Some of them are hidden and hard to find, but some jump out at you and leave you befuddled. Sometimes, however, these old features can be reused in new ways, so read on, and learn about the history of a few interesting house features.
Operator, Get Me the Future!
Not too long ago, every home had a phone landline. Even so recent as a single decade the chances of walking into a home and finding a landline were pretty high. Going even further back, phones were bulkier, heavier, and needed more room, which is why some homes boast huge phone niches in their walls.
Homebuilders didn't foresee tiny, science-fiction computers in every pocket. If you still have a landline, there's no reason not to use this handy cubby, but if you don't they're perfect places to leave purses, backpacks, lunch boxes, or mail. Or, fill it up with a potted plant!
These Things Used to be Cool
Small cabinets with tiny doors might be a handy place to keep some valuables, but back in the day, they had a specific use. They're called iceboxes, sometimes known as cold closets, and before the advent and widespread use of refrigerators they were used to keep cold food cold. Before electricity, delivery people would bring ice and put it in from outside, so they didn't enter the house.
Iceboxes slowly improved. Some joined early refrigerators or sat in cabinets built into the wall. As technology advanced, drainage systems were added to keep melted ice from ruining floors. But, over time, freezing refrigerators made this piece of tech obsolete.
A Solitary Basement Toilet
A strange feature of World War II-era homes is a random toilet in the basement. Known as “Pittsburgh potties” (thanks to how frequent they are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), they're found all over the U.S. It's a bit of a mystery why these toilets were here. Some think they're for workmen to use without dirtying the proper bathrooms, but architect William Martin says they aren't for use at all.
Martin says the strange lonely toilet in the basement was to be used as a sewage backup – if a pipe becomes clogged, the bathtub or toilet could overflow. A basement toilet was used to detect overflows quicker, and give the sewage a little bit of extra space.
House Bees Have Been Around for Ages
If you live in (or are renovating) an old home, there's a chance you'll find a surprising beehive behind one of the walls. This is actually on purpose since close bees mean close, fresh honey. Settled behind the walls, bees used special pipes and openings to keep the living spaces buzz-free.
First discovered in homes that date back to around 60 AD, homeowners have been encouraging house bees for almost two thousand years. Homeowners would sometimes even uproot old hives to encourage bees to move in. The bees usually ended up staying, since walls provided warmth in the winter and shade during the summer. At least it isn't a wasp nest.
It's likely you've seen a home with one of these laundry chutes, even if it's nailed shut for the protection of little ones. Some homes still even use them to reduce clean-up time – and if you're young, there's nothing so fun as dropping something down into the laundry basket waiting at the bottom.
Newspapers first described linen chutes back in the 1890s, but no one is really sure when they started popping up. They're usually in central locations such as hallways or main rooms, but they can sometimes appear in bedrooms or bathrooms. If you have one, your laundry is sure to be a breeze.
Another Strange Hole in Your Home
If you have a medicine cabinet in your bathroom, you may notice a small slit set in the back wall. You likely pay this little slit no mind, since you're busy getting bandages, grabbing some painkiller, or whatever else you need. This tiny slit was used back when disposable razors were more oft-used, and once you were done taming the whiskers, you could deposit the blade into the slit.
Where would it go? Well, nowhere: There might still be some old razors back there. You may want to investigate, but be careful – there's nothing so bad as getting a rusty razor cut.
Secret Staircases and Hidden Rooms
If you have the chance to tour old mansions – or you happen to live in one – hidden doors may contain secret passages, cramped staircases, and even entire rooms. These served as servant's quarters, since for a while servants often lived in the same buildings as their masters, and these rooms and passages were built so that servants could move quickly, and stay out of sight when appropriate.
The twentieth century saw a reduction in servants, but some homes built in the era still have these features, which changed to spiral staircases and smaller rooms.
Button Light Switches Didn't Last Long
Between the advent and wide use of technology, and the adoption of the toggle switches we still see in nearly every home today, people used button switches to turn on the lights. And they came with a number of problems, too, which explains why the better option was so quick in coming. These buttons would often get stuck, and require extra work just to turn things off.
Once modern wiring and mechanical standards caught up, these buttons have become a little bit more in vogue – if this kind of look interests you, there are ways to get it.
