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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prepare to Feel Old

Workplace Learning Today pointed me to a post Ten Common Phrases That Could Soon Be History. I use similar kinds of examples in my presentations (and posts such as Work Skills Keeping Up?). I thought it might be fun for me to catalog some of the ones that I’ve used in my presentations and other places as well as have this ready for future presentations.

So here is a list of technologies that:

  • Boomers – used
  • Gen X – know what it is (probably)
  • Millenial – never used / likely don’t know what it is

If you are a Boomer or an older Gen X, this list is sure to make you feel a bit old.

Pay Phones – Collect Calls

  • Where’s the nearest pay phone?
  • Call me collect?


Typewriter / Ribbon / Correcting Ribbon


"You need to mute your sound"

Records / Phonographs

  • Sounds like a broken record
  • Skipping
  • Needle

Cassette Drive



Floppy Disk / Floppy Drive

  • Dual floppy drive
  • Word Star
  • Word Perfect



Punch Card


Card Catalog


Microfiche Reader


Rabbit Ears


Overhead Projector




Inbox / Outbox


What we did before email …


“Pen Pals”


“Carbon Copy” or even “BCC”

What did I miss?


John said...

A few of my favorites:
dial 555-1212
Kodachrome(tm) (and maybe "F-stop" and "shutter speed")
clipboard (as a physical thing)

John Zurovchak said...

Tony - what a fun list! I am definitely old. At the end you mentioned carbon copy and it reminded my of the old carbon paper.

My mother would type on carbon paper in order to have an original and ONE other copy. (Sounds pretty funny now). No matter how hard I tried, whenever I separated the two sheets in order to dispose of the carbon sheet in the middle, it ended up getting all over my fingers and hands, so that the rest of the day I left purple fingerprints on everything.

Thanks for the fun memories.

Wendy said...

Record player. The day I felt old was the day I had a student with a 33 1/3 RPM vinyl disc in her hand (Beethoven, I think) asking me "How do I work this thing?"

Filmstrip. (remember those?)

Slides (in context other than PowerPoint)

Tony Karrer said...

Great suggestions!

I told someone the other day that twitter chats feel like a BBS. I had a hard time explaining what a BBS was. :)

JohnZ - exactly on the carbon paper!

Wendy - great stuff!

John said...

"check" (or "cheque"): I understand the UK Payments Council has decided that the UK will stop clearing cheques 31 October 2018, after what will be 360 years of cheques in Britain.

John said...

I blew it. I should have started with "ditto, Tony"...

V Yonkers said...

Actually, we still use rabbit ears, so my children do know what they are.

However, what about mimiograph? (the purple print)

Wordix and Edix?

Adding machine? (I remember when the "calculators" came out and everyone was able to have an adding machine)

Slide rule (I was just young enough that I never had to learn how to use one, but my sisters did and my father couldn't survive without one)

I'm surprised you didn't mention the 8 track tape (maybe the blip on time that it was actually available was before your time).

Transistor radios (small portable radios!)

The computer console which stood outside of the computer room. When I was in college, we had the state of the art computer where we didn't have to use the cards! You sat at the consoles, then went to get the pages of print out of your coding.

My husband did have to use the punch cards and spoke of the day that he dropped them just as he got to the computer (all hundred cards!) Of course, for the younger generation, there is no humor in this, but for those who used punch cards, I hear a collective groan out in cyberspace.

Nancy White said...

computer punch tape

(OMG, I can smell the mimeograph smell in my memory)

A dime i your loafers for an "emergency phone call home" if you needed it

Paper address books

Recipe cards

Anonymous said...

Dodge and Burn from darkroom days (still exists in today's Photoshop tools).

Apple Newton original PDA (ahead of its time).

The concept of a kilobyte meaning anything.

The term "desktop publishing".

Thermofax overhead slides by 3M.

Wax stencils for handouts.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Tony

A Happy New Year!

This is a good list.

It represents part of the history of what led to the present technologies. We could make another list of these and within the next decade or so be scoffing and sniggering at them and those of us (ourselves presumably) who still use them or speak of them as we do today.

It is purely attitudinal, of course. I think it is a pity that these developments are not actually revered the way they perhaps should be, as what possibly led to greater things, rather than scorned at or laughed at - as they are so often - as things of the past that society should be ashamed of.

The age when 'being old' is respected and revered for what it can bring or has brought uniquely to society has faded away.


Tony Karrer said...

Thanks for all the input on this. Sorry for my slow response.

Ken - great point about loss of respect for knowing about these things.

kmnair said...

Yonkers said Transistor radios.

What about valve radios. Anybody seen one? I still had one at my dad's place till a few years back, going strong.