Old farts makes observations

Outdated icons and software things that no longer make sense

Today let’s have a look at things that make no longer make sense. We’re not trying to make a deep philosophical point, this is just something that amuses us and we think it might amuse you too!

No one likes change and as a result some of these things last for decades and even centuries.


To a generation familiar with what a floppy disk is, the idea that the next generation would have no idea what it is can seem bizarre. Even funnier is the realisation that someone might confuse it with being merely a 3d printed version of a save icon.

It is bizarre when you think about it, no one saves to a floppy disk but once upon a time that was the only method¬†to save your work in an era before computers even had hard disk drives. The problem is what would you replace it with? When there are some many different locations to save to¬†such as cloud storage, memory sticks, hard disks, optical media… and then if you did change it, no one would know what to look for. As a result the save icon has stayed the same for decades.

This got us thinking, what other icons and concepts do we still use long after they’ve become defunct?

For instance we bookmark our favourite websites, despite the fact it’s a web page and obviously not a book because the concept of saving your place in a book is familiar to old farts like us.


Looking at an iPhone you realise quite how many app icons are based on things¬†that ironically new technology (especially smartphones) has made redundant. Cameras, calendars, landline phones, sat-navs, compasses, clocks/watches and ‘snail mail’.

Here’s one of our favourites below, the voicemail icon which is based on a magnetic tape reel-to-reel like we’re in some 1960s cold war spy drama. The ‘new message’ red dot itself appears to be¬†based on the recording icon used on good old audio tape and v.h.s.¬†recorders itself as another layer of outdated technology. Even though the technology is obsolete, we still use the familiar voicemail, play and record icons to this day.


The old Apple Facetime icon (left) didn’t make any sense to us either. The lens hood of the icon¬†seems to house the lens and yet there’s a whacking big lens staring¬†at you¬†like a webcam having that’s fallen over drunk.
Apple has now updated the icon (right) as they moved from skeuomorphic design to flat design.


It’s not just app icons¬†that no longer make any sense. Take a look at the keyboard of the device you’re reading this on.

Some people believe¬†the reason the letters are ordered QWERTY and not ABCDEF was¬†to aid touch typing and reduce errors where the operator could strike the wrong key.¬†By separating out commonly used letters this would help reduce ‘fat-finger’ errors. Others believe¬†this arrangement was used¬†to prevent the mechanisms of typewriter keys from jamming by forcing the operator to type slower but there is currently no evidence to support either these theories despite both¬†sounding very plausible. We’ll probably never know for sure but it’s¬†astonishing that the arrangement has lasted since 1868!


Think about the last time you click File > Print, was it to actually physically print something or was it to save your file as a PDF? Maybe it’s just us, but we hardly ever seem to need to print things anymore, it’s mostly to save as PDF so we have the file digitally. The concept of printing inside computer software may one day no longer¬†mean physically printing – how confusing!



Oh look, WH Smiths¬†sells manilla folders… so err… do they already contain computer files or have we¬†missed something here?


So what do you think will soon become just another icon or outdated concept? Let us know on Twitter¬†or on Facebook, we’d love to hear what you think.

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