/ Technology

Do you have any old tech gathering dust at home?

old technology

An architectural feature on homes for the past 40 years, the satellite dish could soon become obsolete. It will join a long list of redundant technology such as VHS and DVD players and MP3s – but do you still use yours?

On Wednesday, Sky announced that its customers will soon be able to get all of its TV services online, spelling the beginning of the end of the satellite dish.

As more people choose to watch TV via internet streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and even Sky’s own service, Now TV, the need to watch traditional channels using a satellite dish is waning.

In theory, I could now take down the dish sitting atop my front bay window. It was left behind by the previous owners and I’ve always considered it an eyesore. I’ve never actually used it, but left it there in case the next occupiers wanted to. Trouble is, my neighbour recently told me that Sky connected said dish to her flat last year!

Tech graveyard

If I did have the option of removing the satellite dish, I’d probably only put it in my cellar. Here, it would collect dust, along with the other bits of gadgetry I’ve cast aside as technology has advanced.

Breaking through the cobwebs, the area is looking increasingly like a tech graveyard. Taking up most room is a Technics ‘hi-fi’ stacking system, complete with two speakers. It features a CD player, a double cassette deck and, drum roll… a graphic equaliser.

Up until about two years ago, it was still in use, chiefly as a means to listen to the extensive 1990s back catalogue loaded on my MP3 player at volume. Alas, when the room was redecorated, I decided to take it, the MP3 player (I never even got round to upgrading to an iPod) and the little-used DVD player downstairs.

Nowadays, I use the DVD player in my TV to play DVDs and CDs. Saying that, I’m far more likely to connect my phone to the Bluetooth speaker to access my music library or log in to Spotify on my laptop or iPad.

Holding on to redundant technology

Joining my ‘music centre’, and DVD and MP3 players, is an indigo iMac, itself superseded by a previous laptop. Neither of them work, but I keep them, just in case.

The same goes for the video player, although that’s because I’m not yet ready to part with a VHS tape cassette collection of Friends Seasons 1 & 2 and several John Hughes films. Give me a rainy day and a telly with a scart lead, and I’d happily plug it in to watch them.

Museum pieces

With more space to squander, my parents still keep most of their old tech out – and occasionally still use it. Their music centre, also Technics, features a record player. So, when the mood takes, my dad will get out his old vinyl and blast out the, er, tunes through some amazingly oversized 1980s Sony speakers.

Also still in use is a retro-looking printer, digital frame and, the weirdest bit of kit of all, a VHS/DVD combo – a cut-and-shut gadget if ever there was one.

In the attic, it’s even more like a museum. Besides the motley crew of old PCs, TVs, ghetto blasters and both old-school and digital cameras, is a camcorder. My favourite of all? My grandad’s old cine camera. If only I’d thought to ask him how to use it…

What redundant technology do you still use? Or are there gadgets that you have stashed away that you still wish you could use?


I still have a Sega Genesis – I’m not sure if that is redundant or retro 🤔I have all the parts and games, but I don’t play it. I keep it with the intentions of using it again (one day).

I also have an iPod, which was the first thing I bought after my first month at my first job. I don’t use it anymore, my phone carries all the music I want…and more!

Interestingly, my wife and I were discussing this about an hour ago. They’ve been forecasting the end of the DVD, the Blu Ray and Sat dish for some time, but people should be wary; it’s not necessarily in the consumers’ interests to see the end of DVDs or Blu Rays, for instance. Certainly, it suits the TV delivery companies to deliver everything via the internet but, even if we actually had decent internet speeds throughout the UK – which we don’t – there’s another reason they want to do it this way: profits.

The egregious DMCA makes it illegal for anyone to archive their DVDs or Blu Rays – unbelievably, and taking it one step further to internet – only delivery will seal the fate of those who prefer to keep physical copies of their own purchases.

It’s only through some Chinese companies that produce adaptors that decode the HDMI signals that we can actually copy programmes for which we pay; delivery through the internet will almost certainly make this even more difficult.