A Door for a Dwarf to the Basement
Electricity caused endless changes to the world at large and homes specifically, and one of the biggest ones is no longer using natural gas to power everything inside. Before even using gas to power things, coal was the way to warm up your home, and small doors – coal chutes – leading to the basement were the way coal delivery men would dump coal.
Once gas overtook coal, a lot of these doors were removed or sealed shut, but there are still a few out there that can still be used – though they're sure to be unsanitary, even after all this time.
Here's One You Probably Know
Dumbwaiters are small freight elevators – mostly designed to go vertically, though horizontal versions aren't unheard of – that transport items from one room to another. Starting in the eighteen hundreds, dumbwaiters were used to transport food from kitchens to living rooms or bedrooms.
These items are still in use in some places such as hospitals, retirement homes, or restaurants. Modern versions have been updated with electric monitors, automatic control systems, and faster motors to keep food hot and fresh before it gets to its hungry patrons. Most homes don't need them anymore, so even if you do find one, they probably won't be in use.
Dirty Boots? No Longer
Sanitary conditions in rural and urban areas used to be a lot worse, with mucky streets and gutters full of refuse. Some homes featured small ornaments right outside the front door: boot scrapers, able to remove mud and other unseemly substances from footwear before entering the home.
Boot scrapers came from the French, and were called “decrottoir”, and came in many different versions. Some had ornate spirals or designs with animals. They don't seem like such a bad idea, especially if you live in an area that has lots of mud or dirt. Even if you don't need them, they're sure to start a conversation.
Homes Back in the Day Had Tiny Doors for Everything
Like an icebox, a milk chute was built with two openings: one inside the home for the homeowner to take a fresh bottle out, and one outside for the milk delivery man to put the fresh bottle in. These delivery men usually came early in the morning – before breakfast – so they needed a way to deliver without disturbing sleepers.
Milkmen wouldn't just deliver milk, too. Depending on your deal, they could deliver eggs, cheese, butter, and even soft drinks. Believe it or not, these doors might still see some use since some people in the U.S. still get milk delivered.
Just Hanging Out
Picture railings are small wooden railings near the ceiling, you have picture rails. Built mainly in the 1840s, architects added these items into homes to make hanging pictures easy. All you have to do is slip a hook into the railing to hang pictures with ease.
While picture rails may be outdated now, the basic idea has ended up being pretty helpful. You can even easily install your own picture rail if you aren't interested in pounding nails into your walls. Depending on your interior design acumen, you can make this old detail new again. Just add pictures.
Wiring Techniques Have Improved
Owners of old homes are sure to be used to copper wires and tubes stretching across their ceiling. They're called knob-and-tube wiring, a common method used from the eighteen-eighties to the nineteen forties. Covered in porcelain to protect them, copper wires went from room to room for power and other services.
This type of wiring may have worked, but installation was difficult and expensive compared to modern wiring. It isn't even legal to install this kind of wiring anymore, but if you look carefully, you may find old buildings that still have it hung up.
Take a Seat at the Kitchen Desk
If you see a desk in a cabinet in the kitchen, you've just seen a Hoosier desk, which became popular around the eighteen-nineties. They only lasted about thirty years, when built-in cabinets became more and more prevalent, but before then these cabinets held dinnerware, pots and pans, and other kitchen necessities.
The desk doubles as kitchen counter space and a workstation for the multi-tasker, and modern kitchen cabinets sometimes follow the same design. A kitchen can also use more counter space, but once they started coming pre-built, these cabinets started to disappear.
You Don't Have to be Named Murphy
Murphy beds are fold-out beds that rest vertically against or sometimes in the walls, able to fold down for a guest or fold up if you're in a home that doesn't boast a lot of space. You've likely seen Murphy beds on television shows, but they actually first started appearing in 1900s silent films under a different name.
Homes usually don't have these beds anymore, opting for the futon or the fold-out couch if more sleeping space is necessary. However, Murphy beds have been coming back into style for some reason, perhaps thanks to the trend of micro homes.
Let the Light In
Before electricity, homes often got dark and gloomy, even during the day. Other than fires or candles, windows were the only way to keep things bright. Transom windows, horizontal windows above doors, helped to illuminate the entryway and other places in the home. Some even open in an attempt to keep the home ventilated. They're still popular today since almost any home could use a little bit more light.
Newer versions don't open, thanks to air conditioners, but if the transom windows in your home do open, you may be looking at windows from a previous era.
