Blast From the Past: 7 Items We Can’t Live Without That Weren’t Around 50 Years Ago

When you stop to consider how much has changed in the last 50 years, it’s pretty amazing. In a middle-aged person’s lifetime, they have seen drastic improvements in technological advancements, which have helped increase productivity, communication, and more.

The Internet

The top tool that we can hardly remember living without is the Internet. If you had a pen pal before the internet, it was much more literal; you would pen them a letter and send it in the mail, waiting weeks or months before receiving a response. Now, students all over the globe can instantly communicate via email or instant messaging, which allows them to learn more about different cultures. There are so many other useful online tools, including banking, shopping, working via telecommunication, communicating with family members, loved ones, and even strangers, and sharing information.  

Mobile Phones

Something else that changed dramatically even just over the last decade are cell phones. What started out as a bulky, heavy, and impractical device has become sleek, chic, and extremely useful. If someone uses a pay phone in a movie or TV show, many children mention that they’ve never even seen a pay phone, let alone used one. Even just a few years ago, many people used phones to make calls or send text messages, but with all the improvements in smartphones, people can now do so much more.

GPS Technology

Planning a road trip used to mean pulling out the trusty map and plotting exactly where you would go, which cities you would stop in, and which freeway exits had your favorite gas stations and restaurants. With GPS, maps have become virtually obsolete, and you can find the location of just about anything, anywhere in the world. With constant updates to the GPS software, brand new roads and freeways are easy to navigate within days of completion. Whether you are traveling in your hometown or across the country, you can find your way with ease.

digital photography

Next is the digital camera, which has also come a long way in the last few years. 50 years ago, we had bulky cameras and rolls of film, plus envelopes full of photographs that took up lots of space. You had to wait a few days for the film to be developed, and you might get your printed family photographs back, only to find that your eyes were closed in every one. With digital photography, you can view the image immediately, so you’ll know right away if you need to shoot another one. It also eliminates clutter, since all photos can store easily on the computer or an external hard drive. Show off your photos with a digital photo frame, and rotate through hundreds of images instead of having to choose your favorite one.

Digital Music Players

Another useful item that has become part of life is the digital music player. In the last 20 years, options for listening to music have changed dramatically. Those in the older generation remember 8-tracks, while even those in the millennial generation still remember creating mix tapes, recording music from the radio, and playing it back on a Walkman. The first iPod allowed music lovers to carry hundreds of songs in their pockets, and improvements in storage options now allow you to store thousands. The sound quality of digital files is also much better, so audiophiles appreciate the improvements in the listening experience.  


While the television has been around longer than some of the other technologies, there are still people alive today who remember crowding around the radio, listening for news and information. There are now more than 1.5 billion TV sets around the world, and that number continues to grow. Most people have at least one television, and some have them in every room of the home. We can now receive up-to-the-minute updates on news and other world affairs, or can escape the mundane of everyday living with thousands of channels featuring a broad range of programming options.  Even without all the fancy high-def channels and satelites, we can still choose an off-air antenna and get all the basic programming needs like the news, and all themajor networks. The digital age is truly a wonderful thing.


The computer has come a very long way in the last few years. What started out as a huge, bulky chunk of electronic equipment has been scaled way down, allowing individuals to have one or more computers in their own homes. Computers have improved so many aspects of various businesses, including healthcare, governmental departments, and more. A computer is also a crucial tool in education, giving students access to a wealth of information right at their fingertips.

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