40 Interesting Facts about Outdated Technologies

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26 Cassette tapes

Cassette tapes

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.


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


28. 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.


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


30. 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.


31 Tabulating machine D11

Tabulating machine D11

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.


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


33. 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.


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


35. Osborne 1 was the first commercially successful portable microcomputer. Released in 1981, it weighed nearly 25 pounds, had to be plugged into the wall, and cost $1,795 (or roughly $5,000 in today’s dollars).


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36 Motorola DynaTAC 8000x

Motorola DynaTAC 8000x

The first commercially available handheld cellular phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, which hit the market in 1983 and weighed in at 2 pounds. It was priced at $3,995.


37. The Commodore 64 was introduced at the CES Consumer Show in 1982 and it soon became the highest-selling single computer model of all time, with independent estimates placing the number sold between 10 and 17 million units.


38. In 1998, Sony released a camcorder that had “night vision” capabilities using infrared. The same infrared technology allowed the camera to see through people’s clothes. 700,000 camcorders were sold before they were recalled.


39. Embossing of characters on credit cards comes from a time when merchants used to register physical imprints using devices called paper-based imprinters that pressed the card on carbon paper form to create payment slips.


40. In the 1920s there was a wrist-worn navigation device that used manually-scrolled maps affixed to wooden dowels. It was called the Routefinder.


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