Defunct and Wagnalls

Defunct and Wagnalls

One of my college roommates is teaching in Adu Dhabi. (It’s a long story.) His wife posted some photos he sent of a National Geographic film crew at the school where he works, and said he’s been asked to be in the documentary that’s being made.

I started to type, “Setting my VCR now.”

VCR. Huh.

Blog PhotoI still had VCRs (Beta and VHS, thank you very much) well after my sons were born, but they – now 18 and 22 – own not a single videotape between them. When I hear someone talking about an upcoming show, usually, I use the DirecTV app on my phone if I want to be sure to "tape" it.

This has me thinking about how language adapts to technology.

Some of us of a certain age, I suppose, still say we’re taping something even though tape isn’t involved at all. (I was surprised to learn that tape is involved in the Blue Waters supercomputer, according to this news release and this story.)

So I’m thinking about words we either don’t use or that have changed their meaning as the underlying technology has changed.

Videotape. Heck, reel-to-reel, 8-track, maybe even cassette tape.


Rotary-dial phone.

Anyone else got any?

Does Walkman fit in this category, do you think?

Or, for that matter, are there phrases in use now that you think will go extinct in your lifetime?


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hcitydave wrote on May 28, 2012 at 8:05 am

Well, how about 'Polaroid pictures'? Has anyone sent a telegram in the past 20 years? Turntables, records, 45s, 33s, 78s. Pick your mm...16...8...35...  film movie projectors. Going further back, 'TV tubes' (other than a picture tube and these are also on the way out)...back further...'radio tubes'. All these things are still around but usually only with collectors. My dad  was the Data and Systems manager at International Harvester in the 60s. When they received their first computer, it was wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling and it filled a 15' by 20' room. He told me that it could only do what a hand held calculator could do today but it was considered a modern marvel at the time.


Mike Howie wrote on May 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm
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This is a great list. I still have some records that I can't make myself get rid of, even though I don't have a "stereo" any more. And "Pick your mm" is a terrific observation.

Thanks for chiming in.