Top 5 Uses of Outdated Technology

Written by Ryan Squires on March 28, 2019

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Technology evolves at an extremely rapid pace. But, it’s important to know that computing power isn’t everything. Heck, the Apollo missions utilized computers with less computational power than a modern iPhone, and those systems landed people on the moon. Just because something may seem low tech to us now, doesn’t mean it lacks a purpose. Here are our top five examples of outdated technology at work.

Preventing a melt down:


Like many young adults growing up and making their way in the world, the founder of Facebook didn’t own his own house…ahem, data center. They had to rent. So when the servers in their rented data center began overheating, Jeff Rothschild, Facebook’s former engineering chief, had to enlist some older technology to keep things cool—he bought all the fans he could find from a local Walgreens. This solution worked in the short term and kept FB’s then 10 million users online. In order to keep up with increased usage, now their data centers feature industrial cooling and support 1.13 billion daily active users. When considering the storage medium for all those users, we doubt floppy disks were ever considered.


Floppy Disk

When you think of nuclear warheads and the planes that drop them, you’re probably imagining some pretty advanced technology. But, what if I told you that even up until 2017, the United States still used floppy disks to carry out its nuclear program? It’s true. Paired with an IBM Series/1 microcomputer, these floppies were of the 8-inch variety and could store a whopping 1.2MB of data. In addition to providing operational support to nuclear bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and tanker support aircraft, they were found on General Motors Assembly lines and assisted in the manufacture of vehicles. Unlike our #3 use of outdated technology, word processing was not a key use case for these systems.

Blame Autocorrect:

George R. R. Martin, creator of everyone’s favorite blood-soaked drama, Game of Thrones, writes all of his work on WordStar 4.0, which is a DOS program. He says modern word processors simply get in the way, “If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key,” Martin said during an interview on Conan. He’s probably a strict keyboard and mouse gamer, unlike the new Navy recruits in our next section.

Is this two player?:


Naval Academy

    Credit: Lockheed Martin via

Instead of paying some $38,000 dollars for Lockheed Martin’s expensive submarine periscope control, the Navy shortened training time and slashed costs by employing Xbox 360 controllers. Now, instead of training sessions lasting hours, they just pick up a controller and go. And, because the sailors and junior officers using these controllers are so young, we doubt they’ve heard of our number one use of outdated tech.

Old-school backup:

Tapes, more specifically magnetic tapes, are what’s keeping all the world’s cloud data safe. Generally, we think of the cloud in future-forward ways. For example, you can store all your phone numbers in the cloud so you never have to go through the process of manual input ever again. Behind that convenience is some older technology backing it up, though. Companies like Google™, Microsoft®, and Amazon® are using magnetic tapes daily to backup the world’s immense amount of cloud data and keep it safe from bugs and glitches—including your contacts.

Directory Services for the Past, and Future

Here at JumpCloud® we work with organizations employing technology born in years past all the time: on-prem servers well past their prime, security networks devoid of identity protection, and many other equally troublesome scenarios. And, while it works for some in their environment, others are eager to try something new while being able to manage what works best from the past. For example, our cloud-based Directory-as-a-Service® can replace your on-prem Active Directory® implementation and help you connect your users to the older, legacy tools that they still may need via cloud-based LDAP and RADIUS. In addition, JumpCloud also provides the ability to manage all the modern tools in today’s modern IT environments including Mac®, Linux®and Windows® systems, web applications, cloud infrastructure, and more. It’s the best of both worlds. Check us out and sign up for a free account today.

Ryan Squires

Ryan Squires is a content writer at JumpCloud, a company dedicated to connecting users to the IT resources they need securely and efficiently. He has a degree in Journalism and Media Communication from Colorado State University.

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