Sure to be Endless Fun for Kids
If you're in a very old home, or one that hasn't been renovated in a long while, you may end up stubbing your toe on a random button set into the floor – there may also be some in the walls. If you have a servant in the home, these buttons might still get some use, but most people will want them gone.
They signaled a helper to attend to the master of the house. Placing the button on the floor meant it would be easier to hit it no matter what kind of furniture was in the room.
A Mini Kitchen Outside
Seen most often in New England, homes sometimes have an outdoor barn not connected to the main house. They come fully equipped with large fireplaces and stone ovens. These things create huge amounts of heat, and during the summer there's plenty of that to go around. These Summer Kitchens stayed away from the home to keep temperatures cooler.
They were popular in the nineteenth century, but thanks to modern appliances and cooling this kind of building is no longer required, but they're an interesting way to look into the past. Some summer kitchens also contained bedrooms for servants or slaves.
Another Room Dedicated to Keeping Things Cool
This is called a cold closet. It could be seen as a predecessor to the pantry, but it was specially designed to keep things cool, usually at the edge of the house. They held fruits and veggies before most people had access to refrigerators.
They couldn't keep food frozen, but they were the perfect place to keep vegetables, dairy products, and meats fresher for longer. During harvest time, people stored herbs and produce in these cold closets to keep them from rotting, and if you have access to one, you can still use it if your fridge is full.
A More Recent Feature
Not many people have a lot of use for a landline anymore. That means the number of phone jacks people are using has dropped dramatically. Internet service providers still need them, but if you have a modern modem and router, you should only need one in your home, when just a few decades ago every single room needed one, without a doubt.
As wi-fi becomes more and more popular, the phone jack will slowly become less useful. Eventually, we may not need them at all, which is sure to make architects and interior designers happier.
Might as Well Use Them as Coasters
Technology grows by leaps and bounds, and something that used to be ubiquitous and common in the nineties, and even the 2000s, is now hopelessly outdated. So goes the sad song of the floppy disk, which in our current age might as well be used for something else – a single email holds far more information.
Unless you're an internet historian or want to teach your kids about the dark days of the early World Wide Web, toss these in the trash. Anything you can get from them is free on the internet, most likely.
Film Development is About as Common as Milkmen
Hipsters and people who just can't bear to part with their old film camera may still use this service, but otherwise getting your film development is a waste of time. Everybody has a camera in their pocket, and many have easy printers to use, which means mailing your film to a development facility only to wait patiently for an envelope of photos (which might not even look good) is hopelessly outdated.
Professionals might still develop their own film, but most cameras and printing equipment is good enough for anybody. Even a Polaroid prints its own pictures.
They Might be Worth Something
Most people these days have an Apple phone, an Android, or a Google phone, which means the lightning-fast world of mobile phone technology has left your old flip phone in the dust. But they aren't totally worthless.
While some people enjoy the simplicity of a simple flip phone – just texts and calls for me, please – most don't spare a second thought if they come across their old model. Some communities even look down on them, since drug dealers and other criminals use them as burner phones. If you're looking for a little bit of cash and have enough of these lying around, search for the closest place to trade them in.
Turn These Old Items Into Attractive Decorations
You probably have a few paper maps stashed in your glove compartment, but in the age of smartphones and wireless maps, they're getting less and less use as a cheerful electronic voice guides people to their destinations. But there's no need to toss them all into the trash – some maps, if kept well and hung in the right way – can make for charming wall hangings.
Otherwise, most maps can take their place alongside floppy disks, servant buttons, milk cabinets, and the other items that you'll find on this list. They're outdated and probably not helpful.
Load Up Netflix Instead
Nothing brings the word “obsolete” to mind like a VCR. Unless you're quite young, you probably have some VHS tapes hanging around in old boxes, but it's difficult to convince yourself you need a VCR unless you're very interested in recording television shows. Even DVDs have taken a hit thanks to better formats, streaming, and being able to bring up almost anything on Youtube
They were the favorite way to watch and re-watch your favorite shows or movies, but these days they're relegated to the trash heap. Some places may pay good money for a well-kept model, but if it's used enough, leave it for the garbageman.
Faxes Were Outdated Almost as Soon as They Arrived
You were probably expecting this one. Fax machines had a brief, bright period that lasted something around a year where they were the favored way to communicate, but since then, phones, email, and text messages have launched past it. The internet practically killed it.
