Old technology is still amazing

There is a lack of appreciation for old technologies that we use everyday. Two examples are mail and checks. Both systems are incredibly easy to use and arguably far easier than their electronic counter parts (just ask someone over 50).

Imagine this crazy idea: you drop an item in a red box, with a handwritten address and a small fee and it will be reliably delivered nearly anywhere in the world. Yes, email is great, but delivering physical objects around the world in a timely, affordable and reliable fashion is even more impressive. On top of that, it has been argued that the penny post was a major contributor to the industrial revolution.

Checks are a nutty idea too. Take some liquid dye (pen), apply it in a pattern (words) on a piece of paper, and boom, you just transferred money. This is far easier than transferring via Paypal, and there are fewer fees attached.

Too quickly we write off the amazing accomplishments of the past to make way for the shiny new toy that the neighbour just got.

As Kevin Kelly pointed out, old technology rarely dies completely, and there is a reason for that: it usually does what it does really well.

Published on August 25, 2010