_109091637_gettyimages-593267066-2 Pagers, faxes and cheques: Issues which may appear out of date, however aren't

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Cassette tapes have made a comeback. Fortunately, the boombox-on-shoulder look has not.


The roughly one thousand individuals who nonetheless used pagers in Japan might need shed a tear this week once they had been lastly discontinued. Wait, you could say… pagers are nonetheless a factor?

Although you will not discover them in Japan any extra, pagers are nonetheless used elsewhere. They usually’re not the one “outdated” merchandise nonetheless being employed around the globe.


1) Pagers

p052jhkw Pagers, faxes and cheques: Issues which may appear out of date, however aren't

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Media captionRetro tech: When the pager was king

How do they work?

They’re like small radio receivers (we’re not explaining what a “radio” is) which you can carry round. Every consumer has a private code that individuals can quote in the event that they need to ship a message to you. Every message flashes up on the facet of the pager.

Why are they nonetheless round?

Greater than 10% of the world’s remaining pagers are utilized by 130,000 individuals who work for the UK’s Nationwide Well being Service (NHS). One research from 2017 mentioned 80% of British hospitals nonetheless used them.

Why? For one factor, reception is all the time good: some hospital rooms are designed to comprise X-rays, however this additionally finally ends up blocking phone alerts. Pagers’ radio alerts are wonderful. They’re additionally quick, and helpful in emergencies.

However pagers may not be lengthy for this world: they’re to be phased out of the NHS by 2021 and changed by one other messaging system.

2) Cheques

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Cheques are so uncommon as of late, it is regular to take images of them once you see them

How do they work?

Think about a e book manufactured from slips of paper that your financial institution provides you. You possibly can tear out a slip (or “cheque”), write down a quantity (one which is the same as or lower than the sum of money you could have in your account) and provides it to somebody, who can then give it to their very own financial institution for cash. Easy!

Why are they nonetheless round?

They’re used greater than you may suppose, even when they’re much less widespread than ever.

Within the US, the place small shops could not settle for playing cards and landlords usually demand to be paid by cheque, a mean of seven.1 cheques had been written per family monthly in 2015.

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Chequebooks had been attributable to be phased out within the UK by 2018, however these plans had been scrapped, as a result of no viable options for the aged and susceptible had been in place (most British cheque customers are aged over 65).

In keeping with UK Finance, the commerce affiliation for the British banking sector, cheques made up solely zero.9% of all funds right here in 2018 – however they nonetheless added as much as a stunning £443 billion ($550 billion) in transactions.

Having mentioned this, the variety of cheques cashed right here has fallen 75% in solely 10 years. That determine is unlikely to extend once more, however the UK finance trade nonetheless expects 135 million cheque funds to be made in 2028.

Various different international locations, together with the Netherlands, Namibia and Denmark, have already phased out cheques.

three) Cassettes

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Pictured: A time earlier than music streaming websites

How do they work?

Properly, for these of a sure age, the concept of a cassette tape working in any respect may look like a pipedream. This retro music format largely conjures darkish reminiscences of badly tangled tape and cracked circumstances.

However for the uninitiated: think about a small, rectangular, plastic field crammed with a roll of magnetic tape. On that tape you may discover, as if by magic, the work of musical icons corresponding to Madonna, Prince and Rick Astley. You could possibly even file your individual!

Pop that plastic field satisfyingly right into a cassette participant – maybe a traditional Sony Walkman or your granddad’s automotive stereo – press play, and away you go. Simply do not anticipate nice sound high quality…

Why are they nonetheless round?

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Various high-profile artists have launched – or re-released – music on cassette lately

They’re extra than simply hanging round – cassette tapes are literally rising in popularity. It is one thing of a mini-renaissance.

Within the UK, gross sales are at their highest degree for greater than a decade. Greater than 35,000 of them had been offered within the first seven months of this yr, based on the British Phonographic Trade (BPI). That may not sound like a lot (as a result of, properly, it is not) nevertheless it marks the seventh yr in a row that gross sales of the format have elevated.

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It is a comparable story within the US, the place, based on Nielsen music, gross sales of cassette tapes grew by 23% in 2018 in contrast with the earlier yr. So what’s behind this rise?

“I believe it is nostalgia,” says Ken Brissenden, who owns an internet cassette retailer known as – naturally – Mr Cassette. “It slows down the method of having fun with music. Individuals of my technology like the method of selecting a cassette and searching on the band notes on the sleeve.

“Plus, it is simpler and extra transportable than vinyl.”

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But it surely’s not simply these seeking to re-live their youth who’re shopping for cassettes. “It is on development,” Mr Brissenden explains. “It appeared to take off when Eminem and different large artist began releasing them.”

Certainly, a slew of contemporary artists have chosen to launch their music on cassette lately. This yr’s best-selling artists within the format embrace Billie Eilish, Kylie Minogue and Lewis Capaldi. So there’s life within the little tapes but.

Farewell to the gadgets that didn’t make it

four) Tamagotchis

p04hbtcx Pagers, faxes and cheques: Issues which may appear out of date, however aren't

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Media captionTamagotchis had been launched in Japan in 1996, sparking a cyber-pet craze

How do they work?

They’re digital pets within the form of an egg that it’s a must to preserve alive. Presumably it is all about studying how one can course of dying and guilt.

Why are they nonetheless round?

Satirically, Tamagotchis refused to die. As a substitute, they’ve advanced.

They had been launched in Japan in 1996, and grew in recognition around the globe within the yr afterwards. Inside its first few years, greater than 40 million had been offered. And whereas gross sales have undoubtedly slowed since, about six million had been offered between 2010 and 2017.

Final yr, an entire new technology of Tamagotchi was launched. The fundamental pixelated gray display of the 1990s has now been changed by one in color. New Tamagochi can, when bumped, change knowledge, marry one another and breed, which is sweet.

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There’s additionally a brand new period of Tamagotchi followers who meet on an internet discussion board. Among the many topics being mentioned: who ought to my Tama marry, tributes to useless Tamas and “mature and centered dialogue” on Tamagotchi.

5) Fax machines

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Individuals queue to make use of a fax machine at a US airport in 2000. Hopefully this is not an emergency.

How do they work?

If you happen to’re younger sufficient to have by no means used – and even seen – a fax machine, then think about a cumbersome printer that appears like a steam engine. Some older fashions may actually have a phone connected. They’re removed from smooth.

They work by scanning a doc and transferring it right into a sign which is then despatched down a phone line, to the sound of a piercing hell-scream, to a different fax machine. This machine then reproduces the doc and prints it out.

Why are they nonetheless round?

Largely as a result of companies, the well being trade and authorities departments have did not replace their expertise.

Once more, let’s take a look at NHS right here within the UK. It is regarded as the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines. It’s so reliant on the outdated tech that final yr it was banned from shopping for them altogether. It was then informed by the federal government – presumably by electronic mail – to part them out by March 2020.

Elsewhere on this planet, the fax machine remains to be extensively utilized in numerous international locations together with the US, Germany, Israel and Japan. Hundreds of thousands of faxed pages are nonetheless despatched each day.

“For a lot of older individuals who could really feel uncomfortable with computer systems, faxing is simpler, inexpensive, and extra acquainted,” says Professor Jonathan Coopersmith, who has written a historical past of the system. “Anticipate them to stay round whilst they take a smaller share of day by day speaking. “

Certainly, in Japan, the machine persists to some extent as a result of handwriting and arduous copies are nonetheless so extremely valued. The truth is, simply final yr, the nation’s new cyber-security minister admitted he had by no means used a pc. Discuss studying on the job.