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Five Things That Have Gone The Way Of Blockbuster

By Don Gonyea | NPR
Saturday, November 9, 2013

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

As the video rental store closes its last doors, Weekend Edition takes a look at other once-ubiquitous things that have disappeared, or are well on their way.



Blockbuster Video is no more. The home rental stores, which were once the place to go to get a movie to watch on a Saturday night, are to close their 300 remaining stores. The reason, as you might expect, is that practically no one wants to go out and physically pick up a tape or DVD anymore when they can download or stream a film at home.

For those of us that can look back wistfully, and remember how going to choose a movie was actually half the fun of it - even if the new releases were always out of stock - we thought we'd reminisce for a moment or two about some other things once ubiquitous but now, well, not quite so blockbuster.


GONYEA: In our top five randomly thought of - and not scientifically researched - obsolete things, items and services, we have the payphone.


GONYEA: According to the American Public Communications Council, there are now only half a million public telephones left in the U.S. That's down from 2 million at the turn of the century. Superman long ago found a new place to change his tights.

No. 2 on our randomly selected list: dial-up Internet.


GONYEA: Seventy-four percent of Americans are now online. But in the old days of early last decade, most of us would plug in a phone cord and call up the Internet like we were ringing our grandmother for a chat. Only 6 percent of us still do that - use dial-up Internet, that is.

In at No. 3, we've gone for encyclopedias. Where once you reached for a reference book to check a fact or settle an argument, in today's world we seem to rely on one, simple phrase: Google it.

Our fourth choice: the cassette tape and by association, the Walkman.

And our final entry in this non-scientifically researched list of things that have gone the way of Blockbuster: the overhead projector - badly prepared slides by your 10th grade math teacher, Mr. Williams? He's now using PowerPoint. I can't vouch for his new slides, but it's better technology - until something else comes along, and PowerPoint goes the way of Blockbuster. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

View this story on npr.org

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