What Are Some Common Items That Might Be Useless Soon?

By Heather Joseph
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With advancements in science and technology, humans are inventing new gadgets every day. The old ways of doing things are constantly being improved upon, and that means some household objects get left behind. Remember walkmans?

Well, the following things are the walkmans of the future—but don't be too sad about it. Newer (and cooler) inventions are coming to take their place. So take a peek into what daily life in the future will look like.


How many times have you left home only to realize you forgot your keys inside? Luckily, pesky keychains are soon to be a thing of the past with the popularity of key cards, push-start cars and even cellphone apps that unlock doors.

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Photo Courtesy: Kaboompics/Pexels

It may mean you can no longer personalize your keys with cute designs, but that's a small sacrifice to make considering you'll never have to worry about getting locked out of your car again. According to BMW, they might soon replace their keys entirely with mobile cell phone apps.


This is another item that some people like to personalize with unique images or cartoons but that might soon be unnecessary. As of now, checkbooks are already used less than they were in the past, with many only using them to pay their rent.

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Photo Courtesy: Gadini/Pixabay

As virtually everything is becoming computerized these days, soon everyone will be paying their rent electronically. After all, who wants to go through all that effort of writing out a check? We'll soon be saving time and money when checkbooks become a thing of the past.

Print Magazines

Everyone saw it coming. They're still displayed in grocery lines at the supermarket and on waiting room tables, but that's about it. Print magazines are wasteful and increasingly ignored by the general public. Why, might you ask? Because people are so used to reading everything online.

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Photo Courtesy: Travis Wise/Flickr

The good news is that magazines don't have to close up shop entirely; they just have to adapt to the electronic world. Online articles, photo sessions and blog posts are what most people are likely to see nowadays. Bye-bye glossy magazine pages, hello user-friendly websites!



Similar to magazines, newspapers are getting a kick in the rear as society moves into the future. Most people don't care for the over-sized black and white pages anymore and won't even bother picking one up in the break room — but it's not because they don't care about the news.

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Instead, people are turning to the internet for their news-related needs. Podcasts, videos and websites are only gaining in popularity as newspapers are rapidly falling to the wayside. At this point, it's adapt or prepare to perish for the newspaper companies.


Depending on what generation you belong to, you may think that CDs are already a thing of the past. Most young people in 2020 get their music from mobile apps like Spotify and Pandora, or they look songs up on YouTube.

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This is by no means a perfect system — these applications don't carry every song ever made, after all — but it's quicker and easier than heading to the music shop and purchasing an entire album. On top of that, it's cheaper, and if there's anything people love, it's saving money.

Digital Camera

Photographers might be appalled to hear this, but digital cameras simply aren't as popular as they used to be. What your grandma needed a wallet-sized camera to do in the past, kids nowadays can do with a press of the button on their cellphones

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Because of this, the only people buying digital cameras will be professional photographers—and they'll be buying only the highest-quality. For now, there are still some things a cellphone simply can't do, but the gap will only get smaller and smaller as technologies improve.


Hard Drives

Having a physical hard drive where you store your information will soon be a thing of the past. The future is all about the "cloud," the process of storing data digitally on remote servers, and this technology will only improve with time. Sure, there have been concerns about cloud privacy, but it will eventually beat out the inconvenience of storing hard drives.

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Photo Courtesy: Karen/Flickr

This is evidenced by the expansion of the job field related to cloud technology. "Cloud architects," as they're called, are some of the highest-paid people, and it's for a reason. The bounds they're making in progress are unprecedented.


Ah, the landline. When it rang in the past, you had no idea who was on the other end—this was before caller ID, of course. There was thrill, mystery and a good amount of clunkiness, but landline phones experienced a steep decline when the cellphone made its way to the public.

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This decline will only worsen with time. While they are still sold today, it won't be for long. Cell Phones have obliterated the need for these devices, and many young people don't even consider purchasing them.


There is no doubt that maps are essential items. Maps tell people where they are and how to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. They have revolutionized travel, and mapmaking has been perfected into an art.

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Photo Courtesy: Dominika Roseclay/Pexels

That said, they are most definitely becoming obsolete — the paper version, that is. No one wants to rummage through their glove compartment and unfold an immense, confusing map when they can simply boot up their phone and click on an app. They are still essential, just not in paper form.



