19 Great Things From The Past That Have Completely Vanished

Written By Jill Taylor

There’s something poignant about looking at artifacts from a bygone era – but the reality is that many of these vanished items were around not too long ago. The fast pace of progression means that a lot of items are no longer available. Here are 19 things that have vanished.

Drive-In Theaters

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Heading over to the drive-in theater was a social staple for many people growing up – and the prime spot for a date night or two. Yet communal drive-in theaters are now a nostalgic memory. Although some modern venues have encouraged outdoor viewing parties, multiplex cinemas reign supreme.

Home Milk Delivery

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According to The New York Times, home milk delivery was a common service for families in the 1950s and 60s. But as grocery store milk became more accessible, and lasted longer, the milkman faded into memory. As did the more eco-friendly glass bottles he delivered!

The Classic Diner

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The classic diner was the pinnacle of American culture. It had a distinctive charm and was the go-to place for meetups and for those traveling the road. The classic diner has now evolved into fast food restaurant competition. Any diner styled to be a ‘classic’ American one now only feels like a pale imitation.

VHS Tapes

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Now nothing more than a nostalgic collector’s piece (and only if you kept hold of the ones you had when you were younger) VHS tapes have swiftly become obsolete. First, it was the rise of DVDs, and now it’s the superiority of disc-and tape-less streaming services like Netflix.

Physical Maps and Globes

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Most homes had a globe at one point, usually for children wanting to pinpoint their favorite countries. The decline of physical maps and globes began when technology took over. Now, you find a country on Google Maps, and you depend on your GPS to get you where you need to go.

Catalog Shopping

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Before online shopping was at its peak, catalog shopping was the only way to buy the latest and greatest things. The excitement of browsing through the pages was unmatched, and being able to physically bookmark the page of what you wanted for Christmas from your parents was a bonus!

Analog TV

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Early television meant that viewing experiences were more of a community event. You had to wait until the next episode of your show was broadcast instead of being available instantly. The Science Museum reports that the analog TV came to an end around 2012, by which point many people had already switched to digital.


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While you can still find newsstands in certain cities, they’ve declined rapidly over the years thanks to the consumption of digital media. Not many people make the journey to buy a physical newspaper or magazine from a stand anymore. News is delivered straight to your digital inbox.

Mechanical Watches

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Most owners of Smartwatches these days will be too young to even remember the existence of mechanical watches. They were a prime example of beautiful craftsmanship. Luckily, mechanical watches are still available as collectible antiques, but digital is now the preferred accessory.

Public Phone Booths

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Public phone booths, especially those overseas in the U.K., are now considered old enough to have their own heritage. Country Living tells us how the iconic British red telephone box was being sold off as a preserved relic. Phone booths are now nothing more than a shelter from the rain.

Arcade Video Games

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Game collectors with a lot of disposable income may have been able to furnish their homes with retro gaming machines, which only shows how they’re now a novelty. Arcade video games have been replaced by home gaming systems and online play rather than a community experience in person.


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Telegrams used to be the communication of choice, often used for official or urgent messages. They were particularly effective thanks to their short and direct nature. Perhaps inevitably, communication advanced with people wanting longer and more substantial messages, meaning the telegram has been left in the past.

Handwritten Letters

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There’s no reason you can’t still pick up a pen, but most people opt for digital communication instead. Once, the anticipation of expecting a letter from a friend or pen pal was enough to get you through the day. Nowadays, nobody is willing to wait if they can send a message instantly.

Floppy Disks

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Britannica lists the floppy disk’s lifecycle as from the 1970s until its demise in the 1990s. They were vital in the early days of computing for data storage and software installation. Yet, their future was never secured, as technology replaced them with more compact and powerful storage options.

Film Cameras

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Meticulous skill and precision were required to process photography and film from classic film cameras. Not only that, a lot of patience was needed during the development process. They were popular for recording memories and creating home movies. Yet the world’s shift to digital photography and video means they’re now left behind.

Passenger Zeppelins

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Traveling by Zeppelin was once the only option before the development of airplane travel. They were the comfortable, steady option for getting from A to B. While zeppelins can still be spotted in TV shows and movies, they’re now a more historical piece. Following the Hindenburg disaster, their future was doomed.

Steam Trains

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Steam trains can still be found across the world, but they’re more of an arranged tourist attraction for unique experiences. Steam-powered engines were replaced with diesel and electric trains as they were more efficient. They’re now considered a romantic relic perfect for viewing a scenic route.


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Creatives and collectors may still use old typewriters for the novelty of the key sounds and aesthetics. Yet using a typewriter in a practical way has long since gone out of fashion. Typewriters don’t stand a chance against digital word processors and touch screens in this digital age.

Vinyl Records

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And last but not least, the vinyl record. Although vinyls are still popular among audiophiles, they’ve moved into a niche market of collectors rather than being the first choice for listening to music. Once upon a time, vinyl was the number one choice. These days, people prefer digital listening to vinyl players, despite the resurgence.

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