It’s no surprise that some technologies are still being used today, though in many instances there are modern alternatives, some things are just irreplaceable like that of the basic compass dating back to at least 206BC, though we have GPS devices from our phones to smartwatches, compasses are still a must have tool for the likes of the military, aircraft pilots and even miners assisting their routes underground, and personally I prefer a good old fashioned map and compass when I go hiking, funny enough to switch off from the constraints of technology. 

So with that all said, what other old, ancient and outdated technologies are we still using today?


It may come as a surprise that in parts of Eastern Europe, Russia, China, and Africa the abacus is still being used daily, and it’s not because calculators are expensive. A decent abacus can cost the same and more than a calculator, it is in part because they are more robust to use, making them ideal for the many different environments in which they are used. Those who were taught to use them are generally far better at calculating things in their heads instantly and use the abacus to make those larger more difficult calculations in a shorter time than it would take the average person to key in the numbers on a calculator.

Operating System

Now this may come as quite a bit of a surprise and if it doesn’t it should at least come as a bit of a concern! Many parts of the UK’s and US’s government departments, military devices, even police networks and Ministry of Defence systems run on Windows XP, you know, the operating system that Microsoft released in 2001 and initially stopped supporting back in back 2009, but extended its support to some institutions until 2014, not short of 10 years ago. So why on earth is it still being used today and by the likes of governments and defence?

Well the reason why is not just the fact so much data, software and systems were built on the operating system. Windows XP is the most stable and surprisingly secure version of the operating system Microsoft has built to date, and unsurprisingly the versions of Windows XP used by these departments are heavily modified to meet specific needs, requirements and security. 


Remember the good old days of the internet, typing into Tim Berners-Lee’s WorldWideWeb browser with slow loading hyper-text format web pages, being fed through to the computer via a dialup internet connection? Well if you are too young to remember then you need to book a holiday to parts of America. From Alabama, Colorado and Delaware to South Dakota, Utah and Washington, 10 million Americans or approximately 3% of the population still use a dial up connection, and you would be forgiven to think that at the very least the majority of these individuals were old people who simply don’t like change and don’t require anything more. However in actuality only a small proportion of these users are old, a good proportion of them either live in poverty and cannot afford broadband, or live in areas where broadband cables still haven’t been laid. 


Our next ingenious piece of kit was first invented almost 150 years ago in 1876, the technology which is accredited to Alexander Graham Bell (that’s a big clue) should also be accredited to Elisha Gray who only missed being hailed as the inventor by just a few hours. If you still can not guess by the date or names mentioned what piece of kit I’m talking about, it’s the landline telephone.

Of course the telephone has come a long way since its first iteration but other than the addition of displays, push buttons, answer machines, hands free and wireless, little has actually changed, and with mobile phones being so superior in what they do and provide, why do we still need and use landlines today? Well your guess is as good as mine! There is unsurprisingly a growing number of households that have done away with their landline phones but for many of us and businesses alike they look to remain, simply because if you are buying broadband for your household the majority of contracts come with a landline, and for businesses keeping recognisable matching business numbers is important from a visual and presence perspective. So until broadband contracts stop including a landline and VOIP is offered across mobiles, landline telephones are here to stay.

Out Of This World

Now for something that will really surprise you. Spacesuits; so we all know roughly about the incredible advancements in space technology. Since the first mission into space in 1961, the first Moon landing in 1969, all the way to the present day with self landing space rockets and Mars rovers, the technology has just gone from strength to strength! So, why then has NASA not replaced the only 11 EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) spacesuits remaining that are tired and constantly in need of repair, which were produced and have continually been used since 1983. Well surprisingly it’s all about the money, in the mid to late 70s it cost up to $22M to produce just one EMU suit, that’s approximately $130M in today’s money, well if you think it costs roughly $80M for a standard space mission then each new suit produced will set back a least one mission per suit, and though the technology built into these suits are outdated, the technology connecting them has improved vastly, so though there is a need to replace them it’s not currently a vital one.

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