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Smokers might argue this one, but many experts think cigarettes are losing steam. They're expensive and harmful, and something else has stepped in to take their place: that's right, e-cigarettes. They're still damaging to a person's health, but they've nonetheless been fiercely adopted by the youth.

With a wider variety of flavors and more satisfying smoke, vaping might very well push cigarettes right out the door. Whether this is a good thing or not is hotly debated, and only time will tell whether cigarettes will go for good.


You may need a printer for many things now, but some experts predict that things will change a few years down the road. With more and more paperwork being done online, printing forms or documents may become a thing of the past. They probably won’t be completely obsolete for a while, but you can expect them to sharply decline.

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So if you're contemplating whether or not to buy yourself an at-home printer, you might want to think twice. Their price, bulkiness, and upkeep make them one more thing to deal with, and they might be utterly useless down the line. Plenty of public libraries also offer printing services in the meantime.


If you were ahead of the game a while back, you may have purchased a GPS device for your car. These gadgets help you navigate unfamiliar territory and can save you if you end up lost somewhere. The problem is that GPS services are now available on many cellphones.

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If your phone already has GPS capabilities, why would you need an extra device just for your car? For this reason, car GPS's are going out of style. After all, no one wants two objects when just one will do. It's all about decluttering!



DVDs are the best friends of CDs. Pop them in the DVD player — or your laptop — and you can have your favorite films up and running in no time. The thing is, more and more films are available for streaming from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and more.

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Going through the hassle of finding and purchasing a DVD simply doesn't make sense in an increasingly technological world. For now, though, you can still find a RedBox around if you're reluctant to let go of physical disks. Enjoy this medium while it lasts.


For years, calculators have been staples in homes and classrooms. You pull them out when you need to calculate your taxes, make a budget or do your math homework. Perhaps you've noticed, however, that instead of reaching for the calculator, you're reaching for your phone.

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Given that cellphones and the internet can provide digitized calculators at any time, anywhere, physical ones are less and less coveted. Ask yourself when the last time you purchased a calculator was. You'll likely never have to buy one again.

Plastic Credit Cards

For now, people’s wallets are full of credit cards. You should enjoy those smooth pieces of plastic while you can, though, because they won't be around forever. Apple Pay has already made a debut as a new form of payment, and it's brilliant.

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No physical cards means you can't lose them, so the risk that someone steals your information goes way down. Pretty soon, everyone will be paying with their phones. It's typically quicker, simpler and doesn't require remembering a PIN number, either. That's a lot of up-sides.


Paper Billing

The days of receiving electric and heating bills in the mail are over. Online billing has effectively taken over the system, and no one is complaining about it. Most people even arrange it so that their bills are paid automatically, and they don't have to click a button or open an envelope to do it.

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Another perk to the disappearance of paper billing is that businesses create less waste. Most of those bills get thrown away or recycled anyway, so moving things to the internet is mostly a positive thing.


In 2020, wearing a nice watch is still in style. Expensive brands like Rolex don’t seem to be hurting for sales even if cheaper brands are, but they might too further down the line. Let's face it: analog watches are downright ancient in the eyes of today's youth.

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To make matters worse, Apple Watches are all the rage. When you can have what is essentially a small computer around your wrist, how many people will continue to opt for the traditional watches that only tell the time?

Alarm Clocks

Before cell phones, you had to have some kind of alarm clock in order to function. Without it, you probably wouldn't make it to work on time. Now that virtually every single person in the United States carries a phone with them, alarm clocks are no longer in demand.

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Instead, all you have to do is click on an app to set your alarm. They're more personalized than ever, too, with numerous sound options and alarm modes. You can even set an alarm that asks you math questions in order to turn it off.


Wire Headphones

While music itself is a timeless part of human culture and society, the way people listen to music continues to change. For a relatively long time, people had to use wire headphones that plug into a music device to take their music with them, but that won't be the case in the future.

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Pretty soon, Bluetooth headphones will become more practical and accessible to the general public. That means no more pesky wires that get caught on the door handle. You'll be able to jam out with nothing but earpieces.

Pay Phones

Pay phones have already become symbols of the past, shrines to a bygone era. The youngest generations may never have to use one in their entire lifetimes, and older generations may have already forgotten how to. With your own personal phone in your pocket, why would you need a pay phone?

