Talk about a high-profile casualty of the digital age. Come July, Kodak, the company that invented the handheld camera, will stop making its digital camera. Yes, it's the end of an era but the news is hardly a shocker. What with Kodak's inability to fend off stepped-up competition from rivals with better digital cameras--not to mention the emergence of smartphones doubling as cameras--this was a slow-motion rendezvous with failure. Then last month the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
Sony made its first cassette Walkman in 1979. It enjoyed a terrific run that lasted 30 years. But someone wasn't minding the store and Sony got its proverbial clock cleaned by Apple and the iPod revolution. You can still buy CD- and MD-based versions of the Walkman but good luck trying to buy a new cassette version. Then again, why would you want to?
OK, it's not technically high-tech, but the venerable slide rule at least deserves an honorable mention. (Besides, it helped pull me through my trigonometry class in high school). Tech historians trace its origins back to the 17th century, but the slide rule's longevity came to an abrupt end when personal computers became popular in the 1980s.
They rose to prominence in the 1970s and the early models cost a bundle. But by the middle of the decade, pocket calculators could be had for around $20. The popularity of the devices was not without controversy as many teachers--including several of my own--were convinced students who used the devices would never learn math.
Once a must-have accessory of the early adopter--or anyone who was part of the cool set. Nowadays, if you see someone still wearing a pager on their hip, odds are high that he or she is a complete dork.
Companies like Hayes, present at the creation of the PC industry, once made a bundle selling dial-up modems. Dunno about you, but I really miss that unique modem connection handshake sound. Difficult to describe that screeching wail, but I daresay you'll never get it out of your head once you've heard it.