Seven zombie technologies that just won't die

From beepers to COBOL, some tech keeps lurching forward, despite the smell of rot.

By , ITworld |  Unified Communications


Radio

"Drink ... your ... Ovaltine?"

Source: Malinkrop/Flickr

Radio may not seem like a zombie today, but cast your mind back to the 1950s, when television started to shift from luxury item to must-have piece of furniture -- a must-have piece of furniture, we might add, that in many cases displaced a console radio from its place of pride in the living room. "A television is everything a radio is, but better!" you would have thought. "Radio will be dead by 1960!"

But there were some more momentous changes happening around the same time that conspired to bring radio back from the brink of death. More and more Americans were moving to the suburbs and driving their cars to work instead of hopping on the streetcar; you can listen to radio while you cruise down the highway in a way that you can't watch TV. Meanwhile, pop music became a multimillion-dollar industry, and radio was for decades its preferred promotional vector. Thus, the format is well into its second life today, even though Little Orphan Annie has long been displaced by Justin Bieber singles and angry sports radio talk shows.

Just to add to radio's antiquarian fustiness: while TV went all digital in 2009 in the United States, radio is still broadcasting on the same analog channels it's used for decades. Thus, you can pull that classic wood-paneled radio out of the attic and listen to the latest Justin Bieber singles and angry sports talk shows in all their tinny, mono glory.

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