iPods, film, and 'dumb' phones: the redundant technologies of tomorrow

A white aux cord lying on top of a CD

Tom Hounslow

Posted May 13, 2022

As Apple put the iPod to pasture, we pay homage to the recently-made-redundant tech, and make some predictions for what is headed for e-waste next.

Depending on your age, you may remember growing up listening to your music on a Walkman, Sony Discman, boombox or maybe even a gramophone.

Technological advancements are being made at an exponential rate, which means exciting new products and gadgets on the horizon, but it also means saying goodbye to the tech that we have grown to know and love. 

Just as the sundial and hourglass were made redundant by the clock, the technology that the next generation possess may be a completely foreign world to that which we know now. 

Dust-gathering tech

Apple iPod

Released in 2001, the $400 iPod set a new course of history for listening devices, while simultaneously turning the music industry on its head. 

What was designed to be a more efficient and compact way to carry your library of music, the wider implications of the iPod not only saw the mainstream end of the CD, but also the way music was bought and sold.  

In the early 2000’s, Apple managed to convince major recording labels to sell music on a per-song basis via the Apple Music store. While shorter LP’s or ‘singles’ were already being sold in record shops, once the latest songs were able to be purchased and downloaded for as little as 99 cents, all from the comfort of your own home, the new era of digital music began. 

Today, the iPod is a largely redundant product as smartphones have the functionality and superior storage than the humble music player could have ever achieved. 

Vale, iPod. We will miss your iconic ads. 

Woman dancing while wearing wired headphones

Wired headphones are falling out of fashion as wireless Bluetooth headphones take hold. Photo: Getty.

Wired headphones

For as long as headphones have been around, they have been connected to the player by a copper wire. Depending on how far back in history you go, seemingly the longer the cables get – it was not uncommon for university students of the 1970’s to hang around their dorm rooms with 7+ meter headphone cables connected to the record player. 

Whether the headphones are connected to a music player, computer, gaming console, or telephone, wireless technology is taking over. 

While ‘ear buds’ are the latest craze, making most modern headphones almost completely hidden, wired headphones are on their way out. 

VHS, DVD and Blu-ray

The youth of today will never know the excitement of heading to the local video store on a Friday night and renting a video tape. Only for your excitement to be shattered as the only five copies had already been rented. 

What the kids today will also struggle to comprehend – is that once you rented and watched the video tape, it was common courtesy to rewind the tape after viewing. In some cases, video stores would issue fines for tapes not being rewound. 

All of this, of course, came to an end with the emergence of the DVD and Blu-ray. 

DVD and Blu-ray sales have also seen a massive decline in sales over recent years as streaming platforms and on-demand entertainment take over.

Camera film

Unless you are an avid photographer, chances are that you haven’t needed to have your photos developed in a long time. 

With modern smartphones now able to take higher-quality images than most digital cameras, the trend of sticking pictures of friends and family on the bedroom wall are for a bygone era. 

While, of course, people will always take photos to capture treasured memories, digital photo frames are becoming the household staple. 

Don’t whip out the tissue box for a teary goodbye just yet – Kodak have reported that sales of film has doubled between 2015 and 2019, perhaps signally a renaissance.


Woman talking on a landline phone

When was the last time your heard someone talk about 'line rental'? Photo: Getty.

Landline phones 

Chances are if you ask any young adult living out of home what ‘line rental’ is – you will be presented with an expression of confusion. 

Since the mobile and smartphone became an external appendage to most in the developed world, the need for a landline phone has simply diminished.   

Payphones were also once seen on most city and suburban streets, restaurants, hotels and shopping precincts – but these days, good luck finding one outside of the CBD.  

In 2021, Telstra made all public phones coinless and allowed all public phone calls to be made free of charge.  

Address book 

Do you know your mum’s phone number? How about your best friend’s address?  

Thanks to the ‘contacts’ functionality found in every mobile phone since 1995, the need to remember any phone or address was made superfluous.  

While you may be able to store hundreds or thousands of contacts in your phone, it is advised that you do take the time to memorise the phone numbers of important contacts such as parents, siblings and loved ones in the event of an emergency.  

It is also a good idea to remember the phone numbers of services such as RACV Roadside Assist, just in case you struggle to get reception for Google. It’s 13 11 11, FYI.  

The written letter 

A glorious world it was when one could sit down and compose a well-composed letter using ink, paper, and a stamp. It was a simpler time when words were crafted into meaning statements.  

These days, thanks to email and text messaging, communication has become so easy, so fast, so inconsequential, that the idea of crafting a letter is all but gone.  

If you want to put a smile on your gran’s face, writing and sending a letter is a simple and easy way to make her day. 

Of course, by law, some communication is required to be presented by mail, but all bills, advertisements, and magazines are usually found in your email inbox these days.  

Honourable mentions  

There are potentially hundreds of technologies that could have made it onto our list, but here are some of the honourable mentions that may not make it to the end of the 2020’s. 

  • Phone book 

  • Pagers, beepers, PDAs 

  • Analog wrist watch 

  • Dictaphone 

  • Overhead \ slide projectors 

  • Calculators 

  • Melways and printed maps 

  • Encyclopedias 

  • Answering machines

Not all tech is worthless, protect yours. 
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