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Even though new pay phones are not being constructed anymore, you can still see them at certain locations. How long they’ll stick around, however, isn’t clear. One way or another, they’re already part of the past.


Many people don't think about their remote controls — they're simply there, and people grab them automatically when it's time to watch some television. You may not have to grab anymore, however. Instead, you can control your TV using a smartphone or even voice commands.

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That's right — your TV might work like Alexa in a decade's time. This is either exciting or terrifying, depending on who you ask. Is it a cool new technology, or it is simply another way for the government to eavesdrop on your life? Only time will tell.



Remember dictionaries? You probably had to learn how to use one in elementary school. In fact, you probably used them throughout your entire academic career, unless you belong to the younger generations. For a time, they were the only way to learn new words.

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In their heyday, dictionaries were essential. Sadly, they are more and more ignored as the years go by. The explanation is obvious — the internet now holds the definitions to just about every word imaginable. Online dictionaries continue to be used, but the physical books are falling by the wayside.

Parking Meters

These roadside contraptions can be a bit of an eye sore — and some day, you won't have to look at them anymore. Plenty of people have already made the transition to mobile apps as a means to pay for parking.

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Photo Courtesy: ehendel/Pixabay

If you haven't made the switch, try looking into your local parking app. It takes a few minutes to set up and get the hang of, but once you do, it can make life 10 times easier. If you're running low on time, you can add more minutes right there on your phone.


Forgetting a password is a pain in the neck, and it happens to everyone. After a while, you probably end up using the same three passwords for all of your accounts, and this isn't the safest way to go. The good news is that in the future, you won't have to think up a password ever again.

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Face recognition technology has already been applied to certain smart phones, so your face is what functions as the password. A little unsettling that technology can recognize you? Perhaps. Way more efficient? Definitely.


Delivery Workers

Sometimes, it's not objects that become obsolete, but jobs. It's only natural for certain jobs to be erased with the passage of time, and new jobs always open up in other areas. Nowadays, the jobs that are disappearing include delivery workers.

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You’re probably used to seeing the UPS man dropping packages at the door, but new drone technology might change that entirely. These drones fly your package to your door, and they can get the job done quicker and cheaper. Bad news for delivery workers, but a cool invention for others.


Students will be happy to hear this one: Expensive, outdated textbooks are not likely to be around in the future. They're a hassle to purchase and transport from class to class, and they're really not necessary in our day and age. Textbooks are being transferred into e-books all the time.

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While it may take time to get used to online reading, the learning curve is worth it for the money and resources that get saved in the process. Not to mention the shoulders that will no longer ache from a 50-pound backpack!


Are you ready to get rid of paper receipts forever? Most people would respond with a resounding "Yes!" These annoying strips of paper accumulate in your wallet and aren't used by the majority of people. Eventually, they end up in the trash bin.

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But that doesn't mean you won't have any record of your purchases; we still need to be able to return items. Instead, receipts will become purely electronic. You'll still be able to check how much you spent at Target, but you won't have to rummage through your bag for the receipt.


Travel Agents

Travel agents will soon join delivery workers in the category of obsolete jobs. The number of active travel agents has already plummeted in recent years, and these numbers are likely to continue falling. This is because the internet has made travel planning much easier.

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For those that can afford it, travel agents still have the capacity to make your life a lot easier. For everyone else, however, they are simply an unnecessary luxury. In the future, more and more people will take their travel logistics into their own hands.

Fax Machine

Along with the printer, fax machines are destined for extinction. Their downfall has probably come earlier than printers, as many already consider them to be dinosaurs of the workplace. It's simply another appliance whose function can be replaced by computerized documents.

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Photo Courtesy: Donald Trung/Wikimedia Commons

There are few people who will miss the fax machine, and most businesses will be happy to see them go. One less expense for the office is, in the end, a good thing. 20 years from now, kids will probably not even know what a "fax machine" is.

Wire Chargers

Getting rid of extraneous wires is something of a trend these days. Headphones are nixing the wire, and chargers are not far behind. Many people can already charge their phone with wireless chargers, and the technology is only getting more advanced.

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As the wires go, so will power strips. You will no longer need so many outlets for dozens of cords — it will all be wire-free and much more aesthetically pleasing. With all of these cool inventions hovering on the horizon, it's hard to wait for the future to arrive!