But, some companies still use them, since they're considered perfect copies for security purposes. But, while a lot of places may have them, they're not often used – and if you still have one of these in your home, it's unlikely it gets much use. Some printers include them as part of the machine, which has helped keep the tech on life support.
From the Doorstep to the Garbage Can
Hardly anyone does anything with a phone book, be it the yellow pages or the white pages, other than picking it up and dropping it straight into the trash. Once upon an age, these were important books to have by the phone if you needed to call a friend, find a business, or look up other information, but again, thanks to the smartphone, this service is nothing more than redundant.
They might be useful as a stepping stool, to add a little bit of height to a seat, or as kindling, but otherwise, they're more or less useless.
They Look Good But use Your Phone
There's nothing wrong with liking an old analog alarm clock, but if you're using one to rise in the morning, you've missed a few things. All you have to do is ask your smartphone to wake you at a certain time and you have all the features of a circular alarm clock.
But they aren't worthless: a nice alarm clock is an interesting look for the mantle, and if you're a heavy sleeper, putting one of them across the room can help get you out of bed. Otherwise, however, leave them off and ticking away.
Things Are Looking Bleak
As streaming services become more and more popular and used, many bands are opting to forego physical technology to save money and time. However, CDs are still very much sold, and a lot of people consider them important to ensure they'll be able to listen to their favorite tracks regardless of what happens with these online services.
It's been a long road to the death of the CD, and it's still off in the distance. In fact, with vinyl making a comeback, the CD might have gotten a boost. It's an ongoing battle, but the victory has yet to be announced.
Calculator Days Gone By
From the abacus to the slide rule to the solar-powered calculator, people have been using math aids for millennia. Calculators used to be a mathematician's best friend, and if you took calculus in high school or college, you used a graphic calculator to get through tough problems.
But, again, with a smartphone in every pocket, needing to carry a calculator around has become pretty pointless. Even if your phone doesn't come with a calculator pre-packaged, there are plenty of free versions you can download. Drop this piece of tech on top of your alarm clock or film camera.
Good for Memories and Not Much Else
Most people have photo albums they've received from parents or grandparents, or even those they've made themselves. And if you have them, there's nothing like busting them out to talk about the old days. On the other hand, thanks to the lack of film printing, photo albums have become rare.
Digital photo albums are usually a better way to save your precious memories. If you're interested in going fully digital and don't want to dedicate space to bulky albums, there are plenty of places that will scan your pictures and create the albums for you in a snap.
The Number of Industries Smartphones Have Outdated Continues to Grow
Once a piece of the home that any deep thinker or inquisitive child will reach for at a moment's notice, dictionaries have now joined the phone book as a large tome that sits in the corner and collects dust.
Some versions, bundled with a similar thesaurus, may hold sway above the other books on your shelf and look handsome, yet you probably aren't reaching for one of these if you don't know what a word means. With multiple definitions and uses one Google search away, if you're moving and don't want to haul another heavy book, this one is destined for the trash.
Most Cans Don't Even Need an Opener Anymore
If you have a can opener in your home, you probably have a rechargeable device you can stick right on top of the can and let run while you work on another part of the meal. But, as most cans add pull-tabs or other options to get them open easier and faster – and without potentially dangerous sharp edges – can openers as a whole are seeing less and less use.
Manual hand openers — once one of the home's most-used tools — are probably doing little more than collecting dust. Doomsday preppers might keep using them to keep their skills fresh, but the regular citizen doesn't mind.
The Number of Things Smartphones can do is Growing
Alongside phone jacks, cubbies, and phone books, another thing that used to sit next to the phone in the home was a little book that held favorite contacts: friends, family members, frequent take-out places, and plenty more.
With enough space in your phone to hold millions of names and numbers, a little black book is yet another thing the smartphone industry has done away with. You'd have to update the book every time someone changed their address or phone number, and cell phones have made updating so much easier no one is mourning this loss.
You Could Crate Other Things
We already mentioned milkmen are still around in a few small areas, but odds are you aren't part of the population that still requires the service. While plenty of people needed it in the fifties and sixties, seeing a milkman these days is cause for confusion and alarm.
Along with the decline of milkmen comes the decline of milk crates. These crates were commonplace once upon a time, but unless you're using them to store other items – and we aren't saying they aren't still pretty useful there – there's no real reason to keep them around.
There's nothing like coming home from work to listen to some radio, or opening your algebra homework and puzzling out the tough problems along to your favorite songs. These days, though, doing so is much easier through a phone or computer than a portable radio.
