How-To Geek

11 Extinct Technology Sounds

Extinction isn’t exclusively a biological function; here’s a roundup of 11 sounds that have gone the way of the Dodo.

Mental_Floss shares a roundup of 11 technological sounds lost to the ages, including rotary telephones–see above–flash cube snaps, television warmups, TV station sign offs, and more. One thing we’re shocked they didn’t include is the sound of an acoustic modem connection–but in fairness quite a few people are still using dial-up to connect to the Internet.

11 Sounds Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard [Mental_Floss via BoingBoing]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/17/11

Comments (10)

  1. Q.T. Getomov

    My housemate scared the bejesus out of me last night calling on the housephone. It hasn’t rung for months and it is, indeed a green rotary dial phone! BRRRING the noise.

  2. Joe Morgan

    Any one remember the old intercept (wrong number) phone tone can’t really describe it you’d have to hear it. In the phone factory it was the first one you recorded on the announcement boards… lmao

  3. Beverly Kurtin

    My phone’s “ringer” is an old-fashioned metal bell sound; drives people around me nuts. Just for grins, I have an old-fashioned handset that I use from time-to–time. I reach into my purse, grab the handset and answer the phone. The look on folk’s faces was worth the modest price I paid for it.

    My late father had a rotary dial phone in his bedroom; the only phone in the house. It was HARDWIRED into the lines. Being parsimonious, he refused to go with a touch tone phone or get an extension because he didn’t want to pay the “extra” charges. It took all of my persuasive powers to convince him that those charges had gone the way of the dodo bird. I bought him a touch-tone phone and placed it next to his favorite chair.

    Unfortunately, he enjoyed it only a year or so before passing away, but at least he had that year of not having to run every time the phone rang.

    He could not wrap his head around the idea that long distance on cell phones was not expensive. He and my mother used to ask the operator to tell them when their three minutes were up; the initial charge was a flat rate and after that there was a charge for each minute. A call to California from Connecticut could wind up cost ing mor than the monthly phone charge.

    When I was shooting some digital pictures he got bent out of shape because “you’re wasting film.” When I told him there WAS no film he said, “well you have to pay to get it processed.” So I explained that there WAS no processing. He insisted that there HAD to be processing. Then he got me. He said suppose that you want to be able to show it like a normal picture. “Easy, just print it.” He asked me if it was FREE. Yeah, but of course there is the ink… “Aha! THAT is processing!”

    I gave up.

  4. Beverly Kurtin

    I really should edit myself before hitting submit. Because he didn’t have a modular phone, I bought a device that plugged into the power line. And I also meant that calling long distance costs NOTHING on a cell phone. All of the multilevel long distance companies went out of business when cell phones became popular. Who paid for long distance anymore?

    I got my first cell phone in 1995 after surviving a massive stroke; it was a real life line because I could easily get lost and having that phone in my purse was a godsend. I’m a peer counselor for people who have had strokes; the firs thing I encourage them to do is to get a cell phone for their own safety. It is easy to get confused following a stroke and having a cell phone handy can make all the difference between tragedy and getting help stat!

  5. kevalin

    @Beverly: your dad sounds like he was quite the character. Thanks for sharing a bit of him with us… and for your work with stroke victims. Pretty cool stuff.

  6. Tom T

    the ‘ancient’ dial-up modem handshake…

  7. Ushindi

    I loved this nostalgic journey, and forwarded to all my friends and family.
    Thanks much for this – it was appreciated.

  8. tommy2rs

    Yep, lots of memories there. Especially the driveway bell as my Dad owned a gas station when I was young. I would say I worked there but it was more like indentured servitude….lol.

    Typewriters, I have two and one reason I can’t type with more than two fingers was I spent my time in typing class repairing and cleaning all the typewriters.

    Still use a percolator to make wassail every year. Walmart sells them for about $40 bucks. I also have one that goes over the campfire on every hunting or fishing trip.

  9. Anonymous

    A coffee percolator is extinct? WTF?! FYI: You can still buy new percolators at places like Walmart if you look hard enough. I’ve even seen percolators in use at various hotels and restaurants too (although those establishment/business were often very small). Quite simply, this is not an extinct sound nor can the device itself be considered extinct since the devices themselves are still being made.

    I would even disagree about dial-up modems too. In fact, didn’t HTG recently report that AOL was still servicing a few million dial up customers?! And how about the fact that it’s still possible to even buy a dial up modem? Obviously, a few people are still using them so the sound can’t possibly be considered extinct no matter how you look at it.

    Clearly, those sounds (and others) are still being made. Of course it probably depends on where you look to hear them. But there are definitely devices still in use and still being made that make those sounds. So maybe the author meant to say uncommon sounds or sounds that your kids may not have ever heard. Cause using a word like extinct would, at the very least imply that you can never hear those sounds again anywhere – ever! And that’s just not true.

  10. Lisa

    this has been really interesting to read. As you have all been thinking on this I was wondering – what sounds can you think of that are ‘extinct’ due to technology? as in, what social activities no longer take place because of technology? For example, the sound of sheets blowing in the wind and being shaken and streached as they are hung up – now sheets are often put in the tumbledriers or people dont have outdoor space to do this. SO in effect technology has replaces this physical / social act…

    Any comments would be great!

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