Smartphones Changed the World

Advancements in technology come in leaps and bounds, so it didn’t take long for smartphones to render a wide variety of everyday things obsolete. Smartphones offer the ability to do many of the same things that older gadgets were capable of, but in smaller and more portable forms.

Take a stroll down memory lane for a look at some of the things rendered obsolete by the rise of the smartphone.

Not-So-Smart Phones – In a world of smartphones, these old fashioned mobile phones basically did nothing but call, send text messages and perhaps, if you were lucky, allow you to play a cheeky game of Snake. They are now thoroughly antiquated and more or less obsolete. The precursor to the modern mobile phone, they were extremely useful in their time and happily ran for days without needing a charge.

Film Cameras – The traditional film camera has basically long since been pushed from the mass market by the modern age of the digital camera. No longer do we need to rely on reels of film or trips to the local shop to get them processed. Digital cameras, SD cards, smartphones and modern computing systems mean we can snap away happily and see the results of our photos instantly with far less hassle and expense. Pro photographers and retro snappers still use film cameras for certain artistic purposes. But few others do.

Pagers and Beepers – Pagers were originally designed and built in the 1950’s but they didn’t really take hold in terms of popularity until the 1980’s. These one-way communication devices were often used by emergency services, doctors and safety personnel who needed to be reachable at all times, even when away from a landline telephone. The rise of smartphones in the early 2000s saw the decline in the use of pagers and beepers but due to the durability, resilience and better coverage they continued to see use for several more years and, as an example, Canada was still paying as much as $18.5 million for its pager service in 2013.

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) – The forefather of the modern mobile phone, the personal digital assistant offered limited access to a lot of modern capabilities we’ve come to expect, including internet access, word processing, touchscreen functionality and more. They quickly became obsolete when smartphones started to gain favor, but before that time they were a firm favorite with businessmen across the world.

Polaroid Instant Cameras – Polaroid cameras originally came to market in the mid-1960s and at the time presented a marvel of technology that allowed people to see the photos they were taking seconds after they were snapped without having to wait for someone else to develop them. For years, Polaroid instant cameras were a wonderfully expensive marvel of photographic convenience.In recent years, the rise of the digital camera and smartphone photography has meant that Polaroid’s technology essentially became an unnecessary nicety and declining sales forced the company to file for bankruptcy twice. You can still find Polaroid cameras and films on sale, but it’s niche at best.

Public Telephone Booths – The iconic phone booth is essentially a monument to telephone history and now just a tourist attraction or somewhere to shelter from the cold. The public phone booth has been rendered obsolete by the rise of the mobile phone. There’s rarely any need for a coin-operated telephone when you have a phone in your pocket.

Rotary Telephones and Wired Landlines – The wired telephone is another piece of technology that nears obsolescence after being replaced by a computer that we carry around in our pocket. The wired telephone dates back as far as 1844 and it has seen many iterations over the years. One variation was the rotary dial telephone which featured a dial arranged in a circular layout so the user had to turn the dial for each digit off the phone number they were trying to call. Except perhaps as a novelty, rotary phones are long since a thing of the past. Wired landlines are following close behind as modern smartphones have become ubiquitous.

Portable Dictation Devices – Dictation devices, often referred to as “Dictaphones” after the company name that became synonymous with them, came in various formats and used several different data mediums that included both cassette tapes, mini and micro-cassettes. These gadgets were mostly used to record interviews, conversations and lectures for later note taking or write ups. Each became obsolete as time passed by and the storage medium fell out of popularity. Digital dictation devices still exist, but even they are verging on extinction as most mobile phones are capable of offering the same functionality without the need for another standalone device.

GPS Navigation Systems – Many car manufacturers still choose to install them in new vehicles, but as a standalone unit, GPS navigation technology is nearing the end of its lifespan. Current smartphones are more than capable of getting the modern human from point A to point B with the use of navigation apps like Google, Bing and Apple Maps. Once again, advancements in mobile technology have forced other older technology into obsolescence.

Calculators – Although no doubt still used in some schools and offices, the humble calculator is a simple technology that’s surely reaching the end of its lifespan. With calculator apps available on smartphones and tablets, as well as easily accessible calculators on computers and laptops, there’s barely any need left for these independent devices.