When’s the last time you had to fax something to somebody? I had to do it a few weeks ago, and was surprised that the business that I was dealing with wouldn’t let me scan the document and e-mail it to them. I suspect in a few days I may have to fax my property tax bill to my mortgage escrow company, unless this year they’ve become enlightened enough to allow me to do it via e-mail.
Fax machines were the rage in the 80’s and 90‘s. Remember that crappy paper you used to have to use - the stuff that would get all curly? Plain-paper fax was the next big step, but now - it’s so, well, so 90’s to fax anything.
For about 50 bucks today, you can get a half-way decent machine that will scan your documents, photos, or whatever to JPEG or PDF files, and with a few more clicks you can send whatever you’ve scanned via e-mail. To use a fax machine at home, you pretty much need a land-line.
Do you have an answering machine? That’s another thing going the way of the five-cent cigar and the buggy whip. Nearly every telephone service provider will give you voicemail for a couple cents a day, whether it’s a land-line or wireless phone.
How about a phone book - do you still have one of those monstrosities around your house, in a place where you can actually get at it? For professional reasons, I had to have a land-line re-installed in my home a month or so ago, and a couple days later AT+T dumped about 30 pounds worth of paper on my front porch. Phone book. Dinosaur.
While we’re on the topic….how about the Rolodex? Got one on your desk at work? Didn’t think so. Everything’s electronic now, and any decent computer office program has a “contacts” function that’s superseded the once-ubiquitous Rolodex.
Here’s something else that’s rapidly disappearing…the folding paper map. Even if it’s not built into your car, GPS is available on so many devices now that paper maps are becoming a thing of the past. Unless you count printing out directions from MapQuest or GoogleMaps on your computer.
When I lived in Los Angeles a couple decades ago, I carried a couple big, thick, spiral-bound Thomas Brothers maps with me everywhere - one for L-A County and one for Orange County. Seemingly everybody had a Thomas Brothers map. The business electronics firm I briefly managed back then sold them like hotcakes. They were about 30 bucks apiece. We also sold a lot of fax machines.
And we sold photocopy machines. We were an Adler-Royal dealer, and back around 1985 Adler-Royal did a survey and found that the word most frequently associated with “photocopier” was “jam”.
We also sold “typewriters”. Remember them?
One more thing I hope is on the road to obsolescence is stamps and envelopes you have to lick. I buy only the “forever” stamps, and only the kind that you peel off and stick on. And I buy only the “self-sealing” envelopes. I hate slicing my tongue open on those things! Maybe someday the greeting card folks will get the message.