As each year brings smaller, shinier, and more proficient gadgets, it’s easy to forget that just a few decades ago typewriters were the workplace alternative to a MacBook Air, fax machines and snail mail were once the way we distributed information, and floppy discs were the go-to for saving your work. As dozens of new tech products are patented and released each week, the rise and fall of technology is a commonplace. As marketers, it is especially relevant to utilize tools that breed productivity, efficiency, and ease of communication. Technology goes into extinction, new and better tools emerge, and we subsequently can be more efficient and successful as marketers.
We don’t even realize obsolete technologies until we notice that its no longer on our desk or in our cubicle — a floppy disk stashed in the back of a drawer or an old beta tape with your organizations finest shots. Here is a lost of nine extinct or nearly obsolete technologies for marketers – and what has replaced them:
1. Floppy Disc
An 8” disk with 1 MB of storage? The once widely popular flexible, magnetic storage and file-transferring medium is now virtually obsolete, and few new PCs are being built with floppy disk drives anymore. Not only in today’s standards are floppy discs storage is nearly zilch, but their flimsy nature made them a pain in the butt to transport.
What’s Replaced It?: Cloud Computing
Today people use cloud computing, which is basically a virtual server available over the Internet. Cloud computers can share data like photos, documents, contacts, e-mail, and videos with your clients, coworkers, and media contacts in an instant. Google Drive and real-time file sharing systems are all examples of proliferating cloud computing technologies that will only get bigger in the coming year. Sorry floppy disc!
2. Fax Machines
Why send a press release fax or memorandum to a client or remote coworker when you can attach megabytes upon megabytes of data into an email? The fax machine was widely popular in former decades, as marketers were able to send press releases, byline articles, media alerts, and media kits in what seemed as the speed of light (compared to a courier or snail mail service). Because most workplace documents are created on a computer, they can also be sent via computer.
What’s Replaced It?: Email
Around 160 billion emails are sent daily. Email is now used for communicating in the workplace and in our personal lives. Supported by huge servers with a seemingly endless capacity, email is the main way we communicate in business these days.
3. Dial-up Internet
We all miss the cacophony of dial-up service, don’t we? What about missing the wait for your phone and computer to work together to create a questionably stable Internet connection? It’s hard to see why anyone would use dial-up service anymore, but 9 percent of Internet users in a 2008 Pew Internet and American Life survey still use dial-up Internet due to its low cost and access in rural or remote areas.
What’s Replaced It?: Broadband and DSL Access
Though not extinct yet, wireless modems have replaced dial-up in a big way. Though dial-up Internet was hugely popular in the 90s, in the new millennium most consumers switched away from dial-up to dedicated connections, most Internet access products were being marketed using the term “broadband”. Thank the Lord broadband access was invented… Could you imagine working as an Internet marketer and waiting five minutes for an Internet page to load, email to send, or Facebook post to appear?
4. The Telegraph
Some millennials may not even know what a telegraph is and how it was used but here’s the skinny: The electric telegraph is a now outdated communication system that transmitted electric signals over wires from point a to point b, which is translated into a message. According to ComputerWorld.com, at the telegram’s peak in 1929, more than 200 million were sent. By 2005, that number had dwindled to 21,000. Today, telegraphs dispatched and received may be only in the double digits. Why the downfall of the telegraph? The drive for instant communication and data has driven inventions like the computer, email, instant messaging, and websites so messages can be conveyed quickly and efficiently.
What’s Replaced It?: Various modes of Internet communication
The sound of the standard typewriter has softened over the years after the invention and mass adoption of the computer. Decades ago, marketers, advertisers, and office workers diligently typed out every important document on a typewriter. Unless you work in the New York City Police Department, which reportedly just signed a $1 million typewriter-purchasing contract, the use of a typewriter is nearly extinct.
What’s Replaced It?: Desktop publishing through a computer
6. B-roll (Beta tapes)
B-roll is video footage used to add interest to a marketing video. Marketers in the golden years used b-roll footage to entice journalists to cover product launches, big media events, and company news by filming and sending still shots, interview footage, and product close-ups.
What’s Replaced It?: Digital Footage
Video is still a key element to the market mix; the way it is distributed is what has changed. Today, video is now recorded through a digital camera and embedded online on social media networks, video news releases, and websites. The benefits of video have never been underestimated, as it is used to reinforce core messages, create a buzz around a product or service, and bolster search engine views.
7. The Rolodex
This rotating file and business card repository was used to store business contact information. It became popular in the 50s and was a staple item on most marketers’ desks until the early 2000s. The Rolodex stored contact information from vendors, clients, journalists, editors, and employment prospects.
What’s Replaced It?: LinkedIn
Virtual networking sites like LinkedIn target business users with advanced search functionality. It’s the virtual business networking category leader: More than 25 million members and still growing fast. Here you can store contacts, communicate with current contacts, and prospect new relationships. (Business cards may be the next thing to go.)
Personal digital assistants, or PDAs, were electronic timekeepers for the times when you couldn’t fit a computer in your pocket. Though their look mimics a smartphone, their use was limited – hence its downfall. PDAs did allow users to connect to the Internet, thought you had to hit a hotspot to connect. Thought a PDA essentially laid the groundwork for a modern-day smartphones, its market demise was so quick that most people don’t even remember its existence.
What’s Replaced It?: Tablets and Smartphones
According to Pew Research, Some 85 percent of adults own cell phones making it the most popular tech device to date, and one out of every seven people in the world own a Smartphone. More, Mashable.com predicts that 1 and 10 people will own tablets by 2016.
Pagers were commonly used from the 70s to the 90s, when widespread adoption of cell phones rendered them obsolete for mass market use. They are still used by emergency responders, as they are not subject to network outages or similar disruptions in communication.
What’s Replaced It? Cell phone