But in a surprisingly short time we’ve come from flat Wax discs, through to 45s, LPs, CDs, DVDs, Blu Rays, iPods and SSD storage; already most folk get their radio through the Satellite dish or the internet. I have several SVHS recorders, DVD recorders, CD recorders and more. Might even start my own museum.

I can’t remember the last time I bought a DVD, but I would hazard a guess that it was about 4 years ago. I tend to watch TV and films online, using either Netflix or specific channel streaming apps (such as BBC iPlayer etc) – I find it a lot more convenient and cheaper.

However, my parents often buy DVDs – as well as using Netflix – but I think the end of DVDs would be very disappointing for them.

We have just bought a new nearly all-singing, all-dancing Blu Ray/DVD/CD player/recorder as the old DVD player packed up!!!

Apart from having nothing to play our CD music or DVDs on, we missed the clock of the old player.
What it won’t do is record from Sky.

But it can get Netflix………..

not forgetting the Edison wax cylinder, the shellac 78 rpm and the foray into Super 8, Quadrophenia and the Philips, Grundig and Sony Betamax attempts at VCR and the twelve inch Laser Disc

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We once had one of those but it took up too much room in the bed.

…and murder on the motorway…

So you manage to watch TV etc online. Well bully for you. Spare a thought for the million + homes that don’t get a decent Broadband speed so we have to resort to actually buying said DVDs etc.
One day someone might actually give BT a kick up the backside and get them to roll out proper Broadband to the rest of the country. The first political party that puts in its manifesto that it will relieve BT of Openreach gets my vote. And to think that I live less than 30 miles from the centre of London – sigh.

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We won’t lose CD or DVD players I suspect because of the many collections of discs we will want to play. and turntables for vinyl are still popular. As far as a satellite dish goes I’ve no wish to subscribe to an online service, don’t see why I should clog up the internet when I can get freesat (although we still generally use frreeview via a conventional aerial).

I’ve a decent film camera that will never be used again, an old computer with windows 3.1 sitting in the garage, a modem, old printer no longer supported – but someone with an older pc may find a use for it.

Does a road atlas count as redundant technology now we have sat navs and apps? I still use mine to look at an overall journey before deciding whether the electronic guidance has chosen the route I want.

There is now only one DVD //Bu Ray rental service in the UK, whereas there were quite a few. The demand for DVDs and BDs has been plummeting. Manufacturers won’t continue to support them if no one buys them. Rather worrying.

I have two VHS recorders that were in working condition last time they were used. I’m planning to have a look at what is on about 30 or so cassettes before getting rid of most of them and wondering how to preserve anything that seems worth keeping in another format.

Next is a DVD-Recorder that does still work but is analogue. It would be easy to copy anything I want to keep onto DVD.

What’s next. A Kodak Carousel 35mm slide projector that was heading for the skip at work, but I rescued it. It’s handy for looking at historic slides prior to having them digitised. I’d better keep that one.

There’s a spare DVD-player and TV that used to live in the bedroom but I’m quite happy to give them away, since a laptop provides enough entertainment.

Finally, a small stereo that lived in my kitchen for years. Someone did say that they would like to have it because it has two cassette decks, but it was never collected.

Time for a clear out, though this may take some time.

Many antiques are valuable because when they weren’t, most people threw them away. Well, a little justification for hanging on to stuff. I’ve a collection of EMI 78’s from the ’50s which I have, as yet, no means to play. I’ll get round to buying a 60’s record player probably.

Having been brought up through the vinyl era and then the cd/dvd era, my collection is as complete as I need it to be, all in solid, tangible disc form, which I enjoy owning and choosing from as the mood takes. If starting out now, I’d probably stream and download content, but this technology is too late for me to adopt. I still buy CD’s especially when I need them to play along with between rehearsals. One can stop and replay bits to ones hearts content. In the car I have about eleven days worth of music on an i pod and this has been a good companion for around eight years without any battery problems -so far. I tend to replace hi fi when it stops working and the redundant kit gets taken to the skip. I also shut my eyes, filled a few bags with old VHS tapes and heaved them into the recycle skip, before I dared to wonder what I had done. Then it was too late! All the equipment I have actually works and does something useful. I still listen to my mini disc now and then and enjoy listening to novels on cassette tape when cooking and doing repetitive tasks. Behind the times I might be, but it’s something that I can live with without being envious of those who are up to date.

