Unexpected Ways Obsolete Technology Is Still Being Used Nowadays

Updated October 6, 2023

Technological progress is advancing at a scary pace. It seems as if only yesterday Steve Jobs has announced the rollout of the first iPhone — a revolutionary moment not only in telecommunications technology but also in personal computing.

Some experts even go as far as saying that smartphones themselves will become obsolete within the next couple of years, due to rapid developments in the fields of augmented and virtual reality.

Despite all this progress, there are still some obsolete tools and means of communication that modern workplaces, especially offices and classrooms, cling to.

Sometimes it is caused by simple fear of the unknown, but oftentimes offices stick with old tech because it is fool-proof and reliable, not to mention the emergence of many innovative ways to facilitate the use of old technologies in a modern setting.

Fax machines: ancient relics or a link to the past?

The use of fax machines in modern offices have become a sort of a running joke in the 21st century. With the multitude of faster, more efficient and reliable technologies available to the public, why is anyone even using those old pieces of junk?

Even though the outrage at sticking with fax machines despite recent advances in the field of communication technology is understandable, it does not seem like faxing is going to go anywhere in the foreseeable future. With services like those offered at faxburner.com, serving as a bridge between the old and the new, allowing users to send and receive fax messages with the help of their smartphones, faxing has never been easier.

Okay, so the entire process of sending out a fax has been streamlined, but what the hell for?

The main goal behind sticking with fax machines in the 21st century is actually quite simple — faxing predates all digitized means of communication, while still remaining relatively tech-friendly. This enables large companies and long-standing small businesses to keep a continued, cohesive record of all communications. With modern tools such as smartphones and PCs being capable of synchronizing with fax machines, this method of exchanging documents has adjusted quite well to the times, contrary to the popular belief.

Of course, faxes aren’t perfect. In fact, lot of money has been lost and many businesses opportunities squandered because of faulty machines and incompetent use of the technology by individuals, especially those used to more modern means of communication.

Perhaps the most famous example of such a “fax failure” is the failed multimillion dollar deal between Real Madrid and Manchester United. The two football clubs have successfully negotiated the transfer of David DeGea, a world-class goalkeeper, only to have the deal brought to a halt by a broken fax machine which took eight hours to send out contract details.

How much money have Manchester United missed out on? 29 million British pounds. That’s one hell of a worthy fax.

In conclusion, contrary to what most people believe, there is still a place for fax machines in the modern world. They provide a valuable link between the past and the present, making the job of archivists and financial auditors much easier. On the other hand, maybe it’s not a good idea to continue using this technology in lucrative business deals due to the degree of risk involved.

Floppy disks: how outdated tech can destroy the world

No one is using floppy disks anymore. In fact, they were rendered obsolete by compact disks (CDs) barely a decade after their introduction in 1971. The majority of twenty-year olds are probably going to have a hard time explaining what a floppy disk is or how it works.

So who is still using them nowadays?

As of October 2019, no one.  However, before replacing them with solid state drives (SSDs) only last year, the United States Department of Defense would have been the correct answer to that question.

Yes, the almighty US government was still using floppies in 2019. And if you think it was probably to load up some old financial data or gain access to classified documents from the 70s, you couldn’t be more wrong.

The floppy disks held the information to broadcast emergency signals to nuclear forces, effectively being used to launch nuclear missiles! Until very recently, the only thing safeguarding the deadliest weapons known to mankind were 8-inch floppies, which aren’t even the final iteration of this technology!

The proponents of this solution claimed that they were virtually unhackable and therefore guaranteeing the highest degree of security in case of a foreign cybernetic attack. However, while it is true that floppy disks cannot be hacked, the data they hold tends to dissipate, which means that soon enough, the programs necessary to launch these warheads would disappear into thin air, rendering many American weapons of mass destruction useless.

Obsolete technology: worth preserving

As proven by the aforementioned examples, some obsolete tech is actually quite useful in the right circumstances. Some data stored on CDs and cassette tapes might one day prove to be crucial and therefore in need of easy access. The ability to send and receive faxes should be preserved as well. As long as we’re not losing sight of the goals of technological progress, old technology should be treated with respect, if only because of the fact that it has brought us to where we are today.

Written by Maciej Grzymkowski

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