How Once Cutting-Edge Tech Evolved Into 'Digital 'Dinosaurs'
How Once Cutting-Edge Tech Evolved Into 'Digital 'Dinosaurs'
This slide show looks at "extinct" technologies that once dominated our world and how they've evolved into what we use in our current day-to-day activities.
Extinct: Dial-Up Modems —> Ethernet/Broadband —> WiFi
Millennials may not believe it, but there was a time where you couldn't walk around the office and have wireless Internet access. In the early days of the Web, PCs used modems that plugged into conventional telephone lines to dial up a local Internet service provider (ISP). The most advanced dial-up modem boasted blistering connection speeds of 56 kilobytes per second. These were eventually replaced by broadband Internet access via cable, digital subscriber line, satellite and Fiber to the X (FTTx) in many parts of the world. Now, with WiFi free and available in any office, coffee shop and even on airplanes, the dial-up modem is officially a dinosaur.
Extinct: Floppy Disks —> USB Drive —> Flash/Cloud Storage Technology
Outside of the symbol for "Save" in Microsoft Word, many people entering the workforce today have never seen a floppy disk. The floppy disk was a revolution in the computer industry when it was developed by IBM in the late 1960s as a reliable and inexpensive method of storage and data transfer. It remained a popular portable digital-storage medium for nearly 40 years, until the USB/thumb drive was introduced. Today, USB sticks can store up to 128GB of memory—a massive difference to the floppy disk, which could only hold up to 1.44MB. USB flash drives were the most popular form of storage for consumers from 1998 through the early 2000s, but now they too are on the verge of extinction with the increased popularity, and availability, of cloud storage technology.
Nearly Extinct: File Cabinets —> Enterprise File Sync/Share Technologies
A generation ago, offices depended on paper-based file systems that held contracts, reports and other data. The majority of businesses today, whether they're an enterprise or a small or medium-sized business, uses digital files and implements some kind of digitized file sync and share technology (such as ShareFile). This kind of technology has become an integral part of content management systems and document workflows. There are still some industries, such as health care and legal, that rely on a paper-based file cabinet document management system, and therefore file cabinets can't be considered fully extinct, though they're well on their way.
Extinct: Pagers —> PDAs —> Mobile Devices and Tablets
It's hard to believe that as recently as the 1980s, the pager was the state of the art for instant communication, with 3.2 million pager users worldwide. For a long time, a pager was a status symbol for physicians, emergency personnel and others who were on call. While cellular phones emerged in the '80s, they didn't become widely used until the 21st century. That being said, with the technological advances that led to PDAs/PalmPilots, and eventually today's modern mobile devices and tablets, pagers have become as extinct as the T. rex.
Nearly Extinct: In-Person Meetings —> Video Conferencing
The technological revolution has led to a decrease in face-to-face conversations and interactions—and the workplace is no exception. Video conferencing and virtual meeting conferencing technologies—once limited to the largest governments and corporations—are now available on smartphones, tablets and laptops. This newly efficient way to communicate virtually has transformed how small and large businesses train employees and collaborate. Virtual events are now as common as major conferences, enabling a more efficient way to market and reach customers while significantly reducing business travel costs. Today, video conferences enable global collaboration while significantly reducing the need for business travel. While in-person meetings still exist, this newer and oftentimes more convenient form of communication has transformed how companies large and small operate.
Nearly Extinct: Fax Machines —> Electronic Signature Technologies & PDF
The emergence of the fax machine sparked a revolution in the 1980s. Before then, the only way to share contracts and other important documents was through couriers, package delivery services and the mail. While many offices still have a fax machine, it's fast becoming another dust-covered fossil, thanks to the development of scanning. In fact, even signing important and sensitive documents can be done without a fax machine thanks to Adobe PDF and electronic signature technologies such as RightSignature.
Nearly Extinct: Traditional Telephone —> Mobile Phone and VoIP
The traditional telephone is fast becoming a dinosaur, a decline that began once mobile phones became everyday items. This trend, which started as consumers began canceling their home phone subscription, has begun to extend into the office as large corporations increasingly turn to unified communications tools like Skype for Business and smaller businesses embrace Grasshopper and VirtualPBX, frequently accessed through softphone applications on laptops, tablets and smartphones. While office and home phones have yet to disappear, they have certainly become endangered species.
Endangered? Email —> Real-Time Collaboration/Messaging Tools
Email has been around even longer than the World Wide Web. While tools like instant messaging and other collaboration tools have emerged, email remains a key communications tool. "I've been hearing about the decline of email for 20 years." says Calvin Hsu of Citrix. "I don't think it will ever be completely extinct, but real-time collaboration tools are continuing to infiltrate the enterprise, definitely giving email a run for its money." More recently, tools like Asana, Slack, Trello and Podio collaboration environments, as well as other communications tools, have become popular with organizations as email alternatives. Time will tell if the days of email dominance are limited.
Endangered? Mobile Devices and Tablets —> Wearable Technologies
Smartphones and tablets have successfully replaced dinosaurs such as the pager and PDA, but are they also at risk of becoming extinct thanks to the rapid advancement of wearable technologies? IT professionals have already begun to adapt their bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and mobile device management (MDM) policies to accommodate the growth of wearables in the enterprise. This growth will only continue, with a recent report from Gartner predicting that the sales of wearable electronic devices will generate revenue of $28.7 billion in 2016. But will today's dominant mobile devices ever become extinct?
Endangered? Key Fob —> Bluetooth-Enabled/Connected Door Lock
The majority of offices today allow their employees to come and go thanks to secure smart card entry systems. However, connected technology, the Internet of things and smart home technologies suggest that more advanced Bluetooth-enabled systems may endanger the smart card moving forward. The day may come when smartphones or a wearable technology that has yet to emerge may replace today's entry system.