I share your thoughts, Vynor. I also enjoyed the vinyl era – it sort of goes with your name so you should hold onto it. I have disposed off all my records and players except about fifty CD’s. Apart from the PC’s we have just one CD player now.

I see nothing wrong with being behind the times VynorHill. None of us need to be technology slaves. We wouldn’t have books any more if e-readers took over. Nothing quite like being able to turn real pages. Perhaps not too environmentally friendly, but in that case my target would be the weekend newspapers.

Nothing wrong with being behind the times at all. I still use cassette tapes recorded from LPs, dating from the 80s on a cassette deck also dating from the 80s. No-one seems to criticise us for this, but every time we discuss the latest phones or other modern gadgets someone comes up with disapproving comments. I would rather be happy and live and let live. Excuse me while I turn over the cassette…

Ah yes old technology ..

The Pythagorean cup in the hydraulics section is a marvel. I am a great fan of technological inventions and I am always impressed how man continues to invent. I have a soft spot for inventions which could be re-used today by any competent person.

Electronics are a problem being too small and complex effectively for bodging which is a shame. They also tend to have shortish lives. We have had multiple e-readers but currently have one normal ereader and two A4 size. A Sony, Nook and an Onyx have all bitten the dust by virtue of dead batteries or being sat on. My oldest book is 1802 AFAIR – makes you think. Still we probably benefit from the several thousand ebooks collected being compact : ) The real books require 558ft of shelving and it would be awkward to find more – but not impossible. : )

I am a great fan of redundancy so have a selection of M-discs for those items I would want my great grandchildren to marvel at. The odd 30000 photos may not all be gems but recording the mundane will become the glimpses of everyday life in the future. Ditto some music.

We have never particularly watched DVD’s but as I can pick them up from charity shops for £1 each they like books are being acquired and indexed so that they can be viewed and the books read by visitors or neighbours.

There are two dead Humax and a VHS player ready for tip but I am holding onto my original Sony Handycam from 1979 – though I ought to test it soon to see it still works. : )

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I never bothered with Sky because the price was astronomical. I’m very happy with sky original, which is still only broadcast at night, but you do get to watch all the stars and there are no adverts.

We also only get sky original but some nights the tuning’s a bit variable. Our favourite satellite is Moon who comes and goes but is always there. It was good to see some different constellations when in the southern hemisphere. I thought I saw an advert for Mars one night, Wavechange, but perhaps it was the Milky Way.

I quite like terrestrial but Duncan tells me it needs a good Earth.

…………..and I was outside with my antique but still powerful binoculars bought from a charity shop some years ago, gazing at the beautiful spectacular site in the firmament that was the blue full moon in all its glory last night. Wonderful 🙂

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. . . and other pennies from heaven!

RogerS says:
3 February 2018

I couldn’t care less what Sky does with their dishes, what’s wrong with Freeview ?

Exactly. If it shows an interesting programme you can watch it. If there is nothing worth watching then switch off and do something constructive. There is more to life than staring at a tv.

I’ve not even considered having a satellite dish. 🙂 I did turn the TV on yesterday to explore whether I could save programmes from my PVR, but I’m going to save regular TV watching for when I’m old(er) and (more) decrepit.

Sarah B says:
3 February 2018

Same problem as with a sky dish – weather interference. Infrastructure also impacts freeview reception, I do at least now get the 5 basic channels!!

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I remember, Duncan, but I’m not really interested in sitting in front of the screen. I prefer interaction of some sort, even posting some daft comments here.

