We have all had encounters with "old-timers" who remind us of how things were "way back when." Whether it was walking three miles to school or wrapping foil around the TV antenna in order to get a signal, there are countless stories available to inform the youngsters of how much things have changed.

With the rapid technological advances made in recent years, faster and increasingly convenient processes and devices have changed many facets of everyday life, rendering their predecessors obsolete. Here, we'll highlight some technologies you may have to explain to your kids or grandkids in years to come.


When I was growing up, there were only two places I could get a book: the bookstore or a library.

No longer must readers make trips to a bookstore, make room on bookshelves or go through the trouble of ordering online and waiting for the package to arrive. Wireless reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and the Apple iPad allow people to read as many books as they please via one device. Between 2002 and 2008, e-book sales have had a compound annual growth rate of 57.8% year over year, versus a rate of 1.6% for the entire book publishing industry.

Anything That Isn't Wireless

When I was your age, we had landlines not cell phones. If I wanted to use the computer, then I had to go to the "computer room."

Before wireless anything came along, using a phone or computer required you to be at a desk and/or in a room where there was an outlet for a phone or internet connection. Now, people can talk or connect in the kitchen, in their favorite restaurant and just about anywhere in between. While phone cords and Ethernet wires may be fading away, your kids should not be totally oblivious to wires since every one of their gadgets requires electricity to function.

CRT Television

The television had to stay put because it was so heavy and I could not risk losing the signal.

Kids have become accustomed to watching television on a variety of platforms, most of which are flat and portable, two things which could never describe the televisions of yesteryear. A picture tube television could easily weigh more than the child who is watching it and without perfect positioning of the antenna, the few channels available could turn to snow. (As technology advances, some industries become obsolete. Follow the trends that will affect jobs, investments and your purchases in 4 Industry-Changing Tech Trends.)


Compact discs can hold pictures, movies or music. Each disc can only hold a limited number of files, so I have many discs.

Who needs a bunch of discs when images, movies and music files can all be stored on the hard drive of a computer or a removable storage device? There are still some people who like to buy CDs for the album art, but for those who just want the music, the audio file will suffice. The same can be said for movies.

Cameras and Film

When you finish taking pictures, you take the film to a store where they can develop the film and print the pictures. Then, you can see your pictures.

The camera and photo development industry has evolved rapidly in just the past twenty years. Long gone are the days of taking a roll worth of pictures in order to get the film developed, and waiting three days for the photographs to return from the processor. The alternative to taking 24 or 36 photos was to use an instant camera. Most kids today have never seen a roll of film or had the pleasure of shaking a Polaroid picture. (From bottled water to Harry Potter, these products were deemed fads but have managed to stick around. Learn more in Consumer "Fads" That Haven't Faded.)

The Bottom Line
As technology continues to evolve, all of us will undoubtedly need a few lessons to keep up. As time changes, someone is always around to remind us of the way things used to be. Sooner or later it may be your turn to do the reminding.

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.