19 Things That Disappeared From Society and No One Noticed

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By Jonathan Trent

The popularity of different things comes and goes over time, whether due to technological advancements, new inventions pushing them aside, or a general lack of requirements in modern society. There are tons of examples you’ll remember, such as these 19 things that seemed to disappear without anyone noticing.

Phone Booths

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Cell phones quickly spelled the end of the public telephone, with people now able to dial a phone number from anywhere in the world. According to Business Insider, there are now just 100,000 working phone booths in the US, compared to two million 20 years ago.

Paper Maps 

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Nowadays, if you say the word maps to a young person, they’ll think that you are talking about the GPS app on people’s phones. Paper maps are so obsolete now that people can type in a location on their handheld device, which will tell them exactly where they need to go!

Physical Encyclopedias

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In the days before search engines, people would have to look up any facts they wanted to know in large, space-consuming encyclopedias. This would take an extraordinary amount of time, with no guarantee that you would even find the information you were searching for.

Text Talk

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Before mobile phone contracts ruled supreme, texters were charged money per letter, resulting in heavily abbreviated messages being sent. This trend was fully ended by being able to send messages via apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger, although some millennials still choose to use text talk to this day!

VHS Tapes

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The arrival of DVDs prompted the swift removal of VHS tapes from society. It’s easy to see why, too, as VHS tapes are considerably more chunky, taking up more space on people’s shelves. They were also far more prone to error and often required manual rewinding via the back of a pencil.

Fax Machines

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Years ago, fax machines were hailed as a marvel of technology, giving people the opportunity to send documents to each other over the phone. Nowadays, however, all that seems rather laughable; email and digital sharing have quickly dated fax machines, rendering them obsolete.


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While stamps haven’t completely disappeared from society, they have become so rare that stamp prices have declined dramatically, as Forbes shares. This is due to fewer people sending handwritten letters, and most documents are handled in a virtual setting. Frankly, we’re sad to see them go!

Paper Checks

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Not long ago, people transferred money to each other with checks, and if you received one, you had to take it to a bank branch for them to deposit it into your account! Gen Z will likely go through their entire life never writing a single check, which is probably for the best.

Mobile Ringtones

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When mobile phones became widely popular in the early 2000s, schoolyards would be full of children huddled together, sending each other ringtones. Nowadays, the novelty ringtone is no longer fashionable, with people either opting for the default option or having their phone vibrate. Bring back ringtones, we say!

Cereal Box Toys

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Remember when cereal companies used to insert small plastic toys into their products to entice children? That sounds weird when you put it like that, but we loved it as kids! Sadly, stricter food safety legislation, rising manufacturing costs, and environmental awareness killed off this trend seemingly overnight. 

3D Television

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Did you notice the disappearance of 3D televisions? Nope, neither did we; this tech had a brief spell of popularity before fizzling out once people realized it wasn’t worth the hype. Producers weren’t interested in compromising on the quality of their shows just to play up to the gimmick, making it a lose-lose.

Floppy Disks

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Floppy disks used to be the main form of transferring data between computers, but they were soon sidelined by the arrival of USB sticks, hard drives, and, more recently, cloud storage. Nowadays, computers aren’t built to accommodate the clumsy, old-fashioned-looking plastic disks, but we miss them dearly.

Fast Food Play Areas

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Less than two decades ago, it seemed that most fast-food restaurants would have children’s play areas within their perimeter. However, CBS reports that this trend has died down as modern fast food restaurants are built on efficiency, no longer with the attention of catching the eye. We didn’t even notice this!

Vacation Postcards

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Along with any form of handwritten letter, postcards have almost died out, with people no longer sending souvenirs home from their trips abroad. Nowadays, people update friends and family on their trips abroad via social media, but it’s just not the same as the thrill of receiving an exotic postcard.

Overhead Projectors

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Ask any current schoolchild what an overhead projector is, and they will stare back at you blankly. However, for over 50 years, they were a permanent fixture in schools, allowing teachers to display images to the class. Nothing beat hand puppet performances during class, although they drove the teachers crazy!

Disposable Cameras

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Everyone bought disposable cameras in the ‘90s as an alternative to expensive Polaroid cameras, usually capturing memories on their vacations. You’d get around 30 snaps out of the camera before running out of film, which feels rather silly when comparing them to the unlimited shots we get on our modern cameraphones!

Movie Rental Stores

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For many Americans, a trip to the movie rental store in the ‘90s was part of their weekly routine. However, most of these stores have gone out of business thanks to the rise of streaming sites like Netflix. We have many more choices now, but it’s just not the same!

CD Players

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The arrival of CD players in 1983 changed the music industry forever. People eagerly ditched their lower-quality vinyl records in favor of futuristic CDs. CDs lasted a while, but once MP3 players came along, people quickly realized they could store more tracks than CDs, and that was that.

MP3 Players

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Finally, whilst MP3 players were absolutely amazing when they first came out, they only lasted a decade until they were ruthlessly discontinued. Unsurprisingly, this was all because of smartphones and streaming sites; in fact, USA Today points out that these modern platforms account for a whopping 84% of all music consumption! R.I.P MP3 players, we loved you!