Just to add to the point about weather interference, Sarah – use an 80cm dish if you can and don’t be swayed into being told that a more sensitive LNB will do the job; it won’t.

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The old stuff keeps going (a) because it’s mechanical, and (b) because it’s repairable. It’s also rather enjoyable. I especially enjoy a striking timepiece with a fusee movement – so reliable, and it enhances any room both when it’s ticking and when it chimes on the hour.

Its because there’s a heck of a lot more to go wrong in the new stuff Duncan which is now reduced to a microscopic level and invisible to the DIY enthusiast.

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Very old tech we have is a Sinclair Spectrum (not mine), I did try to use it once but gave up some old cameras including at least one box camera and a few radios.

I think we still have every computer we have ever owned although I have taken bits out of them to repair other computers so most of them are unlikely to work again. Probably time they went as parts are now too old to be of any use.

We still have a VHS recorder that hubby wants to keep to play his VHS football tapes on. As far as I know he hasn’t played them in the last 10-20 years so I will let him find out for himself they are probably useless by now.

The stacking hi-fi got dismantled and is awaiting permission to dispose of. We have quite a music collection including a lot of LPs, so might just get a new record deck.

I have a Sinclair Spectrum (1982) too, a somewhat rash purchase that served mainly to convince me that it was worth paying more for a BBC Micro. A clever feature of the Spectrum was the way that the keys performed as many as five functions depending on the context and that saved a lot of typing – not a bad idea with a keyboard with little rubber keys. The idea of context-sensitive controls was reincarnated with the coming of touch-screen controls.

OK, I’m in the market for new technology for new technology. I used to be able to record TV programmes on the hard disk of an DVD-recorder and transfer anything I wanted to keep to a DVD. Now I have a PVR which is easy to use but does not offer the opportunity for long term storage and when it dies, what I have saved will be gone.

What I want to do is edit and archive news stories and the odd programme relevant to my interests and not films or anything that could be available on demand. My old DVD recorder was ideal for the purpose but the switch to DTV made it redundant. 🙁 Do I go for one of the few remaining DVD recorders that remain available or is there a simple and cheaper alternative?

I’d have a wander round the back of the PVR and see what outputs are available. Could you attach an external hard drive, for instance? There’s quite a bit of catch up TV on computer and it might be possible to download some of that onto a hard drive. One of my DVD recorders has a TV tuner inbuilt, thus its hard drive can be used to store content and that can be transferred to DVD. You might use another PVR as a back up to the first. There might be a way of taking the signal direct from the television to computer via a USB or HDMI cable. The old days, when you set the VHS recorder to record content seemed so simple and direct. Modern technology seems to have lost sight of that simplicity, as you have discovered.

Thanks Vynor. When I bought a PVR I had hoped to be able to copy recordings to my old analogue DVD-recorder, from which they could be edited and saved to disc. I did try what you have suggested but failed. I will look into the options because I want to news coverage of an event our organisation is holding in July and to be able to distribute copies for personal use. The fail safe option is a modern DVD-recorder but there are few on sale these days.

I agree to a certain extent that we have lost sight of simplicity, but remember the joke about needing the help of a 14 year old to be able to master a VHS recorder.

Wave: they make it difficult by loading all HD programmes with HDMI, which effectively prevents copying. However, I solved this by buying an ‘HDMI Cloner Box’. That allows me to download HD recordings from the PVR to a USB stick and then to convert them via Handbrake to Mp4 files for playing on the TV.

Additionally, some HDMI splitters remove the HDMI signals so the resultant output can be recorded on any hard disc system.

Finally, KeepVid Pro is a Mac App that a[lows you to record from iPlayer and several other sources in HD and save the resultant files to HD.

Thanks Ian. I’ll move this to The Lobby rather than taking this Convo further off-topic.

Besides my stacking HiFi I’ve still got my Dansette record player for my 45’s, but cannot seem to find many 45 vinyls these days’ but who knows the 33rpm LP is on its way back. Just off to play Del Shannon’s Runaway.