While these symbols of a bygone era still have a few uses – such as relaxing in an area without cell access – tuning, power, and finding the right spot to grab the radio signal is usually more work than it's worth with Spotify, Pandora, Bandcamp, and lots of other options at your fingertips.
The Time for These Clocks is Running out Fast
We're not asking you to part with your heirloom cuckoo clock, but if you're hitting up the stores for a new clock to hang on your wall, we hope you're an interior designer or you have a Doc Brown-Esque infatuation with ticking and time.
Not only can you pull your phone out of your pocket and check the time wherever you are – and it's practically guaranteed to be correct – you could also just ask one of the smart home devices that are becoming more and more prevalent. No hands required, either yours or the clock's.
There's No Need for These Metal Monstrosities
Antennas were something you could see on plenty of homes not too long ago, but with broadcast TV and other watching options blooming thanks to the internet, these big pieces of metal went from huge arrays to get a few channels to practically useless, not to mention expensive and even a little dangerous.
If you do still have this, it's probably topping your house. If you aren't still using it, you should probably get up there and take it apart to keep your home from looking too outdated. They're not the most attractive, and if you most commonly use Netflix to watch your programs, it's not needed anymore.
The Future Is Calling
Pagers are one of those technologies that didn't have too long in the sun, but they were ubiquitous to all sorts of people. But, as seems to be the common theme here, once cell phone technology took off beepers fell by the wayside for most. Getting a page has been replaced by texting, chat programs, and social media, and leaves pagers practically useless.
But some industries still have use for pages, with the most commonly known being doctors. Pagers don't need cell service and can communicate short messages. But, unless you're one of the white-coat heroes, leave this outdated tech at home.
Erase This Item From Your Bag
If you're still the kind of person that uses pencils – analog or mechanical – you probably still get plenty of uses out of the eraser attached to the end. If you're the artistic type, you might drool at the idea of getting yourself a new eraser to further your creative projects.
But, otherwise, keeping a free-floating eraser around is probably just wasted space. Most people keep notes on their phones these days or jot things down with pens, which means grabbing one of these big items is a pretty uncommon sight. Get more space in your drawers by getting rid of them.
Watch This Item Last
It's going to be a long time before the wristwatch fades. It was such an important piece of style and substance for everyone that people still strap on their watch. And in complete fairness, some of these watches look great, able to accent an outfit even if you don't really need it to tell time.
And you don't – yet again the cell phone in your pocket can do anything your watch can — be it keeping time, dates, or acting as a stopwatch. Then again, you can't watch the gears go in a phone. They're great for a certain style, but their functionality is limited.
We're Sure You Have Plenty of These Sitting Around
Chances are you don't sit at your typewriter after dinner to pound out part of your manuscript or write a letter to a loved one – but you know what? If you do, go for it. Typewriters fell out of favor by the time the personal computer became big, and they've been relegated to the trash heap of history thanks to email and cell phones.
A few brave souls still haul them to coffee shops and tick their way to literary fame, but for most who own one of these items, they're an antique, a conversation piece, and a bit of interesting décor.
Guess Which Technology Made the Camcorder Obsolete?
Yet again the smartphone has made the bulky, heavy camcorder pretty pointless. Bigger and better cameras are finding their way into cell phones, and they have increased clarity, space for videos, and other features that even old, heavy cameras you used to take home videos didn't boast.
They needed big tapes, and special hookups to play videos from the camera, the older versions didn't like to work sometimes, and they were pretty heavy too. Professionals still use cameras of this quality, mostly because technology has jumped to make video quality and file transfers easier than ever, but the populace usually doesn't need to carry one around.
Take These Items and Put Them Away
Once upon a time if you wanted to order some tasty food after a long day, you'd reach for the pile of takeaway menus that you have by the phone. This pile would grow thanks to picking one up after dining at a new restaurant, from friends and family, and finding them hanging on your doorknob.
For what seems like the fiftieth time, cell phones have made this common sight uncommon – almost every restaurant has a website with a menu and phone number right on the front page. A lot of restaurants don't even bother with takeaway menus.
The Fabled Ceiling Bed is Here
Like the Murphy bed before it, the Sorlien Ceiling Bed was a way to increase space in a small living area while still giving you a big, comfy place to sleep. The Sorlien was patented in 1913 and was originally lowered to the floor via a crank, using hidden weights in the walls to keep it steady.
