One of the landmarks of the 21st century is the rapid proliferation of digital technology. For example, from 2000 to 2011, the number of people with cellphone subscriptions worldwide jumped from around 750 million to approximately 6 billion. Simply put, almost every person in the entire world now has a cellphone in the same time it takes for a child to reach the 5th grade.
Despite how commonplace digital technology is nowadays, there are still quite a lot of technologies and services that may seem obsolete that are alive and kicking today. The following are just a few of these surprisingly thriving in the 21st century.
Still Rocking the Pager
If you’re less than twenty years old, you might not know what a pager is. It’s a small, palm-sized device that receives messages through radio frequencies. Think of them as the previous iteration of cellphones. You’re probably wondering who could still be using pagers in a world that already has telephones and cellphones.
The answer? Doctors and healthcare personnel. According to a recent survey of medical care facilities, almost 80 percent of hospitals still provide their clinicians and personnel with pagers. Hospital still prefer pagers to cellphones for a few reasons.
First, pagers are less distracting that cellphones. A pager simply shows the doctors the message without any apps or similar contrivances. Second, hospitals can be full of dead zones for cellphone signals, like areas with thickened walls to prevent X-ray radiation from spilling out. These walls and barriers aren’t a problem for pagers, allowing doctors to receive notifications anywhere on the premises.
Through Sleet and Snow
Yes, the postal service still exists, and last year it processed over 140 billion in total mail volume. Although instant messaging and emails have largely replaced a lot of the functions of snail mail, it still remains a powerful and vital part of communication.
For example, companies can still get surprising benefits from marketing through direct mail. Postal services are also essential in rural areas where internet connectivity is close to nil. Postal services also offer the only safe way to vote during emergencies such as the current health crisis, allowing millions of people to mail in their ballots without unduly risking their well-being.
Even other courier services such as Amazon and FedEx rely on postal services to make their deliveries. Some routes, especially in hard to reach locations, aren’t profitable enough for private companies to service. So postal services are the only way they can receive their orders and packages.
Vinyl Beats Digital
A single smartphone can contain hundreds upon hundreds of songs, not counting all the music it can access through streaming services such as Spotify. But before digital music downloads, and even before CDs, there were vinyl records.
You probably know them from movies in 80s or similar vintage films, but the flat, black discs are making a comeback. In 2019, more than 8.6 million vinyl records were sold, generating over $220 million. Music aficionados and enthusiasts are responsible for this resurgence. They claim that songs have a richer, more textured sound when played from vinyl.
Online communities are also responsible for the increase in popularity. Thanks to social media platforms, vinyl collectors have an easier time looking for additions to their collections, connecting with similar people, and showcasing their precious records.
The continued popularity and usefulness of these supposedly outdated technologies and services demonstrates that new doesn’t always mean better. Look back on other devices you think are obsolete and think of ways they can still be useful.