30 Surprising Facts About Obsolete Technologies That’ll Baffle You

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1iBeat Blaxx

In 2007, an MP3 player called “iBeat Blaxx” had to be rebranded after causing controversy due to its name.

2. The groove on a vinyl record is on average around 500 meters long.

3. Digital VHS tapes from 1998 could store 50GB of 1080i on a normal-sized tape. It was the only way to get HD commercial films until Blu-ray came out in 2004.

4. Ding sound of a typewriter is called a margin bell, and it wasn't to tell you that you were at the end of the line, but that you had a few characters left, so that you could prepare for it.

5. The first practical pager [beeper] was introduced in 1950 by physicians in the New York City area. It had a range of 40 km (25 mi) and weighed approximately 200 g.

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6Smallest Discman

The smallest Discman ever made was smaller than a CD.

7. Betamax was actually the superior recording system, but consumers didn't consider the better performance to be worth the extra cost.

8. CRT monitor images can become flipped and distorted depending on which hemisphere you are using it in. This is due to the Earth's magnetic field affecting the path of the electron beam.

9. When the VCR was invented, film companies tried to make it illegal due to the possibility of recording copyrighted material, in a case that reached the Supreme Court. The head of the MPAA compared the effect of the VCR on television to that of the Boston Strangler on women.

10. Fax machines could send photographs over telephone lines as early as 1902.

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Laserdisc copies of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' released in March 1994 featured frames of a nude Jessica Rabbit left in by animators as a joke. Stores sold out of the disc minutes after they went on sale.

12. The VHS/Betamax war of the 80s/90s spawned a little known 10-hour VHS cassette, enough to record the entire LOTR trilogy on one tape.

13. When the telegraph appeared in the 19th century many early telegraph operators were young men and women who often used their machines to chat with each other and even arrange dates. The telegraph was thus a forerunner to modern chat and dating apps.

14. Rotary payphones were reinstalled during the '80s and 90's to discourage drug sales because they couldn't be used to call dealer's pagers.

15. Until 1953, New York City had a pneumatic tube mail network that spanned 27 miles and connected 23 post offices. At its peak, the system moved 95,000 letters a day.

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16Tape recorder

Old school computers like the Apple could save and load games to/from cassette tapes in a tape recorder. This basically worked by interpreting the audio data as game data. This prompted some pirate FM radio stations in the 1980s to broadcast games right over FM radio every weekend.

17. Back in the 1980’s people were able to download Video Games from a radio broadcast by recording the sounds onto a cassette tape that they could then play on their computers.

18. In 1987, Fisher-Price manufactured and sold a camcorder named PXL-2000 capable of recording video footage to standard audio cassettes.

19. Stereobelt was a personal stereo audiocassette player invented by a former television executive and book editor in the early 1970s. He fought for and eventually received over $10 million in royalties from Sony, which came out with a similar device called the Walkman on July 1, 1979.

20. The ball in an old computer mouse was not made of hard rubber, but it was a metal ball coated in rubber.

21Film cartridges

The first imagery satellites took pictures with old school film cartridges that had to be developed in black rooms back on Earth. To retrieve these cartridges, the satellites would drop them into the atmosphere and planes would catch them mid-air.

22. Dehomag, a German subsidiary of IBM and was the main provider of computing equipment in Nazi Germany. It provided the German government with machines named Tabulating machine D11 to conduct censuses and gave the Nazis a way of tracing Jews. The technology was used by the Gestapo to locate and arrest its victims.

23. Old-school Japanese typewriters literally had thousands of characters on their keyboard, but they were accessed by only a single key.

24. Old CRT monitors were very prone to image burn-in, damaging the screen permanently. The solution was to either turn off the screen or have constant movement in it. That’s the reason screensavers were created and also the origin of its name.

25. Between floppies and CDs, there was something called a zip drive. It was like a heavy floppy that had a capacity of 750MB.


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