Obviously, this feature has faded as time went on, but with the increase in micro-housing and smaller apartments, the Sorlien bed has made a resurgence, with better tech and construction methods making them more viable than ever.
Now We're Getting Down to the Root of the Problem
Usually underground or partially underground, root cellars are what people used to store vegetables, fruits, nuts, or other foods. It was traditionally used for roots (shocker), but a variety of foods can be stored for weeks or months, depending on the condition.
Using a root cellar was often required to make sure there was food to last through winter or a year of bad crops, but these days electricity and other technology have made them less critical. However, a wide range of groups – gardeners, preppers, homesteaders, etc – still use these cellars every day.
Cooling Pies Has Never Been Cooler
There's a classic scene you may know about: a tramp, dirty and disheveled, smells a delicious pie and follows his nose to a fresh piece on a window shelf. These shelves were pretty popular back when you couldn't pop to the grocery store to pick up your favorite flavor, but thieves (and, more commonly, pests) did sometimes ruin these projects, leading to the cooling shelf.
These items were used to let pies cool before digging in, but also protected them from the elements, and sticky fingers. Since early countertops weren't as heat-resistant as they are these days, these shelves also protected the kitchen from unnecessary damage.
This One's Almost Sad
Fireplaces were once one of the most important items in the house. Before the advent of central heating, families would gather around the fireplace when the sun went down to stay warm and spend time together.
You're probably thinking “but there are plenty of fireplaces around. I have one!” And you're right. However, these fireplaces are often gas or electric and not wood. And while that's not exactly a bad thing – they're safer, cheaper, and cleaner – there's something about the smell of wood smoke, the snapping and popping embers, and the in-and-out waves of heat that you might end up missing.
There are Much Better Ways to Stay Warm
After fireplaces, radiators became the common way to keep your home heated during the cooler months. Radiators are still around technically, but they've moved to HVAC vents that bring warm and cold air around much faster and cheaper. Radiators did their best to disperse hot air but were frequently faulty, and required constant expensive upkeep.
Once HVAC took over, radiators were either merged with the system or disposed of. They have a healthy dose of old-world charm, but if you're trying to keep your home warm, you're better off ignoring them.
Can't Sleep? Get a Sleeping Porch
Most of the time a sleeping porch will only be found if you have a cabin on the lake or an older-style home, but lots of people enjoyed them and still enjoy them. It's been said that having fresh air blowing through your bedroom is a sure-fire way to get better sleep and stay asleep longer.
A sleeping porch traditionally has plenty of windows that allow for a great breeze, as well as a sitting area to be used to take breakfast, have some tea during the day, or play games with the kids.
Hello, Operator? Get Me a Better Method of Communicating
Long before cell phones came about, if you needed to talk to a family member in another part of the house, you might use a speaking tube. These metal pipes ran through the walls and let you shout at each other to request more tea, ask about dinner, or trade juicy house gossip.
Believe it or not, a few places still utilize these devices: Naval ships and playgrounds. Communication is paramount on the first to avoid dangerous accidents, and for the second, why, what's more fun than shouting into a tube and having your friend on the other side of the park hear it?
Kchh, We're Getting Closer, Kchh
After speaking tubes stopped making sense, intercoms filled the void in almost-useful home communication. Set in walls and featured in numerous rooms around the house, you could toggle these intercoms to speak to certain places, adjust volume, and even ask who was at the front door. During their heyday, they were the height of convenient tech, but if you still have one in your home, it's just waiting to be removed.
The funny thing is, these have kind of made a comeback – front door cameras and speakers are essentially doing the same thing, just with better methods and technology.
Two Front Doors: One for the Living, and One...
...FOR THE DEAD! Coffin doors are often found in old Victorian New England homes, and we're going to guess you know what they're for. Due to the placement of homes, the front parlor was usually the sunniest and warmest, meaning it was where homeowners entertained.
In the event of a funeral or wake, everyone would gather to say their last goodbyes. Some homes made it difficult to turn or maneuver the coffin, so an additional door was commonplace. This feature is said to be where we get the phrase “at death's door.”
Playing Double Dutch with the Doors
What was the purpose of a door that is halved through the middle? As the name suggests, Dutch doors were common in the Netherlands in the 17th century and were primarily used on farms to keep animals out and children in, while also allowing a fresh breeze to blow through. Dutch settlers brought the style to the US, which is why it's not uncommon to see Dutch doors on rural houses in New York and New Jersey.