Keep your Dansette record player, it is worth money at an auction, it is more valuable than “a run of the mill” record player.

They are highly sought after, either complete or for spares that can be used to restore others. The amplifiers are very crude but what matters more is that many people remember the Dansette fondly from their younger days.

I’m sure that I won’t be the only one who remembers playing records at the wrong speed to see if a male vocalist would sound like a female one. I suspect the adults disapproved.

I remember the Dansette record player, but not fondly. Other boys had superior players and more pocket money than me to spend on discs.

If I had a collector’s item I would sell it to a collector rather than keeping it in the attic.

I had a deprived childhood too. My friends had electric 00 gauge train sets and I had a clockwork one. They came to play with mine, maybe because it was larger.

I have a Panasonic VHS/DVD combi which not only plays both but will copy the VHS tape onto a blank DVD, so as you guess when friends find out I get requests to copy lots of “Home Vidoes” onto DVD’s !!!!
I also have one of the original Sinclair calculators that still works.

If you have a Sinclair Executive – the original model – that’s a collectors’ model. There are a fair number of the later Sinclair Cambridge calculators around. I have one but the battery connector needs fixed.

I have nothing against modern technology but we seem to be increasingly bullied into using it. Some of us in more rural areas do not have cable availability and have very slow and unreliable broadband so internet banking is out of the question and doing away with satellite TV transmission would exclude us from many channels.I still use a digital video recorder regularly as it is convenient to be able to take tapes to play on other machines.

Alan Weston says:
3 February 2018

My bedroom TV sits on what was a very expensive Panasonic VHS/DVD/HDD player recorder. It used to be in the living room where it functioned well for ages. Then I bought a HDD/BR recorder which now does that job but the VHS part of the bedroom unit is broken, which is disappointing since I was planning to transfer a few home movies to disc. I’ll have to find another way.
Before he passed away last year dad used one of the Panasonic units daily, recording TV films to tape, transferring those he liked to DVD and keeping them. Hundreds, now disposed of since we cleared his house. He wasn’t in the slightest bothered about image quality.

Apart from all the techie stuff we have a Sunbeam Food Mixer, bought in 1961 in the souhk in Aden. It is in use almost every day. If the company still existed I would demand a replacement, because the paint is scratched already.

We have had some examples of where we seem to move backwards. I have an older Pure DAB radio that lets me:
> pause a program to answer the phone
> ‘rewind’ it to listen to an interesting bit for a second time
> record to an SD card, either manually or by setting a timer

I had assumed that these features would become a standard feature of DAB radio, but there are few models that now offer them.

As a keen Radio 4 listener, I would not want to live without these features if I had to replace my radio.

Radios seem always to have ignored the features we get with TVs. Recorders for example. But please don’t let this make you suicidal. I sometimes lose the will to live when listening to the bombastic interviewers on the R4 Today programme, but have not yet given in.

The radio has a little blue off-button. I agree about the interviewers and have little respect for them. Those who they interview can be as bad.

Falkenna says:
3 February 2018

I have a comparatively “ancient” DAB radio, steamproof for the shower. How obvious an idea is that? If you use a bluetooth speaker for a delicate iPod or radio outside, you can’t change the station while you’re in there. But now, no such animal as a steamproof DAB exists. (There are of course dedicated shower systems for hundreds or thousands of pounds. Yeah, right.) I find this across the board – technology is NEVER designed for real users and their actual needs, but younger people often just take what they’re given and like it because it’s “cool” and “new”. This happened with CDs and I resisted until I couldn’t buy music anymore and gave in. I’ve been very heartened by the move back to vinyl. Yes, I love my iPod, but even my 32Gb can’t hold all my music – and when I do download, it is, of course, like my Kindle books, rented, not owned.

I got a “new” cassette player for Christmas because mine broke – and bought a * brand new* boombox with tape and CD for the bedroom when my other one broke. It also had DAB radio and a USB port – the latter of which I haven’t used yet. We play DVDs – including brand new ones – several times a week.