11 Technologies in Danger of Going Extinct

It’s a common story: The hottest technologies on the market are often upstaged by the next big thing. As new advancements are made, products that once changed our lives are left in the dust and swapped for the new, the shiny and the updated. Here are 11 devices — some you'd expect and some you might not — that are still roaming the streets but facing rapid extinction.

Fax Machines

It’s true that faxes have existed in various forms since as far back as the 1800s, but they have finally run their course. This is due largely to the growth of email, smartphones and touch-screen technology that allows users to sign documents electronically. According to Pixmania, the largest electronics retailer in Europe, it will be hard to find stores that stock them in just a year’s time.

Landline Phones

Cell phones and online video chat (via both smartphones and computers) are giving landlines a run for their money. In fact, nearly a quarter of households in the United States have already ditched landlines and 50 percent of adults aged 25 to 29 only use a mobile device, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. The appeal of the cell phone includes instant accessibility to anyone at anytime, while the land-bound landline stays at home.


Yes, beepers are indeed still around. However, most of those still in use are by those in the medical field. Since the demand for these devices has been on the outs for quite awhile, it’s only a matter of time before they become extinct for good.

DVD players

Just a decade ago, consumers were trading in VCRs for DVD players. Now, many shoppers are instead opting for Blu-ray and HD discs, which provide high-quality video images. Since these discs are not compatible with traditional DVD players – and the prices for them are dropping – there is no longer an urgent need for the once-coveted DVD player. The growing demand for streaming movies via game consoles and the Internet is also a player in changing the game.

Film Projectors

In 2005, less than 100 movie screens in the United States used digital projectors. Now there are close to 16,000 digital cinema screens, with over 5,000 of them having stereoscopic (3-D) capabilities. Digital film projectors allow a cleaner and crisper viewing experience compared to traditional film projectors, which often makes the picture scratch or break. Movie studios are also pulling for the full digital revolution, as it saves them significant costs in making film prints and shipping them to and from the theaters in bulky metal containers.

The Computer Mouse

Now that you can swipe, pinch to zoom, scroll and use other gesture controls found on the iPhone and iPad without a traditional computer mouse, the need for one is slowly slipping away. Apple also recently announced the arrival of a Magic Trackpad, a Bluetooth device that runs on batteries and performs gesture recognition similar to that of an iPad or iPhone.

Cell Phone Chargers

Wireless charger mats are expected to replace of the oft-misplaced cell phone charger. The mat, which plugs into the wall, charges various gadgets at once -- from cell phones to GPS devices -- as they rest on top. And to save on energy, it reads when the battery is full and then stops the charging process.

Plasma TVs

Sleek and slender Plasma TVs may be light-years away from the chunky box unit you had in your living room only a few years back. But when the cheaper and high-quality LCD screens came into town, consumers jumped ship. Now, however, more TV owners are shopping for LCD TVs that use LED backlighting, an eco-friendly alternative compared to the fluorescent lights used in traditional LCD televisions.

Credit Cards

It’s hard to imagine life without the plastic credit card, but the advancements in mobile technology are gearing up to change the way we tap our bank accounts forever. According to First Data, a processing payment company, “Everything you store in a leather wallet will migrate to a mobile handset.” Smartphones will have embedded RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips that will allow shoppers to pay for items by swiping the chip attached to their phone. Mobile devices will also have apps that help shoppers manage their payments.

E-Book Readers

It seems like only yesterday retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble splashed onto the scene with e-reader devices that promised to change the way readers read forever. These devices, however, are only a stepping stone for what’s to come. Now with one-stop-shop devices like the iPad that allow you to surf the Internet, watch videos and read books (via e-book apps), basic e-readers may not be as necessary after all.


Apple continues to dominate the digital media player space, but sales for its once-groundbreaking device are falling year-over-year. Analysts blame the lackluster sales on the growth of the iPhone and iPad, which can also serve as a music player in addition to their other offerings.

Samantha Murphy
Samantha Murphy was a contributor to Live Science, covering the tech industry. She holds a degree in journalism and cinema studies from New York University.