They aren't super useful nowadays unless you're a farmer, but if you like the look it isn't too hard to make your own with some simple woodworking skills.
No Answer Needed
The landline is gone. So are the phone book, and the address book. Next to go is the answering machine, which people used to leave voice mails to each other if they couldn't pick up. These still exist inside your phone, but even they are getting less and less use (other than from telemarketers and scammers, though I repeat myself) since most of the time it's easier to leave text messages.
It's sometimes fun to browse the old messages that might still remain on these devices, but they're so outdated – and few people consider them worth keeping around – it's unlikely you have access to one.
Cassette tapes and CDs were huge steps forward in ways to listen to the music you liked whenever you wanted. Thanks to tape decks and CD players, you could hit play on your favorite tunes anywhere … as long as you could carry the equipment. Thanks to Walkmen and other brands of portable players, eager listeners were soon able to hit the streets with their tunes.
Yet these items were still bulky, prone to damage, and often uncomfortable to wear. New devices like iPods or phones have much more space, more comfortable earbuds or headphones, are smaller, and are even a little hardier against damage – though don't go testing your luck.
Mark the Days Until You Can Get Rid of This Item
Calendars used to be one of the most important items in the home – they reminded you of birthdays and anniversaries, appointments to make, and how many days remained until holidays. All of those functions are now done – in some cases automatically – by the calendar you have on your phone or computer, which means needing a paper calendar is rare.
Some people still like them as something to hang up and enjoy on the wall, and plenty of them still feature fun photos of whatever kind of topic you enjoy. On the other hand, plenty of people have thrown them out and not thought twice.
A Bygone Era Should GO ALREADY
If you're excited about the thump of a rolled newspaper hitting your front step every morning, consider yourself part of the minority. Kids might still like the comic pages, but otherwise, most of your daily paper goes straight into the recycling bin. Thanks to a hyperactive bias, a focus on things most people couldn't care less about, and a lack of real investigative reporting – not to mention far too many ads – most people don't care to renew their subscriptions.
At the very least you can still make paper-mâché out of them.
Get Out the Scissors
Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Television, and all of the other up-and-coming streaming services that almost every household subscribes to now, the Cable box is truly on its way to the realm of the dodo. High prices, increasingly unwatchable television, and poor technology have made this once-prevalent piece of media something that most people have either gotten rid of, or have plans to get rid of.
Cutting the cord has never been easier thanks to the decreasing cost and increasing speed of the internet and related subscriptions. It's even possible to get specific channels such as Syfy and HBO on cheap internet packages, so you won't miss a single episode.
iPod Docking Station
In between the awkward transition from analog to digital, playback mediums have shifted so frequently that there's barely any time to look back.
Just in case you felt like the iPod wasn't portable enough for you, you could purchase a docking station with a space to hold your iPod. Too bad we don't use iPods anymore as now we have our music on our smartphones.
Nowadays We Use Google
Through a lack of relevance, most complete encyclopedias are becoming obsolete. The World Book Encyclopedia is the only general A-Z print research source that is still published today.
They usually come in sets and in all sizes, from a single 200-page volume written by one man to giant sets of 100 volumes or more.
Cursive Is on the Decline
Cursive is any style of penmanship in which characters are written joined in a flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing faster compared to block letters.
While many of us learned to write like this in school, it's only a matter of time before this style becomes completely obsolete.
Ah, the Sega! This is where it all started. If you were into Mario and Sonic games back then, you’ll definitely remember this console. We all had a lot of memories with this one.
Back then, because it was so popular, kids from all over the world wanted one and just had to get their hands on a Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Kart game.
Your bankbook, about the same size and durable paper as a passport, was the only official record of your money in the bank. At least for savings accounts. You had to bring it with you when you went to the bank to make a deposit or withdrawal.
When "statement savings" came out in the 70s, maybe 60s, most people didn't trust it for years. Interestingly, there are some banks in the developed world that still maintain passbook savings accounts and even very few that still open new ones for people who insist on them.
Carbon paper uses a sheet of blue ink in between pages. Pressure from the pen transfers that ink onto the sheet below.
The carbonless paper uses a special coating on the top and bottom of the forms to create the copies. There's a reason we call them carbon-less forms, after all.
