How Old Tech Gets New Life in the 21st Century

By Special Guest
Jonathan Brown
October 29, 2018

We live in a time when, thanks to computers, technology is developing at a rate faster than ever before in human history. With that said, there are several technologies which have been with us for over or nearly over a century, which people still use on a day-to-day basis. What’s more, seemingly obsolete devices are being brought back thanks to enhancements made possible by digital technology. Here are several examples of how old tech is getting a new life in the 21st century:

Record Player

Before digital streaming, MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, there were records played on record players. Commonly referred to as “vinyl” to distinguish them from other formats, records have seen a resurgence in popularity among music buffs, many of whom collect vinyl records as a hobby. Due to this renewed demand, companies have continued to manufacture record players. Wireless streaming has enabled the development of Bluetooth turntable technology, allowing these devices to double as record players and speakers for digital streaming.


The broadcasting of music and other audio across the airwaves has been ongoing for almost 100 years. Despite the development and widespread distribution of alternative forms of media, including television and the web, radio stations remain in business and news radio is still around. This is owed in part to the digitization of radio content over the last 20 years. Listeners are now able to access their favorite radio shows via streaming and downloading. While this means the number of live radio listeners has lowered, it has managed to provide enormous incentive to keep traditional radio going despite being a very old technology.


The telephone is another technology that’s been with us for a century and continues to be used on a daily basis. Of course for the vast majority of people, this means using a mobile phone rather than a traditional landline. Yet the concept has remained relatively unchanged and the underlying infrastructure relatively untouched. The key difference between phone tech of old versus phone tech today is that instead of the signals running through wires they are being bounced off towers and relayed to satellites. At the end of the day, we’re still making phone calls just like they were 50 or even 80 years ago, we just happen to be able to be almost anywhere when we make them.


The essential design of an automobile has basically stayed the same since the days of the Ford Model T. It’s not that cars haven’t changed - they have clearly improved in terms of aerodynamics, features, engine power, and safety - but things such as the transmission and the internal combustion engine are still features of virtually every car on the road with the exception of electric. The big leap in automobile technology is the advent of self-driving vehicles. However, self-driving is really just a feature - a very fancy and state-of-the-art feature - but a feature nonetheless. Underneath, for the most part, cars are no different than they were in the past.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Drones have been a hot item for consumers for several years now. While modern drones are capable of autonomous flight, high-def video recording, and other truly high-tech features, they operate not unlike radio-controlled aerial vehicles of the past. RC planes and RC helicopters have been available to consumers for decades, and drones are really just a digital age version of these devices.

Much of the technology today hinges on the tech of yesterday. In fact, in many cases, the seemingly high-tech gadgets and gizmos of modern times are simply old tech being revived for the digital age. The next time you use your phone or drive your car, take a moment to appreciate the connecting arc of technological development which spans from the past and stretched into the future.

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