A long long time ago, before the advent of the internet, we lived in what some believed was an easier and less complicated world. In this world, to communicate with someone you simply picked up the phone. The device was easy to use because it only had one function; make a call. Nowadays, with the lightning evolution of the internet and technology in general, we communicate through Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, to name just a few. People are even buying watches to improve their health!
However, some ‘ancient’ technologies are still staples in the ‘modern’ office. These are classics that you’re probably still using in some way, shape or form, coming under the banner of ‘oldies but goodies’ which can still benefit us long into the future, albeit with a few modern-day tweaks.
5. The Standalone Calculator
Did you know that the calculator has been around since the 1600s? Yup, that far back. The first representation of the ‘modern’ calculator, called the ‘Calculating Clock’, was invented by Willhelm Schickard in 1623. It had an abacus to simplify multiplication and division and a dialled pedometer for additions and subtractions. But it wasn’t until 1851 that the first commercially available calculator called the ‘Arithmometer’ (good luck pronouncing that one!) was invented by Thomas de Colmar.
Fast forward 100 years to the 1960s, and we are introduced to the electronic calculator and then the pocket calculator in the 1970s; who wouldn’t want to carry a calculator everywhere they go! Anyone who works in the financial sector can attest to standalone calculators being an invaluable tool in the work day. They have evolved to perform complex mathematical problems with scientific and graphing calculators now existing. An ancient technology adapted for modern use; they are efficient, reliable (I have never heard of a calculator dying) and most importantly, you can carry it in your pocket, despite what your secondary school teacher may have told you.
4. Landline Phones
The phone was created in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell. This was a marvel of an invention, enabling near instant communication over large distances. Given its limitations in connecting just a few people, the technology soon evolved, with the creation of the landline in the early 1900s. I love when you think of a word’s origins – a line across land; beautiful.
Despite the introduction of modern communications such as email and other office messaging services, the old reliable landline is weathering the technological evolution storm. In offices and especially when calling customers, building relationships is key and many people still prefer talking over the phone – unless it’s a chipper, in which case webchat all the way.
3. Printer and Paper
The majority of offices throughout Ireland still use print off reams of pages that will eventually sit in a folder in a filing cabinet, never to be seen again. Just think of the trees! But seriously, in an era where China is building a ‘forest city’ to combat pollution and aid in the absorption of CO2, we need to migrate to environmentally friendly ways to run offices and reduce energy consumption.
Cloud Computing is definitely a more eco-friendly and business-friendly option here. It has tons of benefits such as access to files from any location via the internet, time and cost efficiencies, preventing waste and disaster recovery. It has taken off on a personal level too with the likes of Google Photos growing in popularity. Are you backing up to the cloud?
Paper looks like it will weather the storm. Just think of Kindle. Many bookworms still love the smell of paper. Us humans are a funny bunch.
2. CDs, DVDs and USB Flash Drives
First came the CD in 1982, followed by the DVD in 1995 and then the USB flash drive in 1999. Okay, I can hear some of you already say flash drives aren’t ‘ancient’ but, in the era of the ‘cloud’ and given that 1999 was 18 YEARS AGO, file hosting services are now ‘it’ when it comes to file storage and sharing. That, of course, doesn’t mean that everyone is on board with this technology. CDs, DVDs and USB flash drives are still used by many for their cheaper cost, reliability and the often-deciding factor that they don’t require access to the internet; If a snail could give your internet access a run for its money, then these ‘ancient’ technology alternatives could be the way to go for now.
The earliest concept of the fax was invented back in 1843 and the modern design is still a stalwart in many offices today. Take, for example, the health system; the fax is essential to their working day. It is a technology which has become engrained in some industries to the point where the thought of change is too much to bear. A recent study by Bitkom (it’s in German, but your browser should be able to translate it) shows that 70% of German companies still use faxes, which seems somewhat archaic at first glance.
However, evolution has even occurred to the fax in the form of internet faxing services. You can now send and receive faxes securely online by email or within a mobile app. Who knew even the fax machine could get an upgrade in the modern office.
To sum up all my rambling, the continual evolution of technology is amazing but some ‘oldies but goodies’ are definitely worth keeping!
Which of these ‘ancient’ technologies did you last use in the office? Let us know in the comments below.