While so many books on technology look at new advances and digital technologies, The Routledge Companion to Media Technology and Obsolescence looks back at analog technologies that are disappearing, considering their demise and what it says about media history, pop culture, and the nature of nostalgia. From card catalogs and typewriters to stock tickers and cathode ray tubes, contributors examine the legacy of analog technologies, including those, like vinyl records, that may be experiencing a resurgency. Each essay includes a brief history of the technology leading up to its peak, an analysis of the reasons for its decline, and a discussion of its influence on newer technologies.

chapter 1|13 pages

Paper Slips

The Long Reign of the Index Card and Card Catalog
ByPeter Krapp

chapter 2|13 pages

From Hero to Zero

The Rise and Fall of the Slide Rule as the Calculating Tool of Choice
ByPeter M. Hopp

chapter 3|19 pages

The History of Punched Cards

Using Paper to Store Information
ByRobert S. Wahl

chapter 4|14 pages

A History of the Electrical Signal

From the Atlantic Telegraph Cable to the Quest for Artificial Intelligence
ByDavid Hochfelder

chapter 5|14 pages

The Life, Death, and Rebirth of the Typewriter

ByRichard Polt

chapter 6|16 pages

The Lure of the Ticker

ByBraxton Soderman

chapter 7|13 pages

The Overhead Projector

Visuality and Materiality
ByJosh Zimmerman, Ken S. McAllister, Judd Ethan Ruggill

chapter 8|15 pages

Flammable Workhorse

A History of Nitrate Film from the Screen to the Vault
ByAmanda McQueen

chapter 9|18 pages

Farewell to the Phosphorescent Glow

The Long Life of the Cathode-Ray Tube
ByMark J. P. Wolf

chapter 10|12 pages

The Moviola and Other Analog Film Editing Machines

ByLori Landay

chapter 11|16 pages

Analog Audio Synthesis

Oscillations, Traces, and Trajectories
ByPeer D. Bode

chapter 12|19 pages

Armchair Harmonics

Radio Remote Controls and the Historical Persistence of Push-Buttons
ByBrent Strang

chapter 13|17 pages

Standardized Film Leaders

ByMatt Soar

chapter 14|15 pages

Vinyl, Vinyl Everywhere

The Analog Record in the Digital World
ByRichard Osborne

chapter 15|19 pages

Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away

The Rise, Fall, and Return of Kodachrome Color Film
ByM. M. Chandler

chapter 16|9 pages

Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture

The Rise and Fall of an Analog Social Medium
BySheila C. Murphy

chapter 17|11 pages

Hollywood in a Box

Time-shifting, Rental, and Videocassettes
ByJoshua Greenberg

chapter 18|14 pages

Projecting Play

The Give-A-Show Projector and Children’s Audiovisual Media Toys of the Mid-20th Century
ByMeredith A. Bak

chapter 19|12 pages

Parakeets, Morse Code, The ROAR of the Crowd

The Fading Signal of the Modem
ByAnne C. Deger

chapter 20|16 pages

Illuminating Obsolescence

Eastman Kodak’s Carousel Slide Projector and the Work of Ending
ByPaige Sarlin

chapter 21|15 pages

“Poor Black Squares”

Afterimages of the Floppy Disk
ByMatthew Kirschenbaum

chapter 22|11 pages

Video Game Cartridges

The History of Durable, Removable, and Portable Software
ByMichael Thomasson

chapter 23|15 pages

Digital Data Demise

Obsolete Digital Data Formats
ByGary Locklair

chapter 24|12 pages


On the Way to a Digital Video Future
ByStephen Mamber

chapter 25|12 pages

Perfect Sound Forever?

How the Compact Disc Sowed the Seeds of Its Own Demise
ByJason Curtis

chapter 26|17 pages

Hello Again

An Untimely Requiem for the Flip Phone
ByPaul Benzon

chapter 27|7 pages

HD DVD Technologies

ByJohn Reid Perkins-Buzo

chapter 28|7 pages


Timeline of Obsolescence
ByMark J. P. Wolf