine No longer required due to changing social standards of morality
Drive-through bank teller (sometimes featuring pneumatic tubes to transfer documents and money to outer lanes) ATM (drive-through or walk-up), online banking Drive-through tellers still exist to serve customers who prefer not to use the available technology or to handle transactions too complex to be handled by an ATM.
Hourglass Clock Tasks where a fixed amount of time can be measured with a low-tech solution: Exposure time tracker in saunas (where electronics might be damaged by the heat or ultraviolet light), retro kitchen timers, board games
Manual vacuum cleaner, carpet sweeper Electric vacuum cleaner Carpet sweepers are sometimes used in commercial applications (like movie theatres) where the noise of an electric vacuum is unwelcome
Primitive Fire making Ferrocerium, Match, Lighter Practiced as backup survival skills if advanced methods unavailable.
Quill pen, reed pen, dip pen, fountain pen Ballpoint pen Calligraphy, personal preference
Sundial Clock
Outhouse Flush Toilets, Sanitary sewers, Portable toilet Remote or undeveloped locations far from sewage systems.
Swamp cooler Air conditioning Dry climates
Incandescent light bulbs Fluorescent lamps, cold cathode lamps, high-intensity discharge lamp, LEDs Specialty purposes; mandatory phase-out of incandescent light bulbs is happening in some countries. LEDs are also gradually replacing compact fluorescent lamps.
Moonlight towers Distributed street lighting
Producing light with fire. Early: candles, torches. Later: kerosene lamps, fuel-based lanterns, and gas light Flashlights, electric lights Torches sometimes used for performance purposes. Coleman Lanterns and similar are sometimes used for camping, but battery-powered lanterns are becoming more common. Gas lighting is still used for street lighting in some historic districts, but not indoors due to toxic emissions. Candles are still used for aesthetic purposes.
Kitchens and cooking
Icebox Refrigerator
Open hearth cooking Kitchen stoves, ovens, barbecue grills, various small appliances Historical recreations
Toasting fork (for use with open flame to make toast) Toaster, toaster oven Camping
Turnspit dog Steam power, wind-up power, electrical power Extinct
Audiovisual communication
Audio cassette, cassette player, Walkman Compact disc, MP3, MP3 player Playing historical recordings
Analog television Digital television Mandatory digital television transition has been underway around the world since the 2000s
Betamax Lost a format war to VHS Playing historical recordings
Cathode ray tube Flatscreen
Compact disc, CD player, Discman MP3, MP3 player, USB stick Playing historical recordings
HD DVD Lost format war to Blu-ray Playback of historical recordings
Laserdisk Compact disks, DVDs, and Blu-ray Playback of historical recordings
Overhead projector and slide projector Video projector Historical viewings
Phonograph and phonograph record Audio cassette, 8 track tape, compact disc, MP3 Vinyl revival
Telegraph Telephone, teletype, email, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System Revived as text messaging
Video cassette recorder DVDs, digital video recorders Playback of historical recordings
Computing, information storage, and office equipment
BlackBerry physical keyboards Modern smartphones have software keyboards displayed on the touchscreen when necessary Tasks that requires physical keyboards
Carbon paper Photocopier, cheap printing of multiple copies Still used by some enterprises
Credit card imprinters, with carbon paper Magnetic stripe cards, EMV (chips)
Dot-matrix impact printing Inkjet printer, laser printer Still used in some enterprises, especially for old carbon paper forms
Faxes Email, World Wide Web Still used by some enterprises
Mimeograph Photocopier, cheap printing of multiple copies
Paper address book, Rolodex Contact list, electronic address book
Paper card catalogs, edge-notched cards Computer databases
Paper data storage for computers (punch cards, punched tape) Magnetic data storage
Paper ledger Computerized spreadsheets and databases
Phone book Search engine and online databases Yellow pages are still distributed for advertising purposes
Pneumatic tubes for moving documents and postal items Electronic communication, mechanized surface vehicles Transport of physical items in hospitals and factories, scientific applications; Possible revival as a means of high-speed transportation
Typewriter Word processor Still used by some writers being deliberately low-tech
Slide rule, mechanical calculator Electronic calculator, computer
Vacuum tube Transistor Vacuum tubes are still used in microwave ovens, RF communications and radar, high power industrial switching such as in pulsed lasers and generation of x-rays. They have found niche popularity in more expensive guitar amplifiers and hi-fi power amplifiers.
Boneshaker, penny-farthing bicycle Safety bicycle (early version of the modern bicycle)
Buggy whip Automobiles do not require them Horse transport for novelty purposes, and for utility in developing countries and Amish communities
Carburetor Fuel injection Small engine equipment and piston engine aircraft
Celestial navigation with lunar distance method and dead reckoning Marine chronometer to solve the longitude problem
Celestial navigation with sextant and marine chronometer Inertial guidance, radio navigation, radar navigation, satellite navigation Backup in case of electronic system failure or jamming, spaceflight where satellite and ground-based systems can't be used
Cobblestone Concrete, asphalt Still used in historic districts
Draft animals for canal boats, plows, carriages, light rail vehicles Motorized boats, tractors, steam railroads, electric trolleys, cable cars, horseless carriages (automobiles) Sled dogs in arctic regions of North American and Greenland. Horse-drawn carriages are recreational attractions in some highly developed cities
Marine steam engine and steamship Marine diesel engines, nuclear marine propulsion, aircraft for long-distance passenger travel
Ocean liner Airliners and jet airliners The RMS Queen Mary 2 is still in service as an ocean liner
Pack animals Trucks and vans In developed countries, only in difficult terrain with no roads (e.g. Grand Canyon)
Steam locomotive Diesel locomotive, electric locomotive Still used for historical heritage railways
Steam powered Traction engine Internal combustion powered Tractor Maintained by preservation societies and for historical demonstrations
Early siege engines (siege towers, battering rams, catapults, ballistae, trebuchets) Artillery, aircraft
Forts, defensive walls, castles Vulnerable to air attack, useless to prevent the advance of aircraft Limited use of underground bunkers and civilian air raid shelters
Gunpowder Smokeless powder, high explosives, dynamite, ANFO Recreational shooting, historical reenactments
Muzzleloader firearms Breech-loading weapons Historical re-enactments
Spear Firearms Bayonets, spear fishing
Sword Firearms Issued for ceremonial purposes to NCOs and upwards


Older technologies substantially co-existing with newer technologies include:

See alsoEdit