Now We Use Photocopiers
A mimeograph machine was a low-cost duplicating machine that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. The process is called mimeography, and a copy made by the process is a mimeograph.
Beginning in the late 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, photocopying gradually displaced mimeographs.
Fortunately, We Have Better Machines Now
An iron lung is a type of negative pressure ventilator (NPV); a mechanical respirator that encloses most of a person's body, and varies the air pressure in the enclosed space, to stimulate breathing. While you wouldn't exactly find these in the ordinary home, they were quite prevalent in the 1950s.
According to Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, 1,200 people in the U.S. relied on tank respirators in 1959. By 2004, only 39 individuals used them.
No more getting lost on those epic road trips or in the woods (unless you lose cell service)... Just punch your destination into your GPS or smartphone and you're good to go.
Before paper maps, we used to travel by using a compass, the sun, the moon, and the stars. If you come across a bunch of these now, you can use them for numerous different arts and crafts projects. Anything that requires paper can work! It's free and the environment will thank you.
Telephone Switchboard Operators
A switchboard operator works for major companies, hospitals, and hotels where an influx of telephone calls are normally coming in. The operator assists callers by answering the line and connecting the caller to the correct person or department.
Operators do still exist, but in greatly reduced numbers, and they are mostly there to deal with emergency service calls — both to connect callers to an appropriate service and to assist the emergency service with identifying a caller's location.
Public Telephone Booths
With our new smartphones, the number of public payphones continues to decrease each year. Payphones may be found at shopping malls, public buildings, transit stops, gas stations, and convenience stores.
Payphones still exist and roughly 100,000 of them remain operational in the United States. What's more, people actually use them, particularly in places where there is no cell phone or landline coverage.
Between 1750 and 1880 inkwells were made out of porcelain. But this did not last long due to the fragility of the material.
The 19th century brought inkstands that were both ornate and whimsical. Some were made out of blown glass.
A simple chime doorbell uses the magnetic field created by the electromagnet to move a magnetic piston to strike two tone bars. When the button is pressed, the circuit closes and the electromagnet moves a contact arm.
When the contact arm moves, it interrupts the circuit and the electromagnet stops. Nowadays, we have intercoms and wireless doorbells.
That bulky stereo system that used to occupy an entire corner of your living room is a thing of the past. Bluetooth speakers — which are often a fraction of the size — have made traditional stereo systems obsolete.
With major companies in the home audio game announcing that they would stop making stereo parts, it became pretty clear where things are heading in the coming years.
It's no wonder people are swapping their checkbooks for digital baking platforms for all their financial transactions.
According to the Federal Reserve, the number of check payments in the U.S. fell by 2.5 billion between 2012 and 2015. And it's only likely to go down from there.
Although vinyl records would play for a few more years — mostly in jukeboxes and on DJ turntables — the vinyl album was all but extinct by 1993, thanks to the skyrocketing popularity of the compact disc.
Many music lovers try their hardest to cling to the black disks. Vinyl loyalists have helped drive a recent resurgence in production and sales, but the rise of CD spelled the end for the record, which Columbia Records first introduced in 1948.
Scrolling through photos now requires nothing more than a few flicks of the finger across the smooth glass of a smartphone screen. If you need to turn those shows into a presentation, you have your choice of apps that let anyone create slick and seamless slideshows.
There was a time, however, when that ability required actual slides. And those slides had to be projected via massive, loud machines that ran hot and came with little remote controls that were often beyond the understanding of the person running the show.
After WW2, filmstrips emerged as a more practical alternative to those clunky 16mm films. Filmstrips were easier to store and easy to use, they were also a practical alternative to 35mm films.
By the 1980s, however, compact and efficient video players, including VHS, rendered filmstrip projectors obsolete.
By the mid-1950s, half of America had a television in the home. For decades starting with the earliest color models, televisions were designed as furniture, partly to make the TV the focal point of the home.
Today, televisions are bigger than they've ever been, but the design concept has definitely changed from the days of the so-called console TV. Instead of being a bulky focal point, today's giants are sleek, unassuming, and built to blend.
This instrument is used for reproducing sounds by means of the vibration of a stylus, or needle, following a groove on a rotating disc. The fall of vinyl started in the late 1970s as cassette tapes entered the market, overtaking record player sales by the mid-1980s. It remained the dominant format until 1993.
While many of them are disappearing, there are still some staunch fans who refuse to give up their vinyl albums and record players.