Obsolete skills

Francine Hardaway is here and we’re talking about obsolete skills. Things we used to know that no longer are very useful to us. Here’s some we came up with. How many can you come up with?

1. Dialing a rotary phone.
2. Putting a needle on a vinyl record.
3. Changing tracks on an eight-track tape.
4. Shorthand.
5. Using a slide rule.
6. Using carbon paper to make copies.
7. Developing film/photos.
8. Changing the ball or ribbon on your Selectric Typewriter.
9. Getting off the couch to change channels on your TV set.
10. Adjusting the rabbit ears on your TV set.
11. Changing the gas mixture on your car’s carburetor.

By the way, the domain “obsoleteskills.com” is still available. I almost registered it, but how about if one of you does that and put a wiki there so we can keep track of all of the things we know that are pretty much useless now?

UPDATE: somebody put up a Wiki which is really cool.

466 thoughts on “Obsolete skills

  1. For some of poorer folks who couldn’t afford a mimeograph machine, there was the hektograph. You bought a can of this liquid you poured into a large, flat dish and it gelled. Then you used an indelible pencil or a spirit master on a typewriter and made an original. This was “blotted” onto the surface of the gel and subquent sheets of blank paper were pressed onto this transferred image in the gel to create your copies. Slow, crude and CHEAP! I remember using this thing every year when as a kid, Dad sent out reminder cards to members of the community to send in their dues for the volunteer fire department. You could by the gel liquid at office supply stores.

    Dean

  2. For some of poorer folks who couldn’t afford a mimeograph machine, there was the hektograph. You bought a can of this liquid you poured into a large, flat dish and it gelled. Then you used an indelible pencil or a spirit master on a typewriter and made an original. This was “blotted” onto the surface of the gel and subquent sheets of blank paper were pressed onto this transferred image in the gel to create your copies. Slow, crude and CHEAP! I remember using this thing every year when as a kid, Dad sent out reminder cards to members of the community to send in their dues for the volunteer fire department. You could by the gel liquid at office supply stores.

    Dean

  3. Geez.

    Fishing? Do you know how to design, build and repair a boat? Make fishing line from animal gut? Carve hooks? Make a stone or metal tool to carve the hook with?

    Cooking with charcoal for 11 days :rolleyes:? Do you know how to make charcoal?

    Do you plan to eat anything but fish and meat, or do you know how to sustainably garden? Do you know how to make hunting weapons?

    What about digging a safe well? Constructing a pump? Making pots to cook food and purify water? Making baskets to gather food?

    Tanning animal hides? Retting or combing, spinning and weaving fibers?

    It’s amazing what passes for “survival skills” among people who’ve never had to do it for more than a couple of days. I guarantee you each one of the skills on this list takes more than “a few hours” to learn.

  4. Geez.

    Fishing? Do you know how to design, build and repair a boat? Make fishing line from animal gut? Carve hooks? Make a stone or metal tool to carve the hook with?

    Cooking with charcoal for 11 days :rolleyes:? Do you know how to make charcoal?

    Do you plan to eat anything but fish and meat, or do you know how to sustainably garden? Do you know how to make hunting weapons?

    What about digging a safe well? Constructing a pump? Making pots to cook food and purify water? Making baskets to gather food?

    Tanning animal hides? Retting or combing, spinning and weaving fibers?

    It’s amazing what passes for “survival skills” among people who’ve never had to do it for more than a couple of days. I guarantee you each one of the skills on this list takes more than “a few hours” to learn.

  5. I have a rotary phone in my living room…I rarely use it, the cordless gets all the attention. It still works just great! I hated it as a teenager we were the only people I knew who owned one. We keep it around as a conversation piece, and my kids think it’s funny.

  6. I have a rotary phone in my living room…I rarely use it, the cordless gets all the attention. It still works just great! I hated it as a teenager we were the only people I knew who owned one. We keep it around as a conversation piece, and my kids think it’s funny.

  7. @87 Tuning a crystal set radio. Most of you do not even know what I am talking about since that was about 82 years ago. Enjoyed the comments.

  8. @87 Tuning a crystal set radio. Most of you do not even know what I am talking about since that was about 82 years ago. Enjoyed the comments.

  9. I’m raising teenagers here in america, and am embarrassed to admit that since velcro replaced laces/grommets, my daughter took her time learning how to tie her shoes. When I was a youngster, that was an acknowledged mileston.
    Also, my kids, until they were fairly old, would double check an analog clock with a digital. They stiil aren’t comfortable with the “to” or “til” side of the clock. It’s 9:45, NOT a quarter to ten. Yikes. And these kids have brains the size of planets, excellent teachers, and two old fart engineers for parents!

  10. I’m raising teenagers here in america, and am embarrassed to admit that since velcro replaced laces/grommets, my daughter took her time learning how to tie her shoes. When I was a youngster, that was an acknowledged mileston.
    Also, my kids, until they were fairly old, would double check an analog clock with a digital. They stiil aren’t comfortable with the “to” or “til” side of the clock. It’s 9:45, NOT a quarter to ten. Yikes. And these kids have brains the size of planets, excellent teachers, and two old fart engineers for parents!

  11. This list is halfway to idiotic. It represents the can’t-do list of a couple of coastal American white boy geeks who live in a tiny world whose world is limited to the computer screen. These people think they are in some position to declare something obsolete because they themselves don’t use a skill in their tiny, uniformed world? Can you spell h-u-b-r-i-s or is that obsolete? The skills on the list that are truly obsolete are limited to the flash-in-the-pan world of computers. The rest are things the boys are just not familiar with. Duh.

  12. This list is halfway to idiotic. It represents the can’t-do list of a couple of coastal American white boy geeks who live in a tiny world whose world is limited to the computer screen. These people think they are in some position to declare something obsolete because they themselves don’t use a skill in their tiny, uniformed world? Can you spell h-u-b-r-i-s or is that obsolete? The skills on the list that are truly obsolete are limited to the flash-in-the-pan world of computers. The rest are things the boys are just not familiar with. Duh.

  13. I’ve got one genuinely obsolete skill. I know how to adjust and repair all the old purely mechanical (non-electric, non-electronic) vending machines.

  14. I’ve got one genuinely obsolete skill. I know how to adjust and repair all the old purely mechanical (non-electric, non-electronic) vending machines.

  15. 1. manually clicking over to pick up someone on the other line of the phone.
    2. paying attention to how hard you hit your brakes.
    3. pinball. real pinball.
    4. presets on an old car radio

  16. 1. manually clicking over to pick up someone on the other line of the phone.
    2. paying attention to how hard you hit your brakes.
    3. pinball. real pinball.
    4. presets on an old car radio

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