In the old days, people actually had to step foot inside a bank branch, fill out a form and wait in line to get their hands on their own money. We actually carried cash.
Sure, cash will have a place for a while, but simply being able to use a credit or debit card everywhere from McDonald’s to the farmers market has made cash much less necessary. Apps like Square (a point-of-sale app) and Venmo (which allows you to electronically pay your friend back for that pizza) make a cashless society even easier.
2. Remote controls
Remote controls seemed like an absolute luxury back in the 1970s and 1980s, when the devices first started to flourish. But now, cable and streaming video systems offer smartphone apps that do everything from changing the channel to turning on captions and cranking up the volume.
And, unlike the cumbersome remote that always seems to be lodged between the couch cushions, an app is always just as close as your smartphone.
While we’re on the subject, traditional TV is also getting gobbled up by competing programs on streaming services.
3. Car keys
If you’ve bought a newish car in recent years, you may never have touched it with a key. Modern cars come with key fobs and mini-remotes that can lock and unlock the car with the push of a button.
Some don’t even require that: When I get close enough to my car, it senses that I’m carrying the key fob and remote, and it unlocks the door once I encircle the handle with my hand. I can start the car from inside my home so it warms up while I finish getting ready. And I never have to put a key in the ignition like the old days — the car has a start button instead.
4. Hotel room keys
Hotels have jumped on the modern key bandwagon even faster than car manufacturers. It is now rare to get a metal key attached to giant plastic tag for a hotel room, as once was the standard.
Key cards are cheap, easy to use, fit comfortably in a pocket or wallet, and can be recoded and reused. Plus, no one has to rekey a room door if a visitor loses their card on the beach.
5. House keys
House keys are still used by many, but there are advantages to changing to locks with numeric codes that open the door once the correct numbers are punched in. For example:
- There are no keys that can be lost, stolen or forgotten.
- Homeowners can set up a temporary code for a worker who needs access, then delete it the next day.
- Kids can memorize a simple code and no longer have to worry if they lose or forget a key.
- Vacationing homeowners can pass on the code and allow a neighbor to check on a home without needing to hand out an extra physical key.
6. Manual-transmission cars
Cars utilizing stick shifts, also called manual transmissions, are disappearing around the bend. Fewer manufacturers make manual transmissions now. USA Today reports that only 3.5% of U.S. car sales in 2018 were manuals.
Automatic transmission cars have become more efficient, and fewer U.S. drivers are taught how to drive a stick. For those who love the stick shift, this transition will really grind your gears.
7. College textbooks
If you’ve been out of college for a while, you probably remember having to fork out money for heavy, expensive textbooks for your classes. Well, welcome to the 21st century.
Textbooks are moving to the digital world. Some schools have already removed hard copies of books from their on-campus bookstores. No question, digital texts have plenty of advantages — they can be updated, and students can highlight text and remove highlights easily. They also can look up definitions or footnotes instantly and enjoy videos and interactive exercises. But maybe best of all: It’s bye-bye to backaches from carrying backpacks overloaded with these massive bricks around campus.
8. Classroom chalkboards
Want to make your kids think you’re really old — like “rode-dinosaurs-to-school” old? Tell them about your school days spent clapping erasers to get the chalk dust out of them. That’s a chore today’s students may never understand.
Chalkboards, aka blackboards, have long been on the way out, replaced by their cleaner, smoother cousin, the whiteboard. Popularized in the 1990s, whiteboards can be written on with special markers, often in bright colors, that are easy to wipe off.
But even traditional whiteboards are likely to be replaced with emerging smartboards — a high-tech, interactive version — as the price of the new technology comes down.
9. Mail-collection boxes
Pity regular letters, the kind for which you lick envelopes and apply stamps. Not only are they saddled with the insulting term “snail mail,” but they’re also fast slipping away to be replaced by their nearly instantaneous competitors, email and texting.
Disappearing even faster are the bright blue U.S. Postal Service mail-collection boxes that used to decorate many a neighborhood curb.
10. In-person voting
Heading to the polling place is a cherished part of American life — albeit a process that can be plagued by problems from long lines to voter-identification issues.
But there’s another way: Several states, including my own home state of Washington, have moved to voting by mail. Voters receive their ballots in the mail, settle in at a table to read over the candidates and issues, mark their ballots at leisure, then pop them back in the mail. (Worried your ballot wasn’t counted? You can track it online.) Some folks are still unsure about voting by mail, but eventually, we’ll all likely vote this way.