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23 Household Items From Pre-2000 That Are Now Obsolete

As technology and lifestyles evolve, many everyday household items have become obsolete. From rotary phones to ashtrays, these once-essential objects have been replaced by modern alternatives.

Understanding why these items fell out of favor offers insight into our changing world. Here, we explore the most popular household items that were once common but are now relics of the past.

Rotary Phones

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Rotary phones, once a staple in every home, have become relics of the past. The advent of mobile phones and touch-tone technology rendered these devices obsolete. Today, they are more likely to be found in antique shops than in living rooms.


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Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs) have been the primary means of watching movies at home for decades. With the rise of DVDs and streaming services, VCRs have largely disappeared. The once-familiar task of rewinding tapes is now a distant memory.


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Typewriters were essential for writers and office workers before computers became ubiquitous. The clack of keys and the ding of the carriage return are sounds seldom heard today. Now, typewriters are cherished by collectors and nostalgists.


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Encyclopedias were once the go-to source for information on a wide range of topics. The digital age and the convenience of online search engines have made these hefty volumes redundant. Many homes have replaced entire shelves of encyclopedias with a single tablet or smartphone.

Answering Machines

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Answering machines were crucial for receiving messages when you weren’t home. Now, voicemail services provided by mobile carriers have taken over this function. These devices, with their blinking lights and cassette tapes, are now obsolete.

Film Cameras

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Film cameras required careful handling and a trip to the photo lab to develop pictures. Digital cameras and smartphones have revolutionized photography, making film cameras largely obsolete. Although film photography has a niche following, it’s no longer mainstream.

Fax Machines

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Fax machines were a standard in offices for sending documents quickly. Email and digital signatures have replaced the need for these bulky devices. Today, fax machines are rarely seen outside of specific industries like healthcare.

Cassette Tapes

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Cassette tapes were once the preferred medium for music lovers. With the introduction of CDs, MP3s, and streaming services, cassettes have fallen out of favor. The nostalgic sound of a tape rewinding is now a rarity.


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Rolodexes were essential for keeping track of business contacts and phone numbers. Digital contact lists on smartphones and computers have made them unnecessary. The once-iconic spinning wheel of contacts is now a symbol of a bygone era.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

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Incandescent light bulbs have been the standard for household lighting for over a century. Energy-efficient LED and CFL bulbs have largely replaced them due to better longevity and efficiency. Many countries have phased out the production of incandescent bulbs altogether.

Manual Lawn Mowers

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Manual lawnmowers, powered solely by human effort, have been overshadowed by gas and electric models. These modern mowers offer greater convenience and efficiency. Manual mowers are now mostly used by enthusiasts or for small gardens.

Handheld Calculators

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Handheld calculators were once indispensable tools for students and professionals. Today, their functions are easily replicated by smartphone apps and computer software. The physical calculator is now a rarity in most households.

CD Players

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CD players were once the primary means of listening to music at home. The rise of digital music players and streaming services has made CD players less common. Many people have moved their music libraries to digital formats.

Alarm Clocks

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Dedicated alarm clocks have been largely replaced by smartphones. These multifunctional devices can do much more than just wake you up. Traditional alarm clocks are now mostly found in hotels and nostalgic bedrooms.

Printed Maps

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Printed maps were essential for road trips and navigation before GPS technology became widespread. Now, digital maps and navigation apps have made them nearly obsolete. The art of reading a map is becoming a lost skill.

CRT Televisions

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Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions, with their bulky design, have been replaced by sleek flat-screen models. The improved picture quality and space-saving design of LCD and LED TVs have made CRTs a thing of the past. These old televisions are now mostly found in recycling centers.

Electric Can Openers

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Electric can openers, once a kitchen luxury, have fallen out of favor. Manual can openers are more compact, efficient, and easier to clean. Many households have opted to free up counter space by ditching these devices.

Wall Calendars

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Wall calendars, used to keep track of dates and appointments, have been largely replaced by digital calendars. Smartphones and computers offer more convenient and dynamic ways to manage schedules. Physical calendars are now often seen as decorative items rather than practical tools.

Landline Phones

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Landline phones have seen a steep decline in usage with the rise of mobile phones. Many households have eliminated their landline service altogether. The freedom and convenience of mobile phones have made fixed-line telephony nearly obsolete.


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Checkbooks were once a common sight in wallets and purses for everyday transactions. The rise of digital banking and card payments has reduced their usage significantly. Many people now rarely write checks, preferring electronic transfers and payments.

Ironing Boards

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Ironing boards were once a staple in every household for maintaining crisp, wrinkle-free clothing. The advent of wrinkle-resistant fabrics and steamers has decreased their necessity. Today, many people opt for more convenient solutions to keep their clothes looking neat.


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Pagers were once indispensable for doctors, emergency workers, and busy professionals. They provided a simple way to receive messages before mobile phones became ubiquitous. Today, pagers are rarely seen outside of very specific professional contexts, having been largely replaced by smartphones.


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Ashtrays were once common in homes, cars, and offices during a time when smoking indoors was more widely accepted. As smoking rates have declined and smoking bans have increased, the presence of ashtrays has diminished. Now, they are often considered more of a collector’s item than a household necessity.

Josh Dudick

Josh is a financial expert with over 15 years of experience on Wall Street as a senior market strategist and trader. His career has spanned from working on the New York Stock Exchange floor to investment management and portfolio trading at Citibank, Chicago Trading Company, and Flow Traders.

Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business. He has held multiple professional licenses during his career, including FINRA Series 3, 7, 24, 55, Nasdaq OMX, Xetra & Eurex (German), and SIX (Swiss) trading licenses. Josh served as a senior trader and strategist, business partner, and head of futures in his former roles on Wall Street.

Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh currently holds areas of expertise in investing, wealth management, capital markets, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and personal finance.

Josh currently runs a wealth management business and investment firm. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of Top Dollar, where he teaches others how to build 6-figure passive income with smart money strategies that he uses professionally.